Bringing Home Adam by Adam Walsh

Categories: Books

Adam Walsh in his book “Bringing Adam Home” conveys different important information concerning people and the society they dwell. This book is based on Mathew Joe’s experience in his investigation for the murder and abduction. The book suddenly reveals the cases of abduction and murder that the world at large gets to be no longer innocent wit. Bring Adam Home is a definitive story about a six year old Adam Walsh who was kidnapped, raped, and murdered in 1981. It explains how Adam stopped by the local store to get some new lamps.

He was captivated by a video game at the entrance of the store and begged his mother, Reve, to allow him try it out while she shopped. However, his mother never found him when she returned a few minutes later. His body was later found mutilated in a drainage canal. The book details the botched investigations conducted by the police that prevented discovery of the killer for nearly twenty seven years.

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The book is one of the finest true-crime stories that can be related to Thomas Thompson’s Blood and Money of 1976. Les Standiford is the author of the story that exposes notoriety of the case.

He has authored other nonfiction books and novels such as The Man Who Invented Christmas that was released in 2008. Bring Adam Home tells the story of the young boy’s abduction with the help of detective Joe Matthews, who eventually solved the case. The detective was working for John Walsh’s TV show, America’s Most Wanted, while investigating the case.

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The book gives a meticulous recount of the events leading up to the kidnapping of Adam from a Sears store at the Hollywood Mall in Hollywood, Florida. It illustrates the unsuccessful search for the missing boy leading to the subsequent location of his severed head bobbing

in a canal miles away. The shock of Adam’s abduction and murder, as well as failure by the police to find the killer, was the most consequential in American history. Efforts of the parents of the young boy, John and Reve Walsh, revolutionized the justice system on crimes involving missing and murdered children. It influenced the way local, state and federal authorities investigate such cases. During the time of Adam’s abduction and murder, there were no Amber Alerts and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was nonexistent.

In addition, the federal government did not have the pedophile registry or a database for crimes against children. It was a time when children received little attention as they played outside all day. Before his abduction, Adam was playing video game in a departmental store. The report of Adam’s abduction and eventual death led to investigations conducted by detectives from Hollywood Police Department. Detective Matthews joined the investigation team from Miami Beach Police department. Two years after the death of the boy, an illiterate arsonist, Ottis Toole, admitted to kidnapping and killing Adam.

The police got this revelation during questioning about several unresolved murders. Toole was later convicted as a serial killer, but Adam’s case was not included among the crimes he had committed. There was a time Toole recanted his confession. However, he admitted to committing the crime several times later. In his confession, Toole explained that he took Adam to raise him as his own child. He only killed him when he found out that Adam could identify him. There are several reasons that resulted in failure by the police to issue charges against Ottis Toole.

More prominently, the police failed in their work in correctly documenting the findings. This led to their eventual failure in the gathering of the physical evidence. Therefore, a warrant of arrest was never issued against Ottis Toole leading to dismissal of his confession. Several other facts clearly demonstrated that Toole was the culprit. Firstly, he was the only person who gave twenty five independent confessions connecting him to the crime. Secondly, Toole had detailed information concerning the crime scene that would only be known by the killer.

Thirdly, scores of eyewitnesses identified Toole as the killer. The book outlines the tireless work done by the bereaved parents in search for justice on behalf of other missing children. The main attraction of the book is the investigation of the Hollywood Police Department that exposes the bulging of the investigators that had previously worked on the case. Standiford and Matthews carefully builds the case against the police. They provide details that contain numerous leads that were disregarded during the initial investigation.

These included some obvious questions that were never asked, a number of crucial witnesses that were ignored, and details concerning incomplete or falsified reports. In addition, the fresh investigation of the investigators exposed evidence that was never examined and a number of vital evidence that got lost. The book exposes the most damning revelation concerning ignorance of the Hollywood police on repeated confessions by a serial killer. The killer had detailed information concerning the crime that was never made public. However, he was never tried for the crime despite confessing to the boy’s murder.

The author does not bend facts to show his artistic skills. He details factual information and is not self-consciously literary. The spilling of the narrative follows a matter-of-fact style. This is an excellent choice for a narrative laced with so much mistrust, heartbreak, perversion, and gore. The authors also exposed names of several people that were never mentioned in the initial investigation. The authors recount how detective Matthews was, on numerous occasions, stonewalled by other detectives and superiors from the Hollywood police department.

This occurred when he was on loan from Miami Beach Police department as a detective to assist in investigating the case. He was further frustrated when he accepted to assist the desperate parents in investigating the case afresh. It seems the Hollywood detectives and their superiors had ulterior motives of frustrating the cause of justice for the case. Moreover, the disappearance of the boy had attracted national attention with the media being at the fore front. Joe Matthews was a topnotch homicide detective who was entrusted the responsibility of unraveling who had killed the boy.

However, his concerns on disorganization witnessed at the station handling the case went ignored. There was a time he was excused from the case after suffering a nasty road accident. The case was further groped by new revelations on shotgun accusations and lack of any tangible leads. This was until Ottis Toole, a convicted serial killer admitted to the murder. The investigations dragged for two decades before Matthews got access to all information on the case files. On scrutinizing the information, the detective found out what he had long suspected.

The case files showed that there had been sufficient evidence to prosecute the killer of the young boy. Unfortunately, the said killer, Ottis Toole, had died in prison in 1996. He died of liver failure at the age of forty nine. He had confessed earlier to the killings and other grisly crimes. It was hurting for a country that has arguably the best justice system to allow the grieving parents of a murdered child to lead investigations that would culminate to the deserved justice. One may wonder why the case took that long without finding justice.

There are several reasons that may have jeopardized the quality of investigations into convicting the actual culprit. During the time period when the crime occurred, DNA forensic technology was still rudimental. This could have been the reason why Toole was not charged for the murder despite loads of evidence linking him to the crime scene. The Hollywood Police Department was highly respected at the time of the crime. Failure by the department to effectively solve Adam’s case may have been caused by assigning wrong detectives to work on the case.

The lead investigator failed to perform his duty as the investigation was marred with claims of laxity and lack of proper supervision. The assigned leader of the investigation team was very territorial. This is evidenced by his refusal to consider inputs made by other detectives, especially Joe Matthews. The case would have been closed twenty five years earlier had he put into consideration all the findings. Though nothing could have been done to prevent the abduction, the lead investigator should have solved the Adam Walsh case at the time it occurred.

Adam’s father, John, later became a steadfast advocate for missing and exploited children. He was the host of America’s Most Wanted. Through his program, he championed for the transformation of law enforcement on matters pertaining to handling similar cases. The activism of the Adam’s father influenced Congress to pass the Missing Children Act in 1982. Two years later, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was launched. John reunited with Joe Matthews, the decorated Miami Beach homicide detective, after twenty five years of Adam’s death.

It was in February, 2006, when the parents requested the detective to re-investigate the case involving their son. The investigator, armed with an arsenal of forensic tools and heartfelt intent, reopened the case and went through all the case files that contained all information pertaining to the initial investigation. After two years and nine months, Joe Matthews emerged with a 10,000 page report that exposed evidence that was never recorded or looked at by the original investigators. The findings had enough evidence to indict Ottis Toole with the abduction and murder.

Bring Adam Home is an account of a crime that captured public attention. It is a story of dedication, tragedy, love, and faith. The author reveals the pain and persistence of a family determined to find justice. It reveals how police failed in their work and allowed a criminal remain without being indicted. The story shows how a determined police officer was capable of accomplishing what an entire legal system failed to achieve. It is a testimony of love shown by distraught parents who took up the cause of finding justice over twenty five years after the death of their son.

Their struggle and that of detective Matthews has helped the nation develop programs dealing with the exploitation of missing children. Moreover, Adam’s abduction and death has had an impact on how mothers watch over their children. The themes in the book is much convincing in that, it has a lot of elements of brutality in the form of thriller. But it gets concern most on the unsympathetic characters as the lead officer could term. Also, it was portrayed as bumbling brute which was much discouraging. However, the book is made more attractive when Matthews’s works of detectives get started almost in the middle of the book.

This also makes the author to recount in great details. For instance Toole confesses for the various ways of killings he made in his life and the tough readings of parents. The book is much unique in to the fact that, it confronts the readers through various horrifying natures of the world relating to the crime situations that comes to pass. However, with the clear and thorough understanding of the book, it reveals why the investigations took long in solving the crime and also where the investigation horribly went off target.

Readers also come to admire the determinations of Walshe’s and Mathews for not giving up at an early stage until when the book comes to an end. The book is not so much perfect to some extend. This is evident when the police officer reports of the author’s quotes and even some of the information found in it, seem nauseam. After clearing the book, well, the tone is better placed. However since that period; 1981, there have been many rumors and doubts about the murder of Adam Walsh. The book leaves the reader in full world of doubt about the perpetration of the investigated crime.

The book also puts the reader in a bad mood in that it disturbs the mind set of a person. The book is much graphic in its illustrations on what befallen the poor Adam. It imposes too much information on the person who was suspected to be behind the murder which is much uncalled for. For instance, if the story was about how the US handles cases of child abduction, it would stick on the issue other than giving more details of different murder, rape and other horrified acts which happened long time ago.


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Bringing Home Adam by Adam Walsh. (2018, Oct 20). Retrieved from

Bringing Home Adam by Adam Walsh

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