We’d like to think the FBI is an all-seeing agency with tentacles spread far and wide. Heck, with all the black ops attributed to them, they always get the job done, right?
Not so much. Take the FBI’s Most Wanted list which was first set up in 1950 to increase law enforcement’s chances of capturing dangerous fugitives. Since its inception, 504 individuals have been listed.
But only 94% of them – 473 individuals – have been captured, meaning there are 31 individuals that the FBI considers dangerous who could be on the streets with you tonight. These fugitives are usually those fleeing from doing jail time, arrest or questioning; if the FBI considers them to be dangerous, they get a spot on the list.
The current list is devoid of names most would recognize. The guys on this list are what you’d probably call ‘regular joes’ – from businessmen who suddenly turned to crime to family men who just seemed to snap. Most of them are actually first time offenders, but the gravity of their crimes has landed them on the Most Wanted List.
You’d think by virtue of not being hardened criminals, they should be easy to catch, right? But no, they have evaded the FBI for years, even decades. With El Chapo on the lam again, here’s a look at 10 other criminals who have proven pretty elusive.
10. Leo F. Burt
Burt was a a regular student, journalist and athlete at the University of Wisconsin, but in the spring of 1970, all that changed. Along with three others, Burt detonated a van-bomb outside the the Army Math Research Center in Sterling Hall.
The blast killed a physics researcher who was working late and damaged buildings within its radius. At the time, it was classified as the largest act of domestic terror, until the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
The bombers made a run for it, but three of them were arrested during the following decade, all except Burt. He hasn’t been found since then; his accomplices have served time and been released.
He was placed on the Most Wanted list in 1970 and removed in 1976. He is still classified as wanted by the FBI and has a $150,000 bounty.
9. Glen Stewart Godwin
In 1980, 22-year-old Godwin worked as a part-time mechanic in Palm Springs. He had no prior criminal history till he was involved in a kidnap and extortion attempt with Frank Soto, Jr. The kidnap of drug dealer Kim Robert LeValley turned to murder when Godwin stabbed LeValley twenty-six times with a butcher knife.
Despite their attempts to conceal the crime, the duo was arrested and Soto testified against him. Five months into his 26-year sentence, Godwin escaped from Folsom State Prison by cutting security bars, dropping into a storm drain and paddling to shore. Fleeing to Mexico, he was jailed in 1987 for drug trafficking.
While in prison in Guadalajara, he allegedly murdered a fellow inmate and escaped again. He hasn’t been seen since. In 1996, the FBI added him to its Ten Most Wanted list.
8. Jean Claude Lacote
This French-born swindler is accused of running an investment scheme that swindled $10 million from Belgian citizens. He was also facing charges for the suspected murder of a British man when he fled Belgium in 1999.
Arriving in South Africa, he did the opposite of what any fugitive would do. Lacote became the producer of a realty TV show about… cops! He also maintained a high profile lifestyle, living in a mansion which became notorious for hosting loud parties, and zooming around town in a Ferrari.
In 2006, the Belgian authorities requested his extradition, and Lacote was arrested by the South African police, but not for long, as two of his accomplices showed up at the jail, dressed as policemen, produced a bogus warrant and sprung him out of jail. He has been on the run since. One of his victims placed a $75,000 bounty out on him.
7. Sukumara Kurup
31 years ago, Kurup had the brilliant idea to fake his own death and pocket the insurance payout. To do this, he’d need a dead body that resembled him. Kurup is accused of the murder of Kandathil N.J. Chacko and setting his body ablaze to perpetrate this crime.
His plan fell through when the body was correctly identified; Kurup then fled India. His accomplices were arrested and are still serving time, but there has been no sign of Kurup. Authorities even lay in wait for him at his son’s wedding in 2010, but he didn’t show up.
6. Jason Derek Brown
Brown is wanted for his involvement in the 2004 robbery of an armored truck and the murder of its driver, Robert Palomares. Brown was an ordained Mormon who abandoned the faith soon after the mandatory two-year outreach mission. He reportedly indulged in every vice he could find – drugs, alcohol, fast cars, etc.
Brown’s expensive tastes led him deep into debt, which gave him motive for the $56,000 robbery. Placed on the FBI’s list in 2007, there have been numerous sighting all over the country. Some even claim he may be hiding out in a Mormon community. There is a $200,000 reward for any info leading to his arrest.
5. William Bradford Bishop Jr.
A bush fire in March 1976 led to the discovery of five charred bodies in a shallow grave in the woods of North Carolina. They were identified as the bodies as those of Annette Bradford, her sons, William Jr., Brenton and Geoffrey, and their grandma, Lobellia.
The only suspect in the bludgeoning murders has been the father of the kids, a former Army intelligence officer and State Department Foreign Service officer, William Bradford. Bradford was last spotted on CCTV the day after the murders and has been on the run since then.
In the 39 years since the murders, he has been reportedly sighted in different parts of America and Europe; graves have even been exhumed in the hunt for Bradford, but to no avail. Despite retracing his steps, thorough investigations and all, he has eluded the authorities. In 2014, he was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List, with an age-progressed picture and busts of Bradford.
4. Víctor Manuel Gerena
Genera was working as a security guard at a Wells Fargo armored car depot in 1983, when he was accused of the theft of $7 million. At the time, this heist was the largest in US history (and still the second largest till date).
Gerena, a suspected member of the Puerto Rican militant group Los Macheteros, pulled a gun on two colleagues and tied them up, before making away with the money. Till date, most of the 19 people charged in the robbery have been arrested and have served time.
Despite having spent the longest time on the FBI’s Most wanted list (31 years), Gerena hasn’t been arrested. He’s been reportedly sighted in Cuba and currently has a $1 million bounty on his head.
3. Dan Hiers
Former Charleston police officer Dan Hiers is accused of “betraying his badge in the worst possible way.” Hiers was under investigation for the sexual assault of a 9-year old girl, but was out on bail. In March 2005, on the weekend before he was supposed to turn himself in, he took his wife, Ludmilla on a trip to Myrtle Beach. The day after they came home, he shot her in the head while she was sleeping.
Hiers has been on the run since then; with experts claiming that his 11 year background as an officer is helping him elude the law. The U.S. Marshals Service has a reward of $25,000 for information about Hiers.
2. Yaser Abdel Said
In a horrible story of honor killing on US soil, teen sisters Amina and Sarah Said were murdered by their father, Yaser Abdel Said in 2008. Said, an Egyptian national, is described as controlling and is said to have bugged his daughters car, recorded their mileage and videotaping them when they went out. He stalked his own daughters because he didn’t want them dating American boys. He was also reported to be both physically and sexually abusive to his daughters.
On New Year’s Day in 2008, he told the girls he was taking them to dinner. Less than an hour later, he shot them dead in the back of the cab he was driving. Since then, he seems to have vanished into thin air.
The authorities claim there is no record of him flying out of the country and there have been numerous sightings in the New York area. He was placed on the Most wanted List in December 2014, with a $100,000 reward.
1. Ghermay Ermias
Ermias is reportedly the mastermind behind the recent large-scale smuggling of migrants into Europe by sea. Taking advantage of people fleeing conflict zones in the Middle East and Africa, the smuggling ring charges them up to $1,500 per head to be put on rickety boats and sent across the Mediterranean Sea to the shores of Europe. These boats are always overloaded and are in such poor condition that they easily capsize.
In the past year alone, Ermias is said to have made $112 million with his partner, Medhanie Mered. With over 2,000 reported deaths at sea in 2015, Ermais is guilty of at least, negligent manslaughter. But he is still at large as he only conducts his business over the phone. Plus the fact that he is based in countries with non-existent extradition laws. But with more of his lieutenants getting arrested, it’s only a matter of time.
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