Remember the old television show on tv called ‘America’s Most Wanted’ featuring John Walsh? This was a show I watched when I was a kid and always remember staying up late at night watching these episodes being a little spooked out by the often dangerous, often violent suspects they were in pursuit of. The manhunt was for America’s Most Wanted criminals. The people who had committed atrocious crimes and were on the run. The show brought awareness to these oppressors and their actions on innocent civilians.
Thankfully because of the creation of the show this got their faces out and and many of them got caught simply because of the wide syndication of the show.
The Real Life Impact Of ‘America’s Most Wanted’ Television Show
The University of Chicago estimated that the show raised the apprehension of criminals by 700% and also shortened the fugitive spell by 25%. In other words, this show allowed the police to catch dangerous criminals roaming the streets 700% more often as well as shorten the time they were in the public endangering them. The net benefit to society? Very positive.
The show also tallied up catching quite a few criminals that needed to be taken off the streets. The show began airing in 1988 and in the lifetime of the show now 1,187 criminals have been brought to justice. These are people that are rapists, murderers, violent, dangerous human beings that have been removed from everyday public society to pay their debts to society all thanks to one television show that Fox decided to bet and put on the air.
At the time Fox was a new network on TV and it became their first hit show that was seen by 5 million households regularly as it grew. The show was so successful out of the gate that after just four days on the air the first violent offender, a man who was a convicted murderer and rapist was brought to justice from a viewer tip.
The show was so popular that the hotline received 3,000 to 5,000 calls per week.
The Sad Backstory Of John Walsh – Host Of ‘America’s Most Wanted’
On July 27th in 1981, John Walsh kissed his son Adam goodbye. He was 6.5 years old at the time. John was working at the time on his dreams. Working on his hotel with three business partners. A $26 million dollar project. One day, John’s wife took him to Sears to go shopping. While she looked at some clothes he played in the new video game section just 3 aisles away. Adam’s mother could see the top of her head so she wasn’t worried.
Several minutes later she returned back to find her son but didn’t see him. Worried, she went to the store and asked for help. The store had dealt with what appeared to be an argument with children in the video game section by throwing them out of the store. John’s son, just 6 years old was not an adult to be thrown out on the street however.
In 1981, the cops didn’t take quick action when a child went missing. John Walsh now knows that the first four hours of when a child is missing is the most crucial. At the time John Walsh started a search party for his own son. Paying employees of his cash to get gas and hit the streets. He put a $100k reward out for his son. Everything he had to get his son back.
He then called the three big broadcasting networks. ABC, NBC and CBS to ask them to get on the air to share that his son was missing. He called ten times yet each network rejected him every single time telling him that if they let him on they’ll have to let every missing kid case go on air. Hearing that response makes me personally think, what’s wrong with that? It’s better to hear about a situation that you can help than to hear about a situation in regards to a crime that has already occurred. Think about it. There’s no logic or common sense with these big news broadcasting organizations, that’s why I do not tune in at all.
Thankfully two weeks later David Hartman let John on Good Morning America (GMA) and that was the day that they found Adams remains. A severed head 140 miles north of Hollywood, Florida.
John Walsh’s life work was born from this. Amber alerts, sex offender registry and other protocols came out of this tragedy that we still use to this day.
At John and his wife’s lowest point his wife turned to him and said “We forgot who the real victim is. Adam is. We’re left behind. Let’s make sure he doesn’t die in vain”
Watch John Walsh Share The Full Story On Video in This Short Clip:
John’s pain and trauma led to his purpose. He didn’t let his son die in vain and made it his life’s work to prevent things like this from happening in the future. Beyond that, if things like this did happen he would have a platform on Fox to broadcast to 5 million households the face of the kidnapper, rapist or murderer. He made it his life’s work to not only protect the public but to protect children with everything he learned from his own experience. The killer of Adam Walsh was found and sentenced. He was a serial killer and finally brought to justice.
In 1996, the powers-that-be at Fox television—which at that point had a handful of hit series, including The Simpsons—decided to cancel the popular show. They were done with America’s Most Wanted and push Married… With Children (which was in its final season) into the first half of its 9 p.m. time slot. Thankfully the public let their outrage be known about this decision.
“We went off for four weeks,” Walsh told Larry King in 2003. “Everybody in law enforcement contacted Fox. Fifty-five members of Congress contacted Fox. Thirty-seven governors. I don’t think 37 governors could agree on how many stars and stripes are on the flag, but they all went after [the network]—and they said it [was] a business decision. But … 200,000 good American citizens wrote Fox and said, ‘This is wrong.’ We were the shortest canceled show in the history of television.”
There’s no telling how many children’s lives were saved. How many senseless rapes and murders were prevented because one man by the name of John Walsh took something incredibly painful and tragic and turned it into a purpose. The purpose of making the world a better and safer place. To John, we thank you!