msnbc.com
updated 3/13/2010 3:18:18 AM ET 2010-03-13T08:18:18

A sex offender has been arrested after 33 years on the run, according to reports.

Berney V. Ferguson Jr., 71, was convicted of incest in March 1977 but failed to turn up to the court in northwest Missouri for sentencing. He was arrested earlier this week in Barnsdall, Okla., the Kansas City Star reported.

Clay County Prosecutor Daniel White told the newspaper that Ferguson changed his name and lived “under the grid,” sometimes in homeless shelters.

The Star said the original criminal trial had lasted less than two days with jurors recommending that Ferguson serve two years in prison.

“I guess he felt two years in prison was too much for him and he ran,” White told the paper.

“But had he gone to prison, he wouldn’t have had to spend the last half of his life looking over his shoulder and wondering when Clay County was going to show up.”

Ferguson's victim has now died and went to her grave “knowing the man who victimized them had not yet paid for his crimes,” White told the Star.

Someone convicted of a felony such as incest at the time of the trial would have served no more than five years in prison, the Star reported.

“Frankly, had Ferguson shown up, he’d have done his time and been off parole before disco died,” White added.

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