Top Ten Turns 60

As the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list turns 60, Special Agent Brad Bryant of the Criminal Investigative Division explains its evolution.

Video Transcript

Voiceover: As the ten most wanted fugitives list turns 60, special agent Brad Bryant of the Criminal Investigative Division, explains its evolution.

Mr. Bryant: It was created on March 14th, 1950. A little over a year before that, a reporter had come to the FBI and said, ‘Give us a list of names and descriptions of the toughest guys that the FBI wants right now.’ It became such a big hit for the FBI in terms of publicity and public appeal that Director Hoover decided to make it a permanent program.

Well, in the early days of the list, in the early 50s, they were wanted for crimes such as bank robbery, burglary, there were car thieves, and armed robbers who primarily made the Top Ten list back then.

With the turbulent social changes of the 1960s, we had crimes such as destruction of government property, sabotage, and kidnapping. As we moved into the 1970s, a lot of the fugitives making the list were those who had ties to organized crime. During the 1980s, we had fugitives wanted for drug-related matters and some serial murderers on the list, and that continued up to the 1990s. And during the 90s, we had people wanted for various international crimes such as large drug trafficking cartels, international money laundering, crimes against children, and of course international terrorism.

Well probably the most prominent is Usama bin Laden, he’s on the list; he’s probably the most well known right now. Besides him, Ramsi Yousef, who was wanted for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was on the list. Mir Aimel Kansi, who was wanted for the killing of two CIA employees outside CIA Headquarters back in 1993, was on the list. Andrew Cunanan, who was wanted for several murders, including the murder of Gianni Versace, was on the list. Harry Bowman, who was the international president of the Outlaws Motorcycle gang, was on our list, and of course James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, who had ties to organized crime up in the Boston area, is still on our list, as a matter of fact.

One of the more well-known ones from the 50s, Willie Sutton, was on the list. Willie was a notorious bank robber. Besides him, James Earl Ray, who was wanted for the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. He was on the list twice, as a matter of fact. Once in 1968 after the assassination, and then again in 1977 when he escaped from prison. Billy Austin Bryant from right here in Washington, D.C. He was on the list for a grand total of two hours back in 1969. Leslie Rogge was the first person to be apprehended as the result of the Internet.

So far we’ve had two captures as a direct result of the Internet, and I think this is most assuredly going to grow in the coming years. A couple of reasons: first of all, the Internet allows more people to have access to the Top Ten list; and secondly, it allows people to look at the list for longer periods of time. You can study the photos more. You can look at the write-ups for a longer period of time. So we think the Internet is going to help us capture a lot more fugitives in the coming years.

A total of 151 have been captured as the result of help from the public. So about a third, have been because of the public’s assistance, and we really appreciate that and that’s what we need to continue to have a good solution rate to finding these folks.

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