In a bittersweet ceremony, John and Reve Walsh stood with the President of the United States in the Rose Garden at the White House on the 25th Anniversary of the disappearance of their son Adam Walsh. Reve Walsh shed tears and held hands with John, as the President signed HR 4472, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, into law. Adam Walsh, would have been 33 years old.
Adam was just 6 years old the day he disappeared from a Sears store in Hollywood Florida. He had been shopping with his mother Reve Walsh. Reve let Adam play video games in the toy department as she finished shopping. Gone less than 10 minutes, yet when she returned to the toy depratment Adam had disappeared. Reve Walsh searched for over two hours, alone, before the local police were called in to investigate Adam's disappearance. Ironically, the Hollywood Florida police department is located directly across the street from the shopping mall.
John and Reve Walsh held onto hope that Adam would be found and in addition to making public television pleas for his return, they passed out thousands of fliers with Adam's picture and information on the front. Two weeks after Adam disappeared his severed head was found in a Florida canal by two fishermen. the body of Adam has never been recovered and his case has never been solved.
At one time Ottis Toole confessed to Adam's murder, but Toole recanted his confession years later. Ottis Toole died in prison and took the answer the grave as to whether or not he was Adam's killer. Adam's parents like all parents of missing children would like to know what happened to their son.
The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, requires sex offenders to appear in person to register. By appearing in person the bill makes it difficult for sex offenders to avoid or refuse to register by moving around the nation. If a sex offender knowingly does not register it could cost the offender 20 years in prison, as it is now a felony offense. The new act also provides heavier penalties for more serious crimes against children, including sex trafficking, or child prostitution. The bill provides states a way to institutionalize repeat offenders who continue to do harm to children and show no desire to change their behavior, and provides for a National Sex Offender Registry.
The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 will make the internet safer for children. As it allows funding and training at both the state and local law enforcement levels, encouraging agencies to implement Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force units. These task force units will help fight sexual exploitation on the internet.
Finally, a National Child Abuse Registry will be implemented as part of HR 4472. This means all adoptive parents and foster parents will have background checks completed before being allowed to care for or take custody of a child. Since this will be a National Registry child protective workers in all 50 states will have access to the registry increasing the continuity of care for high risk children currently in the system and investigating children at high risk for abuse.
By having a National Child Abuse Registry one can hope that we will prevent tragic situations like Rilya Wilson age 4, who was lost by the State of Florida's Child Protective Services for 16 months before anyone knew she was missing. Rilya's foster caregiver confessed to killing Rilya while she was in jail on fraud charges, although Rilya's body has not been recovered, she has been charged with her murder. Ironically, Rilya is an acronym - Remember I Love You Always.
America's children are definitely safer today than 25 years ago due largely to the love for one child and two bereaved parents who turned grief into action so that their only son did not die in vain. The Walsh's are directly responsible for the creation of the Adam Walsh Outreach Center for Missing Children in 1981, the Missing Children Act of 1982 and the Missing Children's Assistance Act of 1984, which paves the way for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
Due to his strong victim activism skills John Walsh was asked to host the television show America's Most Wanted in 1988, changing the way America looks for the bad guys. Adam will live on forever in the heart of America due to the passage of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.
As of December 2008 law enforcement and John and Reve Walsh concur that the person responsible for the kidnapping, murder and decapitation of Adam Walsh was Ottis Toole. Toole was a convicted pedophile and murderer who once confessed to killing adam but later recanted and eventually died in prison. Law enforcement states if Toole was living he would be arrested and tried for Adam Walsh's horrific murder.