What Really Happened to Dahlia Yehia in Nepal?
After flying to help earthquake victims, everything but her iPhone disappeared
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2016 8:01 AM CDT
American artist and teacher Dahlia Yehia flew to Nepal after the earthquake in 2015 and never came home.   (Find Dahlia/Facebook)

(Newser) – About two weeks after American art teacher Dahlia Yehia messaged a friend to confirm that she had arrived in Pokhara, Nepal, her parents reached out to the US embassy in Kathmandu. Their 25-year-old daughter had left volunteer work in the earthquake disaster zone in Gorkha district and traveled to Pokhara to stay with a Couchsurfing host and rest—then on Aug. 7, 2015, slipped completely off the radar. Friends began to spread fliers in English and Nepali and blasted emails to hundreds of Couchsurfing hosts in the region to sort out whether anyone had seen her. But when they finally found Narayan Paudel, the man who'd hosted her, the mystery surrounding what actually happened to Yehia only deepened, as journalist Joshua Hammer, who traveled there to interview Paudel, reports in a lengthy feature for Foreign Policy.

Paudel, who had glowing reviews on the Couchsurfing site, was questioned extensively after police found that he had tried to use Yehia's iPhone more than 10 days after she was last heard from. He soon admitted he knocked her off a bridge while the two were walking, then changed his story to say he bludgeoned a sleeping Yehia to death and dumped her body into the nearby Seti River. But he tells Hammer that he was tortured into this story: "I could not have done that," he says. In May 2016, police learned that the body they'd recovered in the Seti was not Yehia's, though trace amounts of blood found in Paudel's apartment were. Just this month Paudel was convicted of murdering Yehia and sentenced to life in prison. "With her body still missing," Hammer writes, "the young woman's vanishing may remain painfully complete." Read the full story.