Decades Later, New Clues in a Cold Case

Purtell said more witnesses contacted the FBI to say they had seen someone matching Dahmer's description at the Hollywood Mall, although he refused to identify them. Purtell would only say that he had passed their names over to the FBI field office in Miami at the time.

Did Dahmer Do It?

Although Dahmer was living in the area at the time of Adam's murder, many in law enforcement felt that the case didn't fit Dahmer's MO. Dahmer's 17 known victims ranged in age from 14 to 36, older than Adam. However, Dahmer had been arrested for exposing himself to two 12-year-olds, and for molesting a 13-year-old.

Dahmer maintained that between 1978 and 1987 he didn't kill anyone, and some detectives believe that he had made a complete confession. However, psychiatrist George Palermo, who examined Dahmer before trial, said he had always believed there were additional victims. And Billy Capshaw, Dahmer's roommate in the Army during the year before Adam's abduction, said that Dahmer would go out at night and come back in the morning, "his shirt soaked in blood."

Perhaps the best reason to dismiss Dahmer as a suspect was that someone else had already confessed to the crime. In 1983, drifter Ottis Toole said he did it, but then recanted on videotape.

Toole: That Adam Walsh case isn't, it ain't true.
Off-Camera Voice: What isn't true?
Toole: I didn't do that case.

By 1991, Toole had confessed and recanted yet again. Though several people came forward who claimed to have seen him in the mall the day of Adam's abduction, police couldn't prove Toole had even been in the general area that day.

In 1992, Florida police interviewed Dahmer in a prison in Wisconsin. At the behest of John Walsh, who had heard that Dahmer might be involved, the Broward County district attorney took the death penalty off the table, in order to increase the odds that Dahmer would confess if he were involved.

Dahmer's denial was recorded in a transcript of the interrogation:

Dahmer: I heard it on the news but I had nothing to do with it, no.
Detective: And if you did have something to do with it, you would, you would admit to it.
Dahmer: Uh…right. Yeah.

That denial didn't ring true to agent Purtell, who asked Dahmer about it later. Purtell said Dahmer told him, "Honest to God, Neil, I didn't do it."

But then Dahmer added the words that still haunt Purtell. "He said, 'You know, Neil, anyone who killed Adam Walsh could not live in any prison, ever,'" Purtell recalled.

Purtell believes this was code for what Dahmer couldn't say directly -- if he admitted to the crime, he'd be killed in prison as a pedophile. Purtell believes this was close to an admission of guilt.

The Blue Van

But if Dahmer did murder Adam, where did he get the blue van the witness saw in the parking lot? Harris found eight witnesses who had worked at Sunshine Subs and its sister restaurant, Mr. Pizza. All reported that the restaurants shared several delivery vans which were accessible to employees. One of those vans was blue.

Capt. Smith, of the Hollywood Police Department, now questions the importance of the blue van sightings, telling ABC News he believes a family later came forward to say it was them having the altercation in the parking lot. However, Smith couldn't recall who that family was, nor could he find them in the 7,000 page file. The original lead detective, Jack Hoffman, was unable to recall the existence of this family when ABC contacted him last week.

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