Throughout its more than 100-year history, the FBI has solicited help from the public to locate wanted criminals—especially those on the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.
Earlier this year, the FBI announced that the reward for information leading directly to the arrest of a Ten Most Wanted Fugitive increased from up to $100,000 to up to $250,000.
In some cases, the potential reward amount may be higher.
“The FBI recognizes the crucial role that public assistance has played in tracking fugitives throughout the years,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “Raising the rewards for the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives will ideally garner additional public tips resulting in the capture of these dangerous criminals.”
The FBI began publishing its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list in March 1950 after a reporter asked for names of the “toughest guys” the Bureau sought to capture.
A Washington Daily News article that followed—titled “FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives Named”—created so much publicity that former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover decided to implement an ongoing list.
The first person named to the list in 1950 was Thomas Holden, who was wanted for the murder of his wife, her brother, and her stepbrother.
He was arrested in 1961 in Oregon after the FBI received a tip from a public citizen who had read an article about Holden in The Oregonian newspaper.
Over the years, the FBI has apprehended or located 494 fugitives on the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, including 163 that were captured as a direct result of citizen cooperation.
In the last five years alone, the FBI has captured eight fugitives from the list, most recently Michael James Pratt and Jose Rodolfo Villarreal-Hernandez.
Fugitives named to the list must be considered particularly dangerous to society, with a long track record of committing serious crimes.
The FBI also considers whether national and/or international publicity would likely assist in apprehending the fugitives.