Fugitive in 20 Year Old UK Heist Caught in Missouri

Man suspected of absconding with a van containing $1.5 million in a 1993 found.

ByABC News
February 10, 2012, 2:53 AM

Feb. 10. 2012— -- A fugitive British security guard suspected of absconding with a van containing $1.5 million in a 1993 heist has been arrested in Missouri after it was discovered that he has been living with his family in the U.S. under an assumed name for 15 years.

Edward John Maher, known in the U.K. as "Fast Eddie" since he vanished after driving off with 1 million pounds in cash, was apprehended by the FBI and police in Ozark, Mo., on Wednesday, according to FBI agent Josh Nixon.

"Our investigation with Ozark Police Department pretty much determined he was likely the fugitive," Nixon told The Springfield, Mo. News Leader. "He was fully cooperative when he was confronted."

Maher, who was working as a cable installer and living in the tiny town of Ozark, once apprehended was positively identified as the suspect in the 1993 robbery, where he drove off with the cash in a van that had been parked in front of a Lloyds Bank in Felixstowe, England, while his fellow security guard made a delivery inside. Investigators at the time reportedly found two abandoned getaway cars nearby.

The news media in Britain has called "Fast Eddie's" 1993 robbery "the perfect crime."

Maher had reportedly been living under a brother's name, Michael Maher, but had also used several other phony names, including Stephen King, while in the U.S.

The man's true identity was discovered after Ozark police were given an anonymous tip that the culprit in the infamous 1993 heist was living in the area, according to Nixon. Ozark police's investigation determined that the man might be Maher, but they turned to the FBI for assistance with the investigation.

A local officer had compared Maher's driver's license photo with a picture from the time of the 1993 heist, and then contacted the FBI, where agents confirmed the likely match, according to The Associated Press.

FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said federal officials do not know what happened to the loot.

Police in Suffolk, England, have been able to determine that after the robbery, Maher flew to Boston, where he met up with his girlfriend and young son, the News Leader reported. Nixon told the paper that it's likely Maher and family members moved frequently before arriving in Ozark two years ago.

The man's son, Lee, now 23, had no idea that his father was allegedly an international fugitive who was leading a double life. Police originally confronted Maher on Monday when he happened to show up at the station to bail out Lee King on an unrelated charge.

"There's no way he'd ever do this by choice. He doesn't commit crimes, he's the one that gets me out of trouble," his son told ABC News. "He's only ever done what's good for us. I don't want anybody to see him in a bad light for something he did 20 years ago."

It's unclear whether Maher's wife new about his true identity or what happened to all that money.

"Maher told his son they would have to leave again, and threatened to kill the person who tipped off police about his identity," an FBI criminal complaint obtained by ABC News reveals.

On the same day, Maher happened to be bailing his 23-year-old son out of jail in nearby Nixa when a police officer told him authorities suspected Maher was wanted in England, but they could not arrest him. Because there were no U.S. warrants for either Michael or Edward Maher, police had no authority to take him into custody.

They arrested him later, after immigration officials determined he was in the U.S. illegally.