MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list turns 50 today, and a dozen of the criminals who've made the list over the years have ties to Minnesota and the Dakotas.
The cases reach all the way back to the original 10 up through the 1997 nationwide manhunt for serial killer Andrew Cunanan, who began his cross-country spree in Minneapolis.
Despite its age, the Ten Most Wanted list remains one of the agency's most popular and viable tools, said FBI Special Agent Paul McCabe.
''Anything that gets good end results, we're all for,'' McCabe said.
The FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives began in 1949, when a reporter asked the FBI to name the ''toughest guys'' it wanted to catch. The bureau came up with 10 cases, and when the feature made newspaper front pages across the country, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover inaugurated the program on March 14, 1950.
Since 1950, 458 fugitives have made the list, and 429 have been arrested or located. Citizen tips led to many captures, including eight apprehensions from Minnesota and the Dakotas.
No. 5 on the original list was Omar August Pinson, an escapee from an Oregon prison who was serving a life sentence for killing a police officer in 1947. Pinson, who sawed his way out of his cell in 1949, was captured in Pierre, S.D., in August of 1950.
After that, the Minneapolis FBI office recorded 11 more cases in which the fugitives either committed their crimes in the region or were captured here. Three fugitives were captured in St. Paul and one was caught in Minneapolis.
One of the most famous early St. Paul cases belonged to William Raymond Nesbit, a jewel thief and killer. He escaped from a South Dakota prison in 1946 and roamed the country for almost four years before finding refuge in one of the caves in the sandstone bluffs below Mounds Park.
Nesbit lived a quiet, hobo-like existence until two boys he befriended recognized his picture from the Most Wanted list in 1950 in the St. Paul Dispatch and told police.
The FBI captured Robert L. Green, a vicious Utah robbery convict, in the Union Depot in St. Paul in 1957, only two days after he went on the Most Wanted list.
Hugh Bion Morse, a sexual psychopath from California, was added to the list in August 1961 and arrested that October in a rooming house in St. Paul. While he was on the loose, he strangled and beat to death St. Paul social worker Carol Ronan, a crime that baffled police until Morse's capture and confession.
Since then, the Minneapolis FBI office has dealt with other high-profile Most Wanted cases, including the 1987 capture of six-time bank robber Thomas George Harrelson after a North Dakota bank robbery.
Also notable was the arrest and conviction of American Indian Movement member Leonard Peltier, who is serving consecutive life sentences for killing two FBI agents on a South Dakota reservation in 1975.
The Cunanan case was the last local case to make the list.
Cunanan got on it after killing Jeffrey Trail and David Madson in Minneapolis and Chisago County in April 1997, and then a Chicago developer and a New Jersey graveyard caretaker before heading to Florida. Cunanan claimed his most famous victim, fashion designer Gianni Versace, in Miami, where he also killed himself.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.