tells for the first time how Det. Sgt. Joe Matthews solved the 1983 abduction and murder of six-year-old Adam Walsh.
How did the two of you come together to write this book?
Les Standiford: Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books in Miami insisted that he'd found my next book and that I had to meet Joe Matthews and read his investigative report on the Adam Walsh case. Joe has accomplished what hundreds of cops before him could not: he has brought justice to bear upon a crime so heinous that it changed our nation's very practice of parenting. And he did it without pay, simply because he believed it to be the right thing to do.
Joe Matthews: As worldly as I thought I was as a homicide investigator, I was very naïve when it came to publishing my manuscript. I expected to make it required reading for criminal justice programs. However, a respected textbook editor told me, "I'm going to do you a favor and not publish this book. It deserves a much wider audience." He suggested that I find an author that I could relate to, trust, and who shared the same sense of justice. I knew only Les could tell this story with the dignity it deserved and the truthfulness that the Walshes would expect.
The police's missteps in Adam's case seem unthinkable in today's forensic and digital age.
LS: Even in a CSI world, investigators have to proceed in a logical fashion from the outset or end up with cases such as Natalie Holloway or Jon Benét Ramsay. Revé Walsh [Adam's mother] has said that her greatest hope is that the story of Joe's meticulous work will be read by cops everywhere, in hopes that the mistakes made in Adam's case might be avoided in the future.
JM: The significance of Adam's abduction as it relates to missing children and interagency cooperation is as significant as 9/11 is to airport security. John and Revé Walsh were successful in changing how law enforcement responded to and investigated crimes against children. In addition to modern forensics, parents are taking advantage of technology such as maintaining their children's DNA samples, biometric fingerprints, and digital photographs to assist law enforcement in investigations.
Florida police officially closed the Adam Walsh murder investigation in 2008, yet some still believe that Ottis Toole didn't kill Adam.
LS: Because of the tremendous impact of this crime upon our culture and our collective psyche—I think in many ways it rivals Kennedy's assassination—a "merely" logical explanation will not seem satisfactory to some for something that has upset us so profoundly. Thus, there are likely to be alternative theories put forward forevermore. I understand the impulse to find conspiracies and hidden agendas behind great catastrophes. That is just human nature.
JM: People are entitled to their opinions. But the information that I provided that officially closed the Adam Walsh murder investigation was not based on my opinions or what the lead investigator documented as facts in his reports. I conducted an independent investigation and was able to prove beyond any reasonable doubt—based on direct and circumstantial evidence which cannot be disputed—that Ottis Toole abducted and murdered Adam. Only because of those facts was the case officially closed.