ABC News Primetime, August 13, 2007

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Witnesses to a Crime?

Willis Morgan, a printer working for the Miami Herald, said he was accosted by this man but didn't respond, and the man suddenly stalked off. Morgan said he followed the man to the mall's toy department -- the last place Adam Walsh was ever seen.


Bill Bowen, a television producer, said he was about to enter the mall when he heard a loud altercation taking place next to a blue van. He said he saw a disheveled man holding a boy by the arm up in the air.


Bowen said the boy yelled, "I'm not going. I don't want to go," and the man screamed, "Yes you are," and then threw the boy into the van, jumped in, and sped away. Police don't dispute that these witnesses came forward at the time, although no record of their statements exists.


Ten years later, in 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested in Wisconsin for murdering 17 people. Six hundred miles apart, both witnesses saw Dahmer's photo in the newspaper and said to themselves: "That's him." Both contacted the Hollywood, Fla., police department to report that the man they had seen 10 years before in that mall was Jeffrey Dahmer.


According to former FBI agent Neil Purtell, the Wisconsin investigators had already made the Walsh/Dahmer connection the same day Dahmer was arrested. A timeline put together by police showed that Dahmer had indeed been in south Florida the day Adam Walsh was abducted. Dahmer moved to Florida in 1981, where he slept mostly on the beach and got a job working at the Sunshine Subs sandwich shop only minutes from the Hollywood Mall.


Purtell said he immediately called Florida police. "I said, 'You've got to look at this, because this guy is, is someone who was living in your area, and he had already killed prior to coming into your area.'" (Dahmer killed his first victim, Stephen Hicks, in 1978, according to police.)


Purtell said more witnesses contacted the FBI to say they had seen someone matching Dahmer's description at the Hollywood Mall, although he refused to identify them. Purtell would only say that he had passed their names over to the FBI field office in Miami at the time.


The Blue Van

But if Dahmer did murder Adam, where did he get the blue van the witness saw in the parking lot? Eight witnesses who had worked at Sunshine Subs and its sister restaurant, Mr. Pizza. All reported that the restaurants shared several delivery vans which were accessible to employees. One of those vans was blue.


Capt. Smith, of the Hollywood Police Department, now questions the importance of the blue van sightings, telling ABC News he believes a family later came forward to say it was them having the altercation in the parking lot. However, Smith couldn't recall who that family was, nor could he find them in the 7,000 page file. The original lead detective, Jack Hoffman, was unable to recall the existence of this family when ABC contacted him last week.



meter room blood spatter trap door

crawl space Willis Morgan Bill Bowen

Det. Joe MatthewsMark Smith


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