The History Of The FBI's 'Ten Most Wanted' List

By Grace Taylor
FBI investigation. (Getty Images)

For the last 70 years, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list has put the fates of some of the most hardened and dangerous criminals in the nation in the public's hands. The list began as a news article after a reporter asked FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover for details on "the 10 toughest guys" currently on the loose in America, which became so popular that Hoover decided to formalize it as a top-10 list of the FBI's most wanted.

According to the FBI, 488 of the 523 fugitives on the Most Wanted list have been apprehended, 162 of which were caught due to leads from citizens who saw their names and faces in various publications or on TV. For those bad at math, that's one-third of the worst criminals known to the FBI brought to justice thanks to observant yet ordinary folks. One suspected murderer, Billie Austin Bryant, was arrested only two hours after his addition to the list in 1969. You could say it's been a success.

Let's take a look at some of these so-called "tough guys" who had the dishonor of being chosen for the very first list, published on March 14, 1950.