Woman says she recognizes her former English teacher in China on US Marshals’ most wanted list

The Chinese internet has lit up at the start of this week over an explosive, unverified accusation that one of America’s most wanted fugitives was recently working as a teacher in China.

The viral allegation comes from a woman, surnamed Wang, who is from Shanghai but now lives in California. She claims that at her Chinese university there was a particularly popular foreign English teacher, well-liked by women because he was tall and handsome. She notes that he was even hired as a bodyguard by an unnamed star.

Wang says that the teacher had a messy private life and left quite an impression on her because he once tried to pursue one of her friends. The friend turned him down, leading the teacher to become angry and start sexually harassing her with pornographic pictures.

That teacher returned to Wang’s mind recently, when she happened to take a look at a list of the US Marshals Service’s 15 most wanted, finding a man who looked exactly like him.

The man she identified is Daniel William Hiers. A former South Carolina police officer who is wanted in the US on a number of charges, including murder and sexual conduct with a minor.

Hiers was removed from duty in 2004 after being charged with committing a lewd act on an 11-year-old girl that he had met through a karate class. The following year, he was hit with another charge, this time for allegedly sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl.

On the day that he was supposed to turn himself in, Hiers disappeared. At his home, his wife was found dead with a hole in her head, evidently shot at close range while she was asleep. An international manhunt was launched, however, the trail ran cold when authorities discovered Hier’s car near the Mexican border.

A decade after his disappearance, local reporters talked to Hiers’ mother who said, essentially, that she believed it was unlikely that her son was still alive and that she hoped he was dead, anyway.  “The way the media has portrayed this — put it out there that he’s a killer and a child molester — it’s probably better off that he isn’t alive,” she was quoted as saying.

Wang does not mention what university she attended or when. Hiers’ has been featured on the TV show America’s Most Wanted and police have received a number of tips over the years, which have all turned out to be false leads or lookalikes.

If he is indeed still alive, Hiers would be 45 years old, having been on the run for the past 13 years of his life.

Despite the lack of evidence in Wang’s allegations, many Weibo users have been quick to condemn the school and immigration department for allowing a wanted foreign fugitive to become a teacher.

Chinese netizens are so easy to convince in this matter because of infamous past background check failures and the general negative stereotype of English teachers in China as being individuals who couldn’t cut it in their own country or are running away from something.

Last December, an extremely popular teacher was fired from the prestigious Shanghai American School for sending sexually explicit messages to students, leading to a cascade of disturbing allegations made against the teacher dating back over many years.

A couple of months earlier, a Canadian English teacher was forced to resign from an acclaimed private school in Beijing after decades-old allegations of his sexual misconduct with minors in Canada was exposed in China. The man had been stripped of his credentials by the British Columbia Teacher Regulation Branch, but had managed to get a job with the Beijing school teaching kids.

Most recently, a headless, limbless body was found by the riverside in Taiwan in what police believe was the result of a dispute between drug-dealing English teachers.