Does Crime Scene Photo Show Adam Walsh's Face "Etched in Blood"?

The recent headlines in the Herald and Sun-Sentinel had a shocking quality: "Photo Said to Show Adam Walsh's Face 'Etched in His Own Blood.'" 

walshadam1.jpg
Adam

​We all know Adam Walsh's face. When Adam was abducted from a Hollywood mall in 1981, it shook South Florida. When police announced that they'd found only his head in a canal, it shook the nation. While his father, John Walsh, went on to become a TV crime fighter, Adam became a national symbol, America's lost child.

It's remains one of the most notorious unsolved crimes in our history. Hollywood police, who badly bungled the case from the beginning, have officially pinned the murder on serial killer Ottis Toole, but there remain huge holes in that theory. A competing case has been made that another notorious serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer, committed the crime. Dahmer was in South Florida at the time, and two witnesses from the mall swear he was there the day Adam was abducted.

One of the greatest proponents of the Toole theory has been former Miami Beach Police Det. Joe Matthews. Walsh himself has credited Matthews as having solved the case, and the detective has a book about his investigation coming out next month that he coauthored with Florida International University creative writing professor Les Standiford titled Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America

Which brings us to the photo in which Adam's face is allegedly "etched in blood." It is reportedly the most startling piece of new evidence from the book, something Matthews and Standiford compare to the Shroud of Turin. The Broward Bulldog initially reported the story, which was republished in the Herald and Sentinel.

After arresting Toole in 1983, police searched his car with Luminol, a chemical agent that emits a blue glow when it reacts to metals, including iron in blood. Among the photos taken in the car was one from the floor that allegedly reveals proof that Toole is the killer: an outline of Adam's face in Luminol.

Inside, see that crime scene photo for the first time.

walshetch.jpg

The crime scene photograph was included in a video trailer for the book. I was alerted to the video by Willis Morgan, one of the witnesses who was at the Hollywood Mall that day and is 100 percent convinced that he had an encounter with Jeffrey Dahmer just before the abduction took place. Here's how Standiford described the photo in the new book:​

The most damning image of them all... which had both haunted and sustained Matthews since the moment it had wavered into focus on his office desk months before, as powerful to him as the Shroud of Turin:

Traced in the blue glow of Luminol was the outline of a familiar young boy's face, a negative pressed into floorboard carpeting, eye socket blackened blank cavities, mouth twisted in an oval of pain...

The glowing blue image pressed into the carpet -- the outline of Adam's face, etched in his own blood -- was as stark as any fragment of bone; and the cry that issued from his battered lips was as damning an indictment as anyone might ever hear. Poor Adam, friend Joe, the truth singing to the world at last.

A familiar boy's face? Mouth twisted in an oval of pain? Battered lips?

Give it to Standiford, because that is some very creative writing. But is it really Adam, or is it the forensic equivalent of the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich?

I spoke with South Florida crime journalist Arthur Jay Harris, the leading proponent of the theory that Dahmer killed Adam and the author of Jeffrey Dahmer's Dirty Secret. (I wrote an early story on the theory based on Harris' work and an interview with Morgan, which I found extremely compelling). Needless to say, he's not convinced. He compared it to a Rorschach test in which anyone can see what they want to see.

"I don't see Adam's picture in there," he said. "I also know that Luminol only suggests the presence of blood. It really reacts with metal in the blood. It could have been reacting to metal in the floor of Toole's car."

John Walsh apparently believes in the veracity of Matthews' claims about the crime scene photo, though he publicly stated that he hasn't seen the photograph. From a January 7 WSVN-Channel 7 report:

During the taping of the All Points Bulletin radio show with Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti Thursday, Walsh spoke about the upcoming release of a book that will contain evidence photographs that should once and for all settle the murder case...

"I'm not going to look at them," the elder Walsh noted. "I don't think any parent wants to do this. They're good evidence that Toole was the killer, and Joe has every right to write the book. He helped close that case."

The difficult truth is that we'll likely never know for sure about that photograph, just as we may never know with any real certainty who killed Adam Walsh. Although the diligent work of Matthews and Standiford provides a valuable resource in trying to understand the crime, it isn't the end of the mystery. It's another beginning.


Follow The Daily Pulp on Twitter: @TheDailyPulp.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
48 comments
Miso1
Miso1

At least help us all out and post the photo the right way, why put it upside down?

Guest
Guest

If you are having a hard time seeing it, go to this site, it has the pic at the correct angle and a diagram in the corner. I couldn't see it until I looked at this other site's pic. http://serialkillers.briancomb...Not sure if it is Adam, but it definately looks like a face to me.

ConservaMommy
ConservaMommy

The reason some of you can't see it is I is upside down. Turn it over and his face I unmistakable,

Johnny5
Johnny5

It is my belief that John killed his own son (Adam) until there is undisputiable evidence other wise. John Walsh is the prime suspect! Everyones eyes have had the wool pulled over there eyes by Johns moviestar image in my eyes he is guilty and has been my prime suspect from day one. signed as I KNOW 

Trisha Barnett
Trisha Barnett

I saw the last half of a show on this last night.  Toole was seen only a mile away from where Adam was abducted the same day.  He tried to take a girl at a store but she screamed and ran to her mom.  The man left and wasn't identified until the little girl saw his picture in the newspaper after he was arrested for something else.  She told her mom and the mom told the police. 

A man actually witnessed Adam being abducted, but he didn't know at the time what was happening.  The boy willingly got into Toole's vehicle and he drove off.  The man described the vehicle in detail (including a large dent on the rear) to the police and the description matched the photos that were taken of Toole's vehicle when he was arrested.

The photos of the vehicle were never viewed.  27 years later when Det. Matthews requested the photos he matched them to the earlier description of the vehicle taking the boy.  The picture in the blood is just icing on the cake.  I saw the face immediately when they put the photo on TV, but it took me a little longer for this one online.

Toole died in prison in the 90's but they had a trial of sorts after Matthews uncovered all of this.  A jury convicted him, if you will (I didn't know this was possible after someone had died).  So it's considered a closed case at this point.

All of this is based on the show I saw last night and I'm stating them from memory, I did no additional research so forgive me if my facts are not 100% accurate. 

MoDawg
MoDawg

Jeffrey Dahmer didn't kill Walsh. He admitted it while incarcerated. This wasn't even his MO people. Dahmer didn't discard his victims right away (except his first kill in 1978). For all of you sods with the terrible comments-leave them to your own imagination ok. The crime is 30 years old.

Nsxphan10
Nsxphan10

really guys really.... seems like the conspirators got a hold of the image and altered it.. this is not the image from the book nor the photo that was produced in the sun sentinel the day after the case was closed. i have the proof and facts you all dont. this was a 6 yr old boy that was murdered. i wish we could arrest you disgusting fools who make these baseless comments. just shows your lack of intelligence. reality to the fact it did take 27 yrs to solve this senseless crime that did not have to happen. the blame stays with Hollywood PD which was admitted the day they closed the case. 12/16/2008. i hope none of you fools who commented do nnot ever have to go through this tragedy. My family is very close to the detective who was asked by the Walshs in 2006 to put an end to this. i saw the evidence in the 10000. page report so those are my facts. prove someone else killed Adam. you cant right because Toole has and always will be the one who did it..

Mark11aa
Mark11aa

I suggest before you start with wild theories-you look at the book and the picture in the book of the luminated blood. It is clearly a child's face. The picture Pulp provides is blurry and is not what you see in the book. Moreover, the picture should be taken in the context of numerous other pieces of evidence and the timeline. I'm not saying buy the book-just look it over in the bookstore. It erases all "reasonable" doubt.

Rothko
Rothko

That is Adam Walsh

Nikastro
Nikastro

It might help if the photo wasn't posted upside down. Rotate it counter-clockwise once and the image is easier to see. Very, very sad.

miami web design
miami web design

i honestly dont see the kids face in that image...just bury this case already please.

Samer
Samer

If you turn that photo around counter clockwise one click you can see the face. The way it is presented here the chin is at the upper left. I can see what mostly looks like the left side of a face. Bless his family for having so much courage.

Paul Vincent Zecchino
Paul Vincent Zecchino

OK, I'll bite. I see several things. Hannibal Lecter's mask. Bat Boy from the Enquirer. Eddie Munster.

Agree with others, it looks like Ahmenijad over there, Iran.

From another angle, it looks like a face longitudnally divided by mirrors.

For that matter, it's also easy to see a face which resembles Jacksonville's native son and poet laureate himself, the late Ottis Elwood Toole. Perhaps he lapsed into one of his states and passed out, his face distorted by being pressed into the surface.

Or it could be Adam Walsh's face. Or not.

What's it prove? Not sure. But of course there will be more of these.

Paul Vincent ZecchinoManasoviet Key, Florida06 March, 2011

Rockett1066-mail
Rockett1066-mail

The photo above is turned the wrong way. I am not claiming it is definitely the kid's face, but if you rotate it 45 degrees counter-clockwise, you can see what looks to be a face possibly pressed into a floor.

Paulaflwers007
Paulaflwers007

It doesn't matter, let the Walsh's rest...just let it be....maybe the forensic experts know something none of you do.

Ellet
Ellet

For the life of me, I can't see a face! I see a couple of possibilities for what could be a face, but that isn't really good enough. I also just don't see how a face could leave a discernible impression like that - I don't get it - wouldn't washing it, which I'm assuming he did, spread the blood traces around and cover any indentations left by a face? Wouldn't the face have to be entirely covered in blood? Or lying on something saturated with it, long enough to dry to hold the impression? I just don't get it - it seems a little too convenient. But if it brings them peace, so be it. I'm sure they are correct about who did it, regardless of what this photo actually shows. It's a terrible thing and I'm very sorry for them.

Uaohio
Uaohio

Looks suspiciously like the blob of soy latte that's on the backseat of my car.

M.M.R.
M.M.R.

I just saw this picture on the Today Show. John Walsh and his wife were on the show, with Det. Mathews. They showed the picture with the white markers on top, instead of on the lower right. If you rotate the picture so those white bits (they look like "11") on top, the impression of a kid's face is really obvious, I think.

msassy989
msassy989

I think that pic is a joke I feel bad for the family and that pic is no justice At all apparently no one knows what that pic is that makes me irritable

Libby
Libby

It looks kinda like a messy footprint that got shifted around a bit. :P

unowho
unowho

"Kevink" And for them to say that is Adams face ???..If the face is in a stationary position it wont leave that impression unless it was rapped in the carpet (which it was not) and the neck and other spots would not leave an imprint the straight line shows more of an object not a face.They are dramatizing this tragedy to sell books and end this investigation..Someday they will be embarrassed and regret this ridiculous facial observation when others investigate their findings when the book comes out.I am not saying Otoole did not commit this murder but there are other theorys which are very possible and are more reallistic.Which must be meticulously investigated by a non HPD investigator who wont lose key evidence that will solve this horrible brutal murder and have "real' closure for John and his wife!!!

skydove
skydove

The photo shows the distribution of the chemical; but given the granularity of the white spaces, isn't it possible that the magnification in that print is so high that the (surely random) image would be the wrong size for a child's head?

Has anyone taken a few ounces of human blood, pushed a realistic model head into it, then removed the object, sprayed the area with luminol, and photographed the experimental patch with standard CSI equipment?

Anon33024
Anon33024

The think the image looks like Amadinejad.

cyndi
cyndi

interesting, but not convinced it's adams poor lil face. maybe mr walsh wud be relieved if he did see the picture, since it's not as 'concrete' as made out to be.

Richardknapp
Richardknapp

Looks more like the Crab Nebula etched in blood. Wait! It could also be the Virgin Mary's butt!

P_Nis
P_Nis

I hate to be a dick but that image could be anything. What's most pathetic though is these guys still milking this tragedy 30 years later for their own benefit.

Yari228526
Yari228526

The white number 11 on the picture has to be on the upper right hand corner. So just tilt your head to view it that way and you will see it. Don't know why they posted it the wrong way.

Hstobbs
Hstobbs

I saw that show too.  I can't remember what it was called, but it went into a lot of detail regarding things that had been in the file the whole time and that the police didn't look into.  It even had information that when Toole confessed the first time, he walked them through the events of waiting outside the store (and this was all corroborated by the witness that described the car).  They also said that Toole had stated he decapitated Adam and tossed his head into the back of the car.  They even had photos of a machete discovered in the car.  You know, it's not like this case was solved all this time and people are going back to make money off of it.  Det Matthews looked into this at the request of the Walshes.  Even John Walsh stated that Matthews had every right to author this book since he solved it beyond a reasonable doubt.  

Arturohuertaperez
Arturohuertaperez

The loss of Adam....caused the world to stand together and fight for justice. And John Walsh did wonderful things for God and country.

1girlsurfer
1girlsurfer

For all you skeptics out there, You are correct in saying that John Walsh never saw the imprint, but his wife Reve Walsh did.  She was the one who said it was most certainly  the face of her son Adam. 

My God, give your skeptism a break and let this family finally be at peace.  Just hope you never have to go through the horror of identifying your child severed head on the floormat of his killer's car! 

Pamela Smith

Rockett1066-mail
Rockett1066-mail

Look at this video from the Today Show, about 5:20 into the video you will see the face. I don't know why, but this article has the photo turned the wrong way. The way it is turned here, the face is definitely not obvious at all. http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/...

Khlavigne
Khlavigne

exactly if you rotate the picture you can see adams face prefectly . so for those of you who are being just nasty , why dont you take another look !!!!!!!

Curious
Curious

Not taking a position on this, but as far as "the neck and other spots," keep in mind the head was severed at some point. As model citizen noted, it does give the appearance a face that may have shifted during the course of the ride.

what matters
what matters

Yes, I see what you mean. I was looking and looking at it and just couldn't see his face. But the way you described it I looked back again and saw him. I looked back at his picture with the bat and then looked back at the transfer image. I'm sure that's him. Almost saying, here I am. God bless is sweet little sole.

skydove
skydove

One can see a face or a nebulous agglomeration of interstellar materials or lots of other things. I'm not sure the method of image transfer you suggest would give recognizable results with something as irregularly shaped as a child's head; with fingerprints, the distance between the highest and lowest points is so much less, and the image is correspondingly clearer.

Model Citizen
Model Citizen

Adams sunken eyes and prominent ears seem to match the imprint.

Goldilocks
Goldilocks

"Relieved"?Heck no. Every time the name of his child is in print, I am guessing his heart feels a stab and a sense of loss returns. Losing a child is a horror. Losing a child in this way and so publicly and with no resolution ever is a worst possible purgatory.

Jdavis
Jdavis

U dumbass, they aren't milking it 30 years later, it took that long for the police, (with Matthews help) to close the case. The case was unsolved for thirty years! The walshes want it reinvestigated in 2006 and that's when they found shitty police work and finally solved the case! And it was not solved by the photo, there was a lot of other evidence. Do your research idiot.

erika davy
erika davy

You are a pathetic creep. May you never know the horror of losing a child. May you never know the unspeakable, never-ending nightmare of losing a child to violent murder. May you never lay in your bed for 25 years straight going through constant nightmares envisioning the last moments of your childs existence on this earth. Did he cry for me? Did he wonder why I was not helping him? Did he suffer? These people took something that has crippled many parents and turned into a vehicle to bring light to the topic and they have successfully brought legislation that required retailers to institute Code Adam to protect other children. I really think you are a horrible person but I would still never wish the horror of violent death upon anyone you love. You should pray to whatever God you believe in for forgiveness for your absolutely horrible, despicable post.

Guest
Guest

Yes, and the "straight line" runs between the child's lift eye and nose, ending at the mouth.When the picture is oriented this way it certainly gives the appearance of a child's face,though I'm not sure it is identifiably the child in question or just an interesting illusion.  By the way, if the parents believe Toole is the killer, so do I.  They have every reason to want to know the truth.  For the rest of us, it is just idle speculation.  

unowho
unowho

Curious Please explain the straight line..This is most likely an object possibly under the carpet the luminol picks up metal in the blood the line could be a seam with caulking a rusted area the eye holes as you say could be where bolt or indentation in the floor appear.Eventually this will be explained by more research on an identical vehicle seeing how HPD somehow lost this vehicle and the carpet !!!

BumFarto
BumFarto

You are correct, Goldi. That Standiford, Matthews and Harris try to make a buck off the story years after the crime does smack of exploitation. Nobody is a bigger fan of Bob Norman, but I am not sure that this is a story that needed to be written.

Finally, I knew a woman who claimed to have chased Toole out of the Loxahatchee with rake when she caught him poaching turtles. (I know it sounds crazy, but she had a lot of crazy stories most of which she could prove.) There could have been multiple blood prints in that trunk.

Now Trending

Miami Concert Tickets

Around The Web

From the Vault

 

Loading...