Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America

Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America

by Les Standiford, Joe Matthews


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061983917
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/28/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 230,698
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.72(d)

About the Author

Les Standiford is the bestselling author of twenty books and novels, including the John Deal mystery series, and the works of narrative history The Man Who Invented Christmas, a New York Times Editor's Choice, and Last Train to Paradise. He is the director of the creative writing program at Florida International University in Miami, where he lives with his wife, Kimberly, a psychotherapist and artist.


Miami, Florida

Date of Birth:

October 31, 1945

Place of Birth:

Cambridge, Ohio


B.A., Muskingum College; M.A. and Ph.D., University of Utah

What People are Saying About This

Joyce Carol Oates

“BRINGING ADAM HOME is a riveting account of a child abduction and murder that goes unsolved for twenty-seven years—both an unsettling expose of police incompetence and a portrait of an extraordinary and dedicated detective.”

Scott Turow

“Les Standiford’s account of the decades-long attempt to solve the murder of Adam Walsh is chilling, heartbreaking, hopeful, and as relentlessly suspenseful as anything I’ve ever read. A triumph in every way.”

Joseph Finder

“Not since IN COLD BLOOD has the story of a terrible crime been told with such elegance and power....Heartbreaking and hypnotically suspenseful.”

Ann Hood

“BRINGING ADAM HOME is a maddening, terrifying and ultimately triumphant book. Les Standiford explores the injustice and finally justice surrounding the murder of Adam Walsh. You will cry and rage but you will not be able to put this book down until you finish it. My God! What a book!”

Brad Meltzer

“I didn’t live far from the mall where Adam Walsh was kidnapped. I remember that story as if it were yesterday. It terrified me as a kid. But it’s the details that Les Standiford has found that terrify me as an adult. Insightful, horrifying, and just beautifully written.”

Dennis Lehane

“Les Standiford’s account of the decades-long attempt to solve the murder of Adam Walsh is chilling, heartbreaking, hopeful, and as relentlessly suspenseful as anything I’ve ever read. A triumph in every way.”

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Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 106 reviews.
norway_girl More than 1 year ago
As the author reminded me there was a time before Adam Walsh that I had not experienced as a parent. I definitely remember being a child and being allowed to roam free as long as I was home for dinner. My oldest child was born in July, 1981, just before Adam was abducted, and I remember vividly the national attention this case generated. I became a parent with a watchful eye, and while paranoia was not part of my mindset, we all knew the rules about 'stranger danger'. This case still draws attention today as the thirtieth anniversary of Adams abduction approaches. I learned things from this review of the case that I had not read earlier, but it was a struggle for me to finish this book. Not because of the violent content, or the horror of the crime, but for the way it was written. This book is mostly focused on the mismanagement and mishandling of evidence by the detectives in charge of the case, and it was appalling to realize that the person responsible for Adam's abduction and murder was never brought to justice. That is certainly well documented in the book, but unfortunately the writing is poor and a drudgery to get through. I needed to finish it to the end, and was glad that I did but the editors should have taken more time to help the Detective Sgt. Matthews bring this story to us. I think readers who are in law enforcement will find it interesting but as one who reads true crime, memoirs, and biographies on a regular basis it was a disappointment. Read it if you need to know what John and Reve Walsh went through to get justice for their son. Read it if you live in Florida and think police can do no wrong. Or if you know someone in law enforcement and want to see how things can really go wrong when prejudice and self righteousness rule. Otherwise remember Adam Walsh through the great work his family has done in his name, and give this book a pass.
ChristysBookBlog More than 1 year ago
Bringing Adam Home by Les Standiford & Joe Matthews is the true story behind the abduction and murder of Adam Walsh in 1981 and the subsequent investigation. The story is well known to most Americans because it changed how they viewed the world around them. It was no longer a safe place, and children needed close supervision, even in the corner store where they had previously been thought safe. Adam's father John turned his grief and frustration at the stalled investigation into crusading zeal and helped get the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children founded, as well as beginning Fox's longest running program America's Most Wanted. But even with all the good the Walshes accomplished in the wake of Adam's murder, they still lived daily with the question that haunted all of America: What had really happened to Adam? John and wife, Reve, asked friend and investigator Joe Matthews to take a look at the twenty-five year old evidence and interviews and see if he could finally give them an answer. What Matthews uncovered was incompetence by the Hollywood, Florida police department, including willful destruction of evidence by chief investigator, Jack Hoffman. Readers will find their own frustration and anger rising at Hoffman's repeated and deliberate refusal to acknowledge the truth. Ottis Toole, a serial killer associated with Henry Lee Lucas had confessed to Adam's murder multiple times, and almost as often recanted. The evidence is laid out before the readers in a logical manner, and readers will come to agree with Matthews' conclusion, especially with the inclusion of photographs that sat at the crime lab for a quarter century without being developed! The book is a powerful indictment of the Hollywood PD's refusal to request help when they knew they were over their heads, as well as their malicious sabotage of the careers of anyone who tried to stand in their way. The evidence is conclusive as to Adam's killer. Matthews should be commended for the great burden he has lifted not just from the Walshes but from everyone in American who has been haunted by this tragic story.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In July, 1981 in a Sears store in a Hollywood, Florida mall, six years old Adam Walsh vanishes. His frantic parents Reve and John worried about their son's safety until two weeks later when Adam's partial remains were found. In 1983, Jacksonville police arrested Otis Toole for arson and murder. He confessed and recanted his confession of killing a child. Over the years Toole continued to confess killing Adam, but also withdrew his confession though he knew details that only the killer would have known. Evidence was mishandled and vanished so he was never was charged with the little boys homicide. In 1996 Toole died in prison. Although John and Reve became voices of advocating the rights of children and strong laws to protect the young, they never found closure with Adam's death. Finally in 2006, they hired retired Florida police officer Joe Matthews, who was on the original inquiry, to look into the cold case murder of their son over two decades earlier. Matthews analyzed Toole's confessions and other deviance. In 2008, Matthews and his team using modern technology determined who killed Adam. This is not an easy read as John Walsh explains no one gets closure even with the case solved. Much of the true crime account faults the police for shoddy work, which can after awhile detract from the overall emotional impact of what the Walsh family emotionally went through (and still are going through) and the macabre riveting comments by Toole. This is a profound look at one of the key (and the first) "Abduction that Changed how America deals with crimes against children. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazingly horrible story... but it was told honestly and gave insight into John Walsh's life. So sad.
OneReadingMomma More than 1 year ago
This book is very well written. I found it extremely hard to put down. God bless Adam and his family.......heartwrenching.
KathyA52 More than 1 year ago
I had no idea the investigation into Adam Walsh's murder was such a debacle. I hope the changes in the way American law enforcement treats missing children cases because of Adam's story brings some small comfort to John and Reve.Very compelling story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was definitely interesting but found myself lost or confused by the timeline at times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The main reason I wanted to read this book is because I am a fan of AMW and John Walsh. Growing up and watching AMW I had always heard bits and pieces about John Walsh's son Adam being abducted and then murdered. I recently tuned into a recent episode of AMW and thought to myself that I should really learn about a crime that has impacted our society for so many years. My heart goes out to the Walsh Family. No one should ever have to go through so much pain for so many years trying to get to the bottom of what happened to their son. It sickens me to know that the man who stole Adam's life will never be brought to justice. He confessed almost 30 times to various people but the main investigator was so damn lazy when it came to his job!!! He literally did all he could to prove Toole didn't commit the crime instead of getting all the facts and evidence in order to prosecute him. It took almost 30 years but the Walsh family finally could say in truth without any doubts who murdered Adam. It should have been done 25 years earlier and especially while the killer was still alive!!!
TheLoopyLibrarian on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Bringing Adam Home was an engrossing read that was at times infuriating, heartbreaking, and hopeful. Det. Sgt. Joe Matthews may have just been a cop doing his job, but in my mind he's a hero. He fought through apathy and incompetence to find and prove the truth of what happened to Adam Walsh. John and Reve are also heroes for taking their personal tragedy and using it to change a nation. I was only 11 years old, but I remember the abduction of Adam Walsh. When I became a parent, I knew he was the reason behind the Code Adam at many stores I patronized. I was sad for the price that it cost, but I was grateful for what the Walsh's accomplished. Because of them, our children are safer. I'm glad they finally received the answers that they searched for for far too many years.
arielfl on LibraryThing 25 days ago
As I am from South Florida, I am very familiar with this case. To this day John Walsh still features South Florida often in his America's most Wanted TV Show, which as of the last episode, has now been cancelled. This book is best read after Tears of Rage, the book where John Walsh details the case from his own point of view. He gave his blessing to this book which details what everyone has since learned, the Hollywood Police Department was incompetent. It is a testament to John Walsh that he has used his families pain to improve missing children alerts and brought other children home to their families. Sadly there will never be true justice in a court of law for Adam but this book at least identifies who John Walsh himself believes to be the murderer of his son. God bless the Walsh family.
TerriBooks on LibraryThing 25 days ago
We often comment about how differently parents treat their children now then when we were kids. It seems they need to always be watched, kept under careful eye, never free to just be out and about for hours -- a loss of freedom. This author traces the change in our attitude to the abduction and murder of Adam Walsh in 1981. Maybe so, maybe it was just part of a change that was happening for a lot of reasons. I hadn't kept up with the case at the time or since, and I didn't realize the mess that the Hollywood, Florida police department had made of the case. It's hard to tell if this account is fair, it seems to lionize Joe Matthews, the Miami Beach detective that cleared up the questions after 25 years. On the other hand, he collaborated in writing the book. Not necessarily a recipe for objectivity!
kraaivrouw on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I have thought often about Adam Walsh since his abduction in 1981. I remember it on the news and it's been impressive to watch the Walshes turn their personal tragedy into good. Imagine that before this happened there was no database of missing children, no Center for Missing and Exploited Children, no Amber Alerts, no way for law enforcement across jurisdictions to even recognize that a child was gone. The Walshes and many other parents have worked hard to make missing and exploited children more visible and to give law enforcement and the general public the ability to bring kids home. The utility of this was recently and sadly demonstrated for me with the disappearance of Juliani Cardenas who was snatched from his grandmother's arms by his mother's disgruntled ex-boyfriend (who wasn't the father). Ever since his abduction the Amber Alerts with a description of the car and its license plate have been all over the freeways here on digital signage and the story has been on the news. Sadly, he was found drowned in a canal. It is believed his abductor drowned there, too. The point is that he was found because lots of people were looking for him and knew he was gone. In the 1980's people one town over from an abducted child wouldn't necessarily know about it.Bringing Adam Home follows the story of the investigation into Adam Walsh's abduction all through the years until retired Miami homicide detective Joe Matthews brought together all the existing evidence and proved conclusively that Ottis Toole was the killer. It is a story of a long-botched investigation and of the serial killer who confessed to the killing over and over again - even on his death bed - yet the Hollywood, FL police department seemed more interested in clearing him than in believing him.Well-written, horrific, and ultimately uplifting, this book tells the story of one child whose disappearance changed a nation, but whose wait for justice was too long, indeed.
Queensowntalia on LibraryThing 25 days ago
'Bringing Adam Home' is an engrossing account of the bungled police investigation surrounding the infamous Adam Walsh murder, along with the story of the investigator who was finally able to bring all the clues together.Most of us are familiar with the basics of the case, and many of us are familiar with the boy's father, John Walsh, host of 'America's Most Wanted.' But why did it take 27 years to solve it? And what eventually made everything click? This book provides great insight into the politics and personalities that can aid or thrwart police departments in their investigations. The book also paints a disturbing, but honest portrait of the man who was eventually charged with Adam's murder. Readers get insight into the darkness that pervaded his life and led up to his gristly actions, even as it's revealed he would later have seemingly uncharacteristic flashes of guilt about what he did. It's a reminder that even the monsters are still, on some level, human. Several of the policemen involved in the investigation aren't exactly portrayed in a positive light, but the book does try to be fair when it can, offering potential explanations for some of their behavior, and attributing apparent lapses in judgement to inexperience rather than incompetence. With any such story, of course, you're only hearing one side of the matter (in this case, the book was co-written with Joe Matthews, the man who eventually solved it), so a little bias is inevitable, but this account seems reasonable. Downsides: when recounting the details of the investigation, it does read a bit slowly as it gets into the details of who said what and who called whom, and when. But that's perhaps to be expected from an investigation that spanned more then 25 years, rife with complications and errors along the way. Also, it contains the phrase "It is one of many stories reflecting Matthews's refusal to be cowed by blowhards, but it is surely not the only one." I had to stop reading and put the book down for a minute after that one. You'll be happy to know that's the exception rather than the rule, though. Tsk tsk to the editor for missing it! ;)Overall, it's quite an interesting read, and I recommend it for anyone who wants to know more about the case and/or for anyone who enjoys true crime stories.
Hubert.Smits on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Gripping and gruesome. Quite the book about parents living with the abduction and killing of their son and the long investigation to convict the killer. A book about the feelings of guilt, the "if I only" thoughts, and how these persist for 25 years. And the same parents living with a failing police team, learning how pride of individuals leads to the failing of an investigation, dragging it on for more than 25 years. Be ready for an intense read, for details that you probably won't like, and imagine that you're the parent of Adam.
laws on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Glad there was closure for the Walshes after all these years. It only took 25 years later and one great detective to reopen the case and find out who killed adam. I don't understand how all the evidence was right in front of the police and they did not make an arrest.
JanaRose1 on LibraryThing 25 days ago
In 1981 Adam Walsh was abducted from a crowded Sears store in Florida. His decapitated head was found several months later, the remainder of his body was never found. The police department overlooked many witnesses, evidence and leads during the beginning of the investigation, leaving the murderer free. John Walsh, Adam's father, became an unrelenting advocate and pressured the legislature to pass many laws dealing with missing and abused children.Despite the tragedy of Adam's kidnapping and death, this book was a bit dry and repetitive. It dealt almost exclusively with the details of the investigation, which was botched from the beginning. I would have liked more from the perspective of Adam's parents, in order to humanize the story.
Sararush on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Before picking up Bringing Adam Home, I did not know all that much about the Adam Walsh disappearance and eventual murder investigation. So the bulk of the book was all new material for me. What ended up capturing my interest was the way the case resonated with the American People, so much so that it permanently changed the way children are parented, and the way law enforcement handled missing children cases. The most inspirational aspect of this horrific event, if there is one, is how the Walsh family took this tragedy and leveraged it into something positive, like America¿s Most Wanted. Bringing Adam Home, however, mostly focuses on the gritty details of the case and how Joe Matthews overcame a lot of procedural politics and was able to clear it. We know who the killer is pretty early on, and then we go over the same evidence repeatedly until Les Sanford finally frames it in context while dispelling some of the other prominent case theories. There is also a where are they now conclusion and a list of those who figure strongly in the story for reference. The book is well written in typical crime fashion think Grisham¿s An Innocent Man with an extra heap of salacious and cliffhanger phrasing (ie, if only they had known¿). But as fascinating as hindsight finger pointing at a bungling Police Investigators is, at times it veered towards spiteful. It was pretty clear Joe Matthews had something to prove. The books also pointed out some really intriguing theories that it failed to then develop. It also bothers me that the book is titled, Bringing Adam Home when this title is misleading considering the facts of the case. It¿s also doesn¿t give much on the where are they now section beyond the Walshs and Joe Matthews. To have updates on the other detectives (especially Buddy Terry who was accused of corruption) would have been interesting. It did spark my interest in John Walsh¿s book, Tears of Rage. Those with an interest in the case or how police build a case should find it thrilling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book keeps you on the edge of your seat and then makes you mad as hell. Such blundering of this important case is unacceptable and were it not for the sheer desperation of two parents this case might never have been closed. A good reading of how things in police stations across this country awry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The incompetence of the hollywood police dept.was mind boggling. Kudos to joe matthews to finally bringing justice to the walsh's.
iblog4books More than 1 year ago
I'm totally fascinated with true crime stories. Often I've heard bits and pieces on the news but have never heard the complete story from start to finish. Obviously the story of the kidnapping and murder of Adam Walsh completely changed the way the United States (both police, FBI, and individual parents) thought about child safety, so I was interested to read the story. While parts of the book really held my interest, there was a lot of repetition throughout. Part of that was just due to the way the investigation played out. However, it seemed that maybe the author could have summarized portions of the 27-year investigation a bit better. At nearly 10 hours long, this audio book took me nearly 2 months to finish. It was interesting, but I would have enjoyed it more if it had been about half as long. [2.5 stars]
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