FBI “Most Wanted” list names its 500th fugitive

Highly successful FBI “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” program has caught 469 of its 500 members

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It's a list one would never aspire to be on. The FBI today said it named the 500th criminal to its iconic "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives,"  program - a list that has been kept since 1950.

The idea behind the Ten Most Wanted was to get the names and faces of criminals out to the public and ultimately lead to their capture. And the FBI says the list has done just that in a major way: Of the 500 fugitives who have been named to the list, 469 have been apprehended or located. Of those, 155 fugitives have been captured or located as a direct result of citizen cooperation, the agency says.

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The list has had its share of interesting activities including:

  • 155 fugitives have been captured/located as a result of citizen cooperation.
  • Two fugitives were apprehended as a result of visitors on an FBI tour.
  • The shortest amount of time spent on the "Top Ten" list was two hours, by Billy Austin Bryant in 1969.
  • The person who has spent the longest amount of time on the list is Victor Manuel Gerena.
  • Nine fugitives were arrested prior to publication and release, but are still considered as officially on the list.
  • The oldest person to be placed on the list was 69-year-old James J. Bulger, who was added in August of 1999.
  • Only eight women have ever been on the list. The first, Ruth Eisemann-Schier, was added in 1968 for kidnapping, extortion, and other crimes, the FBI said.

The fugitives named today are wanted for a combination of crimes including rape, murder, and the sexual exploitation of children. Rewards are being offered for information leading to the apprehension of both men, the FBI said. "These individuals are a dangerous menace to society," said Ron Hosko, assistant director of our Criminal Investigative Division. "That's what got criminals on the Top Ten list 63 years ago, and that's why we put them on the list today."

According to the FBI  the publication of fugitive information via newspapers and magazines initially brought broader participation to the program, but the Internet, television, social media, and digital billboards have made it all the more useful. And of course, there is an iPhone app for the list as well as Facebook, Twitter and other social media participation.  

In 2010, the FBI began flashing criminal's mugshots on an electronic billboard amongst the dazzling light show that is Times Square in New York City.  The digital billboard is part of the FBI successful nationwide effort to nab criminals by splashing their mugshots on over 1,500 public screens in 40 states for millions of citizens to see.  At least 30 cases have been solved as a direct result of digital billboard publicity, and many others have been solved through the Bureau's overall publicity efforts that included the billboards, the FBI stated. 

The FBI said it places a high priority on the fugitive investigations represented on the list. At a minimum, a reward of up to $100,000 is offered by the FBI for information leading directly to the arrest of a Top Ten fugitive. In some instances, the reward amount offered exceeds $100,000.

According to the FBI the Top 10 list started in 1950, an International News Service (which became the United Press International) reporting asked the FBI about the "toughest guys" being sought by the FBI at the time. The bureau provided the names and descriptions of 10 fugitives to the reporter. The resulting feature became a major story and gained national attention. As a consequence of overwhelming public interest then- FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover inaugurated the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives program, the FBI stated.

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