A Killer Nanny

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

Bieri says it's ridiculous that the Fosters are suing the nanny agency. "There was no way that they could ever know that I wasn't Stephen Davis -- I had documents," he says. "I had a birth certificate and an identification."

He says even he didn't know that Davis had a criminal history. In a telephone interview, Bieri sticks to the first story he told federal agents about meeting Davis through a mutual friend; Bieri told him he had problems in Europe and needed an American identity. "I didn't tell him I was a fugitive," Bieri says.

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 says the 18-year-old Davis happily handed over his birth certificate and social security number and didn't even charge him. "It was no big deal," Bieri says. "It was a favor."

Bieri said he was happy to talk, but just as in his interview with the special agents, the more detailed the questions became, the less willing he was to answer them. He won't explain or discuss what happened in the 17 years since he jumped out the bathroom window. "I have my very deep and personal reasons. And others," he wrote in an e-mail. If the truth was told, "some people could not like it."

He says he moved to Houston because he had friends here and he was just trying to make a fresh start -- reading the paper, he saw the nanny agency's ad. "That seemed like a job I could get pretty easily," he says. He had three kids, he had worked as a teacher, and he knew he could do it. "It was a pretty logical decision," he says. "I'm good with kids."

He says everything went well during his two weeks at the Fosters' -- he picked the boys up from school, took them to soccer practice, fixed dinner and helped with their homework. "They were well taken care of," he says. "The kids were great, they accepted me, no problem."

He believes that the Fosters are the ones who ratted him out and tipped off federal agents about Davis's criminal background. "That is when and where it all came down," he says.

When he returned to Switzerland, he says, he made a deal with the government. "That is why I got off the hook easily," he says. He won't say exactly what the deal entailed.

He says he never intended to kidnap the kids and he doesn't have any desire to return to the States and seek revenge. "Nobody has done anything wrong [other] than myself," he says. "I committed a crime exactly 20 years ago. And that's it. The Fosters seem to want to take advantage of a situation which caused them no harm at all."

Currently he works as a customer representative for a company that sells medical diagnostic supplies. He visits doctors at hospitals and sells blood and urine tests. He lives with his wife and kids in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. There are 56 Hanspeter Bieris listed in the Swiss online telephone directory, but he has abandoned that name. He won't reveal his new name; nobody knows who he really is, he says.

There are a million horror stories about nannies shaking babies to death, hitting, spanking and screaming at kids. Diana Fadrique, owner and president of Babywatch of Houston, has seen nannies slap and shake children too young and too small to fight back.

She's watched nannies lock children in the bedroom and scream until 30 minutes before parents come home. Her nanny cams have recorded nannies rifling through parents' private, personal possessions and nannies sexually molesting children.

Whenever a bad baby-sitter story is splashed on the news, Fadrique says, she gets a whole new set of nanny cam clients.

Fortunately, Foster says, nothing bad happened to her boys when they were with her nanny. "The horror is, what was he planning?" Foster says. "Was he looking for a safe place to start all over again? Or was this an opportunity? Robbery or kidnapping?"

The fact that the nanny mentioned his kid allegedly being kidnapped made Foster believe that he was going to snatch one of her younger sons.

Maybe the nanny really did just want a new start, she says. Maybe he wasn't looking to hurt her or her children. If so, he was just unlucky. "The poor idiot just bought the wrong identity to get into the country," Foster says.

The Fosters' trial date against the nanny agency has been postponed until May. Before they started taking depositions, Foster spent $12,000. She went back to using her old, temporary baby-sitting agency and hired a friend's daughter to sit for her.

Her kids have almost outgrown nannies now that her oldest son can drive. As a result of the whole experience, she says, her youngest son is anxious all the time -- always checking under beds and in closets. He sleeps with his brothers, or in the guest room with the drapes drawn, two night-lights and the door blocked. Last night he insisted on sleeping in his mother's room.

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