FDLE ’12 Days of Fugitives’ nabs escapee on the lam for 30 yearsby Dara Kam | December 21st, 2009
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s holiday-themed fugitive project nabbed its first missing suspect this weekend, officials said.
But FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey’s cheer over the capture didn’t last long. The armed robber who escaped from a Florida work release program more than three decades ago was set free on bond.
Oscar Richardson, who officials say had been living under the assumed name ‘Eugene Ward’ in Missouri for years, was one of a dozen fugitives featured in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s “12 Days of Fugitives” holiday-themed campaign to close cold cases.
Richardson was arrested this weekend after a tip received through fugitive hotline, according to FDLE officials. He was convicted of armed robbery for holding up two stores in Tampa in 1977.
Bailey held a press conference in Tallahassee early Monday afternoon praising the success of the “12 Days of Fugitives” campaign blitz.
A few hours later, Bailey blasted Taney County Circuit Court Judge Tony Williams’ decision to let Richardson back on the loose.
“I am shocked and extremely disappointed by the irresponsible decision of Judge Tony Williams to allow Oscar Richardson to post bond. Richardson is a violent felony offender who was serving time in Florida for an armed robbery conviction when he fled after serving only a fraction of his sentence. Allowing this fugitive to walk out of a courtroom after hiding from authorities for 30 years diminishes the seriousness of his crimes and shows a lack of sensitivity for those he victimized and a disregard for the safety of the citizens of Taney County. We are working closely with Missouri authorities to aggressively pursue Richardson’s extradition to Florida. His debt to our state remains unpaid,” Bailey said in a statement.
Richardson, who’s been on the lam for more than three decades, was arrested in Missouri where he had been living under an assumed name, FDLE officials said today.
Richardson’s was the oldest of the dozen cold cases FDLE officials are hoping to close.
Richardson, now 61, escaped from a Kissimmee work release center in 1979 after serving less than two years of a 10-year sentence for armed robbery.
In 1977, Richardson held up a drug store and convenience store in Tampa.
Richardson was living under the name of “Eugene Ward” in Missouri when he was arrested on Saturday and is believed to have lived there for many years.
Richardson was arrested by a U.S. Marshals Task Force and was booked into the Taney County Jail on his outstanding warrant for escape, FDLE officials said.