Overview of the Most Wanted Criminal List

Overview of the Most Wanted Criminal List

Criminals that are considered “Most Wanted” hold a special place in society. The authorities consider them to be so important that they alert and even urge the public to play an active role in a criminal’s apprehension. What factors actually go into determining who makes the list vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In general, violent offenders top the lists, however, there are some notable non-violent criminals on the loose who are considered most wanted.


The most wanted status has been around for as long as man has had a system of justice and punishment. Throughout history, there are notable examples of most wanted criminals, such as Jesus Christ and Socrates. However, it wasn’t until the 20th century that the current notion of the most wanted criminal came to being.

In 1950, the FBI started its Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives program in conjunction with the news media. Both recognized the vital role an informed public could have on helping apprehend fugitives from justice. As of today, the program has listed almost 500 criminals in the program. Of that high figure, over 450 have been apprehended. The public has directly aided in 150+ of those arrests.

Model Program

The Top Ten Fugitive program served as a model for all the other criminal justice jurisdictions, not only in the United States, but the world. As of now, almost every major criminal enforcement agency has a top ten list or other variation of the sort. Each list is a reflection of what the specific authorities of that jurisdiction consider the gravest criminal activities.

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Top 3 Crimes Comparison

The following is a list of the crimes committed by the top 3 criminals in 3 different jurisdictions. As you can see, they do share some characteristics, but may also vary widely.


1. Glen Stewart Godwin: Prison break while serving time for murder.

2. Robert William Fisher: Fleeing prosecution for 3 counts of murder and arson.

3. Eduardo Ravelo: Criminal Drug Conspiracy and Racketeering.

California Department of Justice

1. Marco Antonio Camacho: Murder

2. Albert Magallanes: Murder

3. Julio Rangel Ceja: Kidnap and rape of a juvenile.

Anchorage, Alaska City Police Department

1. William Henry Mackinnon: Stalking

2. Stormi Dawn Bays: Vehicle theft, fraud, forgery, theft.

3. Noelle Cherie Bates: Burglary, theft, violating terms of release, contempt of court.

RCMP, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

1. Pierre Oliver Ellis: First-degree murder.

2. Wariskhan Pathan: First degree murder.

3. Peng Victor Li: First Degree Murder

Specialized Lists

The most wanted concept has expanded and now there are specialized lists. For example, in addition to its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives program, the FBI also has its Ten Most Wanted Terrorists list. Specialized lists from other agencies include Washington State’s Most Wanted Sex Offender list and the Office of the inspector General’s Health Care Fraud Most Wanted list.

Most wanted criminal lists have proven to be an effective tool for law enforcement and the public at large. They are successful in both bringing awareness to the public as well as making society safer in general.