Prison agents catch Calif. parolee after 32 years

March 14, 2013 6:10:11 AM PDT
California corrections officials have finally caught up with a parolee convicted of murder who had eluded them for more than three decades.

Richard Bradford had been living under the false identity of James Edward Heard and owned several properties in the Pasadena area, including a drug rehabilitation facility, authorities said.

Bradford was sentenced to life for first-degree murder in 1971, was paroled in 1978, and skipped out on his parole supervision in 1980, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement Wednesday.

Agents arrested Bradford this week, more than 32 years after he had disappeared, the statement said.

A false birth certificate with Heard's name was created in Alameda County in 1977, and a Social Security card was issued to him in 1978, both while he was still in prison, officials said.

By the early 1980s Bradford began using the new name, and the name Richard Bradford disappeared on paper by 1992.

A parole apprehension team began an investigation into his disappearance in 2010 and about a year later learned he might be the same person as Heard. Bradford's prison fingerprints were found to be a match with Heard's from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Bradford's attorney contacted corrections officials at about the same time saying he knew he was being sought and would like some time to turn himself in, but he never did.

It took investigators two years to find Bradford, who had been keeping a low profile in the Pasadena area, with his businesses controlled by a trust and his credit cards and vehicles in the name of his treatment center.

On Sunday while conducting surveillance, agents saw Bradford and his wife leave their home and followed them to the Home Depot just east of Pasadena in Monrovia, where they arrested Bradford and his wife, who was taken into custody for being a felon in possession of pepper spray. Her name was not released.

A search of the house turned up evidence for both of Bradford's names, the statement said.

Corrections officials did not provide the name of Bradford's attorney, and no other contact information to seek comment from a lawyer or family member could be found.