Pharos-Tribune

Online only

November 29, 2012

Why handsome criminals seldom show up on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

The list soon became a valuable publicity tool, a way for the FBI to increase the heat on those criminals who had proven the most elusive, like folk-hero bank robber Willie Sutton and noted cattle rustler Chester Davenport, who was caught two days after being added to the list. (He was arrested while milking a cow; it is unclear whether the cow had tipped anyone off.) Fugitives generally stay on the list until they are caught or confirmed dead. When a spot opens, the FBI field offices nominate potential replacements.

"To get one of your fugitives on the Top Ten list, you were a salesperson," an ex-FBI agent was quoted as saying in The Encyclopedia of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List. "You had to present this person in the most negative light." In order to make the list, they have to be considered dangerous, elusive, and vulnerable to nationwide publicity. It also helps if they're ugly.

Eric Toth, an alleged child pornographer who took Osama bin Laden's spot on the list earlier this year, is a tall, thin dude with a weirdly shaped head and a distinctive mole under his eye. Rape and murder suspect Fidel Urbina, added to the list on June 5, has acne scars on his right cheek. Alexis Flores, wanted for the abduction, rape, and murder of a five-year-old girl, has scars on his forehead and right cheek. Jason Derek Brown, on the list since 2007, is a suspected robber and murderer who sort of looks like Sean Penn.

These fugitives are dangerous, to be sure, but they're hardly the sort of supervillains a layman might expect to find on the Ten Most Wanted list. Then again, "A Few Notorious Louts and Several Other Dangerous Guys with Visible Scars" doesn't have the same ring to it. Eric Toth is a bad guy, undoubtedly, but it's hard to say that he's worse than Randy Yager, a motorcycle gang leader wanted on racketeering charges involving murder and arson, or Daniel Hiers, an ex-cop wanted for molesting a teenager and murdering his wife. Hiers and Yager are both on the U.S. Marshals' 15 Most Wanted List, a similar rundown containing totally different personnel. Both men are relatively normal looking.

Peters writes Slate's crime blog.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Online only
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

The Pence administration continues to cut Indiana agency budgets despite a state surplus of $2 billion. Is this wise management of state funds?

Yes
No
Not sure
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy Plane Leaves Ukraine With More Crash Victims The Rock Brings Star Power to Premiere Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Gen. Odierno Discusses Ukraine, NATO at Forum Gaza Fighting Rages Amid Cease-Fire Efforts Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-lift Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.