In 1949, a reporter for the International News Service (the predecessor to United Press International) approached the FBI and asked about writing a story about the “toughest guys” being sought by the FBI at the time. The Bureau provided the names and descriptions of 10 fugitives to the reporter. The resulting feature became a major story and garnered national attention. In response to the overwhelming public interest, on March 14, 1950, then Director J. Edgar Hoover inaugurated the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives program.
Since then, the FBI, through the Top Ten list, has been asking for help from the public to locate its most dangerous fugitives. The response has been impressive. Since 1950, 504 fugitives have appeared on the list; 473 have been apprehended or located, with 156 of those fugitives located as a direct result of citizen cooperation.