The Chilling Theory That Links Jeffrey Dahmer To The Murder Of Adam Walsh

What might make the grim tale of a killer like Jeffery Dahmer so accessible is the sheer volume of courtroom footage and post-conviction interviews that have existed online in the 30 years since he was brought to justice. "Inside Edition" reporter Nancy Glass (on YouTube) and NBC's Stone Phillips (also on YouTube) are just two journalists who sat down face-to-face with Dahmer during his short prison stint before his death in 1994. These chilling interviews are just a small bit of material that gives insight into the life of one of the 20th century's most notorious serial murderers and the impact his crimes had on the families of the 17 victims who fell prey to him. While he was incarcerated, he was also interviewed by at least one member of law enforcement who was convinced that Dahmer was responsible for a Florida murder that has been enshrouded in mystery since 1981.

That year, six-year-old Adam Walsh was kidnapped while shopping with his mother at the local Sears department store at the Hollywood Mall. More than two weeks after his abduction, the young boy's head was found in a canal 120 miles away (per Independent). 

Years later, another infamous serial killer would confess to the crime. But even though investigators would eventually close the Adam Walsh murder investigation and declare Ottis Toole the man responsible, a career FBI agent named Neil Purtell believes that Dahmer was Walsh's real killer.

Dahmer was living close to where Walsh disappeared

Dahmer had just received an honorable discharge from the military after his drinking had gotten the better of him while serving at an army base in Germany. Though deemed unfit for military duty, Dahmer was honorably discharged as military brass determined that these issues would not necessarily impair his ability to function outside of the military (per Seventeen). After 15 months of service, the military gave Dahmer a one-way ticket to anywhere he'd like to go. Dahmer chose sunny Miami, Florida.

Dahmer chose this location in part because of the climate and partially because he knew that going back to Ohio meant facing the disappointment and frustration of his father, who was already perturbed at Dahmer for getting tossed out of college (via WISN). Dahmer arrived in the city in March 1981 and started a job working in a local sandwich shop.

The timing for Dahmer to be a suspect in Walsh's murder is right. Dahmer still lived in the area when the boy was nabbed on July 27, 1981 (via NBC News). Merely being adjacent to Walsh would not be near enough evidence to consider Dahmer as having a hand in the killing. But as Purtell would reveal, there were a lot of other reasons to believe that Dahmer was the real murderer.

Sexually assaulting young boys was a crime Dahmer was known for

Dahmer (above, in 1978) was more than just a cannibal and a serial murderer. Court records and subsequent interviews with Dahmer would reveal that he had a habit of making himself grotesquely familiar to young boys. Whether it was masturbating in front of a pair of 12-year-olds (per Tru TV) or sexually molesting a 13-year-old boy, he had a horrific track record that showed that his crimes knew no age boundaries. Two of Dahmer's murder victims were young teens. Both Konerak Sinthasomphone and James Edward Doxtator were only 14 years old when they were lured into Dahmer's home and brutally murdered, Sinthasomphone in 1991 and Doxtator in 1988 (via USA Today).

When Dahmer was arrested in July 1991 it soon was on the radar of Hollywood, Florida police that the man sitting in a Milwaukee jail cell awaiting trial had lived in their backyard when Walsh was kidnapped. This prompted them to ask Milwaukee police to question Dahmer about Walsh's murder. WISN reports that while Dahmer admitted that he was aware of the unsolved Walsh case, he was not the person responsible. Despite this denial, there were some key pieces of evidence that investigators would find buried in the Hollywood police file on the Walsh murder that raised some eyebrows.

Dahmer fits the description of a man two witnesses placed at the scene of the kidnapping

After Dahmer's mugshot was released in 1991, it triggered a memory in the mind of Willis Morgan. Morgan had been in the Sears department store the day Walsh was kidnapped and recalled a creepy encounter with a man he described as a disheveled caucasian in his 20s. Feeling uncomfortable after the man seemed angry that his flirtations were rebuffed by Morgan, Morgan curiously and carefully followed the stranger around the store, losing track of him in the toy department (via WISN). This is where Walsh was last seen alive. A decade later, Morgan saw Dahmer's photo and is convinced that he is the same man who he followed in the store. 

Another man, Bill Bowen, came forward after Dahmer's photo was released to the public. Bowen had seen a man fitting Dahmer's description putting a struggling young boy into a blue van around the time of Walsh's disappearance. 

Both Bowen and Morgan reported what they witnessed to police after news of Walsh's disappearance was made public, though no record of these tips exists. Hollywood police admit they did not keep a log of the early tips that flooded into their department when the Walsh case was first opened.

Dahmer's father called in a tip to America's Most Wanted

After Dahmer's repeated denials of the Walsh kidnapping and murder, Purtell was not convinced that Dahmer was being truthful. According to Radar Online, Purtell was able to secure an interview with Dahmer after he was sentenced to prison in 1992. During this interview, Purtell confronted Dahmer about Walsh. Purtell stated that Dahmer responded that if he admitted to it, he would be murdered in prison for being a pedophile. Purtell took this as a confession.

Though his theory did not lead to Dahmer ever being charged as a suspect in the Walsh case, it has led to some speculation as to whether or not Ottis Toole was the real killer. Opponents of this theory argue that Dahmer couldn't have committed the crime because he lacked opportunity. Whoever nabbed Walsh would have to have had a vehicle, and Dahmer did not have one. Suspiciously enough, though Dahmer had no car at the time, he may have had access to one. WISN tells us that the deli Dahmer worked at had three delivery vans that employees had access to, often having them at their disposal for personal use. One of them was blue.

And in a chilling coincidence, Walsh's father, who would go on to host the crime show "America's Most Wanted," claimed that Dahmer's father had phoned in a tip to the long-running Fox Network show, believing that his son could be responsible for killing Adam Walsh.

Ottis Toole has been ruled to be Walsh's killer

Officially, the Adam Walsh case has been closed since 2007. Investigators maintain that Ottis Toole (above) was the man behind the horrific crime, citing his two prior confessions to the act, along with a deathbed confession that Toole made to his niece just before he died in 1996. Walsh's parents believe that Toole is a man who has caused them so much pain (via NBC News), even though Walsh's father, John, at one time believed that Dahmer was worth looking into as a suspect (via WISN). 

It should be noted that Toole was an accomplice of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, a duo that some claim had taken the lives of more than 100 victims. Though the admissions these two men made to police reveal a rather staggering death count, Toole became known among police as a man who would admit to crimes that he didn't commit. For those who might still believe that it was Dahmer and not he who killed Walsh, this is a point that isn't overlooked. Florida author Arthur Jay Harris lays out the case for Dahmer being the killer in his book "Jeffrey Dahmer's Dirty Secret: The Unsolved Murder of Adam Walsh," published in 2009.