America's Most Wanted: Wikis


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America's Most Wanted
Optimized image 4118eb36.png
Format Reality
Starring John Walsh
Narrated by Don LaFontaine (1988–2008)
Wes Johnson (2008-present)
Country of origin  United States
No. of seasons 22
No. of episodes 1000
Executive producer(s) Lance Heflin
Running time 60 minutes
Original channel Fox
Original run February 7, 1988 – present
External links
Official website

America's Most Wanted is an American TV show produced by 20th Century Fox, and is the longest-running program of any kind in the history of the Fox Television Network. Its purpose is to profile and assist law enforcement in the apprehension of fugitives wanted for various crimes, including murder, rape, child molestation, white collar crime, armed robbery, gang violence, and terrorism, and also many of whom are currently on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. On May 2, 2008, the program's website announced its 1,000th capture; as of January 11, 2010, 1,100 people have been captured thanks to AMW.

On March 6, 2010, Fox aired the 1000th episode of AMW, live from The White House in Washington, D.C. -- Walsh will be joined by President Barack Obama, as they discuss the Obama Administration's crime-fighting initiatives, as well as the impact the show has had on law enforcement and crime prevention.[1]



Conception, premiere and early success

The idea for America’s Most Wanted originally came from a German show Aktenzeichen XY... ungelöst (German language File Number XY... Unsolved) that first aired in 1967, and the British show Crimewatch, first aired in 1984, with the US version conceived by then-Fox executive Stephen Chao and Executive Producer Michael Linder in the summer of 1987.

It premiered on February 7, 1988 on seven Fox-owned stations. Within four days of the first broadcast, FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive David James Roberts was captured as a direct result. He was a convicted killer who had recently escaped from prison by digging his way out with a small axe. This demonstrated the effectiveness of the show's "Watch Television, Catch Criminals" premise to skeptical law enforcement agencies. Ten weeks later, the program premiered nationwide on the Fox network and became the fledgling network's first hit series. Since its debut, it has become the longest-running series on the Fox Network.

America's Most Wanted reinvented the economics of prime time television with its low-budget reenactments of crimes. A typical hour of prime time programming in 1988 cost $1 million to produce. AMW's initial budget was much lower than that, but the show's reality-style format and nearly instantaneous captures (some fugitives were captured before the episode's final credits rolled) contributed to its success.

John Walsh

After the program’s pilot aired, a lengthy search was conducted, and John Walsh was selected as the host of the show; other potential candidates included former Marine Corps Commandant General P.X. Kelly and victims' advocate Theresa Saldana. Walsh had gained publicity after his six-year-old son, Adam Walsh, was kidnapped and murdered in 1981. Walsh and others had successfully advocated Congress for the creation of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The show usually ends with John Walsh saying, "...and remember, you can make a difference", or, on occasion, "...and remember, you do make a difference."

On the last week of January 2001, after AMW had helped capture the Texas Seven along with a large number of other wanted fugitives, Walsh concluded with, "You really made a difference."

On December 20, 2008, after AMW aired their top 10 fugitives of 2008, Walsh concluded by saying "You do make a difference...a very big difference."

Profiling missing persons

The show began profiling missing persons, especially children, in 1991. Some of the most notorious captures include John List, the Texas Seven, as well as Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, the abductors of Elizabeth Smart. On May 2, 2008, the AMW website announced their 1,000th capture; a New York City Realtor named Dwight Smith, who was captured more than a week earlier.

Temporary cancellation

The show was canceled[2] for a month and a half in the fall of 1996 when Fox decided to air a Saturday night sitcom block consisting of Married… with Children, Martin and two new series: Love and Marriage and The Preston Episodes. However, protests from the public, law enforcement, and government officials, including the governors of 37 states, as well as low ratings for the shows replacing AMW encouraged Fox to bring the show back. Martin and Married… with Children were moved back to Sundays. Producers rechristened the show America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back. Since this time, the AMW/COPS combination has made Saturday evening Fox’s most stable night, along with the longest unchanged primetime schedule on American television currently.

John Walsh presenting another fugitive.

Covering criminals in the War on Terrorism

The show expanded its focus to also cover criminals in the War on Terrorism when, on October 12, 2001 an episode aired featuring 22 most wanted al-Qaeda operatives. The show was put together due to a request by President George W. Bush, who had presented the same list of men to the nation two days earlier.

In October 2002, the show did a special episode focusing on the serial sniper shootings in the Washington, D.C. area.

Local versions of AMW

Station City Name Airs Notes
KTVI 2 St. Louis, Missouri "St. Louis's Most Wanted" Every Saturday night, during 9:00PM newscast
WJBK-TV 2 Detroit, Michigan "Michigan's Most Wanted" Every Saturday night, during 10:00PM newscast
WAGA-TV 5 Atlanta, Georgia "Georgia's Most Wanted" Every Saturday night, during 10:00PM newscast "Georgia's Most Wanted" segments were hosted by Angeline Hartmann prior to joining America's Most Wanted as a correspondent.
WNYW-TV 5 New York, New York "New York's Most Wanted" Every Saturday night, during 10:00PM newscast
WTTG-TV 5 Washington, D.C. "D.C.'s Most Wanted" Every Saturday night, during 10:00PM newscast
WITI-TV 6 Milwaukee, Wisconsin "Wisconsin's Most Wanted" Every Saturday night, during 9:00PM newscast This segment is produced similarly to a single story from AMW, and normally lasts 5 to 10 minutes.
WGHP-TV 8 High Point, North Carolina "Piedmont's Most Wanted" Perodically, during 10:00PM newscast
KECY-TV 9 Yuma, Arizona-El Centro, California During commercial breaks throughout the day Ads feature John Walsh mentioning the region's police, and an announcer mentions someone wanted in the area. Another ad by Walsh directs viewers to the station's website for more wanted criminals. Unlike other Fox stations, who usually air similar spots either after the news or AMW, they air throughout the day, as the station has no newscast.
KTTV-TV 11 Los Angeles, California "L.A.'s Most Wanted" Periodically, during 10:00PM newscast Presented by Tony Valdez.
KCPQ-TV 13 Seattle, Washington "Washington's Most Wanted" Every Saturday night, after 10:00PM newscast Hosted by KCPQ news anchor David Rose. The show premiered on November 14, 2008, and also airs on Friday nights at 9:30pm after the newscast on sister-station KMYQ-TV, channel 22.
KSTU-TV 13 Salt Lake City, Utah "Utah's Most Wanted" Periodically, during 9:00PM newscast
KCIT 14 Amarillo, Texas "Amarillo Crimestoppers Fugitive of the Week" Every Saturday night, during 9:00PM newscast
KDSM-TV 17 Des Moines, Iowa "Metro's Most Wanted" Periodically, during commercial breaks Each spot lasts about 25–40 seconds, and features one locally wanted fugitive.
WXMI-TV 17 Grand Rapids, Michigan "West Michigan's Most Wanted" Every Saturday night, during 10:00PM newscast
WXXA-TV 23 Albany, New York "Capital Region's Most Wanted" Every Saturday night, during 10:00PM newscast
WFXT-TV 25 Boston, Massachusetts "Massachusetts' Most Wanted" Perodically, during 10:00PM Saturday night newscast
KOKH-TV 25 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma "Oklahoma's Most Wanted" Every Saturday night, during 9:00PM newscast
KMPH-TV 26 Fresno, California "Central Valley's Most Wanted" Every Saturday night, during 10:00PM newscast
KAYU-TV 28 Spokane, Washington "Washington's Most Wanted" Every Saturday night, after The local News airing at 10:30 Produced by KCPQ-TV.
WTXF-TV 29 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania "Philadelphia's Most Wanted" Every Saturday night, during 9:00PM newscast
KDVR-TV 31 Denver, Colorado "Colorado's Most Wanted" Every Saturday night, during 9:00PM newscast
KRCW-TV 32 Portland, Oregon-Vancouver, Washington "Washington's Most Wanted" Every Monday night, at midnight Produced by KCPQ-TV.
WFLD-TV 32 Chicago, Illinois "Chicago's Most Wanted" Every Saturday night, during 9:00PM newscast
WUPW-TV 36 Toledo, Ohio "Toledo's Most Wanted" Every Saturday night at 10:00PM
KTXL-TV 40 Sacramento, California "FOX 40 Crime Alert" Every Saturday night, during 10:00PM newscast
WDRB-TV 41 / WMYO-TV 58 Louisville, Kentucky "Louisville's Most Wanted" During commercial breaks and newscasts
WRAZ 50 Durham, North Carolina "NC Wanted" Daily at 10:35PM
WPGH-TV 53 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania "Pittsburgh's Most Wanted" Every Saturday night, during 10:00PM newscast
WXIN-TV 59 Indianapolis, Indiana "Indiana's Most Wanted" Every Saturday night, during 10:00PM newscast

Although not a Fox affiliate, Cable Government Access Channel KCSB-TV 3, San Bernardino, California, produces a program called "Inland Empire's Most Wanted". It profiles wanted fugitives from San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. It is produced in co-operation with the San Bernardino Police Department, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and other law enforcement agencies in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. The program was originally called "San Bernardino's Most Wanted" and focused on fugitives wanted by the San Bernardino Police Department and San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, but later expanded its focus to include all of the Inland Empire area (i.e. San Bernardino and Riverside counties). Thus, the name was changed to "Inland Empire's Most Wanted". The program is distributed to other local access channels in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Hotline number facts

When America's Most Wanted debuted, the show's original toll-free hotline number was 1-800-CRIME-88 (1-800-274-6388). The last 2 digits of the hotline number changed each year (1-800-CRIME-89, 1-800-CRIME-90, and so on) until 1995, when it was permanently changed to its current number, which is 1-800-CRIME-TV (1-800-274-6388), which, coincidentally, was what the number had originally been in 1988.

About half of the phone operators are actors.[3]

Criminals at large

AMW Dirty Dozen

The AMW Dirty Dozen is a list of the most notorious fugitives that have been reviewed on the show that are currently at large. It is similar in function, though not identical with, the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, though three of the Dirty Dozen are on the FBI's list.

These are the current Dirty Dozen, as of December 2, 2009. They are in order as presented on the AMW website; the list is not ranked.

  • Paul Erven Jackson is wanted in Hillsboro, Oregon, for raping numerous teenage girls during the late 1980s and early 1990s. He also bound and tortured the women in various unusual ways after converting his house into a homemade sex dungeon.[4]
  • Berny Figueroa is wanted for the murder of 2-year-old Alexia Lopez in Brenham, Texas. On March 11, 2008, Figueroa punched Alexia Lopez in the stomach, separating her large and small intestines at the daycare facility where she worked.[5]
  • Yaser Said is wanted for shooting his two teenage daughters to death on January 1, 2008, in Irving, Texas. He is also wanted for questioning in the girls' sexual abuse nearly a decade prior. He was John Walsh's #1 Fugitive for 2008.[6]
  • Beacher Hackney is wanted for shooting two of his supervisors to death in Hot Springs, Virginia, in the luxurious Homestead Resort where he worked as a janitor, on March 21, 2009. He was also John Walsh's #1 Fugitive for 2009.[7]
  • Robert William Fisher is wanted for killing his wife, Mary, and his children, Brittany and Bobby Jr., on April 10, 2001, and then burning down their house to try to cover up the crime. He is also on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List and is considered to be AMW's Public Enemy Number 1.[8]
  • Jason Derek Brown is wanted for killing an armored car driver and stealing $56,000 USD in front of a movie theater in Phoenix, Arizona, on November 29, 2004. He is charged in Phoenix with first-degree murder and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. He is believed to be in either British Columbia, or Mexico. On December 8, 2007, Brown was added to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List.[9]
  • Paul Eischeid, a member of the Hells Angels, is wanted for his part in killing a woman in Tempe, Arizona, in 2001. He is charged with first degree murder. He was recently placed on the U.S. Marshals 15 Most Wanted List, and is additionally wanted for drug trafficking and RICO.[10]
  • Daniel Hiers is wanted for murdering his wife, Ludimila Hiers, in Goose Creek, South Carolina, in March 2005. He is also wanted for sexually abusing a child in Charleston, South Carolina, shortly before. Hiers, a former police officer, is on the U.S. Marshals 15 Most Wanted List, and they are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to his capture. He was also John Walsh's #1 most wanted fugitive of 2005.[12]
  • Elby Hars is wanted for sexually abusing young girls in Columbia, South Carolina. He had previously served time for sexually abusing his own daughter, Terri Hars. Astonishingly, when he was released, she found young girls for him to abuse, leading to her going to prison.[13]
  • Andre Neverson is wanted for the murders of his sister, Patricia Neverson, and his ex-girlfriend, Donna Davis, both in Brooklyn, New York, in July 2002. He is also on the U.S. Marshals 15 Most Wanted list.[14]
  • Greisy Valencia is wanted for viciously abusing and torturing her 11-year-old daughter in Hayward, California. She had been abusing the little girl for a 7-8 year period until social workers discovered her daughter in 2002.[15]

"15 Seconds of Shame"

"15 Seconds of Shame" is a segment (approximately one minute in length) where the show features four fugitives that are currently on the run, each in their own 15-second briefing. The run-up shows the charges against the fugitives, and where they might be. Aliases, tattoos and character quirks are also mentioned in the profiles.

Other facts

Cases that are international or have some international connection

Many of the series' cases have some connection outside the United States or have not taken place in the United States at all. The first show that aired after September 11, 2001 was two hours long and focused mainly on terrorism. The series' first international capture was in Nova Scotia in 1989.

Repeats and preemptions

The show's nature does not allow repeats, except for updates on convicted criminals, and is preempted a maximum of eight times during the year; three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, one Major League Baseball playoff game, the World Series, and one January NFL playoff game in odd years. However, if a fugitive featured on the show is not captured, their profile may be aired again.

On radio

A digest version of America's Most Wanted is distributed to radio stations Monday – Saturday through Citadel Media (formerly ABC Radio Networks) at 15 minutes past the hour from 5AM to 2PM (Eastern Time). It keeps listeners up to date on the latest fugitive and missing persons/children cases nationwide.


The announcer heard on the show for its first two decades was voice-over artist Don LaFontaine, who died on September 1, 2008. The next episode was dedicated to him. He was replaced by voice actor Wes Johnson.[16]

See also


External links

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