Ten Most Wanted List FAQ

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
The Ten Most Wanted FAQ
by David Johnson

1. Have any women ever appeared on the list?

Answer: Yes. Eight women have appeared on the list, starting 1968, with Ruth Eisemann-Schier. She was charged with the 1968 kidnapping of a Miami heiress from a motel in Decatur, Georgia, and subsequently demanding $500,000 ransom. The victim was found alive in an underground coffin and the accomplice was arrested. Eisemann-Schier was arrested in March 1969 at the restaurant where she worked in Norman, Oklahoma.

2. Who was the first person to appear on the list?

Answer: Thomas James Holden was placed on the list on March 14, 1950. He was charged with crossing state lines to avoid prosecution for a 1949 triple murder in Chicago. After seeing Holden's photo in the Oregonian newspaper, a citizen called the FBI. Holden was living under an assumed name in a trailer camp outside Beaverton, Oregon, and was working as a plasterer at the time of his arrest by FBI agents on June 23, 1951.

3. Who was the first arrested from a tip from a viewer of the TV show America's Most Wanted?

Answer: David James Roberts appeared on the list in 1987. The first episode of the popular TV Show aired February 7, 1988, and featured Roberts. After a viewer phoned in a tip, FBI agents arrested him on February 11, 1988, in the New York City apartment he had been hiding in. Roberts was wanted for escaping from an Indiana prison where he had been serving six life sentences for murder, kidnapping, arson, and rape.

4. Who was on the list for the shortest period of time?

Answer: Washington D.C. police arrested Billie Austin Bryant just two hours after he was placed on the list on January 8, 1969. He was charged with killing two FBI agents in Washington D.C., a Baltimore bank robbery, and escaping from prison where he was serving time for robbery and assault.

5. Are there always ten names on the most wanted list?

Answer: No. Occasionally more than ten have been included. James Earl Ray was added after he became a suspect in IP the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Ray was also sought for unlawful interstate flight to prison after an armed robbery conviction. British authorities caught him in London on June 8, 1968, after a major international manhunt. In 1977 Ray made the list again for escaping from a Tennessee prison.

6. What was the most unusual disguise worn by a fugitive on the list?

Answer: On April 23, 1965, FBI agents arrested Leslie Douglas Ashley in Atlanta, Georgia. He had been working as a Bobo the Clown at a traveling carnival. Another carnival worker saw a wanted poster and called authorities. Also a female impersonator, Ashley had escaped from the maximum-security ward of the Texas State Mental Hospital in October 1964 where he had been committed after being declared legally insane during a murder conviction.

7. Who was the most prolific killer ever to appear on the list?

Answer: Theodore Bundy, who was wanted in connection with more than 30 sexual slayings in several states. Bundy escaped from a Colorado jail while awaiting trial for the murder of a Michigan nurse near Aspen, Colorado. He was arrested on February 15, 1978, in Pensacola, Florida, by a police officer who had recognized him sitting in a stolen car. Although he strongly resisted arrest, Bundy was eventually subdued.

8. What search received the most publicity?

Answer: The search for serial killer Andrew Cunanan, who was placed on the list June 12, 1997. He was ultimately wanted for killing five men, including fashion designer Gianni Versace. Cunanan's flight across the country to the East Coast was accompanied by enormous media attention, since he left victims at various locations. Cunanan committed suicide in a boathouse in Miami on July 24, 1997, as the FBI closed in on him.

9. Has Internet publicity helped find suspects?

Answer: Yes. The FBI believes the Internet can be of enormous value. Leslie Isben Rogge surrendered after an extensive manhunt in Guatemala in 1996. He had escaped from federal custody in Idaho in 1985 and was later charged with bank robberies in Arkansas and North Carolina. After seeing a poster and then looking at the FBI's homepage, a Guatemalan citizen told local police and the U.S. Embassy that Rogge was in the country.

10. Who was the first international drug trafficker on the list?

Answer: Juan Garcia-Abrego was placed on the list March 9, 1995. He was charged with leading a ruthless drug syndicate bringing cocaine from Colombia, through Mexico, into the U.S. He was arrested on January 14, 1996, in Monterrey, Mexico, and extradited to the U.S. the same day.

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