Put the Frog in the critics column....
And why is it important that I--among others--are critical, even suspicious of the sudden "solving" of the Adam Walsh murder?
Washingtonpost.com commenter TroyOi said it best:
"So far I've read 3 online articles on this subject (ie, the final closing of the Adam Walsh case), in WashingtonPost.com, NYTimes.com, and FoxNews.com.It's almost as if the press is afraid to ask.
No (sic) one of them has adequately explained what exactly has occurred to trigger this event."
What triggered this event?
Is the answer Charlie Manson-esque, certain to bring down the numerous child protection laws based on Adam's abduction and horrific murder as certainly as Manson's Helter-Skelter quite instantaneously ended the peace-love-joy counterculture?
Would the Adam Walsh Act--federal law which stipulates registration requirements for sex offenders (although no proof exists that sexual abuse occurred as part of this crime)--find itself repealed faster than a parole board shouting NO! at old Charlie, should answers prove something is not quite right with the whole "solved" Walsh murder mystery scenario?
Hold that thought.
I bet this story is far from over.
As reported by The Miami Herald (12/28/2008)
Doubts about Adam's killer loom large
Serious questions have been posed as to whether Ottis Toole, identified by Hollywood police as the killer of 6-year-old Adam Walsh, really did it
BY DAVID SMILEY
From his grave, Ottis Elwood Toole, a career criminal with a penchant for storytelling, still bedevils police.
His numerous murder confessions earned him a spotlight in dozens of unsolved homicide investigations throughout the country and a reputation as one of America's most heinous serial killers.
They also earned the drifter a reputation as one of the country's worst serial liars. Investigators have been unable to confirm many of his stories and in some cases have discounted his confessions altogether.
His most infamous story — of abducting 6-year-old Adam Walsh outside a Hollywood, Fla., Sears store on July 27, 1981, and beheading him in a marshy field near Florida's Turnpike — has sparked controversy anew as Hollywood police this month identified Toole as the man who murdered the child.That announcement, delivered at a news conference, was welcomed by Walsh family members, who said they finally had justice.
But he announcement drew instant questions from critics who say the evidence against Toole has been shaky, at best, from the start, and who note that police never charged him while he was alive.
"I was appalled, absolutely appalled," Pat Brown, a criminal profiler in Washington, said of the decision to close the case. "There is no reason to close a case without sufficient evidence that one particular person has committed the crime."
When Hollywood police called reporters to the department's headquarters Dec. 16 to announce the case solved, it was the second time they would officially name Toole as Adam's killer.
Police first did so in 1983, when Toole confessed the night after a TV movie about the case was aired.
But serious doubts about Toole's involvement, his constant wavering on whether he really killed the boy, and a lack of direct evidence forced police to back off. They never did charge him.
When a lawsuit by the Miami Herald and others forced police to open their files in 1996, authorities again said they considered Toole a prime suspect. He died later that year, a five-time convicted killer.
In the 12 years since, police were unable to uncover new evidence.
"If you're looking for that magic wand or that hidden document that just appeared, it's not there," Police Chief Chadwick E. Wagner conceded to reporters.
Instead, Wagner said a review of the file showed that "a vast amount of circumstantial evidence" created probable cause enough to charge Toole with the crime — were he still alive.
"My opinion, as is most everyone else from the city of Hollywood, is that he did not do this killing," then-Lt. J.B. Smith concluded in 1984. "The only thing that we will say for sure is that 3,500 hours and $62,000 later, we can't confirm anything he has said."
Toole had no alibi for his whereabouts on the day Adam was kidnapped, and witnesses claim to have seen him at the mall that day, police said. Police recovered a machete to which Toole had access. Cellmates claimed that he had confessed to them, and a former co-worker said Toole confessed to him in 1982, even before he first spoke with Hollywood detectives.
But no murder weapon was ever confirmed, and police managed to lose the car that Toole said he was driving when he killed Adam, a 1971 Cadillac, along with a box of blood-stained carpet samples taken from it.
Wagner, who declined through a department spokesman to be interviewed for this report, defended the decision to close the case when he spoke at the news conference. He said the department was too defensive about its mistakes in the past and could have arrested Toole before he died.
Toole became involved in the case on Oct. 11, 1983, one day after the Adam Walsh story debuted on national television. He was in a Duval County jail on unrelated charges at the time, and was confessing to a number of murders in Florida and Texas.
A Brevard County detective was finishing an interview with Toole and had turned his tape recorder off when the killer started to talk about abducting and murdering a boy from Broward County.
Soon, Hollywood Detectives Ron Hickman and Jack Hoffman flew to Jacksonville to interview Toole, who would proceed to confess and recant several times and tell multiple versions of how and why he killed the boy.
Toole's confession was filled with holes.
He claimed that he and one-eyed cohort Henry Lee Lucas had driven to Hollywood in the Cadillac and were in the mall parking lot when they saw Adam running around. They pulled him inside and drove to a remote area off the turnpike, where, he said, Lucas killed him.
But detectives learned that Lucas was locked up in a Maryland prison that day.
Toole later changed his tale. In his new version, he said he enticed Adam into his car with candy and toys. He gave varying accounts of how he killed him.
Although the child's head was recovered, his body was never found.
Toole failed to identify Adam on a missing-person flier, gave an inaccurate description of the boy's features and clothing, and said he abducted Adam about the first of the year.
Retracing Toole's steps in the days before Adam was abducted, police found that two days before Adam went missing, Toole was penniless and without a car, and had just arrived in Jacksonville by Greyhound bus — a trip he paid for with a $72 check from the Salvation Army.
Detectives felt that with so little time and money to make it to Hollywood, it would have been almost impossible for Toole to have killed Adam. They told him so.
"No, I didn't kill Adam Walsh," he then told them on Oct. 26, 1983. "If I did, I would be able to show you where the rest of the body is."
Toole spent the next 12 minutes alone with Jacksonville Detective J.W. "Buddy" Terry, who at the time was acting as Toole's jailhouse custodian. Toole changed his mind and confessed, offering a different account of how he killed Adam.
Those 12 minutes have come up countless times in the years since.
Toole, police say, relayed details that only the killer could know, such as the location of a dirt road leading to the canal where the head was found.
In 1988, a Broward Sheriff's Office detective wrote a memo saying that Terry had signed a book deal with Toole and had leaked information about the case.
Terry did not return messages left with a woman at his Middleburg, Fla., home.
During a 1996 interview with investigators, he denied leaking information and said the deal was inked in jest after Toole told him about a number of other book deals he had agreed to. But Terry's superior, then-Undersheriff John Nelson, felt differently and moved Terry to the communications department.
Jim Suber, Terry's supervisor in 1983, believed "that the information Toole gave regarding the Adam Walsh murder was based on information he had obtained from news sources and perhaps from investigators, including Terry," according to one case memo.
Another flaw: the lack of direct evidence linking Toole to the killing. Investigators had long hoped that the Cadillac would yield evidence.
Blood was found in the car after Toole confessed. But by the time DNA testing became available, police had lost the car, along with the blood-stained carpet samples.
Yet, despite the missing evidence, the waffling confessions and the questions about where Toole got his information, police say they have more than enough evidence to indict him.
"If Ottis Toole was alive today, he would be arrested for the abduction and murder of Adam Walsh," Police Chief Wagner told reporters.
The decision to close the case was supported by the Broward state attorney's office. But Charles Morton Jr., chief assistant state attorney, said police mistakes would have made a successful prosecution difficult.
Michael Gottlieb, a defense attorney, agreed that there are major flaws in the case. "With Toole dead, nobody can really question him as to his motive," he said. "We're all going to be left to speculate."
Longtime case detectives still have their doubts.
"I spent 100 hours with that individual," Hickman, one of the original case detectives, said in 2001. "I'll tell you right now: He didn't do it."