Adam Walsh: The 6-Year-Old Who Was Abducted From A Department Store

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The world usually stops when the news someone has gone missing is announced. Plenty wonder what’s happened to them and if they’ll ever be found alive. This is usually made even worse when it’s a child. Perhaps that’s why the nation was gripped when Adam Walsh disappeared?

Adam Walsh was just six years old back in 1981 when the world learned that he had been abducted from a department store and everyone wanted to know he was safe. Tragically, the events that unfolded were about to change everything for every missing child across the US.

Adam Walsh was with his mom at a mall on July 27, 1981

Things appeared to be normal for Adam Walsh and his mom, Revé, as they headed to the Hollywood Mall in Florida on July 27, 1981. The pair were there because Revé needed to talk about a lamp at Sears. At the time, it was normal for kids to entertain themselves while their parents shopped, so Revé wasn’t worried about Adam.

Source: Associated Press / Getty Images

Instead, she left her son at a kiosk with several older boys who were all taking turns playing on an Atari 2600. It didn’t take long for Adam’s mom to get the information she needed – with Revé later stating she left her son for around ten minutes. Tragically, that was enough time for everything to change for the Walsh family.

Revé Walsh returned to find her son and the other boys had disappeared

Even though Revé Walsh was convinced her son would be safe with the other boys, she couldn’t see any of them when she returned to the kiosk. Finding a security guard didn’t give her any more answers. Revé learned that the boys had allegedly started fighting about whose turn it was, so a teenage security guard asked them to leave.

Source: Getty Images

The security guard in question supposedly asked all the older boys if their parents were around, and they said they weren’t. So, instead of tracking them down and making them leave together, they were forced to leave the store altogether. Being with the group meant six-year-old Adam Walsh was also made to leave Sears without his mom.

Adam Walsh’s parents later believed their son was too scared to talk to security

At first, Adam Walsh’s parents had no idea why the security guard would ask someone as young as their son to leave the store without his parents. However, they later theorized that Adam was likely too shy to tell the security guard that he wasn’t with the older boys and instead followed the crowd out of the store.

Source: Google / WNYC Studios

Unfortunately, the boys all left through an unfamiliar exit to Adam, who was likely lost with no idea where to go. At first, Revé believed Adam would have tried to come back into the store to find his mom, so she started searching around. It was only then that the mom’s true panic began to set in.

Revé Walsh searched for Adam for 90 minutes before she called the police

Revé Walsh knew that if her son were going to go anywhere, it would be the toy section. So, that’s where she began her search. Sadly, Adam was nowhere to be found. It wasn’t long before Revé used the store’s public-address system to alert everyone that her son was missing, but no one had any idea where Adam had gone.

Source: Idol Persona

While looking for Adam, Revé coincidentally bumped into her mother-in-law, Jean. The pair continued to look high and low around Sears in the hope that Adam had been scared by the commotion and was hiding somewhere safe. Tragically, they found nothing. Ninety minutes into their search, Revé called the police to report that her son was missing.

John Walsh was determined to keep his son’s name in the headlines

The minutes turned into hours and the hours turned into days. In the end, it took 15 days before there was any news about Adam Walsh. That didn’t mean his parents had given up hope on finding their son, as his dad, John, was determined to keep the story in the headlines. It’s a fact that stood out to many.

Source: Associated Press

Reporter Steve Bousquet later reported that John and Revé changed the norm for parents of missing children in the ‘80s. Steve added no one at the time had any idea how to “keep this story going.” Rather than sit back, Adam’s parents appeared on every local and national news show they could with daily updates on the case.

The police told the Walshs they’d found Adam’s head one hour after their plea

It didn’t take long for the abduction of Adam Walsh to hit national headlines. His parents were invited onto the talk show ‘Good Morning America’ to try and raise awareness about the case, but tragically, this was the last time John and Revé pleaded for their son to be returned alive. In fact, there was even a $100,000 reward.

Source: Twitter/MissingKids

Tragically, the police had news for the parents just one hour after their TV appearance. Apparently, two fishers had found something unusual in a drainage canal near Vero Beach, around 130 miles away from where Adam had disappeared. The police investigated and found the fishers had discovered Adam’s decapitated head. Sadly, this was the news that no one wanted.

An autopsy didn’t reveal much, and the rest of Adam Walsh was never discovered

The news that Adam Walsh’s head had been found meant the investigation quickly went from looking for a missing child to someone who ended his life. Sadly, the police had few clues about where to turn or who could be behind the horrific crime as they had little evidence. Their next step was to get an autopsy.

Source: Twitter/MissingKids

Divers quickly began to search the rest of the surrounding water, but they never found the rest of Adam’s body. The coroner later added it was likely he’d passed away several days before he was found. Reports also suggested that Adam lost his life due to asphyxiation. This didn’t mean the police were any closer to catching who was responsible.

Adam Walsh’s parents believe the police botched their son’s case

It didn’t take long for people to start pointing the finger of blame as to how Adam Walsh ended up losing his life. John and Revé knew where to aim their anger as they accused the police of botching their son’s case. In fact, they went as far as saying it was off from the beginning.

Source: Twitter/MissingKids

Adam’s parents confessed they had to wait for two hours until the police arrived at Sears, even though they knew a child was missing. They believed that was two hours that could have changed everything if officers had been looking for Adam from the beginning, with many noting the first 48 hours are the most crucial for missing people.

The police later apologized to John and Revé Walsh for how they handled the case

Even though Adam Walsh’s parents spoke about how long it took for the police to start searching for their son, they never elaborated on the rest of the case. That didn’t stop people from looking for their own clues in it all. For one, the investigators later offered an official apology to John and Revé Walsh.

Source: Twitter/MissingKids

To many, this meant the police knew they had done something wrong in the investigation. That wasn’t the end of it all. Several couch detectives also thought the investigators missed several pieces of evidence and witnesses throughout the years. Now, people argue the investigators might have focused too much on the wrong suspects instead of finding out the truth.