Worst of the Worst: FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List Turns 60

New Technology Leads to Arrests

Ever since a private citizen reported Holden to the authorities in 1951, 152 fugitives have been captured as a result of citizen cooperation. Two of those citizens realized they knew the whereabouts of fugitives after learning they were at large during a tour of FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.

"We follow up on every possible investigative lead in our pursuit of these fugitives, but we only have 13,000 special agents. That may sound like a lot, but when someone's trying to hide, it doesn't compare to millions of eyes out there looking for them," said Ken Hoffman, head of the FBI's Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs department.

America's Most Wanted

"We just publicize these fugitives and it's the public that makes the 'Ten Most Wanted' list so successful," he said.

Today, Hoffman said, the bureau uses "technology, the Internet and social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter, to instantly communicate these faces to millions of people, not just within in the U.S., but around the world as well."

Perhaps the most dramatic use of new technology to disseminate the list came in 1988 with the airing of the first episode of "America's Most Wanted."

The program, which launched in 1988 on FOX has helped capture 17 Top Ten fugitives from the list.

"Calling someone a most wanted fugitive puts them in a different category, a category of urgency and danger," said the show's host John Walsh.

"These guys are the worst of the worst and need to be caught. The public is a huge part of this equation. "America's Most Wanted" is the electronic version of the wanted poster," he said.

Walsh said the FBI was initially reluctant to cooperate with the fledgling program, but after the first top tenner was caught within weeks of his story being broadcast on the program's first show, the bureau realized the impact the TV show could have.

David James Roberts was an accused rapist and murderer who left an infant on a roadside to die and killed another child when he set a family's house on fire. He spent a year on the list from April 1987 to February 1988.

He was caught weeks after the first "America's Most Wanted" episode aired when a number of tipsters called in to report that he was hiding in plain sight, running a homeless shelter in Staten Island, N.Y.

"That's what made the show a hit. That's when we all realized we could use technology to get these scumbags," said Walsh.

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