John Walsh's son Adam has long been a focal point for investigators and fans of the crime TV personality. The murder of the young boy put Walsh into the public eye, leading to the creation of America's Most Wanted. The series led to dozens of arrests over the years and he's currently hosting In Pursuit With John Walsh, keeping his fight alive.
One of the reasons for that fight and its continued presence is the murder of Adam Walsh and the question marks around the true culprit. Several names have been connected to the heinous crime over the years, with serial killer Ottis Toole confessing to the murder and recanting before his death in 1992. Walsh considers Toole the killer, but others have been accused.
With the release of Netflix's Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, another old theory has been dug up to spread, whether it be the truth or not. According to reports, retired FBI agent Neil Purtell claims the infamous killer admitted to killing Adam Walsh, hinting that Toole was merely a convenient choice for local police.
According to Radar, which treats the claims as truth and cites "secret" FBI files, details connect a person who looked like Dahmer at a shopping center in Hollywood, Florida who was later spotted with the young boy before his disappearance. The files note that Dahmer was possibly in the area after moving to Florida after leaving the military.
Purtell was on the scene when Dahmer was eventually arrested in Milwaukee around a decade after Walsh's disappearance. The apartment of the infamous cannibal killer has been well described over the years, with body parts and photos of depraved acts around. But for Purtell, he could only connect Adam Walsh to the scene.
"The decapitation and disposal of the torso of Adam Walsh is again the type of behavior that Dahmer continued to exhibit in Milwaukee with his victims," the file reportedly says. "Jeffrey Dahmer closely matches the description of the person who abducted this young child."
Purtell reportedly got to question Dahmer in Wisconsin's Columbia state prison, prodding him on any information about Walsh's death and his potential involvement. "He said if he DID admit to it, he would be killed in prison as a pedophile," Dahmer said. In 1994, exactly this would happen, but without Dahmer being labeled a pedophile. But for Purcell, he feels the killer admitted it and he has felt that way for quite a while.
According to WISN ABC 12 in Milwaukee, Walsh and others actually pushed the notion that Dahmer killed his son in 1991, shortly after the killer was convicted. He even wrote a letter pleading with Florida authorities to waive the death penalty if Dahmer confessed. "Many people have forgotten that Jeffrey Dahmer started out as a pedophile, kidnapper, and torturer of young boys. He certainly fits the profile of someone who might be capable of murdering a beautiful 6-year-old boy," Walsh wrote.
It still seemed possible at the time, until the reality was put back into place by Dahmer himself. After spending over 150 hours interviewing Dahmer and taking his confession for the slew of crimes he did commit, the detective on the case confirmed the truth.
"He said, 'I've told you everything -- how I killed them, how I cooked them, who I ate. Why wouldn't I tell you if I did someone else?'" journalist Dennis Murphy shared. Dahmer's attorney held a similar view. "He was very honest. By that, I mean, he seemed to unload everything. I don't see any reason he wouldn't have said that he killed the boy. But of course, that was not his profile. Young boys was not his profile," Gerry Boyle said.
Purtell still feels that Dahmer was hiding the truth, a stance he hasn't changed for decades. The official police record has closed the case, with Toole as the murderer, adding to his infamous legacy alongside Henry Lee Lucas. One thing the entire situation highlights is the difficult nature of police work once trails go cold, and the difficulty of believing or denying the content of confessions.