Peter H Pearse, Professor of Economics at Millersville University Pennsylvania was arrested on 21 March 1983 and charged with false identity. On 25 March 1983 John B Hext Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science was arrested at Shippensburg University, Pennsylvania and charged with the same offense.
Pearse and Hext were the same man. Officials at the Universities thought that was the end of the investigation. Then other Universities who had seen Pearce’s photo in the press came forward to say that they also had a man on their teaching staff who fitted that description.
The case was handed over to the Pennsylvanian State Attorney General’s office and a more thorough investigation begun.
It involved the FBI, State Department, Social Security Administration and Scotland Yard in the UK.
No one was too sure exactly who they had in Lancaster County Prison. For a while the mystery man was booked in as John Doe.
A raid on an apartment said to be leased to John B Hext uncovered more than 16 boxes of documents relating to over 34 false identities.
It was some time before the man’s real identity could be established but in the course of this very complex ‘plastic and paper chase’ the true story emerged of a man who had managed to teach in at least five different universities at the same time on a combined salary of at least $100,000 (about $240,000 today) without raising any alarms within the Administration Departments of the Universities involved.
This is a true story of how one man outwitted the establishment. Whether he was a criminal mastermind or a social genius working to pay for his daughter’s medical care is a question that this book tries to answer.
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About the Author
John Barber was born in London at the height of the UK Post War baby boom. The Education Act of 1944 saw great changes in the way the nation was taught; the main one being that all children stayed at school until the age of 15 (later increased to 16). For the first time working class children were able to reach higher levels of academic study and the opportunity to gain further educational qualifications at University. This explosion in education brought forth a new aspirational middle class; others remained true to their working class roots. The author belongs somewhere between the two. Many of the author’s main characters have their genesis in this educational revolution. Their dialogue though idiosyncratic can normally be understood but like all working class speech it is liberally sprinkled with strange boyhood phrases and a passing nod to cockney rhyming slang. John Barber’s novels are set in fictional English towns where sexual intrigue and political in-fighting is rife beneath a pleasant, small town veneer of respectability. They fall within the cozy, traditional British detective sections of mystery fiction. He has been writing professionally since 1996 when he began to contribute articles to magazines on social and local history. His first published book in 2002 was a non-fiction work entitled The Camden Town Murder which investigated a famous murder mystery of 1907 and names the killer. This is still available in softback and as an ebook, although not available from Smashwords John Barber had careers in Advertising, International Banking and the Wine Industry before becoming Town Centre Manager in his home town of Hertford. He is now retired and lives with his wife and two cats on an island in the middle of Hertford and spends his time between local community projects and writing further novels.