The Federal Bureau of Investigation's "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" list, is a cornerstone of American crime-fighting.  Keep reading to learn the history of the "Ten Most Wanted" list, and to see if you recognize any of the fugitives currently on it, including two men with ties to Illinois and Kentucky, respectively.

Nearly 75 Years of Catching Fugitives

The list of the "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" has a rich history dating back to March 14, 1950. This iconic list was born when a news reporter approached the FBI with a simple request – the names and descriptions of the "toughest guys" the Bureau aimed to apprehend. The ensuing story generated a storm of publicity and public fascination. It was the attention generated by the story that prompted late FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to establish the "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" program.

First on the List

There always has to be a first, and the inaugural member of this infamous list was a man by the name of Thomas James Holden. The fugitive was being sought by authorities for the murder of his wife, along with both her brother and her stepbrother. After the news spread, Thomas James Holden was arrested on June 23, 1961, in Beaverton, Oregon after a citizen read about it in a local newspaper and contacted the FBI.

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How the "Ten Most Wanted" List Works

The "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" list is designed to highlight particularly dangerous fugitives who might not otherwise garner nationwide attention. It relies heavily on public and media assistance. Publicity is key, extending from coast to coast and around the globe.

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FBI; Canva
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Noteworthy Records

Two remarkable records in the program's history stand out. Billy Austin Bryant holds the record for the shortest stay on the list, a mere two hours in 1969. Victor Manuel Gerena spent an astounding 32 years on the list. As for the oldest criminal to ever make the list, Eugene Palmer, an 80-year-old man, became the oldest addition to the list in May 2019.

The Program's Purpose

The "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" program serves to spotlight criminals with extensive records of serious crimes or those posing an immediate danger to society due to pending charges. It hinges on the belief that nationwide publicity can assist in their capture, provided the fugitive isn't already notorious through other means.

Criteria for Removal

So how does someone get taken off of "The Most Wanted" list? Fugitives are only removed from the list under three very specific conditions:

  1. Capture: If they are apprehended.
  2. Dismissal of Charges: If the federal process against them is dropped (an FBI decision-independent event).
  3. No Longer a Menace: If they no longer meet the "particularly dangerous menace to society" criteria.

In the history of the list, there have been 13 cases where fugitives were removed for the third reason. It was determined they no longer posed a significant threat. Upon removal, another fugitive is promptly added to replace them on the list.

Public's Role and Rewards

As of May 25, 2023, 531 fugitives have graced the "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" list. Remarkably, 494 of these individuals have been located, with 163 apprehensions directly attributed to citizen cooperation. To incentivize the public's involvement, the FBI offers a minimum reward of up to $250,000 for information leading to the capture of a "Ten Most Wanted Fugitive." In some cases, the reward exceeds this amount.

The FBI's "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" program, born from a simple request by a reporter, has become a critical tool in capturing America's most notorious criminals. It showcases the power of public involvement, media cooperation, and substantial rewards in bringing these fugitives to justice. Keep scrolling to see the current list of "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives."

[Source: FBI]

The FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives as of August 2023

The public plays a crucial role in capturing dangerous criminals, and the FBI hopes you may be able to recognize one of these ten people.

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