Thursday, February 1, 2007
7 News Investigations: Did Dahmer Do It?
Twenty-six years ago a young boy was kidnapped and murdered in South Florida. At the same time 26 years ago, one of the most brutal and disgusting serial killers in American history was living in South Florida. Did that man kidnap and kill Adam Walsh? Two witnesses who have never spoken on camera before tonight are telling their story, and it has Adam's father, John Walsh, asking that their claims be investigated. Now let's bring in Patrick Fraser with this 7-News exclusive -- did Dahmer do it?
WSVN -- In July 1981, a little boy was kidnapped from a Hollywood mall. As South Florida searched for him, his family begged for him.
John Walsh: "He's our only child. A beautiful little boy, and we just want him back."
But John Walsh never got his son Adam back. Six weeks later, Adam's head was found in a canal near the Florida Turnpike. His body was never found.
Two years later a miserable drifter named Ottis Toole twice confessed to killing Adam and twice bragged he made it up.
Ottis Toole: "That Adam Walsh case isn't true. I didn't do that case."
Toole was never charged in Adam's murder. For 26 years, the search has gone on for answers.
Arthur J. Harris: "I just spent a lof of time going through and seeing -- looking for mistakes, looking for clues."
Crime reporter Art Harris has spent years digging into the Adam Walsh case and now has come to a conclusion.
Patrick Fraser: "Your conclusion -- who killed Adam Walsh?
Art Harris: "I believe Adam Walsh's killer is Jeffrey Dahmer."
Jeffrey Dahmer: One of the most infamous serial killers in American history who admitted to murdering, beheading and eating many of his 17 victims.
But Dahmer's victims were all in Ohio and Wisconsin ... or were they? You see, in 1981, Jeffrey Dahmer was living right here on Miami Beach, 15 minutes from the mall where Adam was kidnapped. And, in fact, Dahmer may have been at the mall at the exact moment Adam was grabbed.
Patrick Fraser: "What have you done that proves that Jeffrey Dahmer could have been the killer?
Art Harris: "It starts with the two witnesses at the Hollywood mall."
One of those witnesses who says he saw Dahmer is Willis Morgan. He has never spoken on camera before about the person who confronted him as he stood in the Hollywood mall the day Adam was kidnapped.
Willis Morgan: "And then he came into the Radio Shack, and he came right up to me about arm's length, I could have reached out and touched him. And he repeated really loud, like he was standing 15 feet away or even more, 'Hi there. Nice day, isn't it?'"
When Willis ignored the man, he walked away. Willis was suspicious and followed him.
Willis Morgan:"I followed him right to the toy department. I saw him walking into the toy department."
The toy department at Sears was where Adam's mother had left him to play. Willis went to the Hollywood police to report his encounter, but they never interviewed him, and Willis didn't realize who he had seen for ten years. That was, until he saw a newspaper with a story about a serial killer being captured.
Willis Morgan: "I was freaking out, I could hardly function."
The face from that paper was Jeffrey Dahmer -- the guy who confronted him, and the guy he followed into the toy department.
Willis Morgan: "Because I knew this was the guy. Absolutely."
Bill Bowen was walking into Sears about the same time Willis saw the man. Bowen, who has also never spoken on camera, saw a man and a little boy struggling.
Bill Bowen:"The little boy was saying I don't want to go. I'm not going. He proceeded to take the little boy, and throw him by one arm into a blue van. And then he sped off."
Like Willis, Bill reported what he saw that day to Hollywood police, but nothing came of it until ten years later when, like Willis, he saw a man's face in the newspaper.
Bill Bowen: "That Sunday in 1991 when that picture of Dahmer came out, it hit me like a baseball bat."
Two witnesses believe they saw Jeffrey Dahmer at the mall the day Adam was kidnapped, and there's another link to Dahmer. The kidnapper left in a blue van. Dahmer worked at a sub-shop, where they made deliveries. Harris's research revealed a startling fact about one of the delivery vans.
Art Harris: "I learned that one of the delivery vehicles where Jeffrey Dahmer worked was a blue van."
When Bill and Willis saw Dahmer's picture in 1991, they contacted Hollywood police. A detective went to Wisconsin and interviewed Jeffrey Dahmer, who denied killing Adam. Detectives believed him then and now.
Captain Mark Smith:"I'm convinced he didn't do it."
Captain Mark Smith has reviewed every document in the Adam Walsh investigation and is not swayed by the two witnesses who told us they saw Dahmer that day.
Capt. Mark Smith: "There are people who say they saw Jeffery Dahmer. There's more people that say they saw Ottis Toole, who I'm not totally convinced is involved in this case. So, we have a group of people saying the same thing on two different people."
But former FBI agent Neil Purtell, who interviewed Jeffrey Dahmer about the Adam Walsh case, has a different conclusion.
Neil Purtell: "I said, Jeffrey, tell me the truth. He looked away and said, 'Honest to God, Neil, I didn't do Adam.'"
Purtell says his years of experience told him Dahmer was lying about murdering Adam Walsh.
Neil Purtell: "In interviewing him I believe he's more than a possible suspect. He's much higher than that. He's probably responsible in my mind."
John Walsh, Adam's father, thinks Ottis Toole is probably his son's killer, but he adds he wants the investigators to go talk to the witnesses who think they saw Dahmer at the mall that day.
John Walsh: "I think the ball is back in Michael Satz's court, the Broward prosecutor's court, to thoroughly look at this case, even though it's a cold case, people have come forward who are claiming one thing, who are saying we were not taken seriously back 25 or 26 years ago, so I think they have to look at this case."
Who murdered Adam Walsh -- the sickening Ottis Toole or the cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer, or someone else who is still out there?
Capt. Mark Smith:"I don't have a good answer for you."
Patrick Fraser: "Do you think it will ever be solved?"
Capt. Mark Smith: "I'd like to think so."
Of course, there are two witnesses who will never forget what they saw the day Adam disappeared.
Bill Bowen: "What looked like a very angry young man, holding a boy up in the air violently and throwing him into that van and speeding off."
Willis Morgan: "Oh, Jeffrey Dahmer, definitely. I'm more than convinced."
But even if Willis is right, it's too late for a conviction. Jeffrey Dahmer was murdered in prison.
Art Harris: "It can be resolved, and it can be solved, too, but there won't ever be a trial. He's dead."
Twenty-six years ago a wonderful little boy disappeared. Twenty-six years later, all we keep discovering are more questions. Did Dahmer do it?