Shortly after Osama bin Laden was killed in May, the FBI sent out a request to its field offices: Nominate candidates who could fill Bin Laden's place on the bureau's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.
The choice is more complicated than simply finding a violent criminal who has committed a high-profile crime. In recent years, bureau officials have also tried to select other dangerous fugitives who may have been hiding in plain sight but could be recognized by the public because they have distinctive physical features.
The FBI this week finally filled Bin Laden's place on the list, adding Eric J. Toth, a schoolteacher from the Washington area accused of possessing child pornography. The announcement marked the first time since 2009 that the FBI had added a fugitive to the list.
Using most-wanted posters to enlist the public's help in catching criminals dates to the early part of J. Edgar Hoover's tenure as the head of the FBI in the early 1930s, when the face of John Dillinger was on a "public enemies list." In 1950, the bureau began using the list of Ten Most Wanted Fugitives. Since then, the FBI has caught 464 of 494 fugitives on the list.
Toth, the fugitive added Tuesday, was arrested in 2008 after child pornography images were found on a camera in his possession. He soon disappeared. Toth, 30, attended Cornell for a year before transferring to Purdue University, where he graduated with an education degree. He "has often been described as a computer 'expert' and has demonstrated above-average knowledge regarding computers, the Internet, and security awareness," the FBI said.
The FBI said Toth might advertise himself as a tutor. Since 2008, he is believed to have traveled to Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Arizona.
"He has a mole under one of his eyes. He is tall and lanky," said Kevin Perkins, the FBI's acting executive director for criminal and cyber operations. "He is the type of person that I hope with a little exposure from being on the Top 10 list will lead to individuals calling in saying, 'That guy works in a day care center,' or is a teaching assistant or works down the street."
NEW YORK TIMES