An Ovett sex offender who was convicted in Alaska has been captured in Arizona after failing to register in Jones County, and now he’s facing time in federal prison.
Richard James Hunt, 37, was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals in Coshise County last week, Investigator Wesley Waites of the Jones County Sheriff’s Department reported.
“I got information that he had left Mississippi illegally and was somewhere on the West Coast,” Waites said.
Hunt was supposed to be living at a residence on Highway 15 South in Ovett, according to the last time he registered, which all sex offenders are required to do every 90 days. Jones County offenders who are moving or leaving the state have to let Waites know in order to be in compliance.
Waites confirmed that Hunt had moved from the residence he was registered at, so he issued a warrant for his arrest, put his name and information on the National Crime Information Center database and contacted the U.S. Marshals Service in Jackson.
Hunt was pulled over for a traffic offense in Cochise County on May 26, and deputies there saw he was wanted for failing to register. But the work was just beginning for Waites. He had to prove that Hunt had been at a new residence for at least seven consecutive days, among other things, in order to make it a federal case.
“I found where he’d been employed and where he’d been living and sent it to the Marshals, and they confirmed he’d been there for a while,” Waites said.
With that information, they worked to get a federal warrant. Waites got the news late Thursday afternoon.
“It took a lot of work — phone calls, texts, emails — but we’re getting everything we can to prosecute him federally,” he said.
It’s worth it, Waites said, because a conviction in federal court means up to 10 years in prison, day for day, with no chance for early release.
“Hopefully, I’ll be retired by the time he gets out, Waites said with a chuckle.
The arrest of Hunt means there are no non-compliant sex offenders on the Jones County registry, which is “very rare,” Waites said.
He credits the U.S. Marshals for helping him achieve that.
“We have a great working relationship,” Waites said. “I talk, text or email with them alm ost every day. They’ve caught three absconders out of state for me now. I can’t say enough about the outstanding job they do.”
Hunt was convicted of multiple counts of sexual abuse of a minor in Sitka, Alaska in 2009, and he transferred to Jones County a few years later because he has family here, Waites said.
“If you’re going to be (a sex offender) here, you’re going to be compliant or you’re going to jail,” Waites said. “It’s that simple.”
The day before securing the federal warrant on Hunt, a new sex offender came to check in with Waites. He gave the newcomer the same advice he gives them all: “If you run, you’ll regret you ever met me. We will find you.”