When the staff at London's highbrow Southbank International school heard former teacher William Vahey had died of a heart attack, tears were shed. The reality was infinitely darker: Vahey took his own life with a stab wound to the chest in the bathtub of a Minnesota Quality Inn on March 21, 2014. The next month, the FBI revealed the married father of two sons was believed to be one of the most prolific pedophiles it had ever dealt with, one who was able to drug and abuse male pupils at international schools in eight countries over his 42-year career with impunity. Now, the Guardian's five-month investigation into the case reveals "evidence that, if properly explored," could have stopped Vahey, convicted as a pedophile in the US at age 20—something all the background checks missed. At schools in places like Indonesia he would lead the travel club, taking students to far-flung locations where invariably some of the boys would fall sick—drugged by Vahey; he would insist on watching over them, in his room or theirs.
A fellow chaperone recalls being likely drugged and how insistent Vahey was that no one touch his camera. A man who at age 14 had sleepovers with Vahey's sons at their Jakarta home recalls being given drug-laced Oreos and the "eating race" Vahey would suggest to get the boys to gobble them down. His parents went to an administrator who now denies being told about the cookies specifically. The Guardian suggests Vahey's wife's prominent position within the international schools community may have made some hesitant to speak up about their suspicions for fear of damage to their careers. Things only began to unravel when Vahey's maid stole his flashdrive, which held photos of naked and partially clad boys—some 90 of them—and turned it over to the American Nicaraguan School in November 2013. Read the Guardian's full investigation here. (Read more William Vahey stories.)