NEW PORT RICHEY — About 11:45 p.m. Thursday, a man walked into the Pasco Sheriff's administrative office and said he was ready to turn himself in.
Vernon Coleman, 67, had been on the lam for 16 years, wanted on a Kansas warrant for sex crimes against a child. Authorities there spent years searching for the man they described as a "violent sex offender" who could be "armed and dangerous."
But after years of eluding them, it seems, Coleman became tired of life on the run.
"I can't believe it," said Capt. Terry Parham of the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office in Kansas, after learning Coleman had turned himself in. Parham immediately remembered the case — Coleman was well-known throughout the county.
"He went missing after he learned there was a warrant out for his arrest," he said. "But I imagine he just got tired of running since he's getting old."
Pasco sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said Coleman was arrested after authorities checked his name on their system.
"Apparently he is homeless," Doll said. "He's just another one who, as they say, was slipping under the radar."
Parham said the 6-foot, 180-pound man used to own a strip club near Wichita. Coleman used to wear a wig of "really bad long hair" to hide his baldness, Parham said.
"Every time he got arrested, he had to take off his wig for the picture, and I remember that made him really mad," Parham said.
Parham said Coleman had children, and his son was killed by law enforcement in a shootout in Sedgwick County sometime before 1995.
"At one point, he was pretty successful and had a nice car, but those things change over the years," Parham said.
Coleman later worked as a cab driver and a trucker, authorities said. He had a surgical scar on his abdomen from a gunshot wound.
In 1995, he was accused of raping and sodomizing a young girl near a former strip club just outside of Derby, a town south of Wichita. After the incident was reported, Coleman took off.
Coleman is now being held at the Land O'Lakes jail without bail on charges of aggravated criminal sodomy, sexual exploitation of a child and aggravated indecent liberties with a child. He will be extradited back to Kansas.