State - Regional

Robeson County man arrested in connection with California rape, murder case from 1987

ROBESON COUNTY, NC (WBTW) - A Robeson County man was arrested in connection with a rape and murder case. 

A press release from Robeson County District Attorney Investigator Erich Hackney says 62-year-old Kevin Thomas Ford was arrested in connection with the rape and murder of 79-year-old Grace Hayden. This crime occurred in San Diego, California on May 20, 1987. 

According to the release, on May 24, District Attorney Investigator Tony Johnson, of the San Diego District Attorney's Office, contacted Hackney requesting assistance regarding a cold case. While reviewing crime scene evidence collected at the time of the crime, Johnson found that a single finger print, from the left ring finger, was discovered on the victim's kitchen stove. He also noted that DNA from the victim was collected, but there had never been a match for either. 

Johnson resubmitted the fingerprint to the national fingerprint database and received a match to a person identified as Ford, the release also says. Hackney located Ford living at 3884 NC Highway 20 West in St. Pauls, NC. 

In reviewing the case, Hackney found that a local warrant for arrest had been issued for Ford in 2015 for communicating threats, according to the release. This warrant was served by a deputy with the Robeson County Sheriff's Office on October 12, 2015. 

The release also states "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. This DNA sample matched DNA collected from the victim. 

On July 3, 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. Ford surrendered at his residence without incident. Ford was placed in the Robeson County Detention Center pending extradition back to California for trial. 

Hackney says "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.”

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