John Walsh (television host)

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"John Walsh, Jr." redirects here. For the curator, born John Joseph Walsh, Jr., see John Walsh (art historian).
John Walsh
John Walsh.jpg
Walsh in September 2008, filming for America's Most Wanted at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment.
Born John Edward Walsh, Jr.
(1945-12-26) December 26, 1945 (age 69)
Auburn, New York
Nationality American
Education College
Alma mater University at Buffalo
Occupation Television personality, anti-crime advocate
Years active 1981 – present
Television America's Most Wanted, The Hunt With John Walsh
Spouse(s) Revé Walsh (1971–present)
Children Adam (1974–1981)
Meghan (b. 1982)
Callahan (b. 1985)
Hayden (b. 1994)
Awards Operation Kids Lifetime Achievement Award
2008

John Edward Walsh, Jr. (born December 26, 1945) is an American television personality, criminal investigator, human and victim rights advocate and the host, as well as creator,[1] of America's Most Wanted. Walsh is known for his anti-crime activism and his extreme hatred of criminals, with which he became involved following the murder of his son, Adam, in 1981; in 2008, the late serial killer Ottis Toole was named as the killer of Walsh's son.[2] Walsh is part owner of the Museum of Crime & Punishment in Washington, D.C.

Early years[edit]

Walsh was born in Auburn, New York. He attended the University at Buffalo. After college and marriage to the former Revé Drew in 1971, the newlywed Walshes settled in South Florida, where John became involved in building high-end luxury hotels.

Murder of Adam Walsh[edit]

Main article: Murder of Adam Walsh

In the summer of 1981, Walsh was a partner in a hotel management company in Hollywood, Florida. He and his wife, Revé, had a six-year-old son, Adam. On July 27, 1981, Adam was abducted from a Sears department store at the Hollywood Mall, across from the Hollywood Police station. Revé had left her son Adam alone in the Sears toy department while she looked for a lamp. When she returned several minutes later, Adam was missing. Police records in Adam's case released in 1996 show that a 17-year-old security guard asked four boys to leave the department store.[3] Adam is believed to have been one of them. Sixteen days after the abduction, his severed head was found in a drainage canal 120 miles (190 km) away from home. His other remains were never recovered.[4]

Many names had been mentioned in connection to the case in the nearly three decades since the murder, but that of serial killer Ottis Toole most persistently nagged detectives. John Walsh had long said he believed that Toole, a drifter, was responsible for the crime, saying investigators found a pair of green shorts and a sandal similar to what Adam was wearing at Toole's home in Jacksonville, Florida. In January 2007, deceased serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer fell under suspicion for the murder of Adam. This speculation was discounted by Walsh in an America's Most Wanted statement on February 6, 2007.[5]

The prime suspect in Adam's abduction and murder, Toole, who died in prison in 1996 while serving a life sentence for other crimes, was officially identified as the killer on December 16, 2008 by the Hollywood Police Department, and the case was considered closed.[6] Over the years, Toole had twice confessed to the killing, but both times he later recanted his admissions. In addition to the Walsh murder, Toole had claimed responsibility for hundreds of other murders, but police determined that most of these confessions were lies.

Aftermath[edit]

Following the crime, the Walsh family founded the Adam Walsh Child Resource Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to legislative reform.[7] The centers, originally located in West Palm Beach, Florida; Columbia, South Carolina; Orange County, California; and Rochester, New York; merged with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), where John Walsh serves on the board of directors.

The Walsh family organized a political campaign to help missing and exploited children. Despite bureaucratic and legislative problems, John and Revé's efforts eventually led to the creation of the Missing Children Act of 1982 and the Missing Children's Assistance Act of 1984.

Today, Walsh continues to testify before Congress and state legislatures on crime, missing children and victims' rights issues. His latest efforts include lobbying for a Constitutional amendment for victims' rights.

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (Pub.L. 109–248) was signed into law by U.S. President George W. Bush on July 27, 2006 following a two-year journey through the United States Congress and was intensely lobbied for by Walsh and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Primarily, it focuses on a national sex offender registry, tough penalties for not registering as a sex offender following release into society, and access by citizens to state websites that track sex offenders. Critics argue that the system amounts to making offenders wear a lifelong Scarlet Letter, regardless of the circumstances of their cases.

By the late 1980s, many malls, department stores, supermarkets, and other such retailers have adopted what is known as a "Code Adam," a movement first made by Wal Mart stores in the southeastern United States. A "Code Adam" is announced when a child is missing in a store or if a child is found by a store employee or patron. If the child is lost or missing, all doors are to be locked and a store employee is posted at every exit, while a description of the child is generally broadcast over the intercom system. "Code Adam" as a term has become synonymous with a missing child, and is a predecessor to an "Amber Alert," which serves as a system of broadcast-driven community notification.

Career in television[edit]

John and Revé Walsh were portrayed by actors Daniel J. Travanti and JoBeth Williams in Adam, a 1983 NBC television film dramatizing the days following Adam's disappearance. The real Walshes appeared at the end of the broadcast to publicize photographs of other children who had vanished but were still missing. Later, a sequel called Adam: His Song Continues was produced and aired.

John Walsh presents a fugitive on America's Most Wanted

After securing a deal with Fox, Walsh launched America's Most Wanted in 1988. By that time, Walsh was already well known because of the murder of his son and his subsequent actions to help missing and exploited children. America's Most Wanted was the longest-running crime reality show in Fox's history and had contributed to the capture of more than 1,000 fugitives. Fox canceled the series in June 2011, but aired four specials during the 2011-12 season. On December 2, 2011, the series returned as a regular weekly first-run series on Lifetime. The last episode aired on October 12, 2012; five months later, in March 2013, Lifetime officially canceled the series.

Walsh also hosted his own daytime talk show, The John Walsh Show, which aired in syndication (mostly on NBC-owned and affiliated stations, as NBC produced the series) from 2002 to 2004.[8]

In July 2005, Walsh attempted to assist the family of missing teen Natalee Holloway. Walsh was critical of the Aruban crime investigation and, along with television personality Dr. Phil McGraw, urged Americans to boycott Aruba. Walsh was a special guest on an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition that aired on August 14, 2005. The episode visited the home of Colleen Nick, who is the parent of Morgan Nick, a six-year-old girl who has been missing since 1995. Walsh has featured the Morgan Nick case on America's Most Wanted several times.

His life story was featured on The E! True Hollywood Story and Biography.

Walsh is now the host of The Hunt With John Walsh. The program, which debuted on July 13, 2014 on CNN/US, is similar to America's Most Wanted.[9]

Family[edit]

After the murder of Adam, the Walshes had three more children: Meghan (born 1982), Callahan (born 1985), and Hayden (born 1994).

Meghan was born a year after Adam was murdered. Revé Walsh told local newspapers at the time that "there is no substitute for Adam." She also said "Meghan will make me miss Adam more. He always wanted a sister." Meghan is currently an artist and resides in North Carolina.[10]

Hayden sometimes accompanies his father when filming TV shows, including America's Most Wanted. On the show of July 27, 2006 of Larry King Live, Larry King said that Hayden resembled Adam.[10]

Tributes[edit]

In 2002, rapper Bizzy Bone of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony wrote a song for the show (AMW) and dedicated it to Adam and John Walsh, encouraging abduction survivors not to keep their abductions a secret, as Bizzy Bone did after being abducted in the early 1980s.

On August 15, 2006, John Walsh's hometown of Auburn, New York named a street after him.[11]

In 2005, John Walsh appeared as himself in Outsiders #18 (January 2005), a comic book series published by DC Comics. In the story, written by Judd Winick, Walsh aided the eponymous superhero team in going public on America's Most Wanted with information regarding a child slave trader, which eventually led to a solid lead gained from the tips that poured in.

For a few years in the early 1990s, due to his presence on Fox, Walsh also appeared in the network's Saturday morning educational public service announcement segments, Totally For Kids, for Fox Kids. Walsh would appear with the segments' usual roster of child actors to help illustrate scenarios in which children could often be in danger, and the solutions they could seek. Subjects ranged from child abuse to being lost in a public place, whereas others were milder in nature such as never inviting strangers indoors if home alone or the problems of sugar rushes. Most installments Walsh appeared in culminated with reminder to call 911 in an emergency, showing a child dressed up in a telephone costume.

In October 2008, John Walsh was awarded the Operation Kids 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award.[12] for his dedication to protecting children and to raise funds for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which Walsh co-founded with his wife.[13]

Controversy[edit]

John Walsh generated a great deal of controversy during a summer press tour in 2006 when he stated to the media he jokingly told senators to implant "exploding" chips in the anuses of sex offenders. He stated, "I said implant it in their anus and if they go outside the radius, explode it, that would send a big message." Walsh stated this was a "joke," but that "nobody thought it was funny."[14] Walsh later suggested implanting GPS chips in such criminals.[15]

John Walsh also faced criticism when he advised women to never hire a male babysitter, which was seen as a blatantly sexist remark. "It's not a witch hunt," he said. "It's all about minimizing risks. What dog is more likely to bite and hurt you? A Doberman, not a poodle. Who's more likely to molest a child? A male."[16]

In his book Tears of Rage, Walsh openly admits being in a relationship with 16-year-old Revé when Walsh was on his early 20s and aware of the age of consent being 17 in New York.[17] Critics of Adam Walsh Act have pointed out that, had he been convicted, Walsh himself would be subject to sex offender registration under the law which he aggressively promoted.

Some critics accuse Walsh of creating predator panic by using his publicity.[18] Walsh was heard by Congress on February 2, 1983, where he gave unsourced claim of 50 000 abducted and 1.5 million missing children annually. He testified that U.S is "littered with mutilated, decapitated, raped, strangled children",[19] when in fact, later Department of Justice study from 1999 found only 115 incidences of stereotypical kidnappings perpetrated by strangers, of which about 50 resulted in death or child not being found.[20] Critics claim that Adam Walsh Child Resource Center, which started without funding in 1981, generated 1.5 million dollars annually following his testimony before the Congress.[19]

Works[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Who Really Killed Adam Walsh? Witness Wants Case Files in Murder of "America's Most Wanted" Creator's Son". CBS News. 
  2. ^ Holland, John (December 17, 2008). "Adam Walsh case is closed after 27 years". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 26, 2012. 
  3. ^ "The Story Of Adam Walsh". America's Most Wanted. Retrieved February 14, 2007.
  4. ^ Michael Newton (2002). The Encyclopedia of Kidnappings. Infobase Publishing. p. 331. ISBN 978-1-4381-2988-4. 
  5. ^ America's Most Wanted AMW Statement on Reports Of Possible Adam Walsh/Jeffrey Dahmer Connection, Jun 2, 2007. Retrieved February 14, 2007.
  6. ^ Killer of "Most Wanted" Host's Son Identified December 16, 2008
  7. ^ John Walsh (1 December 2009). Tears of Rage. Simon and Schuster. p. 150. ISBN 978-1-4391-8996-2. 
  8. ^ IMDB, "The John Walsh Show". Retrieved February 14, 2007.
  9. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (2014-070-11). "Shoe Prints, Dripping Blood and Groping ‘Hunt With John Walsh’ Goes for Suspects Still at Large". Retrieved 2014-07-13.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ a b "Interview With the Walsh Family". Larry King Livehttp://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0607/27/lkl.01.html |transcripturl= missing title (help). July 27, 2006. CNN. 
  11. ^ City of Auburn, NY, Council Meeting, August 31, 2006, August 25, 2006. Retrieved February 14, 2007.
  12. ^ Rick Larsen. "On Saving Children." “A Voice for Children." http://operationkids.wordpress.com/2008/04/08/on-saving-children/. Accessed 2008-10-06.
  13. ^ National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. "board of directors." URL: http://www.missingkids.com/missingkids/servlet/PageServlet?LanguageCountry=en_US&PageId=1438. Accessed: 2008-10-06.
  14. ^ de Morales, Lisa (July 26, 2006). "Summer Press Tour, Day 16: An Explosive Interview". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 28, 2009
  15. ^ Rick Porter, Daniel Fienberg and Brill Bundy (July 25, 2006). "News and Notes from Press Tour". Sun-Sentinel.
  16. ^ Jeffrey Zaslow (August 23, 2007). "Are We Teaching Our Kids To Be Fearful of Men?". The Wall Street Journal.
  17. ^ Walsh, John; Walsh, Susan (2008). Tears of rage : from grieving father to crusader for justice: the untold story of the Adam Walsh case. New York: Pocket Books. p. 9. ISBN 1439136343. I never gave much thought to how old Reve was. She was pretty, and she dressed sharp. And there was also that body. We were starting to kind of hang around together. She took me horseback riding, and we went skiing. She was always into her own thing, and I like that. Then one night Tom Roche was sitting around in my place and picked up a copy of that day’s Buffalo Evening News. It was a picture of Reve, who had just won an art contest. ‘Holy Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,’ Tom said. ‘There is a picture of Reve in the paper, John, and she's 16 years old.’ But you know, she had this way about her. She had a certain presence. And after awhile I just got over how young she was. She was way more sophisticated than anybody in her high school and she always dated older guys. She had a fake ID. That's how she got into Brunner’s. She was born with high school. She was into art and her horses. And even then, she always seemed very… I don't know, serene. We weren't madly in love with each other. Though we had a good time together, and I relaxed a little after she turned 17." 
  18. ^ Horowtiz, Emily (2007). "Growing Media and Legal Attention to Sex Offenders: More Safety or More Injustice" (PDF). The Journal of the Insti tute of Justice & International Studies 7: 3. 
  19. ^ a b Gill, John Edward (1981). Stolen children : how and why parents kidnap their kids--and what to do about it (1st ed. ed.). New York: Seaview Books. pp. 1–3. ISBN 0-87223-667-6. 
  20. ^ "Highlights From the NISMART Bulletins" (PDF). U. S. Department of Justice. 

External links[edit]