FBI’s Most Wanted List Turns 60; Is It Losing Its Potency?


The FBI’s Most Wanted List turns 60 this month, says the Houston Chronicle. The bureau boasts a respectable capture rate: 463 of the 494 listed fugitives have been arrested or located since 1950. Six fugitives have been listed twice. Eight women have made the list. Fugitives who have landed there include bank robber Willie Sutton; assassin James Earl Ray, who shot Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; and serial killer Ted Bundy. Among those long able to evade the law are terrorist Osama bin Laden and Boston gangster James Bulger, who is now 80 years old.

Larry Karson, a retired Customs Service agent who is now a criminal justice lecturer at the University of Houston-Downtown, said the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list remains a big hammer but needs to make the most of social media tools. “The modern FBI is living off the coattails of J. Edgar Hoover’s work when it comes to the recognition of the list,” he said. “I think you’ll find a bunch of kids in high school who might not even recognize it anymore, compared to what it was one generation ago or two generations ago.” Karson asked students in an entry-level course how many had heard of the FBI’s Most Wanted. About half had.

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