"I believe that I knew that Ottis Toole killed Adam before he died. He died eight years before they closed the case. But for Reve and I, and our family, it was the end of that chapter: it was finality," Walsh said. "Not closure, that's a bad word, you never get closure. It's that finality, it's that person that did that horrible thing to you is where they should be. Justice was served. I think that is all that average, good people ask for."
Walsh said that Reve and their three living children -- born after Adam's murder -- have "absolutely" suffered because of his devotion to Adam's case.
"I have spent most of the time of our daughters Megan and Callahan and Hayden, a big portion of their lives on the road. But they have come with me all over the world. They come on location, they have seen what their mother and I are trying to do, to change laws," he said. "I only go after these guys after they have destroyed somebody's lives. I believe in the proactive. If you change the laws, everybody benefits, if you change society's perception about the violence in this country and you make effective social change and be proactive, educate people."
Proactive for Walsh meant lobbying for the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which was signed by President Bush in 2006. The law was intended to create a national registry for the most dangerous sex offenders, like Philip Garrido.
But thus far, states haven't cooperated. Critics say the law is unfair to minors, who are often labeled as sex offenders on the registry for the rest of their lives.
"The Act says that only if you physically or violently offended someone and you're a repeat offender, you should be on the registry forever. I don't believe that every teen offender should be on the registry…I don't believe that a kid who makes one mistake when he's 13 years old and might have exposed himself to somebody, that is not the intention of the Adam Walsh Act," Walsh said. "The Justice Department says there are 100,000 level-three sex offenders who are in violation of their parole or probation...they have disappeared somewhere in America or somewhere in the world. I think that is a serious problem."
With more than 1,000 criminals behind bars since "America's Most Wanted" began, in the end, it always comes back to one case -- that of the son he lost over 28 years ago.
"Walk in my shoes back to July 27th, 1981. Think about it. You waited your whole life for this little boy. You kiss him goodbye one morning and you never see him again. And then you find out two weeks later that someone decapitated him. Just walk in my shoes one day," Walsh said.
Walsh said he hopes his son would be proud of his work today.
"I think wherever he is, he is [proud]. He would be a 35-year-old man," Walsh said. "I don't know, I hope so. I loved that little boy."