FBI Most Wanted List: 65 Years Of Successfully Capturing America’s Most Dangerous Criminals

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Most Wanted list is celebrating 65-years of successfully capturing the most hideous criminals in America’s history.

Notorious FBI director J. Edgar Hoover instituted the most wanted list in 1950, after a reporter asked the bureau to provide a list of names and descriptions of the “toughest guys” that the agency wanted to capture. After the public showed intense interest in the resulting story, Hoover decided to act and publish a formal list.

Since its inception, the FBI most wanted list has featured 504 fugitives from the law — eight of whom are women — with 473 (94 percent) captured or located. Out of that number, 155 (31 percent) have been found with the public’s assistance, a key element of the list.

Leslie Isben Rogge, captured in 1996 (Image via Nish242)

The list was instituted the old-fashioned way, before computers, cell phones, and the internet. Detective work when it came to finding the worst of the worst criminals in the U.S. often involved printed posters hung in high-traffic areas, including post offices, restaurants, and other public venues.

Most Wanted posters date back to the days before America as we know it existed, according to Time magazine. With the development of the printing press, authorities used this new technology to catch fugitives from the law.

Prior to making an official Top 10 most wanted list, the FBI used these types of banners internally to help agents catch criminals. In the 30s, a “public enemy” list — which included famous Mafia boss Al Capone — was released, and journalists paid attention.

In 1949, an International News Service (now United Press International) reporter approached Hoover, asking the FBI to provide him with the list. The agency’s boss then decided to publish the first Most Wanted list. The bureau offers a reward of $1 million for information that leads to the capture of the fugitives.

In 1996, Leslie Isben Rogge became the first fugitive to be captured with the help of the internet. Additionally, following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S., the FBI released a Most Wanted terrorist list, which is used by airport security around the world.

The latest name to be added to the FBI Top 10 Most Wanted list is Yaser Said, an Egyptian resident of the U.S., who is wanted for the double murders of his two teenage daughters, Amina, 18, and Sarah, 17, in 2008 in Irving, Texas. Authorities believe this crime is a so-called “honor killing” because the girls had dishonored the family, who followed strict Islam rule, by having boyfriends and going to parties.

FBI Top 10 Most Wanted
Image via FBI

He lured the girls into his cab and shot them after Amina had reportedly written emails saying her dad wanted to kill her and her sister. Sarah was able to call 911 before she died saying, “Help, my dad shot me.” The FBI is still seeking Said.

[Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]