The FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list arose from a conversation held in late 1949 between J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, and William Kinsey Hutchinson, International News Service (the predecessor of the United Press International) Editor-in-Chief, who were discussing ways to promote capture of the FBI’s “toughest guys”. This discussion turned into a published article, which received so much positive publicity that on March 14, 1950, the FBI officially announced the list to increase law enforcement’s ability to capture dangerous fugitives.
Individuals are removed from this list if the fugitive is captured, killed, or if the charges against them are dropped; they are then replaced by a new entry selected by the FBI. In five cases, the FBI removed individuals from the list after deciding that they were no longer a “particularly dangerous menace to society”. Victor Manuel Gerena, added to the list in 1984, has been on the list longer than anyone, at 27 years. Billie Austin Bryant spent the shortest amount of time on the list, being listed for two hours in 1969. On rare occasions, the FBI will add a “Number Eleven” if that individual is extremely dangerous but the Bureau does not feel any of the current ten should be removed.
The list is commonly posted in public places such as post offices. In some cases, fugitives on the list have turned themselves in on becoming aware of their listing. As of November 1, 2009, 494 fugitives have been listed (eight of them women), and 463 (94%) captured or located, 152 (33%) of them due to public assistance. The FBI maintains other lists of individuals, including the Most Wanted Terrorists, along with crime alerts, missing persons, and other fugitive lists. The most recent removal from the list is Osama Bin Laden, who was killed by U. S. military forces on May 2, 2011.