Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Family Tragerdy Did Not Stop John Walsh From Saving Other Children

In the summer of 1981, Walsh was a partner in a hotel management company in Hollywood, Florida. He and his wife, Revé, had a six-year-old son, Adam. On July 27, 1981, Adam was abducted from a Sears department store at the Hollywood Mall, across from the Hollywood Police station. Revé had dropped Adam off in the Sears toy department while she looked for a lamp. When she returned, Adam was missing. Police records in Adam's case released in 1996 show that a 17-year-old security guard asked four boys to leave the department store. Adam is believed to have been one of them. Sixteen days after the abduction, his severed head was found in a drainage canal more than 100 miles away from home. His body was never recovered. The prime suspect in Adam's abduction and murder, Ottis Toole, was never charged in the Adam Walsh case. He died in prison in September 1996 while serving a life sentence for other crimes. In January 2007, however, deceased serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer fell under suspicion for the murder of Adam. This speculation was discounted by Walsh in an America's Most Wanted statement on February 6, 2007.

The Walsh family soon began a campaign to help missing and exploited children. Despite bureaucratic and legislative problems, John and Revé's efforts eventually led to the creation of the Missing Children Act of 1982 and the Missing Children's Assistance Act of 1984.

Subsequently, they founded the Adam Walsh Child Resource Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to legislative reform. The centers, originally located in West Palm Beach, Florida; Columbia, South Carolina; Orange County, California; and Rochester, New York; recently merged with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), where John Walsh serves on the Board of Directors.

Today, Walsh continues to testify before Congress and state legislatures on crime, missing children and victims' rights issues. His latest efforts include lobbying for a Constitutional amendment for victims' rights.

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (Pub.L. 109-248) was signed into law by U.S. President George W. Bush on July 27, 2006 following a two-year journey through the United States Congress and was intensely lobbied for by Walsh and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Primarily, it focuses on a national sex offender registry, tough penalties for not registering as a sex offender following release into society, and access by citizens to state websites that track sex offenders.

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