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Robeson man charged in 1987 California rape, murder

July 11, 2018

Kevin Thomas Ford

A Robeson County man was charged Wednesday in a 31-year-old rape and killing of a woman in San Diego, authorities said.

Grace Hayden, 79, was found dead in her home on May 20, 1987. Authorities said she had been sexually assaulted and strangled.

Authorities found a single fingerprint from someone’s left ring finger on Hayden’s stove, but they were unable to find a match to it or to DNA collected from the scene in any database.

An investigator with the San Diego District Attorney’s Office recently resubmitted the evidence from the case and finally got a match on the fingerprint, authorities said.

Robeson County Deputy John Blount served a communicating threats warrant on Kevin Thomas Ford in October 2015, authorities said. Rather than simply taking Ford before a magistrate, however, Blount also took what authorities called an unusual step and fingerprinted Ford as well.

After getting a match from Ford to the print left in Hayden’s kitchen, authorities obtained a DNA sample from Ford and found that it also matched evidence from Hayden.

Ford, 62, of 3884 N.C. Highway 20 West in St. Pauls, was charged with first-degree murder and was being held without bond in the Robeson County jail awaiting extradition to California.

“This is the oldest case I have been involved in, which was tremendously satisfying in helping resolve,” Erich Hackney, an investigator for the Robeson County District Attorney’s Office, said in a statement. “This fellow had flown under the radar all these years by staying out of trouble, but the long arm of the law finally caught up with him. I guess you really never know who you might be living beside.”

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