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ON YOU TUBE, WATCH "ADAM WALSH SERIAL":
Did police get the Adam Walsh murder case Perfectly Wrong? The Wrong Killer and even The Wrong Victim?
At YouTube, search “Adam Walsh Serial”
The famous missing child case of Adam Walsh, a 6-year-old last seen at a Sears in a shopping mall in Hollywood, Florida, in July 1981 was the worst nightmare imaginable. Two weeks later, a child’s severed head was found and identified as Adam. No one has ever been arrested for the crime.
For the most part, the case's narration has been told by the victims, Adam's parents Reve and John Walsh. However, there has been another voice, independent investigative journalist and author of five True Crime books about Florida, Arthur Jay Harris, who has continued to write about it for two decades, and has worked on it with ABC News, The Miami Herald, and others. The deeply-researched story he tells disputes almost everything that everyone in the public has been led to believe.
IN BOOK ONE, Harris shows that the taker of Adam was most likely not the drifter Ottis Toole, as police now say, but rather the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who was arrested ten years later with eleven severed heads in his apartment. Harris documented him by a police report living near Hollywood as a transient about when Adam disappeared. That report had him supposedly finding a dead body in an alley behind where he worked. The report referred to a meter and storage room steps away where Harris and ABC News found blood droplets rising up a wall next to a lumberman’s axe and a sledgehammer. Was this Dahmer’s doing?
Further, Dahmer was identified by seven police witnesses who said they saw him at the mall with or near Adam when he was taken. One of those witnesses said he saw him throw Adam into a blue van and get away. Where Dahmer worked there was a blue van, easily and often taken for personal use, without permission. Early on, a blue getaway van was Hollywood’s first, best clue.
Also, a police composite drawing of a suspect in an attempted kidnapping of a similar-age child at a Sears in the next county, two weeks before Adam’s disappearance, closely matches a mug shot of Dahmer taken a year later. The similarity was confirmed by the near-victim, a witness who helped make the drawing, and a police artist Harris consulted. The photo comparison is in the book.
IN BOOK TWO, more shocking, Harris shows that all the official files are incredibly missing the most customary documents that would prove the identification of the found child who was said to be Adam. Among the documents missing are the autopsy report, a forensic dental report (considering that the ID was strictly based on a tooth comparison), and Adam's dental chart and dental X-rays. An investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed his finding.
In fact, the ID was not only shoddy and inadequate but is overwhelmingly likely wrong. In Adam’s last photo he was clearly missing both his top front teeth. A police crime scene photo, never before published, shows the found child had a mostly-in buck tooth – a top left front tooth. Harris consulted a number of pediatric and forensic dental and medical examiner experts who confirmed the obvious: there wasn’t enough time for Adam to have grown it in that far.
All that would have been exposed at a court trial – but more than 30 years after Adam's disappearance, there has never been one.
Yet another remarkable finding Harris made is that more than 20 years after the incident, the Walshes consented to police forensic testing that presumed a doubt about the found child's real identity.
Did police end the search for Adam too soon? Could Adam still be alive? In fact not so impossible, Harris found...
OTHER TRUE CRIME BOOKS BY ARTHUR JAY HARRIS:
UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT begins with a night 911 call from a woman gasping her last breaths. When police arrived at the house they found her dead, stabbed, and her husband, infant, and father-in-law all shot point-blank. They would survive.
Minutes later, a man also called 911, a gunman had released him from a robbery at the same house. He said he knew of no violence before he left. Yet he was the only one who the gunman hadn't tried to kill. Police instantly suspected him.
That night and long after, police tried to shake the man, Chuck Panoyan, who insisted he didn't know who the gunman was.
Police guessed right. A tip led them to the gunman, and that led to a trip Panoyan took to see him. Both were arrested, and prosecutor Brian Cavanagh won a death penalty indictment against them both.
But in pretrial, Panoyan's attorneys unraveled Cavanagh's case against their client. No longer certain Panoyan was guilty, Cavanagh reached No Man's Land: his choice was to let the jury sort it out, or admit he was wrong about Panoyan for now three years.
Cavanagh's dad Tom was a retired NYPD lieutenant who'd had a double murder he couldn't solve, then at another precinct a suspect confessed. Tom recognized it had been coerced and quietly asked his detectives if they could prove it wrong. When they did, the case became famous for police integrity. A TV movie renamed Tom's character: Kojak.
Years later, son Brian was at a similar turning point. Like his dad, he would not leave it to a jury to unscramble. He moved to release Chuck Panoyan from jail. But Panoyan had to tell his story: he'd lied to police because the gunman had threatened to kill his family if he spoke up. Once before, the gunman had killed a small child and went to prison.
Who was the only one could make Panoyan comfortable enough to talk? The old man, the real-life Kojak, Tom Cavanagh.
SPEED KILLS opens with the stunning daylight murder in 1980s Miami of boat builder, boat racer, and wealthy bon vivant Don Aronow. He invented, raced, built and sold Cigarette boats, the fastest thing on the water. Everyone who worshipped speed and could afford one, wanted one; his clients were royalty, U.S. presidents, CEOs, intelligence services, and – most of all, eventually – dope smugglers. Don took everyone's money and traveled between all those worlds.
You could also see it as Don playing all sides. When the Feds needed faster boats to keep up with the Cigarettes that Don sold to dopers, they came to him. It was sort of the same with his wife and girlfriend (and girlfriend and girlfriend).
How long could anybody get away with that? Confidence men are known as con men; Don wasn't that, but he was a supreme self-confidence man, that is, he was his own victim.
Finally he was cornered. Don's protégé in racing and boatbuilding was also the largest pot smuggler in America. The Feds needed Aronow to testify against him. For leverage, they apparently threatened Don with a tax evasion case. The quintessential free-spirit boat racer could go to prison – or he could risk the wrath of a major criminal organization.
Aronow made his decision. Days later, he was killed.
FLOWERS FOR MRS. LUSKIN begins with a flower delivery to the best house in the best part of Hollywood, Florida. Inside, Marie Luskin was cautious; her husband Paul used to send her flowers but those days had ended more than a year before when she filed for divorce. She thought it was safe to open the door just enough to accept the pot of azaleas.
She was wrong. The delivery was a ruse; the man pointed a gun at her and demanded her money and jewelry. When he left, she fell to the floor, bloodied, thinking he'd hit her with the gun.
Over 40 years, Paul's family had built a business called Luskin's from one store in Baltimore into a chain of consumer electronics stores in Florida. Coming of age, Paul was taking it over, to run. He'd already made his first million, and he and Marie were living a life their friends admired. But between them all was not well. Then Paul's high school girlfriend moved to town with her husband, and sparks rekindled. When Marie discovered it she threw Paul out of the house. For a moment it looked like they would reunite. She asked Paul to move back in at the end of the day after Thanksgiving, the biggest sale day of the year. But that was a ruse, too. That day at the store, her attorneys served him the divorce.
Marie's attorneys were aggressive. Accusing Paul's parents of shielding his assets, they asked the judge for everything he – and his parents – had. A year later, it looked like Marie would get it all.
The divorce was overwhelming and compound stress. Three times Marie had him arrested for not paying his very high support payments exactly on time; the judge had frozen his assets, and his dad had asked him to leave his high-paying job because he couldn't concentrate both on it and the divorce. Marie's attorneys wanted Paul's mom to testify for days about the business's finances, but because she had a blood clot that stress could loosen and become lethal, Paul's family asked them to lay off her. They refused. Not long after came the flower delivery.
The Feds indicted Paul for attempted murder-for-hire. They told the jury:
A Luskin's employee called his brother in Baltimore who was a mob guy, who got someone to come to Hollywood to kill Marie. Although she thought the gunman hit her with the gun, he really shot her – his bullet grazed her head. Paul was convicted and sentenced to prison for 35 years.
In prison, Paul married his high school girlfriend. To me, they protested so insistently that there was no murder-for-hire that it seemed something was truly wrong. I eventually found there had been a murder plot – but the real question was, who had asked the Luskin's employee to call his brother in Baltimore?
Testimony said "Mr. Luskin" ordered the murder; the prosecutor naturally assumed that meant Paul. But there was a better case that "Mr. Luskin" was Paul's dad. As a result of his son's divorce he lost his whole business, owed Marie $11 million he didn't have and was facing jail for contempt of court for not paying her, and so had to leave the country.
At the story's turning point, "Mr. Luskin" had to choose between two untenable outcomes: the death of the elder Mrs. Luskin or the younger. But prosecutors also were forced to make a tragic choice. Without certainty of which "Mr. Luskin" it was, did they choose the wrong one?
Arthur Jay Harris is the author of the investigative true crime books Speed Kills, Flowers for Mrs. Luskin, Until Proven Innocent, and the two-book series with a Single Edition, The Unsolved Murder of Adam Walsh, all stories that challenge the official findings by police and prosecutors. He lives in Florida.
For the Adam Walsh case, he has appeared on television many times: ABC Primetime; Anderson Cooper 360; Nancy Grace; Ashleigh Banfield; The Lineup; Inside Edition; Catherine Crier; Cold Blood, and on local TV in Miami and Milwaukee. He has also written stories on the case that have appeared in print in The Miami Herald, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, and Miami Daily Business Review.
In addition, Art has presented on television other crime stories he has investigated at length, including on the shows Snapped; City Confidential; Prison Diaries, Inside Edition, A Current Affair, and Hard Copy.