December 16, 2008

Closure? Adam Walsh Murder Case Closed After 27 Years

Ottis Toole, always a suspect, has officially been named as the murderer of Adam Walsh. Walsh was killed and decapitated in 1981, and Toole signed a confession in 1983 that he later recanted. Toole, a convicted serial killer, died in prison in 1996. The case is now finally closed after all these years.

If you're much younger than I am—say under 30—you may not know much about his disappearance and murder, but you still live in a world profoundly touched by the Adam's kidnapping and murder, in ways big and small.

Adam's death spurred his parents to help create the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

In addition, President Bush signed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act in 2006 to help track sex offenders.

John Walsh has helped put over a thousand fugitive behind bars as the host of America's Most Wanted. Copycat programs by local news media and law enforcement agencies have netted thousands of fugitives more.

Walmart named the nearly ubiquitous "Code Adam" missing child alert they created after him. If you've ever had a child wander away in a store, it is this procedure that locks the store down and hopefully keeps predators from being able to escape with them. Pictures of missing kids on milk cartons. Dedicated missing persons units in large police departments. Increased security in schools, malls, and elsewhere. All have their roots in the agony of the Walsh family, and their tireless advocacy to try to make sure that other families don't have to experience what they did.

I'm certain there is never real closure with the death of a child, but perhaps knowing that Adam's case is finally closed can bring some peace to a family that has done so much to keep others from feeling a similar loss.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at December 16, 2008 10:14 PM

For better or worse the Adam Walsh murder and John Walsh's crusade afterward were also a big part of creating the climate of much greater fear that parents and children live in today. Studies have shown that the control parents expect to maintain over their children's activities is vastly higher today than 30 years ago. Children are taught a high level of suspicion and fear of strangers as well. The loss of a child is a horrific thing - but I would argue that the cost to children in terms of cultural changes in order to avoid events that actually are extemely rare has been high.

Posted by: Gasminder at December 17, 2008 06:25 AM

One thing was never in question with Toole - he was a sick pervert, one of the most disgusting characters to gain attention in the 20th century. My question is why suddenly have authorities decided a man who died in '96 who lied every chance he got, confessed and recanted to this crime and was partners to one of the biggest liar/recanters (Henry Lee Lucas) in the annals of murder... why do we suddenly decide "he's the one"? I've read numerous accounts of this "late breaking story" and not one has revealed what solid evidence finally brings them to this conclusion. I would think the only thing to ease my mind as a parent would be DNA evidence that proved beyond a reasonable doubt but all accounts I see say all DNA evidence was long gone. Any answers?

Posted by: Don Welles at December 17, 2008 06:53 AM

Don Welles, that has been my question, too. No mention of why now, it has just been "case is closed."

Posted by: Stoutcat at December 17, 2008 09:43 AM

From the reports I've seen/read, the closure of this case is due to a new police chief in the controlling jurisdiction (Hollywood, I think). He took a look at the still open case, read the file, and drew "obvious conclusions".

Posted by: PhyCon at December 17, 2008 10:27 AM

Aside from the closure the Walch family may be experiencing, the fact that the rate of murderers caught is even worse than it was in 1969. Even with all the techno advances we see on CSI TV programs, only 61% of murders are solved nowadays vs, 93% back in 1969. The numbers are troubling although I'm very happy that we still continue to get these bad guys off the street.

Posted by: Tonto (USA) at December 17, 2008 12:49 PM

To say that John Walsh is responsible for the higher level of suspicion in today's culture is ridiculous. It's the evil that has arisen in this increasingly sex-obsessed and violent culture that has caused REASONABLE response of suspicion. Do you lock your doors at night?? Why?? Because of John Walsh?? Or because of the very REAL threat of someone committing a crime??

That's such a copout to blame the victims and the victim-advocates instead of the criminals for the rise in suspicion and awareness.

Maybe you could think it through and apologize. Please don't blame the victims. Blame the criminals.

God bless the Walsh family.

Posted by: l at December 17, 2008 08:58 PM

If anyone's interested, there's an account from someone who worked with John Walsh over at Grand Rants:

Posted by: Stoutcat at December 18, 2008 12:03 PM

how can you close a case withiut the body of
the child? i would want to know where my childs
body is ,so i can put him to rest before
closing the case

Posted by: kelly mills at December 18, 2008 05:40 PM

"Maybe you could think it through and apologize. Please don't blame the victims. Blame the criminals."

Please try to read the comment before criticizing. I did not blame the victims, I said "For better or worse the Adam Walsh murder and John Walsh's crusade afterward were also a big part of creating the climate of much greater fear that parents and children live in today" and I stand by that statement.

Further - I'd argue that there is no greater risk today than there was 30 years ago - instead there is a greater PERCEPTION of risk due to the enhanced media coverage which was driven in SOME part by the events described.

And in answer to your question - no I do not lock my doors as night even though I reside in the 4th largest city in the nation. Never got in the habit due to a rural upbringing and haven't started it now due to my opinion that locks just keep honest people honest. If someone wants in your house they will enter it - however if I am at home they are quite unlikely to leave it in a vertical position.

Posted by: Gasminder at December 19, 2008 11:35 AM

I hope that the discovery of adam walsh"s killer will bring closer to that murder case, and that all the work that Americas most wanted has done over the years will be recognized, and that John Walsh can be seen as a crusader and a fighter for the rights of crime victims,


Bob Cline

Posted by: bob at December 22, 2008 02:05 AM