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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 hundreds of the nation's worst criminals behind bars A career in fighting crime is one John Walsh never expected. In 1981, Walsh was a partner in a successful hotel management company. He and his wife Revé were living the American dream in southern Florida with their six-year-old son Adam. But then violent crime touched their lives. On July 27, 1981, Adam Walsh was abducted from a suburban shopping mall. For 16 days, a frantic search followed until Adam's remains were discovered more than 100 miles from his home. 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. Toole took the truth about his possible involvement in Adam's murder to his grave -- denying John and Revé an opportunity for closure. The Walsh's turned their grief into action and without a badge or a gun, John Walsh quickly became a nationally recognized leader in the push for victims' rights. In 1987, FOX contacted John about hosting a groundbreaking new reality show designed to track down the country's most notorious and dangerous fugitives by profiling their cases to a national audience. Using AMW as his vehicle for justice, John could now bring to other victims of violent crime the closure he never found. Despite his years of exposure to the dark sides of humanity, John still believes in the inherent good of people and their power to make positive changes.
''Everything we have been able to accomplish is because of the public, When I think back to everything we did that some people predicted would never happen--the bills they said would never pass, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children they said would never come to be--it was the public that made it work. In 1996, when Fox wanted to cancel America's Most Wanted, the public brought it back. I was amazed at the reaction. It was overwhelming, and it was so gratifying''.
John has never let the demands of his America's Most Wanted schedule interfere with his efforts on behalf of victims and their rights.
- John has testified before Congress and state legislatures more than 55 times on crime, missing children and victims' issues.
- John and Revé worked for the passage of the Missing Children Act of 1982
- The Walsh's hard work and determination helped to pass the Missing Children's Assistance Act of 1984 which created National Center for Missing and Exploited Children NCMEC which now serves as the national clearinghouse for information on missing children and the prevention of child victimization.
- Revé Walsh serves on the NCMEC Board of Directors
- John serves on the Board's Chief Executive Officers Council and National Advisory Board, and acts as an NCMEC spokesperson.
- John is currently advocating a Constitutional Amendment for victims' rights
John Walsh: Hunting 'America's Most Wanted' criminals
John Walsh is the host of television's “America's Most Wanted,” and a best-selling author. After the 1981 abduction and murder of his six-year-old son, Adam, John Walsh became one of the country's leading crusaders for victims' rights. He was central in the fight for passage of the federal Missing Children Act and the founding of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and has helped to enact hundreds of state and local laws. He joined the CNN.com chat room from Dallas, TX, to discuss his new book, "Public Enemies."
CNN: Thank you for joining us today, John Walsh, and welcome
JOHN WALSH: Hello, everyone... thank you for keeping "America's Most Wanted" on the air for 14 years. You are the reason that 679 dangerous fugitives are off the streets, and 24 missing children are home safe.
CNN: What prompted you to write this book?
WALSH: We get about 17 million hits on our web site www.AMW.com every two weeks. A lot are people downloading fugitives, pictures of missing children, victims asking us to do their cases, but a lot of them are people saying, "John, we want to know the behind-the-scenes story, why did you pick that case, how did that fugitive stay out there so long, what happened to the victims, and what kind of penalty is he paying?" I wrote the book for the fans, to give them a real insider's look, and hopefully people will also learn something about criminals and the criminal justice system.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: John, what is the best catch you have had? Who made you feel the best about getting them off of the street?
WALSH: I'm right in Dallas as we speak, and the trial has just started for the ring leader of the Texas Seven, George Rivas. These are the guys that escaped from a Texas prison in December of last year, with 15 guns and 1 automatic rifle. They robbed a sporting goods store on Christmas Eve, and when Aubrey Hawkins, a 29 year old Irving, Texas, police officer, responded to a disturbance call, George Rivas shot him with an automatic weapon. The Texas 7 dragged him out of his car, lifted up his flak vest, and shot him 11 times. They then drove over his head repeatedly with an sports utility vehicle, until they flattened his skull. They left his 9 year old son without a dad on Christmas morning.
I took the whole show, and for the first time, dedicated an entire hour to trying to capture these seven dangerous murderers, rapists, and one child-beater. Fortunately, a couple in Colorado Springs, CO was watching the show, downloaded the pictures of the Texas Seven when we covered the case, and had the courage to make the call. They had rented the Texas Seven a mobile home in their mobile home park. The Texas Seven were posing as traveling born again Christian singers. The couple had no idea they were violent murderers and escaped convicts. In spite of the fact they feared for their own lives, they had the courage to call our 800 number and take down the Texas Seven.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: About how many tips does your organization get after each show?
WALSH: During the week, because our hotline is open 24 hours, we average about 2-3 thousand tips a week.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: John Walsh, what do you think happened to Chandra Levy?
WALSH: I don't know, but I do know that not knowing is killing the Levy family. I think police should be doing a parallel investigation, looking at Gary Condit, but also looking very closely at the unsolved murders of two young women about the same age as Chandra Levy. Both were of slender build and dark hair, both were former Capitol Hill interns. One was walking home from a barbecue in broad daylight, and was found murdered five days later in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. The other, Joyce Chang, a very accomplished lawyer for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, was missing for more than three months. She lived very close to Chandra Levy. Her body was found 75 miles downstream from Washington in the Potomac River. Both murders remain unsolved. There are incredible similarities to Chandra Levy's story. I believe the D.C. police should not rule out the possibility that there is a very smart serial predator in the Dupont Circle area. To work the case in parallel investigations is simply good police work.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: Mr. Walsh, thanks for everything. I was just wondering if you might belong to a victims group?
WALSH: I am very closely associated with, and helped found, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, with four branches around the United States. I also work very closely with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and have tried to assist the many chapters of Parents of Murdered Children around the country. With 40 million crime victims in this country every year, people are starting to realize criminals have all the rights, and victims have hardly any.
CNN: Do you have any final thoughts to share with us?
WALSH: Hosting "America's Most Wanted" has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me. It not only catches dangerous criminals and saves lives, it brings closure and justice for thousands of victims who have nowhere else to go. All of that has been accomplished by the support of the American people.
CNN: Thank you for joining us today?
John Walsh's Book ''Public Enemies''
The Host of America's Most Wanted Targets the Nation's Most Notorious Criminals
The host of America's Most Wanted, John Walsh has formed a vital partnership with the public, the media, and law enforcement that has led to the capture of hundreds of the worst serial killers, kidnappers, pedophiles, and rapists of our time. In Public Enemies he reveals the cost -- the blood, sweat, and tears -- behind the relentless pursuit of hard justice, in such infamous cases as:
Kyle Bell: A lifelong sexual predator whose madness culminated in the slaying of an eleven-year-old North Dakota girl. Bell was one of the only fugitives AMW had to capture twice -- and his case stirred more outrage than any other broadcast in AMW's history.
Kathleen Soliah: This accused Symbionese Liberation Army terrorist disappeared in 1969 only to resurface twenty-five years later as suburban housewife and soccer mom Sara Jane Olson. Her arrest, following AMW's profile of Soliah and her former SLA partner James Kilgore, incited a stunning controversy.
Rafael Resendez-Ramirez: aka The Railroad Killer. A sociopathic drifter, he rode the Texas rails, stopping only to rape and kill. His case was first brought to the public eye by AMW, and it was a secret call to the program's hot line that ultimately led to his surrender.
In those and other gripping true-crime profiles, John Walsh exposes the behind-the-scenes drama of the groundbreaking show, and what actually unfolds between the crimes and the captures -- the vital leads from strangers, the dangerous manhunts, the developments cut from the AMW broadcasts, and the dogged investigations by authorities. He divulges stunning lapses in the judicial process that release monsters to the streets time and again. He takes readers inside the hearts and souls of the grieving families, and gives eyewitness accounts of the dramatic final moments when fugitives are finally taken down.
An outspoken and unstoppable crusader, John Walsh ignites Public Enemies with righteous anger and gut-level emotion. But his heartfelt motto echoes throughout: I truly believe, with all my heart and soul, that together we can make a difference. It's a conviction Walsh offers as inspiration to the innocents affected by crime, and to all who feel powerless in the face of unfathomable evil.
"America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back" goes on the hunt for a killer who binds, tortures and kills
'' AMERICA'S MOST WANTED: AMERICA FIGHTS BACK'' profiles a serial killer who has resurfaced after 25 years. "BTK," which stands for "Bind, Torture and Kill," is the famous signature of a mad man who has killed at least eight people. Tomorrow night, AMW continues its hunt for the BTK Killer and invites viewers to join the BTK Task Force in a live on-line chat from 9:00 PM – 1:00 AM ET at AMW.com.
AMW host John Walsh follows in the killer's footsteps, going into the home of his first known victims and then, into a classroom at Wichita State University, where BTK may have once sat and hatched some of his twisted writings to police. Fears of Wichita residents have been reawakened after a serial killer who terrorized the community from 1974 to 1979 has again started communicating with local TV stations and newspapers. The killer's horrifying signature has been that victims are bound, tortured and then killed – leading to his name, the "BTK Killer."
After strangling an entire family in their home in 1974, the killer claimed three more lives through 1979. Following the murders, the monster sent letters and poems to Wichita media, claiming responsibility and promising more killings. Then, in 1979, the serial killer disappeared. But in March 2004, police say he began sending new letters, word games and photographs of victims' corpses.
AMW takes the manhunt to Wichita where Walsh hopes to draw the killer out of the shadows.
AMERICA'S MOST WANTED: AMERICA FIGHTS BACK, now in its 18th season, airs Saturdays (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. AMERICA'S MOST WANTED: AMERICA FIGHTS BACK is produced by STF Productions, Inc. Lance Heflin is executive producer.
"America's Most Wanted" presents rules to teach kids street smarts
How can a child know which adult to trust? AMERICA'S MOST WANTED: AMERICA FIGHTS BACK answers that question and many more on its website AMW.com. In light of the recent attempted kidnappings in New York and Connecticut, AMERICA'S MOST WANTED has teamed up with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to offer 10 tips for developing good family rules and keeping children safe. The following tips can be found on AMW.com:
Family Code Word - Pick a word or phrase that only you or your children know.
Don't Wear Your Name - Don't give a stranger a chance to confuse your child or fool him into thinking that she knows him.
Always Take A Friend - Kids are safer in numbers.
Don't Get Too Close To A Stranger's Car - If a stranger in a car asks you for help, it is OK to say no. Tell your child: Adults don't need help from kids.
Learn To Scream - The last thing a predator wants is to attract attention. They don't want to be caught.
Keep Current Photos And Video - If your child is ever missing, recent photos and some home video can make all the difference.
Trust Your Feelings - Make sure your kids know it's OK to trust their instincts.
Get Away – Fast! - At the first sign that things aren't right, your kids need to get out of the situation as fast as they can.
Home Alone Rules - Tell your kids to call once they are home from school safely and remind them to always lock the door behind them.
It's OK To Say NO - Empower your child to say NO when he or she senses danger.
John Walsh's ''America's Most Wanted' is most-watched program for many years
It goes unnoticed, but "America's Most Wanted" is the most-watched program in its time slot on Saturday nights. It's also No. 8 on a much more impressive list. This Little TV Show That Could has lasted long enough to be ranked as one of the longest-running series in the entire history of prime time. America's Most Wanted" began on Fox's owned-and-operated stations in February 1988, and went national on Fox that April. John Walsh, whose son Adam had been found dead in a nationally famous missing-child case, was and remains the host nearly 17 years later, with more than 800 fugitives captured.
Families of victims, especially, trust Walsh -- because he's experienced in the ordeal they're undergoing. "Unfortunately, I've walked in their shoes, so I know where they're coming from," Walsh said. "The media can be brutal. "After Adam was murdered, a lot of the media that we begged to keep Adam's story going for the two weeks that he was missing lost interest after the first or second day. I had begged them to keep helping us look for this little boy, and, of course, when parts of him were found two weeks later -- the most horrible murder -- they were all camped out on our front lawn."
It was a horrible experience, he said. "It's actually part of my deal with Fox, that I'll never do a story a victim doesn't want me to do," Walsh said. "We'll never show the face of a molested or abused child. That criteria has been my standard for 17 years. And if they don't want to say something, or are uncomfortable -- this is not `60 Minutes,' this is my show. If they don't want to talk about it, it's OK." The program, modeled after the BBC's "Crimewatch U.K.," went after FBI Top 10 wanted killer David James Roberts in its pilot, and caught him -- identified by several people at a Manhattan homeless shelter.
"When it started," said "AMW" executive producer Lance Heflin, "everyone was just shrieking in horror. `Oh my God, it's vigilante TV! Everyone will be turning in their brothers and their neighbors! Here comes George Orwell and company!' "It was never that, and never turned out that." The show helped catch John List, then the Texas 7, and, most famously, helped return Elizabeth Smart to her parents after nine months.
"America's Most Wanted" has lasted so long, Heflin said, because its audience (7.7 million viewers last week) is so loyal: "People trust us, and they know what they're going to get with us." And that has helped keep the show running. The top four longest-running shows still on the air are "60 Minutes," the Disney umbrella showcase, "Monday Night Football" and "20/20." How many reality shows will run that long? Not many.