John and Reve Walsh were well aware of the central irony of their lives: even though they had helped thousands of endangered and missing children through their advocacy of such programs as The Center for Missing Children, the Amber Alert, and the Missing Child Database, the person responsible for the kidnap and murder of their own son, six-year-old Adam Walsh, had never been brought to justice. Tearfully the Walshes asked Joe Mitchell, a highly-regarded detective who had been on the periphery of the investigation for years, if he would be willing to take the case; after 23 years of uncertainty and frustration, they needed to know the truth.
As Mitchell discovered, almost from the start of that fateful July day in 1981 when Adam disappeared from a Sears store, the Hollywood, Florida Police Department were in over their heads. An inexperienced and arrogant lead detective plus a disorganized police force meant that the investigation never really got off the ground. Even more astonishingly, there was a confession, make that multiple confessions, from a truly evil individual who knew details that only the killer would have known, but again the lead detective was unable to do his job. It would take Joe Mitchell combing through all the files and following up on leads to finally prove that the confessed killer was telling the truth.
Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America by Les Standiford and Detective Sergeant Joe Matthews is a must-read for true crime fans.