How Do You Find Information on America's Most Wanted Criminals?


Quick Answer

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's website, FBI.gov, publishes information on America's most wanted criminals. The FBI also routinely publicizes criminals on the popular television show "America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back," profiling the fugitives both when they make the list and when any updates about the ensuing investigations occur. The program, hosted by John Walsh, airs on the Fox Television Network. The FBI attributes 17 arrests of individuals on the list to the television program, as of 2015.

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Full Answer

The America's Most Wanted publicity program began on Feb. 7, 1949, when an article titled "FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives Named" appeared in The Washington Daily News. The author contacted the FBI and requested the names and descriptions of its most wanted criminals. The story engrossed the public, so FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover permanently implemented the FBI’s "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" program on March 14, 1950.

Since the list's inception, 494 fugitives made the list, and the FBI captured 463 of them. However, the composition of the list evolved with the nature of crime. In the 1950s, the list usually contained bank robbers, burglars and car thieves. During the 1960s, the list reflected the revolutionaries of the time, and during the 1970s, it included many members of organized crime and terrorist groups. Since the 1980s and 1990s, the list primarily consists of sexual predators, international terrorists and drug traffickers.

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