British man wanted in '93 heist nabbed in Missouri

OZARK, Mo. (AP) — A British armored car guard suspected of driving off with a fortune worth $1.5 million back in 1993 has been captured in rural Missouri, where he had been working as a cable guy and raising a son who apparently knew nothing of his father's past.

Edward John Maher was dubbed "Fast Eddie" in news reports after the heist in England, but he quickly vanished. After nearly two decades as a fugitive, he was arrested Wednesday in an apartment in the tiny town of Ozark, 160 miles southeast of Kansas City, where he had been living under a brother's name, Michael Maher.

Maher's guise began unraveling Monday, when Ozark police received a tip that a man going by that name was really a fugitive from Britain. An officer compared his driver's license photo with a picture from 1993 and contacted the FBI, which also compared the photos and determined the two photos were likely the same man.

On the same day, Maher was bailing his adult son out of jail in the nearby town of Nixa when a police officer told him he knew Maher was wanted in England, but the officer could not arrest him.

According to an FBI affidavit, Maher's son overheard what the officer had said and asked his father about it.

The father "was irate," the affidavit said. "Maher told his son that they would have to leave again and threatened to kill the person who tipped the police off about his identity."

The next day, Maher's son was being interviewed by an FBI agent when his father called and said they had to leave immediately. The son refused to go. A short time later, Ozark police officers and federal agents saw Maher, a woman and a boy leaving their home carrying clothes. They were later seen checking into a local motel.

The son contacted the FBI agent Wednesday and reported that his father had changed his mind about fleeing. If officers came to his home to arrest him, the son explained, the father would not resist. Maher was taken into custody a short time later.

He is accused of driving off in an armored car while a fellow security guard was making a delivery to a bank in Suffolk, England. The van was later abandoned. Fifty bags containing coins and notes worth 1 million pounds, or $1.5 million, were missing.

While at Maher's home, investigators talked to his wife, Deborah Brett, who told them about several guns her husband had purchased since coming to the U.S. She said she didn't want the weapons around and showed officers where to find them in the home and in a storage facility in town.

Federal prosecutors charged him with weapons violations, and he was scheduled to appear later Thursday in federal court in Springfield.

After being taken into custody, Maher told an FBI agent he had been using his brother's name since 1998, when he began working in the U.S. He said he obtained a Social Security number under that name.

Brett told agents her husband also sometimes used name Stephen King.

In Ozark, Maher had been a cable installer for St. Louis-based Suddenlink Communications.

Pete Abel, the company's senior vice president of corporate communications, acknowledged Maher was an employee but declined to go into details about his duties or how long he had worked there. Before he was hired, managers conducted a background check, which found nothing "to indicate there were any issues of any kind," Abel said.

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Associated Press Writer Bill Draper in Kansas City contributed to this report.


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