On November 14, 1974, in Hollywood, Florida, John Walsh, a TV star and criminal investigator, and Revé Drew had a son named Adam John Walsh. He was the first baby they had.
Adam’s mother took him shopping at the Hollywood Mall in Hollywood, Florida, with her on July 27, 1981. They went to Sears together and got in through the north door. Revé wanted to look for a lamp for sale, so he left Adam at a booth with Atari 2600 games, where other boys were taking turns playing.
When his mother was done shopping and went back to the kiosk, Adam and the other boys were gone. A store manager told her that a fight had broken out over who was next to play the Atari, and a security guard told the boys to leave the store.
Adams’s parents think that he was too shy to tell the security guard that his mom was out shopping, and the guard thinks that he was with the other kids because he didn’t tell him that his mom was out. All of the kids were sent out of a Sears exit that Adam didn’t know about.
Revé looked around the store right away and used the public address system to call for her son. She ran into his father’s grandmother by chance, and she helped with the search as well. Revé looked for her son for 90 minutes before calling the police to say he was missing.
On August 10, a broken head was found in a drainage canal next to the Florida Turnpike near Vero Beach, which is about 130 miles from Adams’ house. The next day, John and Revé Walsh went on national TV and said that they still thought Adam was alive. They also offered a reward of $100,000 for his safe return. Soon after, it was clear that the bones were Adam’s.
The coroner guessed that the person had choked to death. The way his body looked showed that he had been dead for a long time before his head was found. The rest of his body could not be found.
After doing some research, the police were led to suspect Ottis Toole, a drifter from Jacksonville, Florida, who had been convicted of killing someone.
Toole says that he got Adam to get in his white 1971 Cadillac by promising him toys and candy. They then drove north on Interstate 95 toward Toole’s home in Jacksonville.
Adam was embarrassed and agreed at first, but as they drove, he started to feel scared. Toole said he hit Adam in the face for screaming, but this made things worse, so he beat him until he passed out. When he saw that Adam was still breathing, he stopped the car, strangled Adam with his seatbelt, took him out of the car, and cut off Adam’s head with a machete.
Toole also said that he burned his body in an old refrigerator when he got back to Jacksonville to get rid of it. He told investigators that all he wanted to do was make him his son, but since he was close to loving parents, this wasn’t likely to happen.
Ottis Toole always said he was involved and then said he wasn’t. Since there was no physical evidence, they never accused him of killing Adams. Toole died in prison of cirrhosis in September 1996, when he was 49 years old. He was serving a life sentence for other crimes.
On December 16, 2008, the case was closed by police in Hollywood, Florida, with Adam’s father John Walsh there. After looking at the case from the outside, the police were sure that Ottis Toole was the killer and said so.