VISITORS to the Martins Ferry City Building don’t see photos of individuals with the criminal records of Ted Bundy or Willie Sutton, but they’ll see pictures of individuals wanted on warrants in the 43935 ZIP code along with their names and offenses.
Sgt. Bob Walton of the Martins Ferry Police Department undertook the Most Wanted project after he found a high number of warrants. Some are more than 20 years old.
Wanted and Most Wanted posters are nothing new, but seeing the area’s wanted individuals on a television set in the city building is an innovation in Eastern Ohio.
Television also has proven to be an effective tool regarding America’s Most Wanted.
Most Wanted posters are a thing of the past in the nation’s post offices as the last official post office mailing from the FBI was in 2007.
ANYONE who has seen a movie portraying cowboys in the Old West undoubtedly is familiar with wanted posters. Jesse James was featured on some of them with the price regarding him escalating. Initially, the price for Jesse was $500, but it went to $25,000 and also included $15,000 for his brother, Frank, and $5,000 for any member of the James gang. The $25,000 price tag was enough for Robert Ford, described in a song as “that dirty little coward … For he ate of Jesse’s bread and he slept in Jesse’s bed, Then he laid poor Jesse in his grave.”
The Old West wasn’t the only place with wanted posters. There was one offering a “$100,000 Reward” for the “The Murderer Of Our Late Beloved President, Abraham Lincoln.”
What is considered the FBI’s first wanted poster was in 1919 when it issued “Identification No. 1,” seeking a soldier who slipped out of a stockade in northern Virginia; he was captured less than five months later. The FBI then was known as the Bureau of Investigation.
It wasn’t until the 1950s that the FBI created the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list after a newspaper reporter asked J. Edgar Hoover for a list of the “toughest guys.”
THANKFULLY, Martins Ferry’s Most Wanted aren’t committing crimes of the caliber of those on the FBI list.
The local list, however, appears effective in reducing the number of outstanding warrants of those charged with lesser crimes.