FBI rewards at discretion of field office

Published 6:38 pm Saturday, March 19, 2016

The FBI offers rewards in some cases, including the recent murder of an 85-year-old in Jackson. But the agency hasn’t offered a reward to help solve one of Brookhaven’s violent crimes — the murder of Bridget London Hall.

Hall, 43, was shot multiple times at close range in her home on Vivian Merritt Street on July 6. So why have other cases prompted the FBI to offer a reward when this one hasn’t?

According to Jackson FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jason Pack, the special agent or field office over a case determines whether a reward amount should be requested.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“The decision regarding the existence of a reward is also at the discretion of the investigator,” Pack said. “Each case is evaluated on its own set of facts and circumstances. The key factor is that the agent and management believe that the publicity generated by the reward will result in intelligence and new leads.”

The FBI has more clear-cut guidelines for reward money for fugitives.

“A minimum reward of up to $100,000 is offered by the FBI for information that leads directly to the arrest of the bureau’s well-known “Top Ten Most Wanted” fugitive,” Pack said. “Rewards for fugitives outside of that specific program are set at the discretion of the individuals conducting the investigation in each field office. The special agent in charge has the flexibility, in consultation with the case agent, to determine the amount of a reward.”

A fugitive can be placed on the FBI’s “Top Ten Most Wanted” list after going through an extensive selection process, Pack said. The Criminal Investigative Division at FBI Headquarters canvasses all 56 field offices and asks them to submit candidates for the list, Pack said.

“The nominees received are reviewed by special agents in CID and the Office of Public Affairs,” Pack said. “The selection of the proposed candidates is forwarded to FBI executive management for final approval. There are two primary criteria. First, the fugitive must be considered a particularly dangerous menace to society or must have a lengthy record of committing serious crimes. Second, both national and international publicity must be able to assist in the apprehension of the fugitive.”

In many unsolved cases, however, there is no fugitive. The Jackson FBI office recently set a $20,000 reward for information regarding the shooting death of 85-year-old James Hankins on McCluer Road in Jackson. The suspect was last seen running toward the Valley Park Subdivision after the shooting on Feb. 13.

In the more widely known case of 19-year-old Jessica Chambers, who was burned to death, the FBI set a reward for $43,000 in 2015.

The FBI has routinely offered rewards for information to help solve a case. It offered $20,000 in an effort to find a missing toddler last year. A quick search online shows several rewards offered by the FBI in ongoing cases.

The only reward currently offered for information about Hall’s murderer is from Crimestoppers. Tips leading to an arrest may be eligible for a cash reward up to $1,000.