When Osama bin Laden was killed last May his spot on the FBI Ten Most Wanted List was left vacant and remained that way for almost a year. Last week, after all 56 FBI field offices voted for who they thought should be added, it was decided that a former private-school teacher from the Washington D.C. area accused of possessing child pornography should fill the vacancy.
Although it’s commonly thought of as a list of violent criminals in high profile cases, the criteria to enter the program is broader than just criminal charges, according to the FBI’s website. The purpose of the list, which, by the way, isn’t a ranking system, is to put national attention on a suspect who hasn’t already gained notoriety due to other publicity.
To make the list, the Criminal Investigative Division at FBI Headquarters asks all of its 56 field offices to submit candidates. The nominees are reviewed by special agents at CID and the FBI Office of Public Affairs and they whittle down the selection and pass it on to the FBI Executive Management for final approval.
On April 10, the FBI added Eric Justin Toth, 30, for his alleged possession of child pornography and also alleged production of it to the list, which was also the first time since 2009 that they added someone.
Toth was thought to be an ideal candidate because of his current criminal charges and his ability to hide in plain sight, the FBI said. He is described as a computer expert and Internet savvy. He’s also able to change his appearance and blend with various socio-economic classes.
Shortly after child pornography images were found on a camera in his possession in 2008 and he was arrested, he’s been on the run. Toth is believed to have traveled through Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota with no problem. He was last seen somewhere in Arizona in 2009.
But the most concerning detail of all, the FBI thinks, because of his background in education, he may be able to gain employment in fields where he would have contact with children such as a tutor, teaching assistant or male nanny.
So far there have been 495 fugitives on the Ten Most Wanted List and 465 of them have been caught or killed. And 153 of them have been apprehended because of direct help from the public. So it just goes to show, a little exposure from the list can go a long way.