Decades Later, New Clues in a Cold Case

The abduction and murder of 6 ½-year-old Adam Walsh, who disappeared in 1981 from a Florida mall, is one of the most famous missing children cases in America.

It was a crime that outraged a nation and propelled Adam's father, John Walsh, to devote his life to fighting crime on the television program "America's Most Wanted."

John Walsh remains convinced the killer of his son was drifter Ottis Toole, now deceased. Walsh's longtime friend and colleague Joe Matthews has been investigating the case for a year and says he has evidence of Toole's guilt -- although the crime remains officially unsolved.

But in those chaotic early days of the investigation, in a time before amber alerts and DNA, what clues may have been missed?

Now a fascinating new theory has surfaced: Could one of the most famous murders of our time have been the work of one of the most famous murderers of all time?

For the past 11 years, a true-crime author named Arthur Jay Harris has been investigating the case on his own, and he has uncovered a shattering revelation. Who was working only minutes from that mall that morning? Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial killer.

Using public records, the 7,000-page police case file and a lot of legwork, Harris discovered that the same day Adam disappeared, two witnesses independently contacted the police to describe a thin, disheveled blond man who had been acting strangely in the mall.

Witnesses to a Crime?

Willis Morgan, a printer working for the Miami Herald, said he was accosted by this man but didn't respond, and the man suddenly stalked off. Morgan said he followed the man to the mall's toy department -- the last place Adam Walsh was ever seen.

Bill Bowen, a television producer, said he was about to enter the mall when he heard a loud altercation taking place next to a blue van. He said he saw a disheveled man holding a boy by the arm up in the air.

Bowen said the boy yelled, "I'm not going. I don't want to go," and the man screamed, "Yes you are," and then threw the boy into the van, jumped in, and sped away. Police don't dispute that these witnesses came forward at the time, although no record of their statements exists.

Ten years later, in 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested in Wisconsin for murdering 17 people. Six hundred miles apart, both witnesses saw Dahmer's photo in the newspaper and said to themselves: "That's him." Both contacted the Hollywood, Fla., police department to report that the man they had seen 10 years before in that mall was Jeffrey Dahmer.

According to former FBI agent Neil Purtell, the Wisconsin investigators had already made the Walsh/Dahmer connection the same day Dahmer was arrested. A timeline put together by police showed that Dahmer had indeed been in south Florida the day Adam Walsh was abducted. Dahmer moved to Florida in 1981, where he slept mostly on the beach and got a job working at the Sunshine Subs sandwich shop only minutes from the Hollywood Mall.

Purtell said he immediately called Florida police. "I said, 'You've got to look at this, because this guy is, is someone who was living in your area, andサhe had already killed prior to coming into your area.'" (Dahmer killed his first victim, Stephen Hicks, in 1978, according to police.)

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