There is No Closure

John and Revé Walsh have been making the talk show circuit over the last few weeks.  That is because the book, Bringing Adam Home, by Les Standiford and Joe Matthews was recently released.  It details the 1981 kidnapping, rape, and murder of their son, Adam Walsh.

Adam was six years old when he was kidnapped from a Sears store while shopping with his mother.  His severed head was recovered a few weeks later floating in a canal.  The rest of his body was never found.

The case went unsolved for 27 years even though a serial killer, Ottis Toole, confessed to it several times.  The Walsh’s hired a retired detective, Joe Matthews, to go over the evidence again to try and provide them with answers to the disappearance and murder of their son.  After an exhaustive review of 10,000 pages of evidence and the development of a roll of film, it was determined that Ottis Toole was, in fact, the killer of Adam Walsh.  Ottis Toole died in prison in 1996.

John Walsh and his wife became champions of the cause of missing and exploited children, and John is the host of one of the longest running Fox shows, America’s Most Wanted, which uses the public forum to help track down criminals.  Many of the laws and organizations that deal with missing and exploited children exist today due to the efforts of the Walsh’s.

When you see Code Adam signs in malls, the Adam to which it refers is Adam Walsh.  Code Adam precedes the Amber Alert system which is the result of another child, Amber Hagerman, who was a 9-year-old child who was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas, in 1996.

There were several things that struck me when watching the various interviews with John and Revé Walsh.

The fact that they are still married is amazing.  These types of events often bring marriages to an end.  Revé took Adam with her to Sears that fateful day.  He wanted to look at toys in the Toy Department while she walked across the aisle to look at lamps.  This is every parent’s nightmare.  She calmly recounted his last words to her.  Words that probably haunt her.

John stated, “There is no closure.  Once a parent of a murdered child, always a parent of a murdered child.”  He thinks, and I agree, that the word closure is overused.

I talked at length with my daughter about this.  She was abused by her birth father, step mother, and various other family members before she came to live with us.  She is a beautiful, productive young woman, but she lives with the specter of abuse every day, every minute of her life.

John Walsh followed up his remarks on closure by saying,  “There is only justice.  Justice delayed is not justice denied.”  John and Revé Walsh believe that the solving of their son’s case provides hope for other families with missing children.  Revé can now rest with the knowledge that at least she knows who took her child and what happened to him.

Justice for my daughter is not about prosecuting those who abused her.   Cases of child abuse are rarely prosecuted.  The burden of proof is too high, and for victims, prosecuting abuse cases mean they have to relive the abuse over and over again.  This is too much for someone in a fragile state.  And, since most abuse occurs within families, it gets even more complicated. 

Justice for my daughter would be an admission of what they did, an explanation of why they did it, and an apology.  She can only move so far with forgiveness and healing without these things.

But, even if she got what she has asked for from them, there would be no closure.  Once a child of abuse, always a child of abuse.

She would love to put the questions in her mind to rest, and it is my hope that someday that will happen.

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