Adam Walsh -- Found Deceased 8/10/81

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Adam Walsh -- Found Deceased 8/10/81

Post by Piper on Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:48 am

Adam Walsh murder revisited: The case against Jeffrey Dahmer

BY DAVID SMILEY AND ARTHUR JAY HARRIS The Miami Herald
Posted March 31, 2010 at 11:07 a.m. , updated March 31, 2010 at 11:07 a.m.




HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Investigating one of the nation's most prominent unsolved murders, a Hollywood detective pitched softball questions and homemade muffins to a serial killer.

He asked: Did you kidnap freckled 6-year-old Adam Walsh from a Sears in 1981?

"Nothing to do with it,'' Jeffrey Dahmer answered, taking another muffin.

The word of Dahmer, a sociopath who stashed severed heads in his refrigerator, was instrumental in Hollywood police deciding he was not Adam's killer despite contradictory statements from two witnesses.

It is a case with Treasure Coast ties. Adam’s father, John Walsh, now a resident of Vero Beach, used his grief and anger to become one of America’s highest-profile crime-fighters as the host of “America’s Most Wanted.” Adam’s severed head was found in Indian River County.

In December 2008, with Walsh's parents present, Chief Chadwick Wagner called a press conference to say deceased drifter Ottis Toole -- long suspected but never prosecuted -- killed Adam. Adam's parents believed it and Broward prosecutors said Toole was the only valid suspect. Case closed.

But had authorities fully explored Dahmer's time in South Florida, they would have found more evidence implicating him than Toole, The Miami Herald found.

The evidence includes two additional witnesses who said they saw him at the mall with Adam that day, another who placed Dahmer at the scene of an eerily similar abduction attempt two weeks earlier, and people who said he had access to a van fitting an early description of the getaway vehicle.

The 29-year-old murder remains among the most vexing unsolved crimes in America, and no one can say with certainty that Dahmer -- or any of the other myriad suspects to drift through the case -- snatched the child.

Yet by focusing so heavily on Toole despite layers of contradictions in his long twisted tale, Hollywood police may well have missed leads pointing to Dahmer, according to fresh interviews and a review of thousands of documents.

A DISHEVELED STRANGER

``Once I saw that picture of Dahmer, I said, `That's him,' '' Janice Santamassino remembered. ``That's who I saw.''

July 27, 1981 was the first day of Santamassino's vacation, and she drove her daughter and son to the Hollywood Mall on Hollywood Boulevard across from police headquarters. After nearly slamming into the back of a blue van parked illegally outside the west entrance of Sears, she parked, and went inside.

Santamassino wanted sandals for her daughter Lori, 4, but first the girl asked to play an arcade game. Lori approached a game next to a boy wearing an oversized hat, shorts and a striped shirt and played for 10 minutes, the mother said.

On their way out of the toy department, Santamassino looked down an aisle and saw a disheveled man. She said their eyes met. She grabbed her daughter's hand and walked away. ``He just gave me a bad, uncomfortable feeling. It was spooky,'' she said.

She later heard an intercom call for Adam Walsh. A distraught woman and man were at the customer service desk, but the boy at the video games was gone. So was the creepy guy in the toy aisle.

A massive search ensued. Hundreds of volunteers scoured Hollywood's streets, and helicopters and boats filled the skies and waterways. Posters of Adam, clad in a little league uniform and flashing a gap-toothed grin, were plastered everywhere.

Watching the news that afternoon, Santamassino realized she had seen Adam. She called police and then again the next day but said she never received a return call. Not in 1981 nor in 1996, when she called America's Most Wanted after the show, hosted by Adam's father John Walsh, ran a piece on Adam. The show forwarded the tip to Hollywood police.

Contacted by a writer in 2009 and shown a picture of Dahmer, she said he was the man she saw.

UNRETURNED CALLS

Others say they contacted police in the days after Adam's abduction without reply.

They include Jennie Warren, interviewed by state attorney's investigator Phil Mundy in 1996 after a media lawsuit prompted the release of the case file. She was dismissed after she said she didn't see Toole, she said.

Warren told The Miami Herald she saw Adam with his mother Reve that day. She also noticed a man at the video games wearing beige khakis ``like army fatigues.'' He stood next to Adam and stared at the screen.

Warren says she could have picked out the man in fatigues had the investigator placed his picture in the lineup with Toole. ``I wish my mind could take a picture, because it would be him: Dahmer.''

Interviewed recently, Mundy had little recollection of the Warren interview. He did recall broader discussions among authorities about the problems Dahmer witnesses would have posed should Toole be prosecuted.

In 1991, Dahmer emerged as one of the nation's most infamous killers after his arrest on charges involving decapitation, necrophilia and cannibalism. He had 11 severed heads in his Milwaukee apartment.

For some of those present in Sears the day of Adam's disappearance, the photo of Dahmer reignited a 10-year-old memory. They recognized him as the man they saw in the store that day Adam vanished.

Among them was then-Miami Herald pressman Willis Morgan. He had told police he was in the Radio Shack in the Hollywood Mall that day and felt threatened when a stranger aggressively approached him.

He followed the man into the Sears toy department before turning away.

That man was Dahmer, Morgan now told police.

Bill Bowen, an Alabama TV producer, reached the same conclusion independently. He had reported seeing a man lift a struggling, protesting child and sling him into the back of a blue van -- illegally parked outside Sears.

Now, after seeing the news coverage out of Wisconsin, he too was convinced Dahmer was the man he saw.

On a suggestion from FBI agent Neil Purtell, who interviewed Dahmer after his Wisconsin convictions and thought he had tacitly admitted killing Adam through his overly fervent denials, father John Walsh urged detectives to visit Dahmer.

Dahmer told Detective Jack Hoffman he came to Miami in March of 1981 after his early discharge from the Army due to alcoholism while in Germany. He said he had no vehicle, never went to Hollywood, and worked long hours at a Collins Avenue sub shop. He said he never killed children but didn't want to rot in prison and would admit to Adam's murder if it meant a death sentence.

``If Jeffrey Dahmer had committed the Adam Walsh homicide, he would have confessed to this crime,'' Hoffman wrote.

Dahmer was killed in prison in 1994.

THE BLUE VAN

Had Hoffman followed up on Dahmer's statements, he would have found that Dahmer lied about his hours and was often sent home due to drinking, according to his boss, Ken Haupert Sr. As an employee of Sunshine Subs, Dahmer had access to a blue delivery van, according to eight people.

For months after Adam's abduction, police stopped blue vans across the state based on the sketchy statements of 10-year-old Timothy Pottenburgh, who said he'd seen Adam pulled into a blue van outside Sears. Hoffman eventually threw out the blue van theory, citing time discrepancies in Pottenburgh's story.

But Santamassino said she saw a blue van parked illegally outside Sears' west entrance, as did Bowen. Another dismissed witness, Phillip Lohr, said he saw a blue van parked illegally outside the toy department around the time of Adam's abduction. Lohr remembered seeing a man carrying a struggling, freckled child out Sears' toy department exit, though he didn't call police until 1997. He said he was unsure of what he'd seen that day and later felt guilty about doing nothing.

Adam's body was never recovered. A severed head identified as Adam's was found Aug. 10, 1981 in a canal on the northbound side of the Florida Turnpike near mile marker 130.

Two Publix truck drivers called the next day, Aug. 11, to report seeing a blue van parked off the Turnpike near mile marker 131 just after midnight on Aug. 7.

Denis Bubb saw a man with a flashlight down near a canal and radioed Clifford Ramey, following behind. Ramey looked to see if the driver had mechanical problems and saw the man leaning through an open sliding side door and fumbling around with a bucket, he said. He didn't notice a flat tire and the hood wasn't up. Both say they talked to Hollywood police and were told the incident had nothing to do with the Adam Walsh murder.

Ramey's glance was brief, but he thought the van had no front passenger seat, he told The Herald. The shop's blue van, former store co-owner Darlene Hill told the Broward State Attorney's Office in 2007, had ``a milk crate for a passenger seat.''

Another Dahmer connection may be found in the report of a near-abduction in a North Palm Beach Sears exactly two weeks before Adam's disappearance. At the time, investigators believed it was strikingly similar to the Adam Walsh abduction and had two witnesses create a composite sketch.

Investigators dismissed the link after speaking with a Sears security guard who said he'd chased a shoplifting boy around that time and believed the sketch looked like himself.

Hoffman wrote that Jane and Matthew Houvouras, the witnesses, agreed that the security guard was the man they'd seen, as did Terry Keaton, the child who was nearly kidnapped, and his mother.

Reached in 2010, Jane Houvouras said she told Hoffman that neither she nor her son believed it was a security guard. He wasn't in uniform.

Keaton, 10 in 1981, and his mother, Ginger Pantel, also told The Herald the man in Sears was not a security guard. It was Dahmer, Keaton said. ``In my heart, I truly believe that was the guy who tried to get me that day.''

Hoffman did not respond to an interview request.

Charles Morton Jr., chief assistant state attorney in Broward County, noted in a letter to The Herald that the new witness accounts ``add intrigue and mystery to Adam Walsh's tragic death'' -- but are problematic.

``The delayed Dahmer identifications would raise serious legal and moral questions in a potential prosecution of Dahmer,'' he wrote.

Read the rest here:

http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2010/mar/31/adam-walsh-murder-revisited-case-against-jeffrey-d/?partner=yahoo_feeds
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Re: Adam Walsh -- Found Deceased 8/10/81

Post by Justice4all on Thu Apr 01, 2010 3:37 pm

Thanks for posting this Piper. It's a shame that investigators seemed to ignore any witnesses who didn't see Toole. I'm not 100% convinced that Dahmer killed Adam, but based on this article I think it's just as likely, if not more likely, that he killed Adam rather than Toole.
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Re: Adam Walsh -- Found Deceased 8/10/81

Post by Bellah on Fri Feb 24, 2012 7:04 pm

Just a little trivia that maybe won't insterest anyone but, I was in Hollywood Fl. when this child went missing from the mall. A mall that I had shopped at a few days prior to the disappearance. Before I left I heard that he had been found... decapitated. Kinnda still gives me goose bumps.
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Re: Adam Walsh -- Found Deceased 8/10/81

Post by Estee on Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:10 pm

Yes...it would give me the hebegeezies....
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Re: Adam Walsh -- Found Deceased 8/10/81

Post by Julie on Sun Feb 26, 2012 2:14 am

Me too!

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Re: Adam Walsh -- Found Deceased 8/10/81

Post by CuriousPortlander on Wed Jun 10, 2015 11:04 pm


Case Closed: Police ID Adam Walsh Killer

Dec. 16, 2008

http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=6471791

Since police closed this case in 2008, I'm moving this topic from Unsolved Homicides to Closed.

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Re: Adam Walsh -- Found Deceased 8/10/81

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