Weird History
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12 Fugitives Who Did The Crime But Not The Time

Updated June 28, 2021 8.2k votes 1.4k voters 120.0k views12 items

List RulesVote up the most brazen fugitives.

Not every manhunt ends in success. Despite the best efforts of the authorities, some fugitives really did get away with it and disappeared into obscurity after a life of infamy. Others met dramatic but sometimes unverified ends.

Whether it's the self-castrated, fervently religious army veteran who offed Lincoln's killer in cold blood, or the mysterious plane hijacker who disappeared completely, none of the featured individuals did the time for their crime. 

  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    The crime: At least 24 murders

    Béla Kiss was a Hungarian businessman who took the lives of 24 people between 1900 and 1914. His first victims were his young wife and the man she was having an affair with. Kiss lured a succession of lonely women to his home, where he would strangle them and store their bodies in large steel drums in his garden. He drained blood from the necks of his victims. 

    When World War I broke out in 1914, Kiss was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army, and his home and gruesome collection were left in the care of his housekeeper. Two years later, Kiss's horrified landlord discovered the remains of 23 women and one man on the property. An urgent search for the killer was launched, but the chaos of the war and the fact "Béla Kiss" was a common name made it extremely difficult.

    At one point Kiss used a dead body in an army hospital in Serbia to cover his tracks and escape. Although several sightings were reported, including in New York City in 1932, he was never caught. 

    Got away scot-free?
  • The crime: Bank robbery

    Víctor Manuel Gerena holds the record for the longest time spent on the FBI's Most Wanted list: a staggering 32 years. In 1983 Gerena was part of a crew of Puerto Rican nationalists who made off with more than $7 million from a Wells Fargo depot in Connecticut, the largest heist in history at that point. While everyone else involved in the scheme was eventually apprehended, Gerena was never caught.

    He was smuggled to Mexico and eventually made his way to Cuba, where he is suspected to currently reside. He was removed from the FBI's list in 2016. 

    Got away scot-free?
  • Photo: San Francisco Police Dept. / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    The crime: At least five - and as many as 37 - slayings

    The Zodiac Killer was the pseudonym of a serial killer responsible for at least five slayings in Northern California in the late 1960s/early 1970s. The nickname came from the killer's practice of sending cryptic messages to the local press. Five of his victims have been confirmed, but his involvement is suspected in several other cold cases. 

    Despite the lengthy investigation and several possible names put forward, the Zodiac Killer was never apprehended and is likely deceased by now. His case file remains open in the California Department of Justice. 

    Got away scot-free?
  • The crime: First-degree homicide

    Assata Shakur, born JoAnne Deborah Byron, was convicted of the slaying of a New Jersey state trooper in 1973. A friend of the political activist Afeni Shakur and the godmother of Afeni's child, the 1990s rapper Tupac Shakur, she was given a life sentence for her part in the New Jersey shoot-out that claimed the trooper's life. 

    Initially held in solitary confinement on Rikers Island, NY, Shakur was transferred to a facility in New Jersey where she was the only female inmate. She was sprung from prison by members of the Black Liberation Army in November 1979, and despite an intensive manhunt by the FBI, was never found.

    By 1984 Shakur made her way to Cuba, where she has lived ever since. She's still wanted by the FBI to this very day, with a $2 million bounty for her capture.

    Got away scot-free?