Two teachers who knew and socialized with Christopher Paul Neil, a 32-year-old Canadian now being sought for allegedly abusing young boys, told The Associated Press he wrote extensively online under the pseudonym "Peter Jackson." They described him as a social, fun-loving person, and said no one in their circles suspected him of pedophilia.
The worldwide manhunt for Neil, who eluded police for years, is now centered on Thailand. Authorities say Neil flew into Bangkok on a one-way ticket Thursday and is still at large.
From Canada, Neil's brother urged him to turn himself in. "My mother is devastated and the family is in shock," Matthew Neil said from the family home in Maple Ridge, British Columbia.
Before Neil disappeared last week, more than 300 messages under the name Peter Jackson had been posted on a forum for English teachers called Dave's ESL Cafe. The posts are a window into the mind of a man who portrays himself as dedicated to teaching, well-traveled and well-spoken - but with a sophomoric sense of humor. Sex is a recurring theme, though he never mentions an attraction to children.
In one posting, Jackson discusses wearing condoms during oral sex as HIV protection, and described rebuffing a man who hit on him in a sauna. "The guy was lucky," he wrote. "I am not violent."
He also discussed how to delay or skirt police background checks needed for some teaching jobs, and wrote that he was "SO nervous" on his first trip to South Korea, where he taught English, because he had Penthouse magazines in his bag.
"I ended up tossing them in the bin at the airport washroom," he wrote in the posting on May 18.
In the same posting, part of an online discussion with several people about pornography, he wrote: "If you're worried about any 'content' there are several ways to encrypt your drive."
"If you want to get rid of old files so no one will see, then simply deleting them will not work," he added.
A lead Interpol officer working the case said investigators strongly suspect the Jackson postings were from Neil, and have told police in Southeast Asia about the pseudonym. The investigator spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.
Interpol issued an unprecedented global appeal Oct. 8 for help identifying the suspect. Investigators had been seeking the man for three years, since German police discovered online photographs of him allegedly abusing Vietnamese and Cambodian boys, some appearing to be as young as age 6.
The man's face was initially disguised behind a digitalized swirl, but German police unscrambled the images and released four reconstructed photos last week.
Interpol received hundreds of tips and identified Neil by name as a suspect Tuesday.
After Neil fled South Korea last week, his arrival at Bangkok's international airport was caught on camera at the immigration counter. That photo, released by Interpol, shows a man with a cleanly shaved head and eyeglasses dressed in a white button-down shirt.
Capt. Hope Carr, a public affairs officer for Canada's military, filled in details of Neil's background, saying he had worked as a chaplain and counselor for youths ages 12 to 18 from 1998 to 2000 at a cadet training center in Nova Scotia. There were no complaints about Neil at that time, Carr said.
Sex offenders from various countries have shown up teaching English in Asia, where schools say it can be difficult to screen applicants from abroad. John Mark Karr, who claimed to have killed 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey in Colorado, was arrested in Bangkok last year. Police later freed him, saying they could not corroborate his claims.
Like the current suspect, Karr worked as an English teacher in Bangkok and in South Korea, among other places. Neil also worked in Vietnam, an acquaintance said.
Amy Bowler, a Canadian teacher who socialized with Neil when he lived in the South Korean city of Yongin, said she contacted Interpol after seeing the photos, hoping the inquiry would prove her suspicions wrong. Two acquaintances also contacted the Lyon, France-based international police agency, she said.
Neil often socialized with her circle, and he loved to sing karaoke, she said.
"He had a number of close friends, he came out regularly for drinks, he was certainly not a pariah," Bowler said by telephone. She described him as "a little awkward."
"I think he was outgoing, but he wasn't very smooth," said Bowler, who said she has been in regular contact with Interpol.
Another teacher, Kia Pearson, said he taught with Neil at the Kwangju Foreign School in the city of Gwangju. Neil went there in August to work.
"We met girls together, socially, and he was very attracted to girls, I thought he was a normal guy," Pearson said.
Pearson said he recognized Neil in an Interpol photo. After the photos were released, Neil did not show up for class on Thursday. Both Pearson and Bowler said Neil used his pseudonym, Jackson, in their communications on the Web forum.
Jackson has not made any posts since last week.
In one past message, he said he liked having cameras in the classroom. "If a student or parent makes an accusation of some sort, it is extremely easy to prove or disprove if the lesson is on film," he wrote. "Think of it as safety."
He also posted original poems, including one called "Shelter me," from the point of view of a Bangkok street child. The narrator asks for protection from "the hookers and the trannies ... from my mommy, and the pimps."