A 2018 documentary about the story in the book UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT aired on TRUE CONVICTION on INVESTIGATIVE DISCOVERY
The prosecutor was no longer sure both murder defendants were guilty. So he asked his dad -- the real-life Kojak.
A mother's dying, gasping call to 911: "My husband! My baby!" In her secluded ranch house, she'd been stabbed with a kitchen knife. Her husband, infant and elderly father-in-law had all been shot in the head, point-blank.
For three years, police had two suspects under surveillance, then arrest. Both faced the death penalty. But prosecutor Brian Cavanagh began to doubt that the defendants were partners. So he consulted with his father, a retired NYPD cop whose reputation had inspired the creation of one of the most beloved characters in television history. Could Dad help solve the case?
THE UNSOLVED MURDER OF ADAM WALSH
The famous missing child case of Adam Walsh, a 6-year-old last seen at a Sears in Hollywood, Florida, in July 1981 was the worst nightmare imaginable. Two weeks later, a child's severed head was found and identified as Adam. No one has ever been arrested for the crime.
Investigative journalist and true crime author Arthur Jay Harris has continued to write about the case for two decades, and has worked on it with ABC News’s Primetime, The Miami Herald, and others. His deep research and tremendous amount of new evidence disputes almost everything in the case that everyone in the public has been led to believe.
IN BOOK ONE, Harris shows that the taker of Adam was most likely not the drifter Ottis Toole, as police now say, but rather the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, arrested ten years later with eleven severed heads in his apartment. By a police report, Harris documented Dahmer living near Hollywood as a transient about when Adam disappeared. That report had Dahmer saying he discovered a dead body in an alley behind where he worked. The report referred to a storage room steps away, where Harris and ABC News found evidence of blood droplets rising up a wall, next to a lumberman's axe and a sledgehammer. Was this Dahmer's doing?
Further, Dahmer was identified by seven police witnesses who said they saw him at the Hollywood shopping mall with or near Adam when he was taken. Also, a police composite drawing of a suspect in an attempted kidnapping of a similar-age child at a Sears in the next county, exactly two weeks before Adam's disappearance, closely matches a mug shot of Dahmer taken a year later. The similarity was confirmed by the near-victim, a witness who helped make the drawing, and the police artist who drew it. The photo comparison is in the book.
IN BOOK TWO, more shocking, Harris shows that all the official law enforcement files incredibly, are missing the most customary documents that would prove the identification of the found child who was said to be Adam. Among the documents missing are the autopsy report, a forensic dental report (considering that the ID was strictly based on a tooth comparison), and Adam's dental chart and dental X-rays. An investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed all of that.
In fact, the ID was not only shoddy and inadequate but is overwhelmingly likely wrong. In Adam's last photo he was clearly missing both his top front teeth. A police crime scene photo, never before published, shows the found child had a mostly-in buck tooth -- a top left front tooth. A number of pediatric and forensic dental and medical examiner experts who Harris consulted confirmed the obvious: There wasn't enough time for Adam to have grown it in that far.
All that would have been exposed at a court trial -- but more than 30 years after Adam's disappearance, there has never been one.
Did police end the search for Adam too soon? Could Adam still be alive? Not so impossible, Harris found...