Hollywood police today are expected to identify Ottis Toole as the killer of Adam Walsh, the 6-year old snatched from a Sears store at the Hollywood Mall on July 27, 1981.
Police aren't talking about the case, but have scheduled a 2:30 press conference with John Walsh and the crew from "America's Most Wanted.'' Walsh became a vocal advocate for the plight of missing children after his son's death, testifying before Congress, founding the Adam Walsh Foundation and, in 1988, debuting his crime-fighting television program.
Over the decades a half-dozen names, including that of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, have emerged as suspects, but a combination of shoddy police work by several agencies, bad luck and the passage of time combined to keep the case open, detectives have acknowledged.
But Toole has always been at the top of the list, primarily because he twice confessed to the crime while sitting on Florida's Death Row for an unrelated killing. He also recanted twice, and had a history of making wildly outlandish claims that often proved false.
The self-described transvestite also claimed to be a cannibal and was the lover of infamous Texas serial killer Henry Lee Lucas.
Toole's admissions in Adam's killing had some holes, the largest being that hordes of searchers couldn't find Adam's body where Toole said it had been buried.
Complicating matters is the fact a Jacksonville detective fed Toole inside information about the Walsh case and manipulated the dimwitted man in hopes of selling the book and movie rights, according to Broward Sheriff's Office investigative files.
More than 10,000 pages of records and investigative notes released in 1995 reveal other problems with an investigation that a Walsh family lawyer once derided as being run by "Keystone cops.''
For example, bloody carpet from Toole's 1971 Cadillac disappeared -- as did the car itself. Blood found on a machete that may have been the murder weapon also vanished.
About 10 years ago, Hollywood assigned a new detective, Mark Smith, to the case, and began pursuing leads, new and old. Smith has been skeptical of some of Toole's claims, and is expected to attend today's press conference to talk about new evidence that conclusively led police to Toole.