MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The FBI asked for the public's help Tuesday to identify at least 90 potential victims of a suspected child predator who worked at 10 American and other international schools abroad for more than four decades before committing suicide last month in Minnesota.
William James Vahey, 64, killed himself in Luverne on March 21, the FBI said. That was two days after agents in Houston filed for a warrant to search a computer thumb drive that belonged to Vahey, a U.S. citizen with residences in London and Hilton Head Island, S.C. An employee of the American Nicaraguan School in Managua, where Vahey had recently taught ninth-grade world history and geography, gave the drive to the U.S. Embassy there.
The storage device contained pornographic images of at least 90 boys, ages 12 to 14, who appeared to be drugged and unconscious, the FBI said. The agency's spokeswoman in Houston, Special Agent Shauna Dunlap, told The Associated Press that investigators suspect all of the boys in the images were students of Vahey's, going back to 2008, and that he had molested all of them.
"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 a statement posted prominently on the FBI's website, www.fbi.gov , with links for potential victims.
The photos were catalogued with dates and locations that corresponded with overnight field trips that Vahey had taken with students since 2008, but he had led students on such trips for his entire career, the FBI said.
"I'm concerned that he may have preyed on many other students prior to 2008," Special Agent Patrick Fransen of Houston said in the statement. "I've never seen another case where an individual may have molested this many children over such a long period of time."
The director general of the American Nicaraguan School, Gloria Doll, said by phone from Managua that Vahey was "famous for wanting to lead student experience trips." She said that's why several of his previous schools hired him.
Doll said that, as far as she knew, none of her students had been molested. Vahey started teaching at her school last August but had not led any trips for her school before the allegations surfaced. She said he had been due to take a group to a model United Nations event in the Dominican Republic the very next day.
"We realized we had probably been spared what was happening," Doll said.
Doll said Vahey's flash drive had been taken by his domestic employee, who returned it to the school and urged officials to take a look.
The FBI said Vahey was jailed for child molestation in California in 1969, but Doll said his arrest didn't turn up when the Nicaraguan school checked his criminal background. She said he came highly recommended and had been "probably one of the finest teachers" at her school.
The FBI is asking for help to identify at least 90 victims of a suspected serial child predator who worked in American schools worldwide for four decades.
The suspect, 64-year-old William James Vahey, killed himself in Luverne, Minn., on March 21.
FBI agents in Houston filed for a warrant March 19 to search a computer thumb drive that belonged to Vahey, a U.S. citizen. An employee of an American school in Nicaragua where Vahey had recently taught ninth-grade world history and geography gave the drive to the U.S. Embassy.
Special Agent Shauna Dunlap says the thumb drive contains pornographic images of at least 90 boys, aged 12-14, who agents suspect were Vahey's students starting in 2008.
The FBI says Vahey told a Nicaragua school administrator that he drugged his victims.