So long, Osama Bin Laden: new entry at No 1 for America's most-wanted list

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The terrorist mastermind of 9/11 is replaced by a fugitive teacher on the FBI's list of public enemies

Washington

Eric Toth, aka David Bussone, a fugitive child pornographer, may not have the slaughter of 3,000 people on his criminal CV. But he has just been accorded a singular accolade by US law enforcement authorities as the replacement for Osama bin Laden on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's 10 Most Wanted List.

Click here to see the FBI's ten most-wanted

Days after the head of al-Qa'ida and the organiser of the 9/11 attacks was hunted down and killed in Pakistan last May, the FBI asked its field offices across the country for suggestions for someone to take his place. The choice has now been made. And it's not another terrorist or suspected serial killer, but a former private school teacher in Washington who has been on the run since being arrested in 2008 after pornographic images of young children were found on his camera. The last confirmed trace of Mr Roth was his car, found abandoned at Minneapolis airport.

The agency is now offering a reward of $100,000 for information leading to his arrest, a fraction of the $25m (£16m) bounty on bin Laden's head. "There's no comparison to be made between Toth and bin Laden," FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jacqueline Maguire said. "Although Eric Toth has not murdered anyone and he's not an international terrorist, that does not mean he isn't dangerous."

His selection is also a sign of America's changing criminal times. Of the 10 names on the list, six are accused of murder. But, increasingly, the FBI's attention is turning to internet crime.

Mr Toth is believed to have been in at least half a dozen US states since taking flight. "He may be anywhere in the country," another FBI official added. "He could be in a homeless shelter." The Most Wanted list, which took its present form in 1950, is part of American crimefighting lore. Its direct ancestor is the register of "public enemies" issued by the FBI's first Director, J Edgar Hoover, in his war on Depression-era gangsters. But the format can be traced back to the posters of outlaws from the Old West. Indeed, days after 9/11, the then President, George W Bush, was declaring that he wanted Osama "dead or alive".

The device is more than a publicity gimmick. It works. Since 1950, 495 people have featured on the list and 465 have been captured – the most recent being the fugitive Boston gangster, James "Whitey" Bulger, who was arrested in Los Angeles last June.

Bin Laden may have been found as a result of intelligence work and electronic intercepts in a foreign country, but 153 of those named have been caught following a tip-off from the public.

Some things, though, have changed over the years. FBI wanted posters used to be displayed in post offices and other public places. In this electronic age, television and the social networks are the most fruitful means of dissemination. However, many of the principles underlying the list are the same.

America was, and is, a huge place where news is mostly local, and in which it is relatively easy to disappear or assume a new identity. The national exposure of fugitives, complete with several pictures, can jog memories, particularly if he or she has distinguishing features. In Mr Toth's case, these are a lanky frame and a mole under his left eye.

"He's the type of person that, I hope, with a little help from being on the Top 10 list, will lead to individuals calling in, saying 'that guy works in a day care centre, or is a teaching assistant, or works down the street'," an FBI spokesman, Kevin Perkins, said.

Murderers, gang leaders and fraudsters: The FBI's top ten

1. Eric Justin Toth

Topping the FBI's list of most-wanted criminals is a 30-year-old former private school teacher, who despite his all-American appearance is wanted for allegedly possessing and producing child pornography.

2. Jason Derek Brown

Painted by the FBI as an attention-seeker with an appetite for the high life, Brown is wanted for the 2004 robbery and murder of an armoured car guard in Arizona. An International Business graduate, Brown – whose hobbies include golf and skiing – is said to flaunt his ill-gotten wealth in nightclubs.

3. Joe Luis Saenz

This alleged member of a Mexican drug cartel is a suspect in four killings stretching back to 1998, including two gang-related shootings and the kidnap, rape and murder of his girlfriend.

4. Glen Stewart Godwin

Using aliases including Miguel Carrera and Dennis McWilliams, this Miami-born 53-year-old has been on the run since 1991, when he escaped from a Mexican prison after allegedly murdering a fellow inmate. It was his second jail break, after escaping California's infamous Folsom Prison in 1987, where he was serving time for murder. He is now believed to be in the drugs trade.

5. Robert William Fisher

He tried to paint a picture of the perfect family man, but this one-time firefighter and avid hunter apparently snapped one day in 2001, allegedly shooting his wife and slitting the throats of his two young children before blowing up their Arizona home. The FBI has named Fisher as the only suspect.

6. Semion Mogilevich

This Ukrainian businessman is accused of defrauding thousands of people in a multi-million-dollar investment swindle. He was indicted in 2003, and is believed to live in Moscow on his Russian passport.

7. Eduardo Ravelo

In a bid to evade capture, this alleged hitman for a Mexican crime syndicate is said to have had plastic surgery and altered his fingerprints. Ravelo, also known as "2x4", is wanted on racketeering and drug possession charges.

8. Alexis Flores

In 2000, a five-year-old girl was found strangled in a Philadelphia flat. This Honduras-born handyman is wanted in connection with the killing.

9. Victor Manuel Gerena

Gerena, 53, has been on the run since 1983, when he allegedly took part in the armed robbery of a Connecticut security company. Two security guards were held hostage in a $7m raid. Gerena has been on the most-wanted list since 1984.

10. James J Bulger

"Whitey'"Bulger remains on the FBI's list, but with the word "Captured" emblazoned over his mugshot. An infamous Boston mob boss wanted for murders in the 1970s and 1980s, he was tracked down to Los Angeles and arrested with much fanfare last year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower