Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America-Les Staniford with Detective Sergeant Joe Matthews

Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America
Les Staniford with Detective Sergeant Joe Matthews
Ecco, Mar 1 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780061983900

In July, 1981 in a Sears store in a Hollywood, Florida mall, six years old Adam Walsh vanishes. His frantic parents Reve and John worried about their son’s safety until two weeks later when Adam’s partial remains were found. In 1983, Jacksonville police arrested Otis Toole for arson and murder. He confessed and recanted his confession of killing a child. Over the years Toole continued to confess killing Adam, but also withdrew his confession though he knew details that only the killer would have known. Evidence was mishandled and vanished so he was never was charged with the little boys homicide. In 1996 Toole died in prison.

Although John and Reve became voices of advocating the rights of children and strong laws to protect the young, they never found closure with Adam’s death. Finally in 2006, they hired retired Florida police officer Joe Matthews, who was on the original inquiry, to look into the cold case murder of their son over two decades earlier. Matthews analyzed Toole’s confessions and other deviance. In 2008, Matthews and his team using modern technology determined who killed Adam.

This is not an easy read as John Walsh explains no one gets closure even with the case solved. Much of the true crime account faults the police for shoddy work, which can after awhile detract from the overall emotional impact of what the Walsh family emotionally went through (and still are going through) and the macabre riveting comments by Toole. This is a profound look at one of the key (and the first) “Abduction that Changed how America deals with crimes against children.

Harriet Klausner

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