HOLLYWOOD, FL (WFLX) - "Today [Tuesday], this is a reaffirmation of the fact that he didnt die in vain, that beautiful little boy," said John Walsh, father.
He was kidnapped from a South Florida Sears store 27 years ago and killed. Now, investigators say, they finally know who murdered little Adam Walsh.
Ever since his little boy was brutally killed, John Walsh has devoted his life to getting criminals off the streets. But Adam's murder remained unsolved until now.
Investigators confirmed Tuesday what many people have believed for years: Ottis Toole did it.
On 'America's Most Wanted', every week, John Walsh usually has a stern, serious face when he helps put away criminals.
But Tuesday, he could barely utter out the words as tears filled his eyes after justice came not to a family of strangers but to his own.
John Walsh, father said, "For 27 years, we've been asking who could take a 6-year-old boy and murder him and decapitate him, who?"
An emotional John Walsh says he and his wife, Reve, had been agonizing over that question until they got this answer Tuesday.
Chief Chadwick Wagner, Hollywood Police, announced, "That Ottis Toole was the abductor and murderer of Adam Walsh".
For nearly three decades, authorities had a pretty good idea the man, who kidnapped and killed 6-year-old Adam back in 1981 at a Hollywood mall, was Ottis Toole.
The convicted Pedophile and drifter confessed to the murder but then recanted. It wasn't until the current police chief decided to take a fresh look at the case this past year that he decided to close the investigation for good.
Reve Walsh, mother, said, "There are no words that can tell you how I feel. Listening to the words that came off of Chief Wagner's lips just penetrated my soul."
Even though, Toole died in jail a decade ago, the Walshes, who clutched their little boy's picture, say justice has finally come.
Adam Walsh would have been 33 years old this year had he lived. Reve: "This is a wonderful, wonderful day in spite of why we're here"
John Walsh, concluded, "We needed to know, and today [Tuesday], we know"
John Walsh told us a year ago he believed Toole killed his son all along and was angry at the way the Hollywood Police Department handled the case.
Tuesday, he appeared simply relieved that everything was over.
The woman who was there for the Walsh family during some of the most difficult moments after Adam's dissapearance says this tragedy has actually helped missing children.
Nancy McBride is the director of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children which was originally called the Adam Walsh Center.
She started working for John Walsh back in 1981 as an administrative assistant. Among the things that have improved over the years: Waiting periods to report children are now illegal. And new technology, such as age progression and Amber Alerts, have revolutionized searches.
Police protocol on how to search for a child has changed as well. "They know exactly what they are going to do when a child goes missing. That's an exact result after what happened to Adam."