Thank you, John Walsh
Every time I see a face on a milk carton, it makes me sad. But I am glad they are there, and we have John Walsh to thank for it. And yesterday, his 27 year nightmare finally ended.
John Walsh, most famous as the host of “America’s Most Wanted,” and his wife were able to finally close the case of their 6-year old son’s murder in 1981. Horrific as it was, his father used this ordeal to advance how the country views, prevents, and solves the cases of missing children.
Not only did he co-found the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, he spearheaded the development of missing person’s divisions in all major cities around the nation. The current president of the Center credits Walsh with making it easier to report and investigate the disappearance of a little one. “In 1981, when a child disappeared, you couldn’t enter information about a child into the FBI database. You could enter information about stolen cars, stolen guns but not stolen children.” But that all changed. Within four days of his son’s funeral, Walsh was changing law enforcement.
In addition to those efforts, Walsh also is responsible for the faces you see on milk cartons, shopping bags and mailbox flyers. He pushed for federal laws that created a toll-free line and database for missing children. He initiated fingerprinting at schools. And of course, he starred in America’s Most Wanted.
After little Adam Walsh was taken from a local shopping mall, his head was found a couple of weeks later. The rest of his body has never been discovered, and until yesterday, his killer remained a mystery. Detectives definitively named Ottis Toole, now deceased, as the culprit. And though countless mistakes were made by police at the time of the crime, Walsh did not place blame in his press conference yesterday, but graciously said it was time to move on.
The Walshes do have critics, saying they have scared a generation of parents and kids, raising paranoia as much as awareness. But whether or not he’s done everything the way you would have, the fact remains that John Walsh has given his life to making sure no other father has to suffer what he has. So, thank you Mr. Walsh, God bless your family, and sweet dreams to little Adam, may he rest in peace.