Adam Walsh Murder Revisited:

The Case Against Jeffrey Dahmer

Investigating one of the nation's most prominent unsolved murders, a Hollywood detective pitched softball questions and homemade muffins to a serial killer.

He asked: Did you kidnap freckled 6-year-old Adam Walsh from a Sears in 1981?

``Nothing to do with it,'' Jeffrey Dahmer answered, taking another muffin.

In December 2008, Chief Chadwick Wagner called a press conference to say deceased drifter Ottis Toole -- long suspected but never prosecuted -- killed Adam. Adam's parents believed it and Broward prosecutors said Toole was the only valid suspect. Case closed.

But had authorities fully explored Dahmer's time in South Florida, they would have found more evidence implicating him than Toole, The Miami Herald found.

The evidence includes two additional witnesses who said they saw him at the mall with Adam that day, another who placed Dahmer at the scene of an eerily similar abduction attempt two weeks earlier, and people who said he had access to a van fitting an early description of the getaway vehicle.

Yet by focusing so heavily on Toole despite layers of contradictions in his long twisted tale, Hollywood police may well have missed leads pointing to Dahmer, according to fresh interviews and a review of thousands of documents.


Once I saw that picture of Dahmer, I said, `That's him,' '' Janice Santamassino remembered. ``That's who I saw.''

July 27, 1981 was the first day of Santamassino' s vacation, and she drove her daughter and son to the Hollywood Mall on Hollywood Boulevard across from police headquarters. After nearly slamming into the back of a blue van parked illegally outside the west entrance of Sears, she parked, and went inside.

Santamassino wanted sandals for her daughter Lori, 4, but first the girl asked to play an arcade game. Lori approached a game next to a boy wearing an oversized hat, shorts and a striped shirt and played for 10 minutes, the mother said.

On their way out of the toy department, Santamassino looked down an aisle and saw a disheveled man. She said their eyes met. She grabbed her daughter's hand and walked away. ``He just gave me a bad, uncomfortable feeling. It was spooky,'' she said.

She later heard an intercom call for Adam Walsh. A distraught woman and man were at the customer service desk, but the boy at the video games was gone. So was the creepy guy in the toy aisle.

Watching the news that afternoon, Santamassino realized she had seen Adam. She called police and then again the next day but said she never received a return call. Not in 1981 nor in 1996, when she called America's Most Wanted after the show, hosted by Adam's father John Walsh, ran a piece on Adam. The show forwarded the tip to Hollywood police.

Contacted by a writer in 2009 and shown a picture of Dahmer, she said he was the man she saw.


Others say they contacted police in the days after Adam's abduction without reply.

They include Jennie Warren, interviewed by state attorney's investigator Phil Mundy in 1996 after a media lawsuit prompted the release of the case file. She was dismissed after she said she didn't see Toole, she said.

Warren told The Miami Herald she saw Adam with his mother Reve that day. She also noticed a man at the video games wearing beige khakis ``like army fatigues.'' He stood next to Adam and stared at the screen.

Warren says she could have picked out the man in fatigues had the investigator placed his picture in the lineup with Toole. ``I wish my mind could take a picture, because it would be him: Dahmer.''

Interviewed recently, Mundy had little recollection of the Warren interview. He did recall broader discussions among authorities about the problems Dahmer witnesses would have posed should Toole be prosecuted.

In 1991, Dahmer emerged as one of the nation's most infamous killers after his arrest on charges involving decapitation, necrophilia and cannibalism. He had 11 severed heads in his Milwaukee apartment.

For some of those present in Sears the day of Adam's disappearance, the photo of Dahmer reignited a 10-year-old memory. They recognized him as the man they saw in the store that day Adam vanished.

Among them was then-Miami Herald pressman Willis Morgan. He had told police he was in the Radio Shack in the Hollywood Mall that day and felt threatened when a stranger aggressively approached him. He followed the man into the Sears toy department before turning away.

That man was Dahmer, Morgan now told police.

Bill Bowen, an Alabama TV producer, reached the same conclusion independently. He had reported seeing a man lift a struggling, protesting child and sling him into the back of a blue van -- illegally parked outside Sears.

Dahmer told Detective Jack Hoffman he came to Miami in March of 1981 after his early discharge from the Army due to alcoholism while in Germany. He said he had no vehicle, never went to Hollywood, and worked long hours at a Collins Avenue sub shop. He said he never killed children but didn't want to rot in prison and would admit to Adam's murder if it meant a death sentence.

``If Jeffrey Dahmer had committed the Adam Walsh homicide, he would have confessed to this crime,'' Hoffman wrote.


Had Hoffman followed up on Dahmer's statements, he would have found that Dahmer lied about his hours and was often sent home due to drinking, according to his boss, Ken Haupert Sr. As an employee of Sunshine Subs, Dahmer had access to a blue delivery van, according to eight people.

For months after Adam's abduction, police stopped blue vans across the state based on the sketchy statements of 10-year-old Timothy Pottenburgh, who said he'd seen Adam pulled into a blue van outside Sears. Hoffman eventually threw out the blue van theory, citing time discrepancies in Pottenburgh' s story.

But Santamassino said she saw a blue van parked illegally outside Sears' west entrance, as did Bowen. Another dismissed witness, Phillip Lohr, said he saw a blue van parked illegally outside the toy department around the time of Adam's abduction. Lohr remembered seeing a man carrying a struggling, freckled child out Sears' toy department exit, though he didn't call police until 1997. He said he was unsure of what he'd seen that day and later felt guilty about doing nothing.

A severed head identified as Adam's was found Aug. 10, 1981 in a canal on the northbound side of the Florida Turnpike near mile marker 130.

Two Publix truck drivers called the next day, Aug. 11, to report seeing a blue van parked off the Turnpike near mile marker 131 just after midnight on Aug. 7.

Denis Bubb saw a man with a flashlight down near a canal and radioed Clifford Ramey, following behind. Ramey looked to see if the driver had mechanical problems and saw the man leaning through an open sliding side door and fumbling around with a bucket, he said.

My Comments / BMW

Case after case, all across this nation, ends up just like this one.

Time and time again witnesses are considered confused; crazy; liars, and whatever other defamatory terms law enforcement can conjure up. Why?

These people are not Gods .... in most cases they aren't even the most intelligent among us. What gives them the right to look down their arrogant noses at people who are desperately trying to help them as well as the family members of missing people?

This web site is filled with this same type of case and this same attitude from police, and it doesn't even seem to matter what state or group of law enforcement a person is dealing with. It appears to permeate the attitudes of federal, state, county and city equally.

Perhaps it's time we established some new training centers across this nation. That must be the problem. Whoever is training future cops is really messing up their minds! Either that, or they are deliberately selecting people who are know-it-all's and refuse to listen to anyone about anything.

I still remember hearing about the naked, bleeding kid that escaped from Jeffrey Dahmer, and ran to some cops begging for help .... the only problem was, the kid didn't speak English. Those cops took him to Jeffrey Dahmer's home and gave the kid back to Dahmer so he could finish killing him! I will never forget this as long as I live.

Every one of these serial killers that have been caught in this nation in the past 40 years could have been, and should have been caught years and years before they were. They gave off all kinds of signals. All were ignored by everyone around them ... including law enforcement.

Look at what the monster Ted Bundy got away with.

Look at what the monster that I've been tracking for 20 years now has gotten by with .... and continues to get by with because law enforcement would rather divert attention to me, ignore witnesses/victims and turn a blind eye, instead of stopping a cold blooded killer.

Well, they are in for a rough ride this time because I did learn from the monsters. I learned the tell-tale signs, the characteristics of the psychopath, and I'm documenting everything that I have seen, and listing the witnesses as I go.

When the time comes, there will not be a cop in this nation that can claim ignorance -- nor a reporter either - especially those of my own home area, and the hundreds that I have corresponded with via the internet.


Bonnie M. Wells


Comments: Mja Inc Investigations


There is a stronger case against Dahmer than Toole..

If Dahmer was in fact in the area of the Abduction then I would say Dahmer is the Guilty one..

This would also mean there was 2 serial killers in the same area..In return Missing Persons & Unsolved Homicides need to be looked at once again..

It would be odd for Dahmer not to confess to Adam Walsh abduction since Dahmer gave such good detail on his other crimes..

Mja knows for a fact serial killers always holds something back when confessing.. Thats how the serial killer tries to stay in control of the situation..

So yes Adam Walsh could be one of those cases Dahmer refuses to talk about..

Plus it has been learned & proven that Ottis Toole confessed to crimes he didnt do..

Then you must ask yourself where did Ottis Toole get a Blue Van ? ?

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Did Dahmer Have One More Victim?

Witnesses Say They Saw Dahmer In Mall Where Adam Walsh Disappeared

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.

John Walsh

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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