CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, December 19, 2008

Kidnapping and Murder Mystery Solved 27 Years Later

Adamwalsh There is a serious cold case many people here in Florida have been following for years, and now it's finally solved, the kidnapping and murder of six-year-old Adam Walsh.

Twenty-seven years have passed and they're all together again, the family, detectives, a photo of Adam.

And the emotion is just as strong.

Adam's Father, John Walsh says, as he clears his throat, "For 27 years, we've been asking. Who could take a six-year-old boy and murder him and decapitate him? Who? We needed to know. We needed to know. And, today we know! The not knowing has been torture. But that journey's over."

It was a journey that started here in 1981.

Walsh has asked himself over and over, "Who would kill a six-year-old child?"

After two weeks, the child's head was discovered in a canal, but his body... never found.

Police had their suspect, a serial killer named Ottis Toole. The drifter ended up on death row for three other murders, confessed to more than 100, including Adam's. But most of those confessions were false.

At one point, another serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer, was a suspect based on some witness descriptions. He was living in South Florida then but police interviewed him, and ruled him out.

They did have a piece of bloody carpet from Ottis Toole's car which was never DNA tested, and then, lost. But Toole's niece said in 1995, while he was on his deathbed in prison, he again confessed to killing Adam.

Now, after a fresh review of the entire case, police say they are convinced he was their man.

Hollywood, Florida Police Dept. Chief Chadwick Wagner, said, "In three decades, Ottis Toole has been the suspect. From confessions to sightings to witness interviews. It's all there."

Adam's Mother, Reve Walsh said, "There's no words to tell you how I feel. Listening to the words that came off Chief Wagner's lips, just penetrate my soul." [Mark Godsey]

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