With the New Year upon us, and all the best of lists, I thought it was time to mention the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List.
If you have never looked at the list, you can find it here.
The Top Ten list started in 1950 when an International News Service requested a list of the “toughest guys” the FBI wanted to capture. The story took off and J. Edgar Hoover, never one to pass up an opportunity, implemented the program. Thomas J. Holden, wanted for murder, was the first person put on the list.
There have been 494 fugitives on the list and 465 have been captured. Of those 465, 153 Top Tenners were caught because of cooperation from citizens. That is almost a third of the list! So take a look and you might just find that your new neighbor or that guy in the coffee shop is actually a wanted criminal.
But remember, these are dangerous people (all men at the moment) and they are not to be approached. Call the authorities, just narrowing down where they have been seen can often be enough.
Two of the captured fugitives were recognized by visitors to the FBI. Imagine walking past the wall of most wanted and seeing someone you know?
The television show, America’s Most Wanted, is responsible for 17 of the arrests.
How long can someone be on the list? For Billy Austin Bryant it was two hours. And for Victor Manuel Gerena it has been over 27 years -- he is still on the list. Nine fugitives added to the list were even caught before the list was published.
Currently, the list only has eight active fugitives since Osama Bin Laden (deceased) and James J. Bulger (captured) currently remain on the list. As an aside, James J. Bulger was also the oldest person on the list at 69 years old.
How do you get on the list? (OK, there aren't likely many out there actually wanting to get on the list.) According to the FBI’s web site, there are two criteria:
“First, the individual must have a lengthy record of committing serious crimes and/or be considered a particularly dangerous menace to society due to current criminal charges.
Second, it must be believed that the nationwide publicity afforded by the program can be of assistance in apprehending the fugitive, who, in turn, should not already be notorious due to other publicity.”
To date, there have been 8 women on the list.
1968 saw the most fugitives apprehended with 33 and there were two apprehended in 2011. Alaska, Hawaii, Rhode Island and North Dakota have never had anyone on the Top Ten list. California has had the most with 55 – over 10% of the list.
And in case you are wondering, the idea caught on and many others, including the Marshals Service, the DEA, the Canadian RCMP, Scotland Yard and Interpol to name a few, all have their own list of wanted fugitives.
So, take a look at the list. See if there is anyone you recognize. You just never know when a wanted man is sitting next to you.