Robeson man charged in 1987 California rape and murder - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Robeson man charged in 1987 California rape and murder

ROBESON COUNTY, NC (WMBF) - A Robeson County man was charged Wednesday in the rape and killing of a woman that happened in San Diego in 1987, authorities said.

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

A release from Robeson County District Attorney’s Office states:

"On May 24, 2018, District Attorney Investigator Tony Johnson of the San Diego, California District Attorney’s Office contacted Erich Hackney, District Attorney Investigator for the Robeson County District Attorney’s Office, requesting assistance regarding a cold case he was reviewing. The crime occurred on May 20, 1987 in San Diego and involved the rape and murder of Grace Hayden who was 79 years old at the time.  

"Johnson indicated that while reviewing the crime scene evidence that was collected at the time of the offense, he noted that a single fingerprint from the left ring finger was discovered on the victim’s kitchen stove which may belong to a suspect. He also noted that DNA from the victim was collected, however there had never been a match on either after all these years.

"Johnson resubmitted the fingerprint through the national fingerprint data base and received a match to a person identified as Kevin Thomas Ford, now 62 years old, and believed to be residing in Robeson County. Hackney located the suspect living at 3884 NC Hwy. 20 West in St. Pauls, NC.      

"In reviewing the case, Hackney discovered that a local warrant for arrest was taken out for Communicating Threats against Ford in 2015 by Primary Care of St. Pauls. This warrant was served by Deputy John Blount of the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office on October 12, 2015. It should be noted that the usual and customary procedure for processing a warrant of this nature is to carry the defendant before a magistrate for bond purposes, however in this case, Hackney learned that Deputy Blount decided to fingerprint Ford as well, something rarely done on a charge of this nature. It was this set of fingerprints that were taken by Blount that matched the print left by Ford at the crime scene.

"Hackney subsequently obtained a DNA sample from Ford for comparison purposes that when analyzed, matched DNA collected from the victim.

"On July 3, 2018, a warrant for arrest was issued by the San Diego District Attorney’s Office against Ford for First Degree Murder. Hackney, Johnson and Detective Brandon Patterson of the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office executed a NC Fugitive Warrant against Ford who surrendered today at his residence without incident. Ford was placed in the Robeson County Detention Center pending extradition back to the state of California for trial.

"The District Attorney Offices in both Robeson and San Diego wish to specifically commend Deputy John Blount for going above and beyond in collecting Ford’s fingerprints back in 2015. Had he processed Ford under the usual procedure, this case would not have come to fruition. Additionally, both offices want to thank Detective Patterson and members of the St. Pauls Police Department for their assistance as well.

“'This is the oldest case I have been involved in which was tremendously satisfying in helping resolve,' Hackney said. '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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