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Bringing Adam Home - A Book Review

Updated on August 18, 2015
Adam Walsh, Age 6
Adam Walsh, Age 6 | Source

The Abduction That Changed America

Bringing Adam Home is a gripping and greatly detailed account of what it took to bring closure to a horrific crime that should not have taken decades to solve!

In 1981 there was no National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and no Amber Alerts. the federal database for crimes against children, and the pedophile registry, did not exist. The faces of missing children did not appear on milk cartons. It was a simpler time when children played outside all day and the only reminder from mothers was "be home in time for dinner." Those days are gone forever!

The abduction and murder of 6-year-old Adam Walsh radically changed America's innocence and, along with it, our ideas about childhood. This is Adam's story and that of the family who loved him.

*MY Disclaimer: Don't be surprised if you find that parts of this story makes you angry and cry. Reve & John Walsh should not have had to wait more than a quarter of a century to find 'justice' and 'closure' in the death of their son.

True-Crime Book that details the hunt for Adam Walsh's killer.

Map showing location of Hollywood, Florida
Map showing location of Hollywood, Florida | Source

Abduction and Murder . . .

In Hollywood, Florida

On July 27, 1981, 6-year-old Adam Walsh was abducted from a Sears department store at the Hollywood Mall in Hollywood, Florida, and later found murdered and decapitated. Convicted serial killer Ottis Toole confessed to the boy's murder but was never tried for the crime.

Bringing Adam Home is "a riveting account of a child abduction and murder that went unsolved for twenty-seven years." It is both an unsettling expose of police incompetence and a portrait of an extraordinary and dedicated detective."

Mug Shot of Ottis Toole, Serial Killer
Mug Shot of Ottis Toole, Serial Killer | Source

Ottis Toole

Convicted Serial Killer

Two years after Adam's death Ottis Toole, an illiterate arsonist and later convicted serial killer, admitted to kidnapping and killing Adam Walsh during questioning about a series of unsolved murders. Toole later recanted his confession, then again admitted it several times. He stated once that the reason he took Adam was because he "wanted to take him home to raise him as his own little child." Later, he decided Adam could identify him, so he killed him.

Through a series of events caused by failed police work, involving lack of documentation and the correct gathering of physical evidence, an arrest warrant was somehow never issued and Ottis Toole was not charged.

This is despite the following facts:

  • Ottis Toole gave 25 independent confessions to the crime.
  • Toole had knowledge of the crime scene details only the killer could have known.
  • There were multiple eyewitnesses identifying Toole.

Ottis Toole died in prison of liver failure in 1996 at the age of 49. Twenty-Seven years after Adam's murder, Toole was posthumously identified as the murderer of Adam Walsh.

Hollywood, Florida Police Department
Hollywood, Florida Police Department | Source

Why did it take more than 25 years...

To close the case of the abduction and murder of Adam Walsh?

The Hollywood, Florida Police Department is, and has always been, well-respected. It just happened that the wrong detective was assigned as the lead investigator and there was no proper supervision. The detective became very territorial and refused to consider others' input that would have led to a conviction and trial 25 years earlier. Nothing would have prevented the abduction, but If someone else had been assigned to that case, the Adam Walsh case most likely would have been solved at the time.

"Joe Matthews has put aside all the politics, jealousy, and years of mistakes to prove without a doubt the identity of the killer of Adam Walsh. This ought to be required reading for every cop in America."

--- Thomas Hunker, Chief of Police, Bar Harbour, Florida

Retired Miami Beach Homicide Detective Joe Matthews...

Closed the Case on who killed Adam!

At the request of the parents in February, 2006, twenty-five years after Adam's death, Joe Matthews began a re-investigation of the case involving Adam Walsh. Two years and nine months later, Joe produced a 10,000 page report after painstakingly reviewing every scrap of information in the original case file. Evidence was found that had never been recorded or looked at by original investigators, to find positive proof that Ottis Toole committed the crime.

After the publication of this book, when asked in an interview how it felt to solve this case, Joe replied: "I had a lot of personal satisfaction in giving John and Reve [Walsh] the answers they really wanted and the justice they deserved."

Author Les Standiford
Author Les Standiford | Source

Author Les Standiford - Wrote the story of Adam with Det. Sgt. Joe Matthews

Les Standiford is the author of the critically acclaimed "Last Train to Paradise", "Meet You in Hell", and "Washington Burning", as well as ten novels. Recipient of the Frank O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, he is director of the Creative Writing Program at Florida International University in Miami, where he lives with his wife and three children.

Bringing Adam Home was written in conjunction with Det. Sgt. Joe Matthews, a former Sergeant of Detectives and a 29-year veteran of the Miami Beach PD. He was named Miami-Dade Officer of the Year in 1992.

Det. Sgt. Joe Matthews
Det. Sgt. Joe Matthews | Source

Det. Sgt. Joe Matthews

Investigator and co-author of 'Bringing Adam Home'

"Det. Sgt. Joe Matthews, a thirty-year veteran of the Miami Beach Police Department, is a former Miami-Dade County Police Officer of the Year, credited with solving the infamous Baby Lollipop homicide, among many others. He is the founder and CEO of DNA LifePrint, Inc., a corporate-sponsored, national child-safety program. He also heads his own consulting firm, advising the media, the academic community, public safety organizations, and the private sector on security issues, investigation techniques, and cold-case homicides."

Your opinion about books such as "Bringing Adam Home"

Do you like reading 'True Crime' stories?

The Movie "Adam"

John Walsh changed the whole perspective on missing children bills and law enforcement's support. "Adam" was one of the first TV movies and the most popular one to date. It was the first TV movie to have a toll-free number and to flash missing children's pictures at the end to help find them.

Adam (1983 TV-movie) [VHS]
Adam (1983 TV-movie) [VHS]
John & Reva Walsh agreed to the filming of the 'made-for-TV' movie about what happened to their son, Adam, to bring awareness to 'child abduction' cases and what can be done.

John Walsh's Autobiography

In this aptly titled book, John Walsh, the grieving father of Adam, went on to host TV's "America's Most Wanted." He wrote this autobiography to bring attention to the fact that his life, at the time of publication, was really only driven by one thing: the still-unsolved 1981 abduction and murder of his 6-year-old son, Adam. That crime has since been solved... 27 years later!

If you liked "Bringing Adam Home"... - You might also like this related book

Logo of the TV Show "America's Most Wanted"
Logo of the TV Show "America's Most Wanted"

"America's Most Wanted"

The long-running television show "America's Most Wanted" premiered in 1988. For 23 years, AMW had just one purpose -- to profile and assist law enforcement in the apprehension of fugitives wanted for various crimes, including murder. By May 26, 2011, 1,153 people had been captured because of AMW.

In June 2011, Fox cancelled the show and LIfetime carried it until March 2013 when it was cancelled due to high royalties having to be paid to Fox.

*Image is of the Logo of the long-running television show "America's Most Wanted". It is presented here under a "Fair Use" exclusion of the copyright law for story-telling purposes only to aid in the review of the book "Bringing Adam Home". It is otherwise protected by copyright.

John Walsh on the set of "America's Most Wanted"
John Walsh on the set of "America's Most Wanted" | Source

Hosted by John Walsh, Father of Adam

John Walsh was chosen to host the program because of his work toward getting the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children act established in 1984 after the death of his son, Adam. Reve and John Walsh had become advocates for the transformation of law enforcement's response to and handling of missing children cases.

In addition to the impressive number of fugitives captured, including eleven on the FBI's 'Most Wanted' list, AMW has aided in the recovery of twenty missing children and scores of child molesters have been apprehended.

The Hunt with John Walsh

After the cancellation of America's Most Wanted, John Walsh began a new series which profiles unsolved crime stories as told by witnesses and law enforcement officials with re-enactments.

A picture of the person or persons involved are shown along with a number to call if they have any information or leads on the subject featured on the program.

The show debuted on CNN on July 13, 2014.

After 27 years -- when Adam would have been 34-years-old -- Reve & John Walsh received both closure.... and Justice!

Someday, perhaps, there will never be another sad case like 'Adam Walsh'

In December, 2008, after the conclusion of Adam's case was announced in a news conference, a reporter wrote in a follow-up article. . .

"If people hold their kids a little bit closer in crowded stores these days, thank the Walshes!"

© 2011 Wednesday-Elf

Have you read 'Bringing Adam Home'?

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    • profile image

      Pauline Head 

      15 months ago

      I wonder if Adam wouldve been a cop like his father

    • Wednesday-Elf profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Thanks for visiting, Audrey. Even all these years later, the story of Adam still tugs at the heartstrings of parents everywhere.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      2 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      I've read the book and watched the Television movie. So sad. I can't imagine going through something like that. John Walsh has done so much work to bring more attention to missing and exploited children.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Thanks so much for your visit and kind words, Writer Fox. This was a chilling story that affected every parent who heard it. At least some good came from Adam's death which has helped find many missing and abducted children over the years since - and AMW helped find many of the criminals involved in crimes against children.

    • Writer Fox profile image

      Writer Fox 

      5 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      This was an event which captured hearts in America. I still don't know how this could have happened so quickly in a crowded shopping mall without someone noticing a child was being kidnapped. You've written an excellent account of how the murder was solved. Voted up and interesting.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Useful lens. Thanks for your sharing.

    • JenwithMisty profile image

      Jen withFlash 

      6 years ago

      Such a sad story but it's awesome that over a thousand dangerous criminals have been caught because of AMW.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I'm watching a show about this book at the moment, I remember watching the tv movie as a child. I would like to read this book.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Excellent review on this book, A New Years Angel blessing to go with it :)

    • Wednesday-Elf profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      @DecoratingEvents: Thank you for your sweet 'SquidAngel' blessing on my book review. True Crime is hard to read about, but this book made such an impression on me I just had to review it. As sad as it was, I think a few good things came out of the whole event, particularly John Walsh and the good AMW has done, plus the awareness programs for missing children he helped bring about. Thank you for caring.

    • DecoratingEvents profile image


      8 years ago

      Absolutely excellent review of a very hard subject to read -- true crime involving children. I remember well when Adam was taken, the made for TV movie and AMW when it started. Thank you for the book recommendation. *Blessed

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Excellent review. I remember the Adam Walsh story and I have always been amazed at John Walsh's work. John Walsh lived through a nightmare event, and then turned that entire experience into a way to make a difference! he is an amazing man, indeed.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Very well done. I have not read Bringing Adam Home but want to. I remember this so well.

    • AlisonMeacham profile image


      8 years ago

      Squid Angel Blessings for this lens about such an important subject.

    • natashaely profile image


      8 years ago

      I very rarely read true crime as it is a little too close for comfort, however this does sound like an excellently written book and I think I will try it. Added to the library! :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very good lens about a very hard subject, the abduction of children! The good thing that came out of this terrible story is one fathers determination to make more people pay for these hideous crimes, way to go John walsh.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You sure were right about this being hard to get through, a well done review of a great sadness of our times.

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image


      8 years ago

      I never realized the John Walsh from AMW was the father of Adam. I did see the movie, but have not read the book. I saw your listing as I am preparing my first Squidlit lens and wanted to see what a good one looks like. You have a done such a job, I know I can never measure up!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Going to miss John Walsh's AMW. What happened to Adam was horrendous; I know that the Walshes must still suffer today.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 

      9 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Excellent review. Thanks for the information. A sad story but one that needs to be told. Blessed.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      9 years ago from United States

      I know the story. I was a young woman at the time of this abduction. It changed our lives and the way we raised our children. I have always admired Adam's father for his work, but I surely wish he had never had the opportunity, or personal knowledge of the horror of the murder of his child. I doubt I could read the book, but I would recommend for anyone, especially parents, who didn't live during the time, to at least formalize themselves with the story. The life saved, could be their own childs.

    • littlelotus profile image


      9 years ago

      oh gosh just reading the review gives me the creeps already......I think I'll never let go off my child's hand....

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 

      9 years ago from California

      I knew many of the details, but some I didn't. I do like these kinds of books, and the Walsh's have done a lot of good with the programs they helped set up. Nice review of Bringing Adam Home.

    • Richard-H profile image


      9 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      An awful tragedy which has made parents more aware of the dangers now facing children. It shouldn't be that way, but unfortunately, times have changed for the worse.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      9 years ago from UK

      How sad that it took so long and nothing will bring back Adam, but no doubt many lessons have been learned from this tragedy.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image

      'Vikk Simmons 

      9 years ago from Houston

      Well, the good thing is that they finally did get closure. And they've done a lot of good for many people since the early days of their tragedy.


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