Adam Walsh Homicide Case Closed, Many More Remain Open
Earlier this month, an Associated Press probe of FBI figures revealed that, despite technological advances in criminalistics, it's just easier to get away with murder nowadays. The clearance rate of homicides, or cases solved in a year, stood at 61 percent nationwide in 2007, a steady slip over the decades from the first year of modern record-keeping, 1963, when the clearance rate was 91 percent.
In addition to DNA and other scientific advances that should be helping catch more criminals, not fewer, law enforcement also now has the benefit of reaping tips and captures with the help of modern media. America's Most Wanted, the longest-running show on the Fox network, boasts 1,049 criminals caught with the program's help as of this writing -- yet for 27 years, host John Walsh has been at the center of one of America's most infamous unsolved mysteries.
Until Tuesday, that is, when police and Walsh agreed that it was time to finger the killer and abductor of his son, six-year-old Adam Walsh, and close the books on the 1981 case.
"Our agency has devoted an inordinate amount of time seeking leads to other potential perpetrators rather than emphasizing Ottis Toole as our primary suspect," said Hollywood (Fla.) Police Chief Chadwick Wagner at a news conference with the Walshes. "Ottis Toole has continued to be our only real suspect." So whether by process of elimination or weighing the current evidence, the guy who claimed at one time or another an unlikely, debunkable total of more than 100 murders -- and confessed and recanted to killing Adam Walsh at least twice -- will go down in history as the killer who depraved actions sparked a community fight-back response to crime that has lasted as long as the mystery of the boy's death.