Born on December 26, 1945, in Auburn, New York, John Walsh is the weekly host of America’s Most Wanted, the TV show through which Walsh has helped put over a thousand of the nation’s worst criminals behind bars. In 1981, Walsh’s six-year-old son, Adam, was abducted and later found murdered. Walsh has since dedicated his life to victims’ rights and capturing fugitive criminals.
Early Life & Tragedy Television host, victims’ rights advocate. Born on December 26, 1945 in Auburn, New York. The weekly host of America’s Most Wanted, Walsh has helped put over a thousand of the nation’s worst criminals behind bars.
Raised in a supportive Catholic home, Walsh had an independent streak as a teen, but eventually settled down to raise a family and work as a hotel marketing executive in Hollywood, Florida. In 1981, tragedy struck when Walsh’s six-year-old son, Adam, was abducted and later found murdered. The prime suspect in Adam’s murder, Ottis Toole, was never charged in the case; he died in prison while serving life for other crimes.
Helping Missing Children It wasn’t long after Adam’s death that John and his wife, Reve, found a positive outlet for their grief. In 1984, they helped pass the Missing Children’s Act of 1982 and the Missing Children’s Assistance Act of 1984. The latter bill founded the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which maintains a toll-free hotline number (1-800-THE-LOST) to report a missing child or the sighting of one.
In 1983, the Walshes’ story was made into an NBC television movie, Adam. The sequel, Adam: His Song Continues, aired in 1986. Following the broadcasts, a roll of missing children was featured, leading to the recovery of 65 youngsters. They also founded the Adam Walsh Child Resource Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to legislative reform, which eventually merged with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
America’s Most Wanted In 1988, Walsh agreed to take his crime-fighting passion to TV’s America’s Most Wanted. One of the five longest running prime-time series on network television, the show has helped capture over a thousand criminals, including 15 from the FBI’s most wanted list and the notorious convicts known as the “Texas 7.” In 2010, when kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart took the stand, she testified that her captor Brian David Mitchell became greatly agitated by a newspaper article that featured a picture of Walsh and a report thatAmerica’s Most Wanted was looking for her. In his career, Walsh has helped bring home more than 50 missing children.
Recognition and Honors Law Enforcement officials around the nation have recognized Walsh for his efforts. In 1988 he was named the U.S. Marshal’s Man Of The Year, and two years later received the same honor from the FBI, the Bureau’s highest civilian award. Walsh is the only private citizen to receive a Special Recognition Award by a U.S. Attorney General, and he’s been honored in the Rose Garden four times by three presidents: Clinton, Bush and Reagan. After September 11, the White House called on Walsh to help Americans better understand the war on terrorism. The FBI also requested Walsh’s help with the investigation after the Oklahoma City bombings.
In 1997, Walsh published a best-selling book, Tears of Rage: From Grieving Father to Crusader For Justice: The Untold Story of the Adam Walsh Case. His second book, No Mercy, came out in 1998. He has also started Straight Shooter Productions in partnership with America’s Most Wanted Executive Producer Lance Heflin. He received his first prime-time Emmy nomination forStreet Smart Kids, a labor of love he created and produced for Fox. In the fall of 2002, Walsh debuted a one-hour daily talk show called “The John Walsh Show.”
On December 15, 2008, police determined that serial killer Ottis Toole was responsible for the murder of Walsh’s son.The announcement brought to a close a case that has troubled the Walsh family for more than two decades.
Walsh lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and their three children.