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FBI investigates man who died in Luverne motel

LUVERNE — The FBI is asking for the public’s help in the case of a suspected serial child predator who taught in private American schools overseas in nine different countries beginning in 1972 and whose young victims — believed to be boys between the ages of 12 and 14 — may be unaware of what happened to them.

William James Vahey, 64, committed suicide last month in Luverne, two days after his employer saw a thumb drive belonging to him that contained pornographic images of boys who were likely drugged, according to the FBI.

At the time, Vahey was teaching ninth-grade world history and geography at the American Nicaraguan School in Managua.

When confronted about the images by a school administrator, Vahey confessed that he was molested as a child and had preyed on boys his entire life, giving them sleeping pills prior to the molestation, according to the FBI.

The thumb drive contained sexually graphic images of at least 90 victims, according to Special Agent Patrick Fransen. The photographs were cataloged with dates and locations that corresponded to Vahey’s overnight field trips with students beginning in 2008.

However, the investigation has revealed that Vahey accompanied students on similar trips throughout his career.

According to information released by the FBI, Vahey traveled extensively over the past four decades, teaching at American schools in Nicaragua, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Iran, Spain and Lebanon. His victims are multinational. In addition to foreign nationals, the schools were attended by the children of American diplomats, military personnel stationed overseas and other American citizens working abroad.

By his own admission, Vahey used sleeping pills to drug his victims, but investigators want to learn more about his methods and what drugs he may have used. The FBI is hopeful the public can assist in locating victims and figuring out why Vahey came to Luverne.

“At this time, investigators have no knowledge that Vahey shared or traded any of the pornographic material he made,” Fransen said. “But his suicide left a lot more questions unanswered than answered.”

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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