Launched May 5, 1993, the program harnesses the TBI’s relationship with the media and the public to bring attention to dangerous fugitives believed to be in Tennessee, while offering cash rewards for information that leads to successful captures.
Since the start of the program, the TBI’s top 10 program contributed to the capture of more than 400 dangerous fugitives, including the capture of a most wanted fugitive Thursday morning in Wilson County.
The first individual added to the top 10 most wanted, Terry Lee Charlton, was wanted to face multiple counts of aggravated burglary. He was arrested 18 months later after a lengthy investigation led by special agent Mark Gwyn, who would later become the agency’s director.
The first woman added to the TBI’s top 10 most wanted in May 2003, Margo Freshwater, escaped the Tennessee Prison for Women in 1970, while serving a life sentence for murdering a store clerk in Memphis in 1969. She was captured in Columbus, Ohio in 2002.
Added to the top 10 in May 2012, Adam Mayes was involved in the murder of a woman in Whiteville, along with the kidnapping of the woman’s two younger daughters. After a five-day search, a tip from the public led authorities to a heavily wooded area in Mississippi, where Mayes killed himself, and the girls were rescued unharmed.
“The top 10 program has been an invaluable partnership between the TBI and the public,” said Gwyn. “When we share information about dangerous fugitives, the public pays attention, stays vigilant and offers tips, which can make the difference in getting these individuals in custody. We look forward to that continued partnership well into the future.”
Currently, only one of the original people added to the top 10 in May 1993, Robert Houston, remains on the list, and efforts to locate him remain ongoing.
The full top 10 most wanted list may be accessed at tn.gov/tbi.