This morning I woke up to a jarring story in the newspaper. The killer of Adam Walsh was finally identified.
On July 27, 1981, Adam went into a deparment store with his mother. She lost track of him for just a second…and he was abducted by the person we now known as his killer, Ottis Toole. Adam’s head was found two weeks later in a nearby canal. His body has never been recovered.
This story gripped America. It was one of those turning points in which a singlular event caused massive, but subtle changes in our society. I was still a teen when Adam was abducted. As I look at his picture now, I automatically recognize him. I’ll never forget him. In a way he became everyone’s little boy. The freckled-faced gap-toothed baseball cap wearing kid. The picture was the type of picture that parents and grandparents would have on a coffee table or a fireplace mantle or on the living room wall.
When I was a kid in junior high, I’d walk to the bus stop alone. Today, by habit, I walk my son to his. (The bus comes at 6:30 a.m. so it’s completely dark out). Each kid there has a parent nearby. It’s as if each of us has a feeling that we should be there. I can’t help but think that unconsciously we’re doing it because of Adam
I have to say that I admire John Walsh and the way he made this a crusade. He had to. Now we’ve got systems in place that, while not being able to prevent these tragedies, can make them more rare.
Today, I’m going to say a special prayer for the Walsh family and, most especially, for Adam. And my son is going to get extra hugs for a reason that he knows nothing of.