When I went back last night to hunt up some new victims I discovered something about looking at these various victims, one after the other, much like rifling through the sale blouses at Marshalls. I found myself tuckered out from it. Tired of looking at it. I mean, here’s this perfectly interesting victim – Australian Anita Cobby, a 27 year old beauty queen, registered nurse, brutally murdered by five, count ’em, five nasty young men. And it was heinously brutal. (fortunately the men were caught and are lifebound to prison). But I just could not find my way to the “where would she be today if…..”
This morning, as I was applying my daily “face the world” mask, I paused as I looked in the mirror. I wondered, where would I be today if the various attempts on my life had been successful. Which proved to be quite unsettling. As if I was reaching out from beyond my own grave. That’s even odd for me.
Today, then, I want to laud a hero in the war against human ick. Because I see now, on a very superficial level (because it is me, after all) that it takes a profoundly tenacious and deep seated grit to be able to look into the belly of this particular beast – murder – for any length of time without losing every single one of your marbles.
My first hero is John Walsh. John and Reve’s son, Adam, was taken at 6 years old from a Sears on July 27, 1981. His severed head was found in a canal August 10, 1981. Coroners discovered that Adam had been choked to death. His little body was never found. John was considered a suspect for awhile and did everything asked of him by authorities. Of course, he was cleared. Ottis Toole, who died in prison in 1996 at 49, confessed to killing Adam, then retracted his confession. Police and John Walsh are satisfied it was Ottis.
Adam’s parents were good parents. You can hope to be a great parent, but that’s never going to happen. The best you can hope for is “good enough,” and John and Reve were at least that. John bullied through his grief and caught fire. He helped to start the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Of course you must have, at some time, watched America’s Most Wanted on television. John Walsh’s zeal is singlehandedly responsible for catching and bringing to justice hundreds of dangerous felons, murderers and scumbags.
John and Reve have had their marital issues brought to the embarrassing glare of national news. But they worked those through as well. Statistically, they should have been divorced long ago. Which is another kind of heroism.
Because of what John Walsh has done, and still does, Adam is a hero. In 2006 the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act was passed to help protect children from potentially abusive adoptive and foster parents.
There’s so much more good that John and Reve continue to do in Adam’s name. But what makes John a hero for me is how he can manage to look at these crimes – murders in all forms, beatings, rapes and on and on, in the cool, clear-headed dispassionate way one has to look at them in order to solve them, and still come up with a smile on his face and a light heart. These things are dark and nasty things with grip hook claws that seek to drag you down to the murky hell where they live, to kill you twice at least. And he does this day in and day out.
He’s a better man than I am. Definitely a hero in human shoes.
Adam Walsh would be 36 years old today.