September 19, 2007
John Walsh, Good Guy Versus Evil
It wouldn't be paradoxical to make note that the last thing in the world that John Walsh would have any desire to do 21 years ago was to seek murderers, most particularly the killer of his only son Adam. No. It's in reality heartbreaking.
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John and his wife Reve were just regular folk, enjoying a good life with their six-year-old son. At the time the family was residing in Florida and John was doing quite well in his business partnership building and managing hotels; in fact when Adam went missing Walsh was building a hotel in Paradise Island.
It's been stated throughout the years that "God works in mysterious ways." Although Adam's killer has never been found, from that horrific day, July 27, 1981, of his devastating loss, Walsh has devoted his life to help families and police put away murderers of children.
Believe it or not, it was not an easy proposition for Walsh who was attempting to work within the system in 1981. Hardly. He never gave up although he hit roadblocks at every turn. Even when he began his television series "America's Most Wanted" there were people who laughed at him while many thought his idea was definitely an empty one – with a lone exception.
It was said by some folks, loss of son or not, the man wanted to feather his own nest because of that happening. But Walsh has delivered to the entire U.S. public the capture of over 958 predators and killers, who might still be walking the streets were it not for him.
John and I have spoken many times over the years. Recently we talked again since his series has entered another season on Fox. Followers of "America's Most Wanted" may recall when the program was cancelled for about six weeks in 1996. There was an unbelievable roar from the public; not only from the people, but from law enforcement agencies as well as government. Yes, government; although both gave Walsh lots of problems in the beginning!!
The series replacing "AMW" didn't pull in viewers and Fox wisely brought back its long-running series, which to this day is still looking for those who would do you and your family harm. John is easy to chat with and continually full of hope; one can always expect complete honesty when interviewing him. He doesn't dodge questions and obviously he doesn't fear repercussions at this point in his quest to find offenders, nevertheless, there are those moments when liberal judges just don't seem to "get it." This season opener had an added bonus – Walsh was joined by actress Pauley Perrette who had her own reasons for wanting to be on the series.
When I asked Walsh about his feelings concerning the fact that while he may catch a fugitive, there are those times when that person is in front of a judge and is let loose instead of having the law enforced, due to a technicality, he replied, "Sometimes judges' hands are tied by the laws and we are doing everything we can to change them.
"When we began our attempts to try and catch criminals, it was depressing for me. Adam's murder changed my world. There are those moments when I'm still so morose, yet, I feel that beautiful little boy is always with me and proud of what we have accomplished with catching the worst of society. In my heart, I believe my little boy knows he didn't die in vain; that his murder brought about a change in the system.
"It was due to Adam's murder that we discovered laws protecting children were practically non-existent. I changed as a person. I was never street-smart before. I was successful and was living a good life with Reve and Adam. We were a trusting family. Today, that little boy's death is responsible for changes in the system. When he was murdered, I lost my naiveté. He's with our family constantly and we now have three beautiful children that are a joy and a blessing. Adam, though, is always with us."
Walsh continued, "I loved that little boy so much! We were lucky to have had him for those six and a half years. His pictures are all over the house. He's with me every day."
Walsh's co-star on the this season's opener, Perrette, whom readers should know as Abby Sciuto on the popular NCIS series, saw an article about two little girls, one seven and one 11, that were murdered near her hometown. She donated $10,000 to the families. She said, "I'm the biggest fan of 'America's Most Wanted' and I really wanted to get involved helping to find the killers of the two little girls. From my area, it could have been anyone I knew.
"The way I celebrate my birthday each year is to give something to somebody else. I believe when there's a crime one person can, and many have, made a difference. It's my belief there's always somebody out there who knows something about every crime. I have the greatest respect for law enforcement – catching the bad guys, wow!!"
"Pauley is the real deal," said Walsh.
As for the victims' families, he stated, "The worst loss in life is losing a child. No one wants to bury their children. That's not the way we believe it should be. We are still busy trying to get laws passed and the system is changing and is so different from years ago.
"Nothing was done years ago. Two days passed before anybody was looking for my little boy. Huge masses of people today get involved, and become a part of everybody's family. Police are now working on cold cases and have all new techniques."
The Walsh's are responsible for the passage of the Missing Children Act of 1982, Missing Children's Assistance's Act of 1984 and the Adam Walsh Child Protection & Safety Act, leading to the National Sex Offender Registry, plus.
John himself has written three books, been named Father of the Year and is the only private citizen to receive a Special Recognition Award by a U.S. Attorney General, along with numerous other awards for his television and written work on behalf of children.
My talks with John Walsh always have kept me wondering why there are those who denounce what he does for children as promotion for himself. I would like to know what they've contributed to help protect children in the United States. Hopefully, they have never lost a child. Nevertheless, if you feel affection for Walsh or dislike him, one can never deny the fact that he has helped put thousands of the bad guys where they rightfully belong.
"America's Most Wanted" and John Walsh are the catalyst that brought New Jersey killer John List to justice after many years of him being on the run. Remarried with new children, List murdered his two children, wife and mother in Westfield, NJ. Can you only imagine how his present wife and children felt, after discovering they were living with a murderer?? I say, thank you, John Walsh, and Fox for "America's Most Wanted."