Who Spent the Longest Time on the FBI’s Most Wanted List?

September 15, 2013 in Trivia

Victor Manuel Gerena

Pictured is Victor Manuel Gerena, who has the dubious distinction of being the longest, most-wanted individual by the FBI. Source: FBI.

Victor Manuel Gerena sets the record to date for the longest time on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives”. Gerena went on the list on May 14, 1984 and remains on the list to date.

Gerena is wanted in connection with the 1983 armed robbery of approximately $7 million from a security company in West Hartford, Conn. Allegedly he took two security employees hostage at gunpoint, handcuffed and bound them, and then injected both with an unknown substance in order to further disable them.

According to the FBI’s official wanted poster for Gerena as of 2004, the bureau is offering a reward of up to $1 million for information leading directly to his arrest. He is considered armed and extremely dangerous.

The FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list has been in existence since March 14, 1950.

The “most wanted” list came about on March 14, 1950 when a reporter for the International News Service  (the predecessor to UPI)  asked the bureau for the names and descriptions of the “toughest guys” the Bureau would like to capture. So much publicity came from the resulting news story late FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover created the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” program.

First to be placed on the list was Thomas James Holden, wanted for the murder of his wife, her brother, and her stepbrother.

Since the program started 500 fugitives have been on the “top ten” list. Of these, 470 have been apprehended or located. Citizen cooperation has resulted in the capture or location of 156 fugitives.

Decisions on who goes on the list rely upon the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division and 56 field offices, which submit candidates for the list. CID special agents, along with the Office of Public Affairs, review the nominees. Final selection of proposed candidates is submitted to FBI executive management for final approval.

A minimum reward of up to $100,000 is offered by the FBI for information, which leads directly to the arrest of a “top ten” fugitive. In some instances, such as in the case of Gerena, the reward amount offered is more than $100,000.


Editor’s Note: A reader questioned why D.B. Cooper was not considered the longest most-wanted suspect by the FBI. The answer is simple: They aren’t looking for him any longer.

According to an FBI statement, “Even though our investigation has remained open, it doesn’t make sense for the FBI to commit substantial resources to this nearly four-decade-old crime.”

In point of fact, the person who has spent the longest amount of time on the list is Victor Manuel Gerena according to the FBI list chronology and fugitives FAQ. The bureau also has a fascinating history of the Dan Cooper episode on its website.