MILWAUKEE -- Did Jeffrey Dahmer confess to all his crimes? There's a call to reopen the investigation into Milwaukee's most notorious killer.
There are new questions about Dahmer's criminal history before he returned to Milwaukee and never-reported details that some believe link Dahmer to one of the United States' most notorious cold cases.
Colleen Henry has a special 12 News investigation.
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 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 12 News dissected his argument and has detailed the never-reported evidence that has at least one career FBI man calling to reopen the case against Dahmer.
It was a strange and surreal summer. Officials reported the daily death toll and named the faces of death.
As the victims' families faced the horror that was Jeffrey Dahmer, 12 News now knows a subplot was unfolding that police tried to keep from the headlines.
"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 the Dahmer case. For the first time, he talked about his role in the Adam Walsh investigation. Purtell said from the day of the arrest, many in law enforcement wondered if Milwaukee's most notorious killer could be responsible for a high-profile case that went cold long ago.
"If Dahmer did this, if it was my son," Purtell said, "I'd want the truth."
So does Adam's father.
"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 12 News this week.
Walsh and Purtell believe new, never-revealed information in the Walsh case demands a second look at Dahmer. It's information developed by a Florida journalist who took up the Walsh investigation long after police had stopped. And now, 25 years later, the time has come.
"He's our only child, a beautiful little boy, and we just want him back," Walsh said in July 1981.
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.
By July 1991, the investigation into Adam's slaying was stale until Dahmer's trail of death exploded in headlines. As investigators traced Dahmer's life path they found a chilling coincidence. Dahmer was living in south Florida when Adam Walsh disappeared.
"When the Army discharged Dahmer it told him he could have a plane ticket anywhere in the United States. Dahmer told police he couldn't go home to face his father, so he headed to Miami Beach because he was tired of the cold," WISN 12 News investigative reporter Colleen Henry said.
Hollywood police figured it was a long shot but asked Milwaukee officers to talk to Dahmer, who denied killing Adam.
The issue got little media attention.
Purtell told 12 News that was by design. Investigators feared news of the link might prove so sensational it could jeopardize Dahmer's court case.
"We did not want to do it during the trial in Milwaukee. Why raise that issue? It could have eliminated his cooperation. It could have made jury selection more difficult than it already was," Purtell said.
Adam's name never made it into the police reports that became his confession, but news of Dahmer's stay in Florida made its way to the Walsh family.
By 1991, Adam's father, John Walsh, was the star of "America's Most Wanted." Walsh was so moved by the Dahmer link that he made a remarkable request. He asked Florida to waive the death penalty if Dahmer confessed to Adam's slaying.
WISN 12 News obtained a copy of the Walsh letter, where he pointed to 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."
After Dahmer's conviction, a Florida detective traveled to Wisconsin carrying the letter -- a promise to waive the death penalty. The trip was a bust.
WISN 12 News obtained the never-before published transcript of Dahmer's interview with Florida police.
"My main purpose of coming here for, you know, the investigation of Adam Walsh and you go on record to say that you had nothing to do with it," the detective said.
"I heard it on the news, but I had nothing to do with it, no," Dahmer said.
"And if you did have something to do with it? You would admit to it?" the detective asked.
"Uh, right. Yeah," Dahmer said.
Dahmer told the Hollywood detective he was broke and drinking heavily while in Miami Beach, worked at a sub shop and often slept on the beach.
Dahmer said he didn't have a car, had never been to Hollywood, and he wasn't interested in kids Adam's age.
"The official line is, he didn't kill. And the official line is what Jeffrey said. Should we believe that?" writer Arthur Jay Harris said.
Harris is a freelance writer who's published three true crime books.
Harris started looking at the Walsh case in 1996 after a landmark legal ruling opened the 10,000-page Walsh file to the public. The Dahmer angle intrigued him. He started digging.
Harris just finished a book about Dahmer, and recently laid out his case in a Miami daily paper. His article put Dahmer at the Hollywood Mall, in the suspected getaway car on the day Adam disappeared.
One of the reasons why police believed Dahmer that he didn't kill Adam (was) because he said he didn't have a vehicle," Harris said.
"This blue van had a crate for a passenger seat," Darlene Hill said.
Harris located Hill, the former owner of restaurant where Dahmer worked. Hill told 12 News the business had three delivery vehicles. One was a blue van. Several witnesses reported seeing a blue van speed from the mall that day.
Hill said employees often took the blue van for personal use.
"Somebody would take the van and not come back with it for two days," Hill said.
Harris then found Dahmer's former boss at the restaurant, whose version of the events, Harris said, shows Dahmer lied to Hollywood police.
Harris said the boss told him Dahmer worked seven days a week at the sub shop, all day and all night. That was another reason he wouldn't have had an opportunity.
"Well, the guy who hired him (Dahmer), said he worked maybe 20 hours a week, late morning to late afternoon five days a week, so that's not true," Harris said.
Also buried in the Walsh file, Harris found two statements -- witnesses who 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 guy 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.
Morgan said he followed the man into the Sears store and lost him in the toy department -- the last place Adam was seen alive.
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 about 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.
Both Morgan and Bowen said they reported the incidents to police back in 1981. Police said there's no such record, but conceded the Walsh file contains no log of any of the early tips in the case.
"There were some issues when this case first surfaced that maybe we were a little overwhelmed with the magnitude of it," Hollywood police Capt. Mark Smith said.
Smith said he read Harris' article with interest but doesn't buy his theory.
He called Harris' evidence against Dahmer circumstantial and said that the Hollywood Police Department hasn't been able to find the sub shop's blue van, and two mall witnesses aren't enough to close a murder case.
"If we found no more on Jeffrey Dahmer, and I don't believe we will find any more than this circumstantial evidence we have now, we would never get to a conviction. I don't believe we'd ever get to an indictment," Smith said.
The retired Milwaukee detective who spent more than 150 hours taking Dahmer's confession doesn't buy it either. Dennis Murphy said Dahmer repeatedly denied killing Adam.
"He said, 'I've told you everything -- how I killed them, how I cooked them, who I ate. Why wouldn't I tell you if I did someone else?'" Murphy said.
Dahmer's defense attorney, Gerry Boyle, said seven doctors spent hundreds of hours interviewing Dahmer. Not one suggested Dahmer was withholding information.
"He was very honest. By that, I mean, he seemed to unload everything. I don't see any reason he wouldn't have said that he killed the boy. But of course, that was not his profile. Young boys was not his profile," Boyle said.
Purtell said Dahmer was a talented liar, and given the evidence Harris uncovered, it's time to reopen the Walsh case with a team of seasoned investigators -- even though Dahmer is dead.
"People will say, 'What does it matter?'" Purtell said. "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.
Wednesday, Walsh responded to 12 News' story from an "America's Most Wanted" set in Texas. He said more than 25 years later, he can't believe he's still fighting for a competent investigation into 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 12 News that Dahmer became a suspect years ago when Dahmer's father, Lionel, called "America's Most Wanted" and told them he thought his son could be responsible for Adam's slaying.
Copyright 2007 by TheMilwaukeeChannel .com.
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