But as a black body bag was being unloaded, Rafael said, a police officer or paramedic let out a shout. Vahey was alive.
A doctor at the hospital where he was taken said he had a weak pulse and high levels of blood toxins, but could go home after two days. The doctor spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.
"All we know is that he is still with us, and that is wonderful, miraculous news," Doll wrote to the school later that day.
Vahey told colleagues he had been bitten by a poisonous spider. In early December, he sent a mass email message to the school, declaring that "it is with a sense of awe, wonder and joy that I find myself writing to you. The last week has been quite the adventure, and I am fortunate to say I am doing much better."
He was headed to Atlanta for medical tests, Vahey wrote. "Get ready for an exciting second semester as I look forward to my return to the school in January."
In early March, the maid reappeared and handed the USB drive to Doll, saying she should take a look. Its folders were marked with the names and dates of school trips dating to 2008: "Panama Trip," ''Costa Rica Trip," ''Basketball Trip" and "Spring 2013."
Doll clicked on the last folder, where she found photos of unconscious boys, many blonde or red-headed and between the ages of 12 and 14. Some had their pants off, with a man's hand touching their testicles or anus. Other boys were posed together in positions suggesting oral sex.
Doll confronted Vahey, who told her, according to an FBI affidavit, that he had given the boys sleeping pills, adding: "I was molested as a boy, that is why I do this. I have been doing this my whole life."
Vahey said he had swallowed more than 100 sleeping pills in November after discovering the USB drive had been taken.
Doll demanded Vahey's resignation, according to the affidavit.
Vahey flew to Atlanta the next day. It was only after he boarded that the school notified authorities at the U.S. Embassy in Managua, U.S. officials said. The U.S. officials immediately notified Nicaraguan police, but Vahey had left the country.
In Miami, where he changed planes, a special agent from the FBI notified Vahey of the investigation. But a bag check turned up nothing illegal, and the agents had no grounds on which to hold him.
By March 14, the school told parents Vahey had resigned. The teacher traveled to Luverne, Minnesota, where his brother, sister-in-law and mother live, the latter in a nursing home. He checked into a hotel where he fatally stabbed himself in the chest with a knife.
He left a note apologizing to his family.
"He's one of the most prolific pedophiles that we've seen here due to the sheer numbers," FBI Special Agent Shauna Dunlap said. "The number continues to go up. We continue to have folks reaching out to us."
At least 60 of the 90 or so children in the images were from the Southbank school, according to police, where a significant number of parents said they did not want to know if their children were abused. Woodhead, the governor, has blamed the U.S. system.
"How did he qualify as a teacher in the United States, how is it this information was never available to any of the schools across the world who employed him over the next 40 years?" he asked in an interview with the Press Association.
In Venezuela, students are coming forward with details that suggest they may have been abused.