Jacksonville Link To Adam Walsh Killer
27 years is a long time to look for closure. It finally came today from the Hollywood, Florida police chief who announced that the 1981 murder of Adam Walsh had been solved, according to this news article.
Adam was never seen alive after his mother lost him in a mall Sears store. Reportedly the 6-year-old had gone to look at the video arcade just as a 17-year old guard told all of the kids to leave.
Adam’s head was found in a Florida canal two weeks later. His body was never found. His father, John Walsh went on to become the host of the Fox show, “Americas Most Wanted,” and an advocate for children’s rights and for curtailing the rights of perpetrators, especially pedophiles.
The man named today was a long time suspect and no surprise. After 27 years, the police department finally admitted the investigation was botched, evidence was lost and DNA matches could not be performed with the missing evidence. Walsh knew all along Toole was the man. Toole had even confessed then recanted his confession.
Ottis Toole came from the Springfield section of downtown Jacksonville. Born in 1947 to poverty, Toole’s father abandoned the family when he was six. Toole reportedly claimed to have been sexually abused at the age of six. He reportedly had learning disorders, was illiterate and suffered from epilepsy.
Toole claims he started murdering when he was 14 years old. Police didn’t know what to believe. Back there was no DNA evidence to make a match, even for the blood found in the trunk of his car after Adam was kidnapped.
Former Jacksonville homicide detective Jesse “Buddy” Terry says he, along with Walsh, never doubted that Toole killed the boy. Toole had confessed to Terry about the beheading in 1983, even showing Terry where he killed the boy.
“He told us he killed a little boy down South and it made headlines,” Terry told the Florida Times Union in a phone interview.
Terry they inquired and found out about the Walsh case and contacted Hollywood, Florida police.
But Hollywood police thought that Terry coerced the confession and provided confidential information to Toole about the case so he could write a book and gain movie rights to Toole’s life story.
Terry told the Florida Times-Union, he feels with the closing of this case, his reputation has finally been salvaged.
“It’s about time,” Terry, 71, said of the case’s resolution. “We had no book deal or anything else.”
Toole died in prison more than a decade ago, allegedly giving his niece a deathbed confession to the crime. He had confessed to more than 100 murders, many with serial killer Henry Lee Lucas whom he met in a Jacksonville soup kitchen. Police could never determine if the confessions, punctuated by homosexuality, dressing as a woman, male prostitution, and cannibalism, were true.
Finally Toole was convicted for killing 64-year old George Sonnenburg in 1982 in an arson-murder. Toole was accused of locking up Sonnenburg in his Jacksonville home and setting the house on fire, killing him. Toole was also convicted of killing a prostitute and a 19-year old Tallahassee teenage girl.
“I have no doubt, I’ve never had any doubt,” Walsh always said.
Ironically, the child protection laws that Adam Walsh’s death sparked might have helped intervene in the life that his mentally incompetent and sexually abused child who became the killer Toole.
As many of the laws now encourage, step in and help a child you see in trouble. You might be averting the creation of a serial killer and save many lives down the line.