Even if you’ve never seen an episode of the series, you’ve probably heard at least America’s Most Wanted. The series ran from 1988 to 2012, undergoing revival and network changes, bringing the faces of the most wanted criminals in the country. Originally, it was presented by John Walsh, who later went on to make his own TV series, In chase with John Walsh.
However, John Walsh remains at the center of his heart-breaking mystery, which sent him down to advocating for victims of violent crimes and using television to help keep the public informed. With the revival of America’s Most Wanted Re-watch the case of the tragic murder of John Walsh’s son, Adam, after new host Elizabeth Vargas aired on Fox.
Missing and killing
Six-year-old Adam Walsh was kidnapped on July 27, 1981 from a Sears department store in Hollywood, Florida. Adam’s mother left with a group of boys who were playing demonstration video games for the attic system to buy a lamp. When she returned, however, Adam was gone. While she was away, a security guard asked the boys to leave them if they were not here with the parents.
While shy, Adam did not tell the guard that he was in the store with his mother. So he went out from a different entrance, then the one he came into. Adam was therefore left alone, unfamiliar with an entrance. In the store, his mother discovered him, there were pages echoing throughout the store for Adam. After 90 minutes, the police were called and reported missing.
On August 10, just weeks after the disappearance, Adam was beheaded, found in a drainage ditch on the Florida Turnpike near Vero Beach, about 130 miles from Hollywood. John and Rev. Walsh’s son Adam Walsh died of asphyxia, several days before the discovery of the head. The rest of his body, tragically, was never recovered.
who did this?
Both John Walsh and his wife personally believe that their son was investigated by the Hollywood Police Department. Upon investigation, police found Otis Tole, an American serial killer and drifter, at the entrance, where Adam was escorted out with Sears’ boys. Tole confesses to kidnapping and killing Adam Walsh.
According to Toll, he lured Adam to the car with the promise of toys and candy. While Adam was reportedly polite at first, over time he began to panic. Due to this, Toll knocked him unconscious. He then went to dump the corpse on the Florida Turnpike, but realized that Adam was still breathing. So he strangled her to death with a seatbelt and then made Adam naked.
Toll claimed that he disposed of Adam Walsh’s body in a refrigerator near Jacksonville, which he then burned. He said that his motive for the kidnapping was to make Adam his adopted son, but he gave birth to his close relationship with his parents John and Reeve Walsh. They found that the car had evidence of blood as well as a machete, which was used to remove Walsh.
Otis Toll, much like fellow serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, confessed to many more crimes. Toll later recalled his confession about the murder of Adam Walsh, and Sihoris died in 1996. Police and the Walsh family, however, believe that Otis Toll was the man to murder Adam Walsh. The case was officially closed in 2008.
John and Rev. Walsh became lawyers for the missing children. He helped establish the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. A television film about his son was screened in 1983, 1984 and 1985, showing different photographs of missing children each time, causing 13 of the 55 children to be found.