Our very own Ozark Mountains make a splash on the front page of this morning's New York Times, as Kansas City-based A.G. Sulzberger recounts the incredible yarn of super-fugitive Edward Maher -- AKA "Fast Eddie" -- who in 1993 in his native England robbed an armored car of $1.5 million-worth of loot and promptly stole away to America while an international man hunt ensued. He eventually settled in Ozark, Missouri, where for the last five years he's lived as a cable man and raised a family under the assumed name Michael. The unsolved heist was one of the most notorious in all of Britain; the British press recently referred to it as "the perfect crime." At one point there was a 100,000-pound reward for anyone who knew Fast Eddie's whereabouts.
We pause for a moment to ponder two questions: first, if you're able to make off with $1.5 million cash on hand, where might you bask in the glory of your wealth? The French Riviera? Tahiti or the Bahamas, perhaps? Maybe a Las Vegas casino resort? Or, better yet, how 'bout Ozark, Missouri?
In fairness, Fast Eddie bounced around between several U.S. states before settling in the Ozarks. But regardless, that brings us to the second question: after outrunning the law for nineteen years, how the heck do you get yourself caught by federal authorities in the mountains of Southwest Missouri?
According to the Times report, you threaten to kill your daughter-in-law. Oops.
Sulzberger writes that Fast Eddie's daughter-in-law, Jessica King, first learned his true identity when her tipsy husband, who'd only recently married her, let the family secret slip out after a bout of heavy drinking. After that, she and her friends did a bit of online research and confirmed that 56-year-old Michael in fact was Fast Eddie. The next day, things got ugly. Writes Sulzberger:
"[O]n Dec. 28, all doubts vanished. That night [Jessica King] said her father-in-law appeared at the newlyweds' home, grabbed her arm and, leaning in to fix his eyes on hers, warned her to keep quiet.
'I know you know,' she said he told her in his native British accent. 'I will kill you. I will bloody kill you.' "
After a petrified King tipped her father-in-law off to the local police, the lawmen attempted to call their counterparts in the United Kingdom. But they didn't realize the local police station didn't have an international calling plan. (Don't be too hard on the Ozark community -- after surging from 4,000 to 18,000 residents in two decades, it's the fastest-growing city in the state!)
Fast Eddie, writes Sulzberger, had a tight-knit relationship with his family, although he was prone to lying and sometimes got physically abusive. He had "a stern demeanor and a fondness for racial slurs," he writes, and only rarely did he speak of his native England. He showed few signs of wealth and filed for bankruptcy in 2010.
Jessica King is now living in a safe house. According to the Times report, several more of his son's former girlfriends knew of "Michael's" secret past. And that's probably why they are former girlfriends.