In what could be a startling, appalling twist, witnesses are saying they saw serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in the mall where Adam Walsh disappeared.
Did Jeffrey Dahmer confess to all his crimes? There is a call to reopen the investigation into Milwaukee's most notorious killer.
Milwaukee TV station WISN is reporting that there are new questions being raised about Jeffrey Dahmer's criminal history before he returned to Milwaukee. Apparently, there are never-reported details that some believe link Dahmer to one of the US's most notorious cold cases.
The boy at the center of that cold case is now a household name. Who can forget the toothless grin of 6-year-old Adam Walsh, the Florida boy who was abducted, dismembered and dumped in a drainage canal in 1981.
A Miami author is making the case that Dahmer may be responsible for the Walsh slaying. WISN is detailing the never-reported evidence that has at least one career FBI man saying that the case against Dahmer should be reopened.
"It smelled. All the right smells were there. That's the way I looked at it,"
retired FBI Agent Neil Purtell said. Purtell was the FBI agent assigned to Dahmer's case. He says that the day Dahmer was arrested, many in law enforcement wondered the notorious serial killer could be responsible for a high-profile case that went cold long ago. "If Dahmer did this, if it was my son, I'd want the truth,"
"Even though it's a cold case, people are coming forward who are claiming one thing, who are saying we were not taken seriously back 25, 26 years ago. So I think they have to look at this case," John Walsh told WISN this week.
On July 27, 1981, Adam vanished from a shopping mall in the Miami suburb of Hollywood. The disappearance of the Little Leaguer prompted a nationwide search and indelibly imprinted Adam's gap-toothed grin in the minds of shaken families across the country. "I don't know who would do this to a 6-year-old child. I can't conceive of it," Walsh said at the time of Adam's disappearance. Two weeks later, fishermen found Adam's head in a drainage canal, but police never found his body.
In July 1991, the investigation into Adam's slaying was stale until Jeffrey Dahmer's trail of death through Milwaukee exploded in the headlines. As investigators traced Dahmer's journey through life they found a chilling coincidence. Dahmer was living in south Florida when Adam disappeared.
John Walsh was the star of the highly watched television show "America's Most Wanted". Walsh was so moved by the possible Dahmer link to his son's murder that he made a remarkable request. He asked the state of Florida to waive the death penalty if Dahmer confessed to Adam's slaying. WISN obtained a copy of Walsh's letter, where he points out Dahmer's criminal record, which includes killing two 14-year-olds, sexually assaulting a 13-year-old and exposing himself to 12-year-olds. Walsh wrote, "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."
Two witnesses who have said they saw Dahmer at the mall the day Adam disappeared. For the first time, both men share their stories on television.
"I had a sense that someone was staring at me," Willis Morgan said. Morgan said he was shopping when a dirty, disheveled man in his 20s started hitting on him. Morgan was a buff blond in 1981 -- the Chippendale dancer type Dahmer repeatedly told police was his type.
"I didn't answer him, and he said, 'Nice day isn't it?' And I still didn't answer him," Willis said. "And then the smile went off his face, and he had this look of anger, and I was just like looking at him, you know. I didn't know what this guy was up to, and then all of a sudden that look went to like rage. It was an unbelievable look. I had to look away," Willis said.
Ten years later, Morgan was at his printer job at the Miami Herald proofing the morning paper. "When the papers came in, I saw the picture of Dahmer, and I started freaking out. I said, 'This is the guy. This is the guy I saw in the mall,'" Willis said.
At around the same time, another man was shocked to see Dahmer's picture in the paper.
"That Sunday, in 1991, when the picture of Dahmer came out, it hit me like a baseball bat," Bill Bowen said. Bowen said he had just pulled into the Sears parking lot that day in 1981 when he witnessed an explosive scene.
"There was a man holding a little boy by one arm up in the air. The boy was struggling, and the boy was saying, 'I don't want to go. I'm not going,'" Bowen said. Bowen said the man threw the boy into a blue van and screeched off. Bowen said he only saw the man's profile, but it looked like the newspaper picture he brought police.
"People will say, 'What does it matter?'"
FBI Agent Purtell says. "What if we looked at all the evidence we had now and said we could get a warrant for his arrest?" Purtell asked. "And a prosecutor looking at that evidence we have now collected would say, 'I could convict him on the evidence we have. We feel that he is now responsible. That's closure. We've done our job as a society. We have not forgotten this child,'" Purtell said.
John Walsh responded to WISN's story from an "America's Most Wanted" set in Texas. He said that more than 25 years later, he can't believe that he is still fighting for a competent investigation into his son Adam's slaying.
"That's a bitter pill for me to swallow. (As) someone who's a big supporter of law enforcement, that the law enforcement agency investigating my son's murder would lose -- blatantly lose -- key pieces of evidence, and not interview people who thought they had important information about the case, it's really a tough thing," Walsh said.
Walsh told WISN that Dahmer became a suspect years ago when his father, Lionel, called "America's Most Wanted" and told them he thought his son could be responsible for Adam's slaying.