On the surface, Edward Maher and his wife appeared to enjoy a comfortable middle-class life. They had homes in good neighborhoods, drove late-model cars and took occasional weekend trips. They raised two sons.
Beneath that veneer lay a darker past: Maher, 56, was an international fugitive, wanted in Britain on allegations that he stole a fortune worth $1.5 million in 1993 while working as a security guard for an armored truck company. Before he was captured in rural Missouri on Feb. 8, the suspect dubbed "Fast Eddie" by the British media had evaded arrest for nearly two decades.
Public records and interviews with neighbors suggest he did so mostly by living an inconspicuous life of unremarkable jobs and making frequent, sometimes abrupt cross-country moves.
Maher's son Lee 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," said Lee, 23.
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 really kills me for it to be portrayed this way. I had no idea."
Nearly two decades ago, Edward Maher was last known to have been seen sitting in an armored truck in Britain, waiting for a fellow guard to return from a bank with a load of cash. Maher, then in his mid-30s, vanished, as did the truck. The vehicle was found abandoned and 50 bags of coins and currency were gone. A reward was offered. Sightings were reported across Europe. But the trail quickly went cold.
At some point, the family moved to the United States, where Maher often used a brother's name or the alias Stephen King.
What happened to the money is unknown. Spread over nearly two decades, the stolen cash would amount to $75,000 a year, enough for a contented, if not extravagant lifestyle. To throw off any pursuers, 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 neighbor when they lived in Grafton, Wis., about 25 miles north of Milwaukee.
By 2010, the family's finances soured so badly that they filed for bankruptcy. The Internal Revenue Service was after Maher for $3,148 for back taxes.
Ozark, Mo., police, working on a tip, contacted the FBI about Edward Maher. They had heard he was a possible fugitive, but there was no active warrant. Authorities found he was in the U.S. illegally and arrested him on a weapons charge. He admitted to using a fake name and was jailed.
British police have asked that Maher be returned to his home country.