Nurse, Ted Maher, murderer of billionaire banker Edmond Safra
Originally Posted at:http://famulus.msnbc.com/FamulusIntl/ap01-22-023216.asp?reg=EUROPE - Story from the Associated Press
Ted Maher, a former Green Beret who had been Safra's nurse, and an Italian inmate sawed six bars from their cell window late Tuesday or early Wednesday. They removed two steel grills before climbing down a 26-foot wall on a sash of tied-together plastic bags.
Maher, 44, and Luigi Ciardecci stuffed their beds to fool guards, who noticed their absence at breakfast, Monaco prosecutor Daniel Ferdet told reporters.
Police caught Maher at a hotel in the southern French city Nice, acting on ''a clue from a Monaco witness,'' the prosecutor said without elaborating.
Maher made at least one phone call to relatives from the hotel, and police were investigating if the men had had outside help in their escape.
Ciardecci, who was awaiting trial for armed robbery, was still at large.
Monaco's small prison is perched on the side of a cliff, facing the Mediterranean. Its stone walls are topped with metal fences and security cameras. Instruments the men used to open the cell window ''do not come from the prison, where there is no workshop,'' Ferdet said.
Maher began serving a 10-year arson sentence late last year after a sensational court drama that gripped the U.S. and European tabloid press.
Dubbed Monaco's ''trial of the century,'' by a local newspaper, the case brought a new kind of attention to the tiny Mediterranean principality, best known for sumptuous casinos, Formula One racing and tax breaks that attract the world's rich and famous.
Maher admitted on the stand to setting the Dec. 3, 1999, fire that killed Safra, the 67-year-old founder and principal stock owner of the Republic National Bank of New York, and another nurse Vivian Torrente.
Safra, who had Parkinson's disease, had paid Maher $600 a day to provide him constant care.
But Maher said he never expected the blaze in Safra's Monaco penthouse to rage out of control, only to advance a bizarre plan to ingratiate himself with his employer.
He said he started the blaze in a small wastebasket, expecting it to set off a fire alarm that would bring help and allow him to reap the credit for saving the billionaire.
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