A Killer Nanny

Charlotte Foster wanted a male nanny who’d play sports with her sons. She got an escaped murderer.

The more questions the agents asked, the more hesitant the nanny's answers became. "He pretty much had his story down pat until we started shooting some holes in it," Smith says. After 30 minutes, the nanny cracked.

"I said, 'Now look, we've talked to the Stephen Glenn Davis who we believe to be the true Stephen Glenn Davis -- and we know you're not him. And you know you're not him. Correct?' " Smith says.

The nanny nodded.

The nanny didn't know how to make macaroni and cheese.
David Terrill
The nanny didn't know how to make macaroni and cheese.
Foster hired the nanny to play soccer with her sons.
David Terrill
Foster hired the nanny to play soccer with her sons.

He said his name was Norberto Blake Del Castillo and he was born September 15, 1960, in Queretaro, Mexico. In 1987, he entered the country at a lax border crossing by claiming to be a United States citizen.

The remainder of the interview was conducted in Spanish -- but even when he spoke Spanish, agents detected a slight central European accent. He told the agents he met Stephen Glenn Davis through a mutual friend, and said that Davis gave him his social security card and birth certificate. "Keep in mind, this is all a made-up story," Smith says. "To be honest, we don't know how he obtained these documents."

All officials know is that he did get them -- and in 1988, the nanny illegally applied for a passport in Honolulu. Nine years later, he applied for a replacement passport at the United States consulate in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, claiming he had lost his on a Bolivian bus. Agents confiscated both passports, arrested the nanny and booked him into the Harris County jail.

The next day the nanny appeared before federal Judge Frances Stacey, United States magistrate for the Southern District, and was charged with possession of a false passport. The judge ordered a probable cause and detention hearing three days later.

The nanny's fingerprints were sent to the FBI, but he didn't have a criminal record in the United States -- which was further evidence that he wasn't Davis. The Mexican consulate was notified that someone claiming to be a Mexican national had been arrested; Smith says the consul reported that while the nanny was knowledgeable about Mexico, it was doubtful that he was really Mexican.

Before the November 1 hearing, the nanny's court-appointed attorney introduced him as Hanspeter Bieri. Because the nanny had already proved that he could get a believable fake passport, the judge ordered he be held without bond until trial.

An Interpol check revealed that Hanspeter Bieri, born September 15, 1961, was wanted for murder and armed robbery in Switzerland. The following day, Interpol faxed a copy of Bieri's mug shots and fingerprints.

They matched.

According to a report from Zurich's Kantonspolizei, Bieri had two prior convictions and a string of arrests, including violations of federal drug laws, car theft and burglary. According to Swiss police reports, on May 1, 1983, Bieri and Rene Wittwer held up a nightclub. In the course of the robbery, a man was murdered.

Bieri was arrested and held for a year and a half before being taken in for pretrial questioning. Around 4 p.m., Bieri asked if he could use the restroom. Inside the bathroom was a one- by four-foot window that opened at a 45 degree angle; he removed the window pane, jumped out of the second-story window, landed on a roof 15 feet above the ground and disappeared. "That was the last they saw of him until we encountered him in Houston," Smith says.

Bieri was tried in absentia, convicted of murder and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

Informed that their prisoner had been recovered, the Swiss made it clear they wanted Bieri back, badly.

Since Bieri was a confirmed escape risk, he was guarded around the clock by U.S. marshals and held in a constantly lit, solitary cell in the Harris County jail. The first week of January 2000, Bieri pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor crime of knowingly possessing a false passport. He was sentenced to time served, and the judge ordered his deportation. Bieri didn't fight deportation, Smith says. "He was ready to get out of the Harris County jail."

On January 27, 2000, Bieri was handcuffed and escorted aboard KLM flight 662. The direct flight to Zurich departed Houston at 4:15 p.m.

Bieri's Bolivian wife had no idea that her husband wasn't Stephen Glenn Davis. Their two sons were born in Brazil, but they were American citizens because of their father -- suddenly they were illegal immigrants. Officials also discovered that Bieri was still legally married to a woman in Mexico who believed his name was Norberto and had given birth to his eldest son.

"It was a huge mess," Smith says.

Immigration and Naturalization Service officials met with representatives from the Brazilian, Bolivian and Swiss consulates to determine the children's nationality. "The Swiss claimed them," Smith says. Switzerland gave the children citizenship and granted his Bolivian wife legal residency. "Children of a Swiss father automatically are Swiss," says Alfred Gabriel, Swiss consul in Houston.

Bieri's wife decided to remain married to him despite his deception. Two days before Bieri was deported, she and their two sons moved to Zurich to wait for Bieri's scheduled prison release in 2015.

After Bieri returned to Switzerland, journalist Alex Baur wrote several articles detailing Bieri's bad childhood: He was abandoned at birth by his unwed mother, never knew his father and grew up in 19 different orphanages and institutions.

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help
Houston Concert Tickets