THE most wanted man in Britain settled back in his armchair and

laughed when his wife jokingly suggested that the police would be round

to question him for kidnap and suspicion of murder.

Michael Benneman Sams and his third wife, Teena, were watching

television at their oak-beamed cottage in Sutton-on-Trent when the case

was highlighted and mentioned a suspect car.

''You have a red Metro, they'll be coming to see you about it,'' said

Mrs Sams.

Shortly afterwards, police arrested Sams and took away his Austin


Sams was taken to Millgarth Police Station, Leeds, headquarters of the

hunt for the killer of teenager Julie Dart.

''He was a smarmy bastard, a nasty piece of work, with a smile on his

face all the time,'' said one police officer.

As a prisoner, Sams kept up a barrage of complaints to the police

about his treatment.

Sams always seemed an unlikely candidate because of the ingenious way

in which he duped 1000 police officers during the ransom ''drop''


How could a man with only one leg outwit and outrun the cream of West

Midlands police?

Shortly after losing his leg, he married his second wife Leeds

Polytechnic catering student Jane Marks at Silsden Methodist Church,

West Yorkshire, on November 11, 1978.

His first wife was Susan Little, a textile tester, from Keighley, West

Yorkshire. They had two sons, Robert and Charles.

It was during this marriage that Sams took up running as a serious

pastime and for 10 years was a member of the Bingley Harriers Club.

The Sams family moved to Oakworth, near the Bronte village of Haworth.

They enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle and Sams earned a good living as a

central heating engineer, but things began to turn sour.

Treasured model railway equipment worth #2000 was stolen from his

home, his wife left him, and there was the amputation operation.

Susan and Sams separated in 1976 and were divorced the following year.

It was Susan (Now Mrs Susan Oake) who recognised the voice from a tape

recording sent to the police and played on BBC TV's Crimewatch


Mrs Oake had been watching the programme at home in Riddlesden, West

Yorkshire, with sons Robert and Charles. Minutes later, they were

telephoning the police.

After his marriage to Barbara Marks ended, Sams moved to Peterborough,

where he met and married third wife Teena, now 43.

Detectives chasing Michael Sams had to admit his scheme for collecting

the #175,000 ransom for Stephanie Slater's release was little short of


As he waited in a railway cutting 85ft beneath a bridge, he used a

tray attached to rope, and simply pulled on the rope to bring the money

tumbling to his feet.

But Sams was initially trapped by a very basic blunder -- he failed to

disguise his voice when relaying instructions over Ms Slater's ransom.

His inability to spell also proved to be a key part of the jigsaw that

convinced police they had the right man.

The trail of clues which finally led to Sams included:

* Several blackmail letters written by Julie Dart's kidnapper and

killer were littered with spelling mistakes.

After his arrest, detectives got Sams to write sentences containing

the same words. His spelling errors exactly matched those on the ransom


* When he attempted to collect a #140,000 ransom from police for Julie

Dart, Sams warned he could detect any surveillance activity.

The ''detector'' was coated in a silver paint only available in

specialist model-making shops. Railway buff Sams had a model train set

laid out in his loft, including a home-made water tower coated with the

same paint.

* Ms Darts's body was trussed with rope imported from Portugal and

sold in the UK through only a handful of retailers. One was Parkers of

Peterborough, where Sams used to be a regular customer.