If you’re a criminal, the last place you want to be (besides prison) is on the FBI’s notorious Most Wanted Fugitives List.
The FBI introduced this iconic roster of murderers, rapists, robbers, and other evil-doers in 1950, at the behest of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. The well-publicized list brilliantly enlists the help of the general public in tracking down the most hardened “tough guys” in America, many of whom have broken out of prison. (Though the vast majority of the criminals on this list are men, a few women have been added over the . Here’s a look at the most brutal female criminals in history.)
To identify the most wanted criminals of the 1960s, 24/7 Tempo reviewed information from “Ten Most Wanted History Pictures,” a report published by the FBI identifying over 500 current and former criminals who have appeared on the list, along with the circumstances of their arrests, where applicable. We defined “most wanted” as those who spent the longest time on the list.
Some notorious criminals are not on this list for that reason – perhaps most notably James Earl Ray, who assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968. Ray was on the list for only two months before being arrested in the U.K., where he had fled. In 1977, while he was serving a 99-year sentence in the U.S., he escaped from prison, but was captured two days later.
Since its inception, 492 of the 529 fugitives who have appeared on the Most Wanted list have been apprehended, with 163 of them identified by citizens. Many of the criminals on this list were in the first “class” of 1950; some of them were captured before the list was even published, and others managed to evade capture entirely. (These are the most wanted criminals of the 1950s.)
In some cases, the FBI removes criminals from the list even though they haven’t been arrested. That might be because the charges against them have been dropped, because the agency decides that they are no longer a danger to society (in which case they’ll still be wanted, just not “most” wanted), or because they die. Convicted drug dealer John Gibson Dillon, for instance, was struck from the list after three following the discovery of his decomposed body at the bottom of a well, wired to 400 pounds of oil drilling gear.
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