Killer of ‘America’s Most Wanted’ Host John Walsh’s Son Identified

December 16, 2008

It’s been more than a quarter century after the kidnapped son of America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh was found dead. Adam Walsh, who was only 6 in 1981, was abducted from a Hollywood, Fla., shopping mall. The child’s head was discovered two weeks later but his other remains were never recovered. Walsh’s son’s death galvanized the former hotel marketing executive into one of the country’s leading activists on behalf of missing children.

Police in Florida on Tuesday are now saying a convicted serial killer named Ottis Toole, who died in prison in 1996, was the child’s suspected murderer.
“Our agency has devoted an inordinate amount of time seeking leads to other potential perpetrators rather than emphasizing Ottis Toole as our primary suspect,” said Hollywood Police Chief Chadwick Wagner, who launched a fresh review of the case after taking over the department last year. “Ottis Toole has continued to be our only real suspect.” Wagner acknowledged numerous missteps in the investigation and apologized to the Walshes.

Toole, a drifter who was serving time for an unrelated murder, twice confessed to killing Adam, only to recant in both instances. Toole, it was discovered, would sometimes confess to dozens of murders he did not, in fact, commit. In a 1983 confession about Adam, Toole reportedly cited a machete as the weapon used to decapitate the boy. Police declined to be specific about their evidence and did not note any DNA proof of the crime, but said an extensive review of the case file pointed only to Toole, as John Walsh long contended. Toole’s niece told John Walsh, her uncle confessed on his deathbed in prison that he killed Adam. “I have no doubt,” John Walsh said. “I’ve never had any doubt.”

John Walsh instituted the Adam Walsh Child Resource Center and co-founded the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. His America’s Most Wanted TV show launched in 1988.

In its 24 years, the center has assisted authorities in more than 148,160 missing child cases, and helped in the recovery of more than 132,300 children.


4 Responses to “Killer of ‘America’s Most Wanted’ Host John Walsh’s Son Identified”

  1. Mike on December 17th, 2008 5:40 pm

    do not leave your childlen alone anywhere ever for any reason even for a fraction of a second. If Adam Walsh’s mom was holding his hand all the time while walking through Sears that day – he’d be alive.

    There always will be those who hunt children for their perverse pleasure.
    But only those childlen who are left alone “just for a moment” will become their prey.

  2. Nichelle on January 26th, 2009 7:20 pm


  3. Sandra Dupont on February 24th, 2009 6:42 am

    I know that John and his wife must feel that there is a tremendouse weight that has been lifted from their shoulders.God bless them and thank God for people like them in the world that are able to help find missing childrens.

  4. olivia on February 24th, 2009 10:00 am

    Mike – Toole was a notorious serial killer, and if he hadn’t killed Adam, it would have been someone else, trust me.

    On the whole I agree with you, I wouldn’t leave my children alone. But at the same time, some of this is statistics, and while she was not holding his hand, he was taken from right under her nose. Tragedies happen, and it could be argued that they happen no matter what precautions are taken.

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