FBI Cincinnati
Public Affairs Specialist Todd Lindgren
(513) 979-8347
March 12, 2015

FBI Cincinnati Commemorates Anniversary of Top Ten Program

Special Agent in Charge Angela L. Byers announced today that Saturday, March 14, 2015, will mark the 65th anniversary of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives program. The “Top Ten” program is designed to publicize particularly dangerous fugitives. It is an extremely important law enforcement tool, and media involvement is central to its success.

The Top Ten program began from a newspaper story in late 1949. A reporter for International News Service asked the FBI for the names and descriptions of the “toughest guys” the FBI would like to capture. The story had great appeal and generated so much positive publicity that on March 14, 1950, former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover implemented the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives program. Since its inception, 504 fugitives have been placed on the Top Ten list, and 473 have been apprehended or located.

The Cincinnati Field Office has added five fugitives to the Top Ten list since its inception: Patrick Eugene McDermott in 1955, Thomas Viola in 1961, Earl Ellery Wright in 1966, Roy Ellsworth Smith in 1977, and John W. Parsons in 2006.

Five fugitives from the Top Ten list have also been located or arrested within the Cincinnati Field Office territory: Robert Garfield Brown, Jr., arrested in Cincinnati in 1960; Roy Ellsworth Smith, found dead in Perry Township in 1977; John Edward Stevens, arrested in Warren County in 1988; Clayton Lee Waagner, arrested in Springdale in 2001; and John W. Parsons, arrested near Chillicothe in 2006. There are no fugitives from the Cincinnati Field Office on the Top Ten list at this time.

Patrick Eugene McDermott was the first fugitive from the Cincinnati Field Office to be placed on the list on February 9, 1955, for unlawful flight to avoid confinement. McDermott had escaped from prison in Columbus, Ohio, where he was serving a sentence for murdering Donald Mellett, the editor of the Daily News in Canton, Ohio. McDermott was captured on July 19, 1955, in New York City.

John W. Parsons was the most recent fugitive from the Cincinnati Field Office to be placed on the list on September 30, 2006. Parsons was wanted for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, escape, aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, weapons under disability, tampering with evidence, and grand theft. Parsons escaped from the Ross County, Ohio jail on July 29, 2006. He was being held pending capital charges for the April 21, 2005 murder of Chillicothe Police Officer Larry R. Cox. Parsons was located near Chillicothe, Ohio, and arrested on October 19, 2006.

“We greatly appreciate the support of the media and the public over the last 65 years of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives program,” stated Special Agent in Charge Byers. “Tips from the public have been crucial in locating many of the Top Ten fugitives during this time. We hope the public will continue to actively provide information as we investigate modern criminals and work to locate today’s fugitive suspects.”

Information about the current Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list can be found on the Internet, television, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, podcasts, cell phone applications, and digital billboards. As technology continues to advance and innovative applications surface, the FBI intends to utilize all the tools available to publicize fugitives and engage the public in helping to locate them. More information about the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list is available on the FBI’s Internet page at www.fbi.gov.

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