Monday, 7 April 2008

Re John Walsh

It is time for us all - media, police, law-abiding citizens, TV viewers, parents, victims of crime etc. - to salute John Walsh.

Walsh, an untiring crime fighter since his six-year-old son Adam was abducted and murdered in Florida in 1981, is closing in on his 1,000th capture as host of America's Most Wanted.

Saturday's program included the latest of AMW's 995 captures: murderers, rapists, child molesters, bank robbers, con artists, kidnappers, street thugs and assorted other criminals.

It would be fitting for print and broadcast media to mark the milestone 1000th capture in this, the 20th anniversary year of AMW, with a unified thank you for all he has accomplished.

When his son was abducted, murdered and beheaded, Walsh, a builder of high-end luxury hotels, and his wife, Reve, sought justice. Frustrated by the bureaucracy of child abduction investigations, he sought a better way.

The better way, a weekly venue with millions of armchair crime fighting viewers, was as host of Fox TV's America's Most Wanted, launched in 1988 with him at the helm. Except for the program's brief time off the air, his passion for the job has been unrelenting.

AMW case profiles are televised across North America and viewed world wide on AMW's web site. Decades-old cold cases have been solved; long forgotten John and Jane Does have been identified with the slimmest of clues; dozens of abducted children have been reunited with their parents.

The "America" in the program's name is truly America, including Canada and Mexico. Walsh and his AMW staff have been good to Canadian police forces and Canadian viewers have been instrumental in the captures of numerous criminals on the run.

Dennis Melvin Howe hasn't been apprehended for the 1983 sex slaying of Sharin' Morningstar Keenan, 9, in a midtown Toronto roominghouse, but John Walsh did his part in profiling the case numerous times. Other Canadian cases have had repeated airings.

While AMW broadcasts have directly been responsible for the apprehension of 995 criminals, the abduction and murder of Adam Walsh remains open. A prime suspect, Ottis Toole, died in prison while serving life for other crimes.

So there has been no justice for Adam, but his legacy is a safer and more enlightened society, thanks to a father who refused to surrender to red tape and numerous roadblocks.

John Walsh, father, author, the driving force behind the 2006 Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act and widely honoured by community and police organizations, turns 63 in December.

Someday, he will retire as host of America's Most Wanted and when that day comes, John Walsh will be sincerely missed by all but the criminal element.

The pending 1,000th capture in his 20th year as AMW host is the perfect time to collectively praise Walsh for fighting the good fight.

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