Watch the full Dateline episode 'Stealing Paradise' below and keep the conversation going with its correspondent, Kate Snow.
Hi, my name is: Kate Snow
I am: a correspondent for NBC News
When I first came across this story, I thought to myself: It is so bizarre and unthinkable that any person would try to take over someone else's entire life-- their home, their possessions, their identity. How did he get away with it for so long?
My first impressions of Panama: A beautiful country. The capital, Panama City, reminds me of a mini-Miami. The remote area we traveled to in Bocas del Toro was breathtaking and very disconnected from the rest of the world. It had such a refreshing off-the-grid feel. You can see for yourself in my photo diary.
The most striking image I saw: A pile of shovels and pick axes in a carport at Wild Bill's former home. Nearby was a disgusting pile of moldy dog food.
The most admirable person I met along the way: Don Winner (an investigative blogger with "Panama Guide"). He broke down when describing why he had made it his mission to get answers on this case. Don dedicated months of his life to figuring out where Cher Hughes and the other missing people were. He said he kept thinking about his own children and the need for the truth to come out.
These are the words I'll never forget: "He was staying true to mommy"-- Keith Worle describing his dog Jack, who kept swimming the mile from Cher and Keith's island to Wild Bill's place after Cher went missing.
The biggest challenge while doing this story: It was hot. I mean really really sticky humid disgusting hot.
Something I didn't expect: Going into this story, I didn't appreciate the dynamics of ex-pat communities in Latin America. I was surprised by some of the reasons that people ended up in Bocas. Many go there to find paradise. Others go to escape from their own pasts.
My inspirations as a writer/storyteller: I wanted people to have a full picture of this beautiful woman, Cher Hughes. I'm also hoping viewers understand that the terrible things that happened in Bocas only ended because of Cher. Cher was loved and cherished by so many friends and family and they refused to accept that she had simply disappeared. As her aunt Mary said, Wild Bill picked the wrong girl.
In a word, this is really a Dateline story about: Greed
Last but not least, I wish: I could return to Panama on vacation and explore the rainforest and islands.
Thanks for watching and let me know your thoughts too!