by Sarah Rosenstein
After the death of Osama bin Laden in May 2011 and the capture of James “Whitney” Bulger in June 2011, two spots opened up on the FBI’s ten most wanted list. On April 10, 2012 Eric Justin Toth replaced Osama bin Laden and became the 495h fugitive to be placed on the list.
The FBI’s most wanted list was started March 14, 1950 due to the wide public interest in a news story published in 1949 about the “toughest guys” the FBI was after. The purpose of the list is to capture dangerous terrorist and fugitives. Since its inception nearly 60 years ago, 465 of the 495 people have either been found or captured. Of these 465, nearly one third was due to recognition by someone in the public.
So how does someone get on the FBI’s most wanted list? It begins with a spot opening on the list. A group of wanted criminal candidates are sent to the FBI Headquarters from all 56 FBI field offices. The criminal candidates are reviewed by the Criminal Investigative Division (CID) and the office of Public Affairs. The chosen criminals are sent the assistant director of the CID and finally to the FBI director for final approval.
The 495th spot was given to Eric Justin Toth, who also uses the alias David Bussone. Toth, a former private school teacher, is charged with possession and production of child pornography. Before an investigation could begin after pornographic images were found on a school camera he had been using, Toth was gone. He has been on the lam since June 2008 and his whereabouts are currently unknown.
In 2008 his car was found at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport in Minnesota. Although it was suspected that Toth committed suicide at a nearby lake based on a suicide note left in his vehicle, a body was never found. Over the past four years, it is believed that Toth traveled across Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
Toth was selected because of the threat he posed to the community. Not only is he a child predator but he is an individual who is able to gain the trust of children and adults. Prior to be put on the list, he was on the Washington field office’s list and was also featured on America’s Most Wanted. A tip was received in 2009 after the broadcast about a man living in a homeless shelter in Arizona that looked like, and was later confirmed to be Toth. He has since then disappeared.
A $100,000 reward is being offered by the FBI for anyone who has information that could lead to Toth’s arrest. If captured, Toth faces up to 30 years in prison.
Check out our entry about James Bulger, who was on the FBI’s Most Wanted list until his recent capture