Florida fugitive recaptured after 30 years

July 28th, 2011 by Staff

articles.cnn.com – A man who escaped from a Florida work release center in 1979 while serving a sentence for armed robbery has been captured in Missouri, authorities said Monday.

Oscar Eugene Richardson, 61, was arrested Saturday in Ridgedale, Missouri, as a result of information received through a police hot line, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the state Department of Corrections said. He is the first fugitive captured as part of the Florida “12 Days of Fugitives” campaign.

“Richardson is the oldest case among the dozen escapees and it is fitting that justice caught up with him first,” said Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey.

Richardson escaped from the Kissimmee Work Release center in March 1979 after serving less than two years of his 10-year sentence, police said.

He had robbed a Tampa, Florida, drugstore in January 1977, holding two employees at gunpoint as he demanded money from the store’s safe. Two months later he robbed a convenience store in Tampa, holding the clerk at gunpoint and demanding she fill a bag with money, authorities said. He fled but was apprehended minutes later.

At the time of his arrest Saturday, Richardson was living under the alias Eugene Ward and using a false Social Security number, officials said. Police believe he had been living in the same area of Missouri for many years. He was arrested by a U.S. Marshals Service task force.

The 12 Days of Fugitives campaign, launched December 7, is aimed at Florida’s oldest and most violent prison escapees, the departments’ statement said. Newspapers are featuring the fugitives in print and online photo galleries and the Florida Outdoor Advertising Association and its member companies are providing donated space on billboards.

“The campaign is designed to reach the public during the holiday season, when investigators believe the wanted men are most likely to contact friends, family and loved ones,” the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said.

More than $22,000 in reward money is available — up to $2,500 per fugitive — for information leading to their capture. The money is provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Department of Corrections and the Florida Police Chiefs’ Association.

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