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THE son of fugitive British robbery suspect "Fast Eddie" Maher said his parents enjoyed a comfortable middle-class life in America, with no hint of their darker past.

Maher and his wife Deborah raised two sons, had homes in quiet neighbourhoods, drove late-model cars and took occasional weekend trips. But beneath that veneer, Maher, 56, was an international fugitive - wanted in the UK in connection with a pounds 1 million Securicor van raid in Felixstowe, Suffolk, in 1993.

He was captured in rural Missouri on February 8, allegedly after a tip-off by his daughter-in-law after nearly 20 years on the run.

Public records and interviews with neighbours suggest Maher, dubbed "Fast Eddie" by the British media, did so mostly by living an inconspicuous life of unremarkable jobs and making frequent, sometimes abrupt, cross-country moves.

His son Lee, 23, said his parents did not tell him anything about their real identities until shortly before his father was arrested. "I had just found out that my life is ... not anything that I thought it was," Mr Maher said.

Growing up, he said, "nothing ever seemed out of the ordinary. It's not something I would even consider because everything was so normal. It kills me for it to be portrayed this way. I had no idea."

Before his arrest, security guard Maher was last seen sitting in an armoured van in Britain, waiting for a fellow guard to return from a bank with a load of cash. Maher, then in his mid-30s, vanished, along with the van, which was later found abandoned, minus 50 bags of coins and currency.

Sightings were reported across Europe, but Maher's trail quickly went cold.

At some point the family fled to the US, where Maher often used a brother's name or the alias Stephen King.

No-one knows what happened to the money. Spread over nearly two decades, the stolen cash would amount to nearly pounds 47,500 a year - enough for a comfortable, though not extravagant, lifestyle.

Maher sometimes uprooted the family. At least once they left in the dark without saying goodbye.

"They literally packed up and moved in the middle of the night," said Betsy Voit, a neighbour when they lived in Grafton, Wisconsin, north of Milwaukee.

Jim Coffey, who lived opposite the "Kings" in Laconia, New Hampshire, for several years in the 1990s, described them as a quiet, seemingly affluent family.

The man Mr Coffey knew as Stephen King was a "very pleasant fellow" who had a British accent. One day, a lorry took away most of the furniture. King's explanation was that they were buying new furniture.

"Next thing you knew, they were gone," Mr Coffey said. "They were here one day and disappeared the next."


SUSPECT: Edward John Maher then and now.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Feb 21, 2012
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