In July, Texas Monthly published my story, “The Talented Mr. Khater,” about a tremendously charismatic Danish extreme marathon runner who buried a young Texan woman alive around the corner from the expat house where they were both living, in Santiago, Chile. The woman, Callie Quinn, survived. With the help of a gregarious, Seinfeld-loving lawyer and a sweet, Palestinian computer engineer, Callie discovered that her attacker, Youssef Khater, had befriended and conned sportspeople and expats around the world—in Denmark, Brazil, and Chile. He had nearly clobbered a London runner to death. And in his home country, he’d even convinced some 50 people to wire him thousands of dollars, telling them that they were booking tickets for a trip to a “sports city” in Dubai owned by a prince. He also seduced many kind, generous, and smart women along the way. Youssef was so charming, it seemed that he could get away with nearly anything. And Callie was not his first—nor would she be his last—victim.
After an intense search, he was caught in Santiago. Chilean psychologists spent hours observing him and said that he had all of the traits of a psychopath. He was convicted of attempted murder and served a short sentence in Chile and then in Denmark, where he had been wanted for previous schemes. By the time I was reporting, he was out and free and had moved to Costa Rica. There, his compulsion to con continued. Under the pseudonym “Joseph Carter,” he allegedly stole $3,500 from another Texan expat, and $19,000 from a Canadian woman he was dating. When the Canadian learned of his identity, he tried to smother her with a pillow, lifting it only at the very last moment. But the Organismo de Investigación Judicial, Costa Rica’s equivalent of the FBI, said that because he was dating the Canadian, it could not be proven that she hadn’t given him permission to withdraw money from her ATM. It was one person’s word against another’s. More importantly: it was one foreign person’s word against another’s. A dispute between two tourists. All charges were dropped.
Nevertheless, I emailed Youssef in March to ask about the allegations in Costa Rica. To my surprise, he responded the very next morning.
On Thu, Mar 19, 2015 at 9:29 AM, youssef khater wrote:Hello Francesca, i would love to speak with you…
I wrote back immediately, but didn’t receive a response until nine days later:
On Sat, Mar 28, 2015 at 6:00 PM, youssef khater wrote:
i have no problem speaking with you but i wana know if you only going to write what they told you or you will invisteget what i will tell you
Though I emailed him repeatedly after that, I never heard from him again. My story came out, and Youssef kept a relatively low profile.
Using the name “Josef Maria,” he appears to be active on Facebook again. Here he is running in the 20th Marathon Costa Rica, held on December 6 in San José.
We’ll call the woman pictured above AB. She posted this photograph, and according to her Facebook, she’s a billings specialist at DHL living in Heredia, Costa Rica. And judging from the comments she’s left on Youssef’s Facebook cover photo, she appears to be in love with him.
“Si… Tue puedes amor, Te amo.” Yes… You can do it love, I love you.
Youssef also appears, slightly obscured, in the back row of this group shot, behind a woman in a red baseball cap. It seems he has insinuated himself in yet another running community.
On Thursday, I emailed Youssef a link to my July feature and requested an interview.
On Thu, Dec 17, 2015 at 6:06 AM, youssef khater wrote:
I dont know why you are flowing me. Why cant you leave me alone. You dont know nothing about me so leave me alone. You wrote last time and you happy so leave me alone
I felt badly for him. But I also felt an obligation to warn AB. So with mixed emotions, I wrote her a Facebook message. I’m not sure if she’s seen it, given that we’re not Facebook friends. At this point, I have not yet heard back. But maybe she already knows about Youssef’s past. Maybe Youssef has reformed. Or maybe she’ll be his next victim.
Update 1/29/16: We have since heard from AB, who was unaware of Youssef’s past and reported no harm from him. We have agreed to abbreviate her name and blur her face in this post to protect her privacy.