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FDLE ’12 Days of Fugitives’ nabs escapee on the lam for 30 years

by 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.

Oscar Eugene Richardson is shown before his 1979 escape, left, and after his Saturday capture.

Oscar Eugene Richardson is shown before his 1979 escape, left, and after his Saturday capture.

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.

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9 Responses to “FDLE ’12 Days of Fugitives’ nabs escapee on the lam for 30 years”

  1. UPDATE: Captured escapee on the lam for 30 years out on bond | Post on Politics Says:

    [...] fugitive who escaped from a Florida work release program more than 30 years ago and was captured this weekend in Missouri is out on [...]

  2. smokey Says:

    What a relief , now the taxpayers can spend $50,000 a year to lock up a harmless old man , not to mention the police work it took to find the harmless old man. Great job FDLE !!!

  3. G Says:

    He was driving the same car that he used as the escape vehicle, a 73 Ford Maverick. Not very smart. Should have ditched the car!

  4. perspective Says:

    The man served two of a ten year sentence. In those days, he would likely have been paroled in four-five years. He’s lived trouble free for thirty years. How much rehabilitation does this person really need?

  5. Agent S Says:

    A prison term is a prison term. You just don’t escape from jail or prison and believe everything is going to be OK and forgotten as long you stay out of trouble. smokey, do you know this guy? How do you know his harmless? I bet you’re a liberal!

  6. Susan Says:

    Ok- he commits a crime, sentenced and then commits another crime by escaping. He is finally caught 30 YEARS later and the judge lets him go on bond- does he not think his prior behavior may be looked at as a flight risk? I can understand why cops gets so darn frustrated!!!

  7. mike Says:

    to agent S,
    I consider myself a liberal and I think this guy needs to be in prison. He is a violent offender. Your stereo typing makes me quetion your judgement.

  8. Brandy Says:

    That’s our good old judicial system…not, it sucks. I was a victim of a crime and the cops were so frustrated, before they could finish the paperwork the Judge let them all go free on time served (like 3 days in jail). Then one of them was arrested a couple days later doing the same thing to someone else, the Judge let them go again on time served (5 days in jail). Ruined my life and cost me a fortune, but they just walked out of the courtroom laughing. Ya great Judicial system we have, that’s why this country and crime is so awful. The criminals are protected and the victims suffer, too bad for us. Off they go to commit more crimes. That’s why they continue to do so, they know there’s no real punishment, but 3 meals a day and room and board. Not too shabby for them. Boy, I can’t wait till they call me for jury duty, I’m going to walk in court with my 5 inch thick file on me as a victim and see what the Judge has to say then. I will say GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY!!!

  9. justice Says:

    No, he should not have escaped but we need prision space for killers, child molesters ect… he has not cause any problems in 30 years, he has saved the tax payers money, he feed himself. So put him on probation and make him pay a fine every month. Then we can use his money to feed the real criminals

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