Police close Adam Walsh case - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Police close Adam Walsh case

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Posted by Rachel Leigh email

HOLLYWOOD, FL (WFLX) - Police in Hollywood held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to officially name the murder suspect and close the investigation into the 1981 abduction and killing of 6-year-old Adam Walsh. The boy's abduction and slaying 27 years ago put missing children on the national agenda.

Update, TUE 3:30 PM: Police named deceased drifter Ottis Toole, a convicted pedophile who died in prison in 1996, as the boy's suspected killer. Toole twice confessed to killing the boy  and twice recanted his story saying he made it up.

Hollywood police chief Chad Wagner was joined by Walsh's parents, John and Reve Walsh, whose son would now be 33. Wagner said he saw "flaws" in the original case and made solving the Walsh case a priority. He apologized to the Walsh's for their pain.

Wagner said Toole was "their only real suspect".

Adam disappeared from a Sears store across from the Hollywood police station on July 27, 1981. Two weeks later, his severed head was found in a canal 120 miles away. The boy's body was never recovered, and no one was ever charged in the case.

Walsh turned his grief into action, becoming an early advocate for for missing children and crime victims. Three presidents -- Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton -- have honored John Walsh for his efforts to safeguard children.

His efforts led to the passage of the federal Missing Children's Assistance Act of 1984, which established the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

And, his fierce loathing of fugitives, convicts and predators launched a new career as host of the television show "America's Most Wanted."

Walsh had long believed Toole killed Adam. Toole died in a prison in 1996, while he was serving a life sentence on unrelated charges.

Toole's confessions in the Walsh case were questioned by police, because Toole confessed to other murders that police knew he did not commit.

Although the details of his story changed, Toole did lead police to the Sears store and pointed out the spot where Adam was last seen. He also led police to the canal where the boy's head was found.

But investigators could not find Adam's body where Toole said he left it.

A bloody piece of carpet removed from Toole's car was lost by police many years ago -- before DNA testing became available.

Police believe a 17-year-old security guard asked a handful of rowdy kids who were playing video games in the toy department to leave the store. Investigators believe Adam was grouped in with those kids, who left him alone outside the store. That was the last time he was seen.

Previously: The murder case gripped South Florida more than a quarter-century ago. But, now, authorities say, they are ready to close the case involving 6-year-old Adam Walsh.

Walsh's parents, including America's Most Wanted host, John Walsh, will be in Hollywood to speak about the new developments, along with detectives, at a 2:30 press conference, police said.

Adam Walsh was abducted in 1981 from what was then called the Hollywood Mall. Despite his parents' pleas and efforts, the child was never found.

Parts of his body were recovered in a canal more than 100 miles away from the mall. No one was ever convicted of the abduction and murder.

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