His name is Eric Toth, and he made the FBI's top 10 list Tuesday after being on the lam for nearly four years. Toth took off in 2008 after pornographic photos were found on a camera he had been using at a prestigious Episcopalian grade school in Washington, D.C.
But Toth's roots are in the Midwest. He grew up in Indianapolis, attended Purdue University and apparently made a shortcut through Illinois to escape federal detection.
With children chattering in the background, Eric Toth could be seen playing a church song in a video that appeared on America's Most Wanted a few years ago. But with Toth still missing, Tuesday the FBI made him one of its most wanted, a list of the nation's most notorious criminals that began under J. Edgar Hoover more than 60 years ago.
Toth was 26 years old and working as a third grade teacher at the Beauvoir National Cathedral Elementary School in Washington, D.C., when a co-worker discovered pornographic photos on a school camera that had been assigned to Toth. He was dismissed from the job but left town before authorities could arrest him.
According to federal agents, Toth returned to the Indiana home of his unsuspecting parents, then left the following day by cutting through Illinois and eventually heading to Minnesota.
At the Minneapolis airport Toth abandoned his car and left a suicide note, stating his corpse could be found in a nearby lake, but his body was never found.
A man fitting Toth's description went to work at a Phoenix, Arizona, homeless shelter in 2009 under a fake name, claiming to be doing research on poverty. But, by the time new photos and video appeared on TV, Toth disappeared again and hasn't been seen since.
An FBI official said Tuesday that "there is no comparison to be made between Toth and bin Laden," and that "Eric Toth has not murdered anyone, he his dangerous... and may be in contact with other children."
This tactic of saturating the country with photos of a wanted criminal has worked numerous times, most recently in the case of Boston mobster Whitey Bulger, who was a fugitive for 16 years before somebody recognized him from an FBI photo.