Adam Walsh murder changed Florida and the US

Adam Walsh murder changed Florida and the US
Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 6:23 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Forty years ago on July 27, 1981, six-year-old Adam Walsh was abducted from a shopping mall.

His severed head was found two weeks later.

The case forever changed the way parents guarded their children and how Florida and the nation look for those who go missing.

Adam Walsh was left playing video games unattended in a department store in the summer of 1981.

He was never seen again.

Following the murder, John and Reve Walsh began a crusade for kids.

“Someday no one will have to face the anguish they have undergone,” said then-Governor Bob Graham in 1983.

That same year Graham signed the first legislation in the country creating a missing children’s clearing house.

“It’s a, very rewarding seeing your accomplishments finally come to lite, but it will never erase the that we’ve experienced,” said Mrs. Walsh after the bill signing ceremony.

Serial Killer Otis Toole confessed twice but was never tried for the murder.

At the time, the Walsh’s told us Toole wasn’t important, saving kids was.

“We haven’t really concerned ourselves with vengeance. I think that is something that eats you up,” said Mr. Walsh.

The first clearing house was housed just blocks from the State Capitol.

In 1984, it became the temporary home of the national clearing house for missing kids.

Since then, the staff has grown from four to 17.

They work 24/7.

“And ultimately, that led to what we have today, where we receive these notifications on our phones and we receive more information through street signs and the lottery,” said FDLE Special Agent in Charge Chad Brown.

Since 2003 Amber Alerts have recovered 227 of 244 children.

Brown told us it’s a stat the state can be proud of.

“Oh, it feels fantastic,” said Brown.

While the clearing house has moved on to modern quarters, the Walsh’s work continues to pay dividends to this day.

The Walsh’s went on to have three more children.

FDLE is encouraging people not to mute Amber Alerts on your phone because they save lives.

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