I'm sure many of you remember the endearing photograph of Adam Walsh in his little league uniform, with the bat on his shoulder, that ap-peared in newspapers and on TV sets all over the country in 1981. Adam was kidnapped from a Sears store in Hollywood, Florida, resulting in the fruitless search for the missing boy and the subsequent discovery of his severed head in a nearby canal. This was the story of a boy, so much like one of our own, who had been cruelly ripped away from his family and everyday life. We all wanted to make sure that something like this couldn't happen again. Bringing Adam Home, was recently released by Ecco Press and was written in collaboration by Les Standiford and Joe Matthews. Les Standi-ford is best known for his Florida crime fi ction featuring the emotionally centered protagonist, John Deal. Joe Matthews is the Miami Beach homicide detective who, after twenty-seven years of relentless investigation, fi nally identifi ed Adam Walsh's killer.The abduction was, perhaps, the most consequential in American history because - largely through the efforts of Adam's parents, John and Reve Walsh - the crime revolutionized the way in which local, state and federal authorities investigate cases involving missing and murdered children. Before Adam Walsh, there were no faces on milk cartons, no Amber Alerts, no National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, no federal databases of crimes against children, no pedophile registry.The case's notoriety might lead you to think that you know the story. The authors, though, quickly point out that you would be mistaken. Standiford and Matthews meticulously recount Adam's kidnapping and briefl y sketch the tireless work by the boy's bereaved parents on behalf of other missing children. The heart of the book, though, is an investigation of the investigators - an expose of bungling by the Hollywood Police Department. The authors painstakingly build their case against the police, detailing a dozen leads that were disregarded, obvious questions that weren't asked, witnesses who were ignored, reports that were incomplete (and, in some cases, falsifi ed), evidence that wasn't examined and vital evidence that was lost. They question why Hollywood police discounted repeated confessions by a serial killer who knew crime details that had never been made public.For years, they recount, Matthews was stonewalled by Hollywood detectives and their superiors - fi rst when he was a Miami Beach detective on loan to assist in the investigation, and later when Adam's desperate parents asked him to give the case one fi nal look. As Reve Walsh put it: "It was a sad thing for this country that the fi ght had to be led by two broken-down parents of a murdered child."More than two decades passed before Matthews received access to all the case fi les. He then discovered what he had long suspected - that there was suffi cient evidence to prosecute Adam's killer. By that time, though, Ottis Toole - a drifter who had confessed to a series of other grisly crimes - had died in prison.This is a remarkable story and, while it sheds a poor light on the Hollywood detectives originally working this case, it speaks well for perseverance and dedication. The parents of this little boy have at least been granted closure with the knowledge that the perpetrator of this horrifi c crime is no longer able to repeat history.The authors were at Sunshine Booksellers, at 677 S. Collier Blvd., on Friday, April 1. They spoke about their book, answered questions and signed copies for interest-ed readers. If you missed this event but would like one of the autographed copies, stop in at Sunshine to see if we have any left. We'll try to save you one!
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