December 21, 2009
For More Information
Contact: Public Affairs Office
Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Commissioner Gerald Bailey and Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary Walt McNeil today announced the first capture in the “12 Days of Fugitives” campaign. Oscar Eugene Richardson, 61, was arrested at 3 p.m. Saturday in Ridgedale, Missouri as a result of information received through the campaign’s toll free hotline. Richardson had been on the run more than 30 years.
“Richardson is the oldest case among the dozen escapees and it is fitting that justice caught up with him first,” said Commissioner Bailey. “We thank our friends in the media for reaching the public so effectively with the names and faces of these fugitives.”
Richardson escaped from the Kissimmee Work Release Center in March of 1979 after serving less than two years of his 10-year sentence for armed robbery. On January 28, 1977, Richardson held two employees at gunpoint at a Tampa drug store and demanded money from the store safe. On March 1, 1977, he robbed a Tampa convenience store, holding the store clerk at gunpoint and demanding she fill a bag with money. He fled the scene but was arrested minutes later and charged in the crime.
"Inmate Richardson escaped from the Department of Corrections more than 30 years ago," said Department of Corrections Secretary Walt McNeil. "In the past thirty years, Oscar Richardson may have tried to forget his past and his prison time. But we've never forgotten about Inmate Richardson, and we’ve never forgotten about his victims."
At the time of the arrest, Richardson was living under the alias Eugene Ward. He is believed to have lived in the same area of Missouri for many years and had assumed a new identity and was using a false social security number.
Richardson was arrested by a U.S. Marshals Task Force and was booked into the Taney County Jail on his outstanding warrant for escape.
The “12 Days of Fugitive” campaign has more than $22,000 in reward money available, with up to $2,500 offered per fugitive for information leading to their capture. The funds are being provided by FDLE, DOC, and the Florida Police Chiefs Association.
“We are elated over the capture of Oscar Richardson,” said Pinellas Park Police Chief Dorene Thomas, President of the Florida Police Chiefs Association. “We commend FDLE and DOC for such an innovative approach to apprehend some of our state’s most violent fugitives.”
The “12 Days of Fugitives” campaign was launched Dec.7 and is a joint public outreach initiative by FDLE and DOC to locate Florida’s oldest and most violent prison escapees. Florida newspapers are featuring the fugitives in print and online photo galleries and the Florida Outdoor Advertising Association (FOAA) and its member companies are providing donated space on digital 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. To learn more about the “12 Days of Fugitives” visit www.fdle.state.fl.us.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the wanted fugitives is asked to call the toll free tip line at 1-877-FLA-WANTED (1-877-352-9268) or e-mail FLAWanted@fdle.state.fl.us.
For Further Information Contact:
Heather Smith, Kristen Chernosky or Mike Morrison
FDLE Office of Public Information
Gretl Plessinger or Jo Ellyn Rackleff
DOC Public Affairs