America's Most Frustrating

Fifteen years after America's Most Heinous Murder, new evidence emerges, pointing to a suspect police had once dismissed

It was also true, Mundy adds, that Toole had a terrible body odor: "That was another reason you didn't want to be in a room with him -- Ottis stunk. He'd wear the same clothing for a week or two. I wasn't afraid of him, but he was one of the few people I was uncomfortable being with. It's just like, I don't want to be with this person. This is an evil person. He generated the aura of evil. I'm not trying to be melodramatic."

The investigator considered other corroborative parts of Mary H.'s story convincing. She recalled a very specific detail: She had looked down at Adam's feet and seen him wearing flip-flops -- rubber beach thongs. For Mundy that was Renteria's line-drive single to center. "I went, 'Excuse me?' When I heard that I thought, 'Ottis, your ass is mine. You're going to be indicted.'"

Eleven days after speaking with Mary H., Mundy found a second major witness. Bobby Lee Jones had also been doing time in the Duval County Jail in 1983 -- he was in for burglary -- when Toole said he had killed Adam. Hollywood detectives wanted to know whether Toole had watched the TV movie about Adam and gotten some of his facts from it. They asked a number of other Duval County inmates if it had been on the jail's community TV set. It hadn't. They said they'd watched Monday Night Football.

On November 2, 1983, after Toole confessed to murdering Adam, Hollywood detectives questioned Jones, who told them he had worked as a laborer at the same Jacksonville roofing company where Toole had worked in 1982. Jones added that while in jail Toole had admitted to him that he'd killed two "little kids" -- one of whom he cut up with a large knife. Jones also told police that before his conviction for burglary, he had lived in Hollywood -- in a motel close to the Greyhound bus station on Young Circle.

On September 16, 1996, Mundy visited Jones, who was in Liberty Correctional Institute, a Florida state prison in the panhandle near Tallahassee; Jones was serving a three-year sentence for aggravated assault on a law-enforcement officer. The interview came as a complete surprise to Jones, who had no clue why an investigator from Broward had come to see him.

Back in early 1982, Jones told Mundy, when Jones and Toole had worked together, Jones had mentioned that he had lived briefly in Hollywood. Toole responded by noting that he, too, had spent time in Hollywood. They talked about places. Jones hadn't owned a car back then, and so he didn't know much of Hollywood beyond Young Circle. Toole, however, not only knew Young Circle, but began describing a number of nearby landmarks on Hollywood Boulevard that Jones didn't know: something like a convention center, railroad tracks and an Amtrak station, a little park where Toole used to sit and watch kids play, and some kind of little school across from the park; then, further out, the Turnpike, a little airport, and a place for crazy people.

Mundy, who worked in Fort Lauderdale all his career, admittedly doesn't know Hollywood that well. The convention center reference confused him, although it sounded like the municipal complex on City Hall circle. West of I-95 is an Amtrak station. And the park sounded like it could be David Park, located about a block west of Hollywood Mall, just off Hollywood Boulevard. Last year when Mundy checked, he found that in 1981 David Park had a children's playground, and that Hollywood Hills United Methodist Church -- about another block west -- ran a preschool program. (Sears is gone from Hollywood Mall, closing in September 1992. Eventually the Sears building was demolished to make way for a Target.)

The rest of Toole's travel guide is unmistakable. The Hollywood turnpike entrance. North Perry airport. The "place for crazy people" is South Florida State Hospital, west of University Drive.

Back in 1982 when he worked as a roofer with Toole, Jones recalled Toole also volunteering that he had killed a little boy in Hollywood and cut him up. But Jones and others had ignored Toole when he said such things, figuring he was just trying to be outrageous.

As Mundy points out, "That puts him [Toole] here [in Hollywood] -- though not necessarily on the day -- through this witness. Ottis Toole had a working knowledge of Hollywood. Also, he had no reason to confess to Adam Walsh in '82. Put that together with other statements, and I'm very comfortable."

For additional corroboration Mundy cites three Sears employees who think they may have seen Adam in the store the day he disappeared -- although back in 1981 none of them, nor anyone else besides Reve, told police they were certain of seeing him there.

In 1995 when Detective Mark Smith first got the file as a cold case, he reinvestigated old leads and found Joanna Braun, who had worked at Sears on the day Reve reported Adam missing. Her position that day was behind the catalog desk, part of which was within a few feet of the video games display. The day following Adam's disappearance, after seeing the kidnapping story on the news, Braun told police she remembered Reve walking in the store holding the hand of a little boy. She could describe Reve but not the child.

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help