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Jeffrey Dahmer's Dirty Secret: The Unsolved Murder of Adam Walsh - Book One: Finding The Killer Paperback – July 15, 2009

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Jeffrey Dahmer's Dirty Secret: The Unsolved Murder of Adam Walsh - Book One: Finding The Killer + Jeffrey Dahmer's Dirty Secret: The Unsolved Murder of Adam Walsh: BOOK TWO: FINDING THE VICTIM. The body identified as Adam Walsh is not him. Is Adam still alive? (Harris True Crime Collection)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 362 pages
  • Publisher: BookSurge Publishing; Revised edition (July 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439236275
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439236277
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,373,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


A must read for any true crime buff! Harris did an extensive amount of research on the case, and after reading this I can't see how anyone other than Dahmer killed little Adam. I also give Harris credit for addressing the flaws in some of the witnesses accounts rather than ignoring those issues or glossing over them. As someone who has read a vast variety of true crime books, I give this one the award for best research. -- Michelle Tooker, Goodreads

Arthur Jay Harris did finally find details in those same police files which further confirmed that Jeffrey Dahmer actually killed Adam Walsh. This is my own me it was as clear as day. This book is absolutely full of interesting information, most derived from this writer's own investigation. He followed up on so many leads, quite a few which produced amazing results...all the information eventually unravels into the amazing conclusion that Jeffrey Dahmer did kill Adam Walsh. -- Yvette Kelly, True Crime Book Reviews

Harris has meticulously reviewed thousands of court documents and news articles to lay a foundation for his book. He has interviewed prosecutors and investigators, and talked to more than a handful of witnesses who say they saw Dahmer at the mall the same day Adam disappeared--accounts that were either ignored or never taken seriously by the police... Harris makes it clear why Toole could not have killed Adam, but why Dahmer could have been the real killer. -- Jane Smith,

From the Author

In July 1981, the mother of 6-year-old Adam took him shopping at a Sears store near their home in Hollywood, Florida, a suburb between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Mrs. Walsh said she left Adam to play the video games at the display and returned for him about ten minutes later. He was gone and she couldn't find him.
For the next two weeks, nearly the entire Hollywood Police Department, much of the community, and the Walshes searched for Adam everywhere. The family printed his most recent photograph, of him wearing a team baseball cap and shirt. His big smile revealed he had neither of his top front teeth.
Exactly two weeks later and about a hundred miles north of Hollywood, a man fishing in a drainage canal saw, floating, a child's severed head. Police suspected it was Adam Walsh, and by the next morning, a medical examiner announced the official ID.
In 1983, Ottis Toole, a drifter from upstate Jacksonville, confessed to the murder, and Hollywood Police announced it at a dramatic press conference. But then came the real work: for much of the next year police tried to link anything Toole said to actual case facts not publicly known. They weren't able to. In 1984 police dropped Toole as an active suspect.
But in 2008, a new Hollywood Police chief held another dramatic press conference to announce, again, that Toole killed Adam. And again, the chief admitted there was no evidence beyond his confession. But this time Toole was dead--he'd died in 1996, in prison for another crime, so he could no longer be prosecuted. Because of that, the chief announced that the case investigation was finally over.
But when Hollywood closed the case, its file became public record. In it, author and investigative journalist Arthur Jay Harris discovered, was much more evidence that Adam's kidnapper had been Jeffrey Dahmer, the infamous serial killer.
Dahmer had been captured in Milwaukee in 1991. Police there found in his apartment eleven severed heads--mostly of young men, though none close in age to Adam. He also admitted going to shopping malls to find victims, that he'd killed his first victim in 1978, and that he'd been in Miami when Adam was taken. However, Dahmer denied anything to do with that. A spokesman for Hollywood Police said they certainly wouldn't trust such a killer's mere denial, but after they were unable to independently prove that Dahmer had been in South Florida, they dropped it. Later, when an FBI agent confronted Dahmer in prison about Adam, he thought he'd tacitly admitted killing him. He got word to Adam's father, John Walsh, who by then was hosting a reality television crime show series called America's Most Wanted. Walsh got Hollywood to interview Dahmer, but when he directly denied it, Hollywood dropped it again.
Upon his arrest, Dahmer insisted he came clean about all his crimes, but evidence shows he did not.
It was not police but Harris who located the only document that proved Dahmer had indeed been in Miami that summer when Adam went missing. A Miami police report dated 20 days before Adam's kidnapping read that "Mr. Jeffrey Dahmer" had found the body of a homeless man in the alley behind where he worked. That was suspicious, but Dahmer never mentioned it, or his repeated physical torture and rape of his roommate in the U.S. Army, Billy Capshaw, when they were stationed in Germany. Also, German police had suspected Dahmer of a series of mutilation murders there. Dahmer denied them, but Capshaw had seen him return from weekend leaves with his clothes and skin soaked in dried blood. He also found (and threw out) a series of Dahmer's hunting knives, their blades covered with blood, and had seen M.P.s return Dahmer to their room after he'd been caught masturbating in a park in front of children.
But the main evidence that Dahmer took Adam came from the Hollywood Police's own files. There, Harris found seven witnesses who had offered tips to police as well as to John Walsh's TV show that they had seen a man in or outside the Hollywood Sears with or close to Adam. Two told police that the man was Dahmer; the rest, when Harris showed them pictures of Toole, then Dahmer, said the man they'd seen wasn't Toole--it was Dahmer. But police weren't interested in re-interviewing their own witnesses.


After Hollywood Police closed the case in 2008, not only was the police investigative file made a public record, so were the medical examiners' files in two districts. Harris saw all of them and realized this:

As shown by his smile in the "Missing" picture, Adam's top front teeth were both gone. But the found child had a buck tooth -- a left top front tooth that was in "almost all the way," in the words of a forensic anthropologist who the police had later consulted.

When was the "Missing" picture taken? How long before Adam vanished? John Walsh wrote it was one week. Harris found it was actually about a month. Adam's last best friend saw him a week or two before he disappeared and remembered that he still didn't have any top front teeth. However, the police's last-seen-alive description reads that his top left front tooth was partially in.

So within the week or two before Adam disappeared, his tooth had erupted. Two weeks after Adam was gone, the child's head was found. The Fort Lauderdale medical examiner told the newspapers then that the child (Adam, he said) had been dead for possibly all of the 14 days he had been missing. Teeth don't continue growing after death.

In just that week or two before he disappeared, could Adam's top left front tooth have gone from eruption to in "almost all the way"? That would be very unusual if not impossible. More likely, it would have taken months, maybe six, maybe more, say pediatric dentists and parents of young children.

If indeed Adam's top left front tooth doesn't match the same one in the found child, there also should be other indicators that they don't match. To compare discovered bodies with missing people, forensic dentists use the missing person's dental charts and dental X-rays.

The medical examiner who made the positive ID wrote that Adam's dental chart showed that he had a filling in a lower left molar that matched a filling in the found child. But that is a common place for a filling in children. And the dental chart is missing from his file, as well as all the other files of the investigative agencies that originally handled it.

Further, none of the files mention ever getting or using Adam's dental X-rays for comparison. Nor is there a mention anywhere of a forensic dental consultation. Adam's dentist says he no longer has the original records, so the examination that should have been done then can never be done in the future.

Even worse, there is no autopsy report. The medical examiner who performed the autopsy admitted in writing that neither he nor anyone else in his office ever wrote one. Detectives, prosecutors, and defense attorneys who work homicides told Harris they had never heard of that ever happening before.

This is what it all means:

As there never has been, there never can be a trial for the murder of Adam Walsh because prosecutors can never establish that the murder victim was Adam Walsh.

Instead, this case is about something different: crimes, injustices, and horrors against two young children, their families, and their communities:
  • A child close in age to Adam who has never been correctly identified, whose parents were never notified and whose murder was never investigated, and who was not buried under his (or her) correct identity;
  • And also the kidnapping of a young boy in a shopping mall in Hollywood, Florida.
Which leads to an incredible pair of questions:
What ever happened to Adam Walsh?
Could he still be alive?

More About the Author

True crime writers primarily pursue the question "Why?" Why did somebody commit the crime? How could he get away with it for so long?

In my true crime books, I pursue a different primary question: about the case's outcome, I ask, "Are you sure?"

Every true crime story has loose ends that naggingly just don't fit into the constructed narrative. They make for a challenge: stay with your narrative and ignore or play them down, or follow them and risk your narrative.

There is an essential messiness to true crime that a reader of it must both resist and embrace. But that's why we read it, right? If you want everything well-tied up at the end, read crime fiction. To start, give up on the idea that a story must have a bottom. How can there not be a bottom? Yes, theoretically there is a bottom, but to us on the outside looking in, it's just not accessible. In reality, what we think are story bottoms are really false bottoms; beneath them, if we dare to look, are more bottoms. That wisdom, I should add, did not come to me easily. My stories are always less about the crimes themselves than my endurance to stay on the rollercoaster rides to find the truth. Countless times I'm upended, and I never see it coming.

Yet the job of a guide, narrator and investigator, such as myself, remains to organize that mess. However, I also scrutinize the work of the other guides, narrators, and investigators on the story. When I approach a story, I look for, then follow, significant pathways not taken: people who law enforcement couldn't get or weren't then ready to talk; witnesses who weren't asked everything important; and things the authorities were blind to or simply missed.

Then there are the stories in which the official investigators suppressed facts. On those, I am unrelenting in pursuing public records (always politely, politeness is essential in all information gathering). In obscure files and from additional reporting based on them, I've discovered a few rare things that were never known outside of law enforcement.

Always remember that to some extent, every interested party in a crime story is intentionally misleading us. They tell mostly true things but withhold or lie about other facts that are contrary to their interests. Trust only the people with no skin in the game not to intentionally mislead.

In each of my books, I first bring you up to speed by composing the story from what's on the record, then I make a narrative switch to first person and have you follow my investigation. When I pick up the right trail, it becomes obvious. I always advance my stories, including Speed Kills and Until Proven Innocent, but the two books in which I made the most significant (and contrarian) contributions are Jeffrey Dahmer's Dirty Secret: The Unsolved Murder of Adam Walsh, and Flowers for Mrs. Luskin.

And now, because it seems obligatory in such biographical summaries, among the television shows I have appeared on with my stories include: ABC Primetime; Anderson Cooper 360; Nancy Grace; Ashleigh Banfield; The Lineup; Inside Edition; Catherine Crier; Snapped; City Confidential; Cold Blood; and Prison Diaries.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Makes me shudder just thinking about it.
Either way, it's an interesting read but not much more really.
Art's work deals with that complexity as it exists.
Mister The Plague

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mister The Plague on August 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recently had the opportunity to talk to Art Harris at some length about his outstanding work covering the Adam Walsh case -- work that goes back over 15 years and includes his two books as well as articles in the Miami Herald and other newspapers. Art is very gracious with his time, intensely knowledgeable, and eager to talk about and hear various ideas on the subject from knowledgeable and perceptive readers.

I conveyed to Art a few main points: first, as a former newspaper reporter myself, the quality and breadth of his research and reporting on this subject is just about jaw-dropping; second, in spite of his fine efforts, I don't think Jeffrey Dahmer killed Adam Walsh, though the reporting about Dahmer's presence in South Florida at the time of Adam Walsh's disappearance which he has done on his own as well as with David Smiley in The Herald has been extremely provocative, merits an award for journalism, and should have been followed up by the authorities; and lastly, the holes he has punched in the case against Ottis Toole as Adam's killer are grave and substantial. I make this last point as someone who still leans slightly in favor of Toole as the prime suspect in this case.

A couple of reader-related points: one of the compelling aspects of the Adam Walsh case is its extraordinary complexity. Art's work deals with that complexity as it exists. His books on the case are in-depth, detailed and about as exhaustive as is possible with a case as enigmatic and elusive as this one. If you want a glib, grand-standing, pseudo-literary treatment of the Adam Walsh case that glides over the case's innumerable inconsistencies in order to neatly nail the official perp to the wall, buy "Bringing Adam Home" instead.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By conniep3 on May 28, 2013
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The material in this book is intriguing and hard to put down...the writing, not so much. Very choppy writing style, needs some cohesiveness. It doesn't flow smoothly. In the beginning of the book it is like the author had a million bulleted items and just laid them on the page in chunks of 'paragraphs'. I am close to finishing book though and in spite of the writing style I am enjoying it...lots of great information.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By S. Ward on September 21, 2011
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Engaging enough, but very, very biased right from the get-go, a fact which made it difficult to read.

If there had been less bias I might have found the argument more believable, but as it stands I knew that they were going to reach the conclusion "Dahmer did it" because that's the conclusion that the author wanted to reach. Still, I can see why he wanted to- stuff like this sells. As is apparent by the fact I bought it.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Eddie Weinert on July 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Hollywood, Florida police say they've solved the Adam Walsh murder -- but do they really think that? They should read this book -- of course, they won't like it much. The most logical conclusion is Jeffrey Dahmer did it. Police are stuck on Ottis Toole, but the only support for that is his not-credible confession, which rightly got dismissed in 1983. The police never acknowledged they had any witnesses who saw Adam taken from the toy department of a Sears where his mother had left him alone. But by combing deep through the police's own files, Harris found six witnesses who repeatedly had tried to be heard. Police had asked them whether they'd seen Toole. They hadn't -- and were told Thank you very much, now go away. Harris asked whether they'd seen Dahmer. Two had already told police that's who they'd seen, two more absolutely confirmed it, and two more came close, with emotional reactions to seeing Dahmer's picture and recognizing it as who they likely saw taking Adam out of the store. Harris has more supporting the Dahmer argument, but what more do the police need to start honestly considering this? Although this book has a lot of new information about Dahmer, it's less a regular true crime story about violence and more about a close examination of a police investigation -- one gone very, very wrong beginning on the day of Adam's kidnapping to the day they closed the case -- on Toole! Harris is a first-class reporter and has thoroughly documented the book with material from the police case file, supplemented by his own 13-year investigation. It took that long because the police kept their records from public view as long as they could. The book is a rare and riveting look into a case that was the biggest in the city's history.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JOHN on June 6, 2011
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A very good read and one of the better investigational books written on a complex subject. Besides putting detales to places a younger Dahmer stayed in (including Fla and other states police never investigated or even knew he drove to), Jay Harris paints a picture of Dahmer that should have put him in jail from his actions in Germany when in he army. To say he was discharged for just alcohol abuse is an easy answer the army may have used to get rid of him before German police and/or army investigations came to light.

As for his killing Adam Walsh, read the book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By moochie3004 on May 18, 2011
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this book was a very fast read, and hard to put down... its amazing how 2 of America's notorious killers could be around the same area at the same time... Harris gives an interesting look on the possibility that Dahmer could have been involved with the Adam Walsh murder. i dont see how the authorities could think it was, in fact, Ottis Toole. He was a compulsive liar and he and Lucas claimed responsibility to 1000's of murders. I personally think Dahmer very well could of been responsible. It all points to Dahmer for me. this is a very interesting read and well worth the time. if you are looking for a well written book with the research clearly done on the subject, this book is for you and all of the Dahmer nuts out there.. enjoy! i did
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