The FBI’s most wanted criminals list is almost as infamous as the people on it.
Through the years, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s ‘Ten Most Wanted’ has been almost as infamous as the men on it.
Over the years, criminals such as James Earl Ray, El Chapo, Whitey Bulger and Osama bin Laden all held a spot on the list.
Since 1950, the list contributed to the arrests of more than 150 criminals and played host to some of history’s most notorious household names. The list was the brainchild of J. Edgar Hoover, after spending years compiling lists of individual state criminals into one. Hoover realized that publicizing a nation-wide list of the ten most dangerous criminals could result in faster arrests, and on March 14, 1950, published the very first one.
A committee made up of agents from all 56 field offices of the FBI create the list, after surveying the most dangerous crimes, and the period of time the criminal spent evading arrest. Surprisingly, there’s even a waiting list. Some criminals are placed on a secondary list, and have to wait until a spot frees up. Osama bin Laden was one of those wait-listed for the top ten. He wasn’t added until almost a year after he bombed an embassy in Kenya.
Though it’s referred to as the “top ten,” the list occasionally is shortened to as little as 7 and has been expanded to include 11 names at least twice in history. There’s no specific kind of crime that warrants you a place on the list, though most of them are similar in nature. The most popular crimes include murder, arson, sexual offenses, and drug smuggling.
The first man to make the list was Thomas James Holden, a bank robber who was accused of robbing a mail train, escaping prison and murdering his wife. He was apprehended after a man recognized him after seeing the list in his local newspaper.
The criminal who spend the longest on the list was Donald Eugene Webb, who spent almost 30 years in various spots among the top ten. He was eventually removed in 2007 after it was assumed he was dead, but it wasn’t until 2017 that his remains were located.
Out of more than 500 people who’ve had their names on the list, only nine of them were women, the first in 1968, the latest in 2016.
As of Nov. 30, 2017, the current list is as follows: