Man from Robeson County arrested for 1987 rape and murder of 79-year-old woman

(Robeson County District Attorney's Office. WPDE background)

A 62-year-old Robeson County man has been arrested for a 1987 rape and murder that happened in San Diego, according to a news release from Erich Hackney, District Attorney Investigator for the Robeson County District Attorney’s Office.

Kevin Thomas Ford surrendered to police today, July 11, at his home in St. Pauls.

His arrest is for the rape and murder of Grace Hayden who was 79 years old on May 20, 1987, when the crime took place, according to the release.

Ford was connected to the crime after a single left ring finger print was discovered on the victim’s kitchen stove and it was resubmitted through the national fingerprint database and received a match to Ford in Robeson County.

Ford's prints were in the database because a deputy with the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, John Blount, decided to fingerprint Ford when he was arrested on a communicating threats warrant back in 2015, according to the release.

"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," the release said.

DNA obtained from Ford also matched DNA collected from the victim.

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

Ford is 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.

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