Missing children is a subject that pervades all of my Jess Kimball books. It’s a devastating topic, of course, but it’s what drives Jess Kimball. She won’t rest until she’s found her son, who was kidnapped as an infant. Jess Kimball’s job as an investigative journalist for Taboo Magazine keeps her fighting along the way for victims’ rights.
While thinking about this, and while pondering what’s next for Jess Kimball, read about the Adam Walsh murder case. Do you remember him? His father, John Walsh, was the host on America’s Most Wanted.
Image courtesy of Time.com
Adam disappeared from a Sears store in Hollywood, Florida, in 1981 at age six. His mother, Revé Walsh, had left him at a kiosk playing video games with a group of boys while she shopped a few aisles over. When she returned for Adam, he and the other boys were nowhere to be seen. A store manager claimed that the boys had gotten rowdy and were sent out of the store. Adam’s mother searched the store for 90 minutes, calling his name on the intercom. When Adam failed to appear, she called the Hollywood police.
Despite a search and massive media attention, no trace of Adam was found until sixteen days later. On Aug. 10, 1981, two fishermen made a grisly discovery. They found Adam’s severed head in a canal off the Florida turnpike, about 120 miles north from where he had gone missing. His body was never found.
Adam’s tragic disappearance came just two years after that of 6-year-old Etan Patz who was abducted while walking to his school bus stop. The disappearance of the two young boys so close together fueled paranoia about “child-snatchers.” After their son’s disappearance, the Walshs’s became vocal advocates for missing children, helping to pass the Missing Children’s Act in 1982.
Image courtesy of Biography.com
Little headway was made in the case until October 1983, where convicted serial killer Ottis Toole confessed to abducting and murdering Adam. A bloodstained carpet was removed from Toole’s Cadillac, however limited technology meant that investigators were not able to test it for DNA at the time. By 1994, both the bloodstained carpet and Cadillac had gone missing. The case was further complicated by Toole, who redacted his confession twice. Toole also had a history of confessing to numerous murders, many of which he had not committed. Due to the loss of evidence, Toole was not charged with Adam’s murder and died in prison in 1996.
The case was reviewed in 2008 by a new Police Chief, Chadwick Wagner. Although no new evidence was found, Wagner determined that Toole was responsible for Adam’s murder. Police Chief Wagner closed the case, although many questions still remain.