December 17, 2008

America's Most Wanted Case Closed: Murderer of John Walsh's Son Identified

Finally some closure for John Walsh's family.

Florida police announced Tuesday that they have solved the murder of the America's Most Wanted host's 6-year-old son Adam, who was abducted and killed in 1981.

Authorities said at a news conference that a drifter named Ottis Elwood Toole, who confessed to the crime in 1983 but then recanted before he died in prison in 1996, was responsible. Toole was serving five life sentences for his role in murders committed with serial killer Henry Lee Lucas.

Adam disappeared from a shopping mall in Hollywood, Fla., on July 27, 1981. His severed head was discovered two weeks later in Vero Beach, 120 miles away; his body was never found.

When Toole initially confessed, investigators had no way to positively identify Adam's DNA from the bloodstained carpet found in Toole's Cadillac. When DNA testing was ordered in 1994, they couldn't locate the car. Hollywood police concluded that Toole was the killer, however, after a thorough review of the case records, a police spokesman said today.

Walsh, who helped Congress pass the Missing Children's Act in 1982 and began hosting what is currently Fox's longest-running show in 1988, was at the conference with his wife, Reve, and their three children.

"For 27 years we've been asking, 'Who could take a 6-year-old boy and murder him and decapitate him? Who?' " Walsh said today. "We needed to know. We needed to know. And today we know."

"The not knowing has been torture," he said. "But that journey's over."

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