John Walsh, the host of America's Most Wanted, and his wife, Reve, saw the 27-year-old case of their 6-year-old son's murder close on Tuesday, when Florida police announced a conclusive link between the crime and the killer.
The loss of the Walshes' son was the catalyst for AMW, which highlights criminal cases with missing suspects, as well as for changes in the way law enforcement handles missing child cases, the AP reports.
"Who could take a 6-year-old and murder and decapitate him? Who?" Walsh said during Tuesday's press conference. "We needed to know. We needed to know. And today we know. The not knowing has been a torture, but that journey's over."
Authorities named Ottis Toole as the culprit, explaining that he had been a prime suspect for a long time. Toole, who had confessed to the murder and recanted twice, was a known killer who died in prison over a decade ago. He was serving five life sentences for other, unrelated murders.
The Walshes' son, Adam, disappeared from mall in Hollywood, Fla. in 1981. Two weeks later, his head was discovered in a canal 120 miles away, but his body was never found. A series of mistakes were made in the case's early stages, including the loss of blood-stained carpeting in Toole's car, as well as the loss of the car itself. Walsh publicly criticized the investigation in his 1997 book, Tears of Rage.
During Tuesday's announcement, Hollywood, Fla. Police Chief Chadwick Wagner acknowledged that mistakes were made, and apologized to Walsh and his wife.
"I have no doubt, I've never had any doubt," said Walsh, who long believed Toole was responsible. "This is not to look back and point fingers, but it is to let it rest."