Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bringing Adam Home by Les Standiford

The kidnapping and murder of seven-year-old Adam Walsh was one of the most notorious crimes of the last fifty years.  Adam had gone shopping at Sears with his mother, Reve, and was fifty feet from her in the store.  She was looking at lamps; he was looking at and playing with the video game display with other boys.  When they got rowdy, the Sears security guard, a seventeen year old girl, sent all the boys outside.  All went home with their parents, but Adam, disappeared that day.  His head was discovered floating in a canal two weeks later; his body never found.

Bringing Adam Home details the investigation of his murder for the long twenty-seven years that the murder went unsolved.  Although there was a viable suspect who confessed early and often, the overwhelmed police force of Hollywood, Florida, refused to believe him guilty.  The man was in jail for other murders and the police in charge felt that he was making up his confessions.  Over the years, the police left leads uninvestigated, forced facts into wrong theories, and even actively blocked other investigators from helping solve the murder. 

The parents, John and Reve Walsh, went on to dedicate their lives to fighting the crime of missing children.  John Walsh became the public face of one of TV's blockbuster shows; America's Most Wanted.  The show highlighted unsolved cases and asked the public's help in finding suspects.  It was considered one of the first reality shows.  In addition, the Walshs went to Congress several times as proponents for various laws to protect missing children.  From this emerged the national crime database for missing children.  The case also changed parental views of the world.  Many readers remember childhoods where it wasn't unusual for kids to leave the house in the morning and come home again at supper.  It is almost unimaginable today to consider leaving a child unsupervised in that way.  Parents shuddered at the Adam Walsh case and kept their children a bit closer from that point on.

The book is well-researched, and readers are taken inside a complex kidnapping-murder investigation.  One of the main contributors of the book was Detective Joe Matthews, the detective who in his retirement solved the case once and for all by going back through the case files and creating such a strong case that there could be no doubt who the killer was.   Matthews was the main investigator on America's Most Wanted after his retirement, and a personal friend of the family.  Solving Adam's case was his personal goal and obsession, his gift to the grieving family.  This book is recommended for readers of true crime, and for all parents.  Evil is out there and it will in a moment take your family and tear it apart.


StephTheBookworm said...

I have been wanting to read this book. So fascinating.

Sandie said...

I don't think anyone has forgotten Adam Walsh; I know it has changed how parents look at the world.