The father hosted the "America's Most Wanted" TV show and was an activist in crime-solving. Full story here.
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- A serial killer who died more than a decade ago is the person who decapitated the 6-year-old son of "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh in 1981, Hollywood police said Tuesday.
The announcement brought to a close a case that has vexed the Walsh family for more than two decades, launched the television show about the nation's most notorious criminals and inspired changes in how authorities search for missing children.
"Who could take a 6-year-old and murder and decapitate him? Who?" an emotional John Walsh said at Tuesday's news conference. "We needed to know. We needed to know. And today we know. The not knowing has been a torture, but that journey's over." . . .
The suspect, Ottis Toole, had twice confessed to killing the child, but later recanted. He claimed responsibility for hundreds of murders, but police determined most of the confessions were lies. Toole's niece told the boy's father, John Walsh, her uncle confessed on his deathbed in prison that he killed Adam.
Police said Toole was long the prime suspect in the case and that they had conclusively linked him the killing. They declined to be specific about their evidence and noted they had no DNA proof of the crime, but said an extensive review of the case file pointed only to Toole, as John Wash long contended. . . .
Adam's death, and his father's subsequent activism on his behalf, helped put faces on milk cartons, shopping bags and mailbox flyers, started fingerprinting programs and increased security at schools and stores. It spurred the creation of missing persons units at every large police department.
It also prompted national legislation to create a national center, database and toll-free line devoted to missing children, and led to the start of "America's Most Wanted," which brought those cases into millions of homes. . . .
See ABC News story here.