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Fugitive held in 1983 slaying

By MARK A. DUPUIS

HARTFORD, Conn. -- A man placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list in connection with a 1983 robbery in Detroit that left two people dead was held Tuesday awaiting a return to Michigan, authorities said.

Wardell David Ford, who eluded authorities using false driver's licenses, birth certificates and other documents, was apprehended Monday by FBI agents alerted by viewers of a television show.

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Ford, 34, was held as a fugitive in connection with the Feb. 22, 1983, robbery of an armored car in which a guard was killed. Ford's cousin, David Temple, an accomplice in the robbery, also died in the shootout, the FBI said.

Ford fled with $40,000 and last December became the 429th person placed on the FBI's list of Ten Most Wanted fugitives since the list was begun in 1950, authorities said.

Ford, who was living in New London, was arrested Monday at the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics in Groton, where he had worked since December 1988 as a painter. EB builds nuclear submarines for the U.S. Navy.

'He had the lowest security clearance possible. He was not fingerprinted and consequently no fingerprints were sent to the FBI,' said Richard Farley, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI in Connecticut.

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Farley said he was personally surprised Ford worked for the major defense contractor, but the fact he was a painter with limited access to shipyard facilities made it less of a concern.

Ford was presented before a magistrate Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Hartford and will be held for at least three days pending extradition to Michigan.

Farley credited the 'America's Most Wanted' television show, which featured Ford on its Sept. 7 broadcast, with helping lead the FBI to Ford.

'We were not hot on the trail. This guy had been sought since '83,' Farley said, adding the FBI received 'multiple calls' from viewers who could have included co-workers or neighbors.

Farley said he did not believe Ford saw the television program. 'I would have to think he would have run off if he did,' the agent said.

The evidence seized by the FBI included various forms of identification, including birth certificates from North Carolina and Colorado, and driver's licenses from Indiana and Minnesota. Ford was working at EB under the alias of Michael E. Collins, Farley said.

'He had a number of aliases which he obtained through birth and death records in various cities,' Farley said.

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