For years the FBI’s fabled Most Wanted List may be best recognized in an array of big-budget cop drama plots. The list was something the headstrong youthful cop consults before he takes the cause of vigilante justice into his own hands. In the last three years, the FBI, Navy Seals, and foreign forces have managed to capture or kill three criminals occupying the Most Wanted List; Osama Bin Laden, James “Whitey” Bulger, and Eric Toth. Each of these dangerous criminals managed to elude authorities for years while having their face spread across the globe on the infamous register. The Most Wanted list is again in the media because on April 22, Eric Toth was arrested in Nicaragua, ending a four year long manhunt.
Eric Toth was wanted on charges that he hid a camera in the school bathroom, obtained lewd pictures, and engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with children. As an elementary school teacher in the Washington D.C. area, Toth managed to convinced parents that he was an upstanding and trustful member of society. Toth offered his services as an after-school tutor and babysitter so that he could gain access to impressionable young children. What parents believed were tutoring lessons for their kids turned out to be the sadistic fantasies of a dangerous and inconspicuous predator. Before his capture, Toth was last seen in a homeless shelter in Arizona where he was reportedly finding work as a male nanny and part-time tutor. Toth is not a “killer” by way of the law, but the mental and physical torture these children endured can scar an entire lifetime. They will never gain back an innocence that they lost so young, at the hands of someone who is supposed to have their best interests in mind.
The world will always breed dangerous minds that wish to prey on the innocents of the world. There is no justification for what Eric Toth did, and even a lifetime in prison seems unfit as punishment. The heavily publicized cases of child molestation are all too common these days, but despite the constant exposure it seems there will always be something more bizarre and tragic waiting to be uncovered. The FBI’s Most Wanted list might seem like a cloyingly sweet plot twist, but there is a certain satisfaction to see justice in action. When the time constraints of movies and shows make certain that the “bad guy” is captured by the end, we have a disillusioned view on how fast justice is really served. Characters like Eric Toth are an all-too-often facet of prime time shows, and many of us wait with bated breath to watch the good-looking cop duo wrap things up in a neat bow within the hour. Society will always have a villain, and what defines the enemy is constantly evolving thanks to the FBI’s Most Wanted list and the endless fictional spin-offs.