An ex-cop accused of molesting a 10-year-old girl, then murdering his wife was arrested in China after 13 years on the lam, according to news reports.
Daniel William Hiers, Jr., a former police officer in Charleston, South Carolina, was reportedly living abroad as an English teacher.
“The U.S. Marshals Service is and has been aware of information being reported and re-reported in the news and on social media regarding 15 Most Wanted fugitive Dan Hiers,” the agency said in a statement to The Daily Beast.
“We are fully engaged with our international partners on this matter. This is the only information we will be providing at this time.”
A spokesperson told The State in Columbia, South Carolina, “We are aware of the reports that he’s been arrested. We are working with our international partners.”
Police say Hiers shot and killed his wife the morning he was slated to surrender to police on the sexual abuse charges—then he skipped town. A reward of up to $25,000 was announced for tips leading to Hiers’ capture.
According to Shanghaiist, a city blog, a former university student in China now living in California happened to look at the U.S. Marshals Service’s most wanted list and recognized Hiers. (The allegations that surfaced on Chinese social media—that Hiers was an English teacher overseas—haven’t been verified.)
The woman claimed Hiers was a popular teacher because he was tall and handsome, and that he tried to court one of her friends. When the pal refused him, Hiers allegedly harassed her by sending her pornographic images, Shanghaiist reported.
In 2005, the U.S. Marshals Service announced its international manhunt for Hiers, stating that “he betrayed his badge in the worst way” by befriending a single mother with a young daughter, then allegedly molesting the child for months. Authorities said the cop would bring the girl to a Wal-Mart and fondle her and make her touch him.
Police cuffed Hiers in November 2004 for committing lewd acts on a child under the age of 16. He was released on bond and suspended from his job, and later faced additional sexual assault charges (relating to the same child) from the Dorchester County sheriff.
At the time of his arrest, Hiers was a resource officer at West Ashley High School and had been on the Charleston police force for six years.
The girl’s mother told The Post and Courier in 2005 that she and her daughter met Hiers at a karate institute, where the girl was taking classes. Hiers, the woman thought, was becoming a father figure in her child’s life.
Hiers let the girl play with the lights and siren of his patrol car, and would later would give her rides to and from karate class and other outings. “I cannot believe that I gave this man total access to my child. I guess I was naive,” the woman said.
The mother told CNN that Hiers took her daughter shopping and sent her flowers twice. Whenever Hiers drove the girl past the Wal-Mart, the child “knew what was going to happen, especially when she noticed that the truck was slowing down,” the mother said.
The girl was too frightened to do anything, as Hiers allegedly threatened her and told her she’d get in trouble if she reported him, CNN reported.
Still, the fifth-grader did tell her mother about Hiers’ alleged abuse after she watched a video about inappropriate touching at school.
Authorities discovered the alleged predator had a wife following his arrest. Indeed, even some in Hiers’ orbit didn’t know he was married.
Meanwhile, the mother told CNN that she’d never met Hiers’ wife—whom he claimed returned to Brazil to file for divorce. A local karate instructor, Dale Coker, told the network, “We had no clue he had a wife” and “he never brought her for any special events we had.”
According to a Post and Courier report, Hiers met his spouse, Ludimila (Mila) Araujo, during a cruise to Miami in 1995. Hiers was 22, Mila was 15 and a native of Brazil. Then a shy, skinny girl, Mila had been on vacation with her friends.
Hiers’ brother, Scott, said the cop visited Brazil and made nightly phone calls to Mila. The couple married in August 1997, when Mila was only 16.
Mila’s sister, Alassandra, said their father opposed the romance because of the couple’s age difference but eventually relented, the Post and Courier reported. “It was a very beautiful love story for my sister. She died believing that story,” Alassandra said.
Hiers’ wife stood by him following the molestation allegations and ignored her father’s request that she return to Brazil.
In March 2005, the disgraced cop was scheduled to surrender to charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and committing a lewd act on a minor, but he never showed up to the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office.
Instead, Hiers allegedly shot his 24-year-old wife in the back of the head at close range that morning as she slept.
Hiers’ mother, Linda, went to the couple’s Goose Creek home after his attorney called her looking for him. But Linda couldn’t bear to open the master-bedroom door and asked for a neighbor’s help. The neighbor discovered Mila’s body around 5:20 p.m., police said.
The ex-law enforcement officer was last seen around 1:50 p.m. that day as he drove off in Mila’s red 2005 Chevrolet Aveo. The vehicle would be found three months later, in the Mexican border town of Laredo, Texas.
Days after his wife’s murder, Hiers was spotted on surveillance cameras withdrawing hundreds of dollars from an ATM at a Colleton County convenience store, about 50 miles from his home, according to Live 5 News.
Over the years, cops chased reports of possible sightings of Hiers in places including Colorado Springs and Toronto following stories on America’s Most Wanted.
A report from Crime Watch Daily suggested Hiers was living a double life. Dennis Suszko, a deputy U.S. Marshal, told the TV program that Hiers visited escorts and frequented strip clubs. “In fact, there were some allegations that he may have even dated some other females that were of high-school age,” Suszko said.
Hiers is described as 6-foot-3, 210 pounds with blue eyes and blond hair. “He has eleven years of police experience, is trained in the martial arts, and maintains a high level of fitness,” the U.S. Marshals Service said in a press release.
He speaks in a distinctive, high-pitched Southern drawl, enjoys basketball and plays piano, according to CNN’s The Hunt with John Walsh.