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Adam Walsh Case Finally Closed

In 1981, 6-year-old Adam Walsh went missing from a Hollywood, Fla., shopping mall, sending all of South Florida into a tailspin. Today, more than two decades later, Adam's killer has finally been named: Ottis Toole, a suspect who had twice confessed and recanted, admitted to the crime on his deathbed, Toole's niece told Adam's father, John Walsh.

I was an 11-year-old girl living in South Florida the day Adam Walsh disappeared. What I remember most was the constant reminder of him at that time: A photo of Adam holding a baseball bat, with a grin that showed missing front teeth. It symbolized a new fear -- a change in our feelings of safety. Before Adam's disappearance, we could ride our bikes anywhere. Afterward, there were lots of questions. "Where are you going?" "When will you be home?" "Who will you be with?"

Adam's disappearance and death compelled his father, John Walsh, to become a national advocate for missing children. He helped put missing children's faces on milk bottles and mailbox fliers in the days before Amber Alerts could spread in minutes via e-mail.

A year after Adam's death, Congress passed the Missing Children Act. A national center, database and toll-free line devoted to missing children were created. John Walsh went on to host the television show "America's Most Wanted."

"He ended up really producing a generation of cautious and afraid kids who view all adults and strangers as a threat to them and it made parents extremely paranoid about the safety of their children," Mount Holyoke College sociologist and criminologist Richard Moran told the Associated Press.

Whatever your thoughts about Walsh's efforts on behalf of missing children over the years, at least he and his wife, Reve, finally know who killed their little boy. "Who could take a 6-year-old and murder and decapitate him? Who?" John Walsh said at a Tuesday news conference in which Reve placed a small photo of Adam on the lectern. "We needed to know. We needed to know. And today we know. The not knowing has been a torture, but that journey's over."

Did the Adam Walsh case change how your parents approached safety? Did it make you more fearful?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  December 16, 2008; 5:31 PM ET  | Category:  Safety
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I read another article where it stated that Toole's car with the blood stained carpeting went missing in 1994 - therefore no DNA testing. Did the police find the lost evidence, or did they just close the case?

Posted by: bobcra | December 16, 2008 6:16 PM | Report abuse

I hope the Walsh family can find some peace. Rest in peace, little Adam. I think of you so often and I admire your father so much for all that he has done in your memory.

Posted by: marybeerman | December 16, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse

there's a more descriptive article here

Posted by: Tom30 | December 16, 2008 6:41 PM | Report abuse

I was 9 years old when Adam Walsh went missing and was later found dead. I remember the story so vividly. It seemed like the picture of him holding the baseball bat was on the news all the time. Adam's story also affected my life because it made my mother insane about my, and my brother's, where abouts. I remember the horrifying experience later that year when my brother went missing at the shopping mall during the Christmas shopping rush. My mom was bawling and screaming, and security guards, and mall employees where racing around like crazy trying to find him. Thank God he was found an hour later sitting in the Pole Position game at the video arcade!! My mom didn't stop crying for hours--she kept talking about Adam Walsh.
I am so happy for the Walsh family that they finally have closure after all these years. Whenever I am at Wal-Mart and hear a "Code Adam" I always help to look, and say a little prayer for Adam. His legacy to us all will be a more mindful public!
Don't forget about all of the others that are still out there. I still remember Jacob Wetterling too!

Posted by: vosberg1314 | December 16, 2008 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Different generation - I was 22 and my "baby" brother had graduated from high school in '81.

But our parents weren't exactly cavalier about our where-abouts when we were youngsters. As a senior in high school I was once spanked (in front of my friends), because I was late getting home from a snow trip - and it was still daylight, and I'd phoned from the ski lodge to let my parents know we were going to be late! And my brother once risked ditching a police line-up after a football game to avoid being late getting home, or the dreaded phone call from the officers to the parents.

We learned to be very, *VERY* sneaky if we were going to be somewhere they wouldn't have approved of.

Posted by: SueMc | December 16, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Sometime you have to earn justice! and John Walsh indeed erned it by bringing it to others.
John Walsh is true American and others love America because of him. Thank you John and may your son Adam, rest in peace now.

Posted by: BOBSTERII | December 16, 2008 7:22 PM | Report abuse

So far I've read 3 online articles on this subject (ie, the final closing of the Adam Walsh case), in,, and No one of them has adequately explained what exactly has occurred to trigger this event.

It is mentioned that Mr. Toole's niece revealed his deathbed confession. If that's what's caused the case to be closed, it raises more questions than it answers. First, why the 12 year delay? (Toole died in 1996.) Second, if he died in prison, was it only his niece who heard the confession? Third, why are the authorities now accepting the confession of a guy who twice previously recanted his prior accounts of Adam's murder? Fourth, can the niece even be trusted, after waiting 12 years?

What's most disappointing is that generally reliable news sources like the Times and the Post (forget Fox) aren't addressing these issues. Come on, guys, we expect better from you!

Posted by: TroyOi | December 16, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Solved??? It appears to me that they had their "confession" from a guy that confessed to serveral murders he didn't commit 25 years ago (recanted and then re-affirmed later on the "death bed"). I'll sincerely hope that this brings closure for the Walsh family, but I honestly don't have much faith in an end game that includes someone who died in prison over a decade ago. Sounds too much like "we're just trying cleaning up the loose ends" to me.

Posted by: EddietheInfidel | December 16, 2008 9:08 PM | Report abuse

God rest Adam's soul.

I agree with the above posters who question why this is happening now, and how is that reason conclusive. There's something missing from this story that will perhaps emerge in a day or two.

I think this perhaps has more to do with what John Walsh wants to believe. As he said himself, "The not knowing has been a torture. That journey is over." But if this allows him some measure of peace, I couldn't begrudge him that.

Posted by: omega_man | December 16, 2008 9:59 PM | Report abuse

I very much doubt it is solved; something about John Walsh that gives me the creeps, if he had nothing with what happened it's him profiting from his son's fate.

Posted by: encinal1 | December 16, 2008 11:11 PM | Report abuse

I very much doubt it is solved; something about John Walsh that gives me the creeps, if he had nothing with what happened it's him profiting from his son's fate.

Posted by: encinal1 | December 16, 2008 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Huh? Gibberish.

I am also of an earlier generation. N/A to my parents. We were frequently left in the car while my parents shopped and dined, etc.

Posted by: jezebel3 | December 17, 2008 7:15 AM | Report abuse

God rest Adam's soul and I am thankful it gives his parents peace of mind.

I don't think Adam's case did a lot for my generation. I was 10 when he was abducted and I only remember parents being hyper vigilant for a brief time after his disapperance.

I was actually almost abducted once. I was in second or third grade and walking home alone. And a man pulled up in a car and told me he was a friend of my fathers and he wanted to take me to see my Dad. I knew at that time my Dad was away on a trip. But I do still remember questioning whether I should get into the car with him. Strangely enough I did not tell my parents about that event till many years later. They only seemed briefly disturbed. I guess they figured my judgement had improved over the years and I was no longer a threat. It still sort of haunts me now.

I only sort of remember people got really paranoid about sexual predators when I was in HS. Now that level of concern seems to be just part of the culture.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 17, 2008 8:01 AM | Report abuse

fr encinal1:

>I very much doubt it is solved; something about John Walsh that gives me the creeps, if he had nothing with what happened it's him profiting from his son's fate.

You too? I feel the exact same way.

Posted by: Alex511 | December 17, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I don't know how he stayed with his wife after she left their son alone as she did. Toy departments at stores are not playgrounds ... a bit of consideration by her for that fact, and Adam would have not been taken.

Posted by: upland_bill | December 17, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Whoa, Foamgnome, that's so scary. Glad you had the sense to not listen to that man. If people are looking for advice on how to protect their children from predators and other dangers, they shoud read "Protecting the Gift" by Gavin de Becker. It has important advice on how to handle things like a kid walking home alone or being lost in public, etc. Highly recommend it.

Posted by: emily8 | December 17, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

As dad as it is I'm glad you can put it to rest but I am upset it took so long and the pain and frustration you and your family had to go through. You FOUGHT stood up made a stand for your son and made a a CHANGE in the WORLD! Kudos to you and your family! BECAUSE OF YOU I HAVE SO MUCH AWARENESS AND KEEP MY KIDS CLOSE AT HEART AS MUCH AS I CAN as many others now do. You ultimately made America aware of child preditors and fought back! What a great father/family your son missed out on because of some idiot! It saddens me but you leave a legacy in his name! How great is that! (DO TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES) love to you all!
Kelly Hiebert

Posted by: irishkelly72 | December 18, 2008 12:37 AM | Report abuse

My name is Willis Morgan. I am one of the original witnesses in the Adam Walsh case. On December 16,2008 The Hollywood Police Department Closed the Adam Walsh Case and apologized to the Walsh Family for their past mistakes Instead of clearing up past blemishes, the Hollywood Police have created their worst blemish to date! I was at that meeting. The Hollywood Police have deliberately mislead the Walsh family in order to close this case. As far as I am concerned the Walsh family have suffered two tragedies. One by Jeffrey Dahmer and one By the Hollywood Police Department! WHAT THEY DID YESTERDAY IS ABOMINABLE!

Willis Morgan

Posted by: WillisMorgan | December 18, 2008 10:37 PM | Report abuse

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