Exclusive: John Walsh speaks on AMW 1000 episode, Obama’s commitment and King case

President Barack Obama will make a special appearance on “America’s Most Wanted” milestone 1000th episode, airing this Saturday, March 6 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.

John Walsh, host of AMW since the show’s inception 22 years ago, spoke to Monsters and Critics about tonight’s show that features President Obama’s praise of his ongoing efforts.

Additionally, President Obama talks to Walsh about his administration’s initiatives to go after and prosecute “white collar” criminals – crimes that John Walsh and AMW have also focused on recently.

Tonight, FOX airs the 1,000th episode at 9 p.m. eastern and Pacific time. 

Walsh spoke to Monsters and Critics by phone and shared his happiness that the funding was secured to put teeth into Adam’s law and other legislation that would keep level 3 sex offenders locked up.

“This Saturday is our 1,000th episode, our 22nd year on the air. We will be doing business as usual on the show, looking for bad guys.  We have one long term missing child on the show.  Director Mueller of the FBI will on the show.  John Clark, the Director of the U.S. Marshals will be on the show, announcing their newest addition to their 15 most wanted.  Both of them wanted to be on the show to give the show a shout-out, which was much appreciated.  We’ve caught 17 of the FBI’s 10 most wanted, 17 guys off of that list.  In the 22 years we’ve caught, I think, more than 20 of the marshal’s 15 most wanted and several other of their cases on the show.” 

Walsh continued: “I had the honor and the privilege of going to the White House yesterday to sit down with President Obama.  It was a wonderful experience.  I had the pleasure of working with the four previous presidents on legislation and have been in the Rose Garden.  President Obama was one of the original co-sponsors of the Adam Walsh Act.  We talked about the Recovery Act, which was different than the stimulus package.  It is something that he worked on to put $4 billion into state and local law enforcement agencies to keep cops that were going to lose their job because of the recession and cutbacks in the tough times that states are facing.  So I think that was a very positive thing that the president himself shepherded through Congress, getting that $4 billion to keep those cops on the street.”

“We talked about the Adam Walsh Act named after my son, Adam, that was passed three years ago and President Bush signed it in the Rose Garden.  It was to create a national sex offender registry and it hasn’t been funded.   Congress has not deemed it important enough or have been too busy with other things and have not funded the Adam Walsh Act,” explained Walsh. 

“The Justice Department at the time talked about the fact that there are 100,000 convicted sex offenders, level three, the most dangerous sex offenders, not the guy who peed at Mardi Gras is on the sex offender registry or the 18-year-old who had consensual sex with a 16-year-old girl and the father hated him and got him arrested for statutory rape.  Those kinds of guys are not what I’m talking about.  The Adam Walsh Act was intended to distribute money to every one of the attorney generals in the United States of every state to the U.S. Marshals and the FBI to track these guys down and to implement and make a meaningful national sex offender registry. ”

“I met with Joe Biden afterward.  Joe Biden was one of the architects of the Adam Walsh Act and basically said for the last three years, where is the money, show me the money and that the bill signing was just photo op.”

Walsh noted that the president “went out on a limb” and made the commitment.   

President Obama also listened to Walsh’s argument that DNA evidence needs to be collected at the time of initial arrest. 

Walsh said: “He knew that I am an advocate of DNA upon arrest, that 21 states have DNA upon arrest.  Every state collects DNA of convicted criminals, but only 21 states collect DNA upon arrest.  He asked me several questions about that.  I said that in the 21 states where they collect DNA when you get arrested for a serious felony and you get fingerprinted and you get you mug shot, that those states collect DNA.  And that as a result of DNA collection, 200 innocent people have been released from jail. 

Walsh added, “I’ve always said that DNA is the fingerprint of the 21st century.  It convicts the guilty and frees the innocent.  I was very surprised that he said to me, ‘John, I share the same sentiment that we should have a national DNA database, that every state should collect DNA upon arrest.  And if that person’s DNA is collected and they’re not convicted of that crime that, that DNA be expunged in a timely manner, but that it would solve thousands and thousands of old cold crimes, primarily against women and children, rapes and child molestation.’ ” 

President Obama’s segment is a small part of the show on Saturday night.  Walsh noted that in 1000 shows they had captured 1,108 individuals in 35 countries. 

The American crime show is collaborating with Interpol, Scotland Yard, as well as every law enforcement agency in the country.  Walsh adds, “We caught more people last year than any year prior.  We’ve had more requests to do cases than ever.  I think the show is a testimony to our viewers worldwide who’ve kept this show on the air.”

The current case of Chelsea King was broached in the phone interview:

“The president and I talked about the murder of Chelsea King in San Diego.  The outrage of the public in that area and the parents to say how could this guy, John Gardner, even be at large, the alleged murderer of Chelsea.  Why did he only serve five years for a brutal kidnapping, beating and rape of a 13-year-old girl?  He is now the suspect in another case that I profiled on America’s Most Wanted, Amber Dubois, a 14-year-old girl that’s been missing over a year.  I think he knows exactly what happened to that little girl.  He’s also the suspect in an attempted rape and murder earlier in December of last year, a few months ago.” 

Walsh brought up the Garrido incident to President Obama: “President Obama and I talked about that case and about the outrage that Phillip Garrido could have ever been let back into society and that how a parole officer had never gone in his house all those years, he was a level three sex offender, checked his computer for child pornography or even looked in his back yard.  They would have found Jaycee Dugard back there with the two children that she bore after he raped her repeatedly.  So we discussed some serious issues and I think a lot of good will come out of the meeting with President Obama.”

Monsters and Critics spoke to John Walsh about the King case and his life’s work:

Congratulations on getting this legislation funded.  My first question is specific to the King case.  We elect district attorneys.  They are on our ballots and often times people see a name.  They sort of vaguely remember it.  They’re not sure who it is.  They vote.  They don’t know.  I cannot find who the district attorney was in 2000 for the Gardner case when Dr. Matthew Carroll, the court psychiatrist, who told the court that Gardner was, in fact, a danger to society and the DA still let him go.  Will you “out” these bad district attorneys and politicians on your show? 

J. Walsh:  I think, first of all, April, thank you for your question.  It probably in looking into it, it is the judge who mandated the sentence.  Sometimes the DAs make a deal with the judge or with the victim’s families.  But I think that this judge had an option to sentence him to three different sentences.  He picked the middle road sentence. 

My big problem with the whole John Gardner case in little Chelsea King is that the system overall let that family down.  I’ve walked in their shoes.  I’m the parent of a murdered child.  I looked at Ottis Toole, who was declared the murderer of Adam and his rap sheet and how many crimes he committed around the country.  The penalties aren’t stiff enough. 

The legislatures don’t have the guts to make the penalties stiff enough.  I think once you cross that line like John Gardner did, he kidnapped, raped and brutally beat a 13-year-old year old girl, that you need to be kept in jail longer.  You’ve made that horrible, horrible decision to hurt someone in a brutal way.  And if you’re let out, you need to be monitored closely. 

 I think the first problem was the sentencing, the laws.  The second problem was the judge didn’t listen to the therapist.  When a psychiatrist says that pedophiles, serial rapists have a really high rate of recidivism, the likelihood that that guy would get out and hurt somebody, think about it. 

If he kidnapped Amber Dubois, she’s probably dead and they’ll probably never find her.  The woman who fought him so hard in December when he said to her, “I’m going to rape you,” and she said, “I’m going to fight you.  If you’re going to rape me, kill me,” and he tried to.  And she fought so valiantly. 

And then little Chelsea came paying for society’s huge mistakes of not monitoring this guy day and night.  He’s a level three sex offender.  He moved around that area five different times.  Nobody had talked to him for months. 

It is not just the DA because I know lots of DAs and lots of DAs will push, push hard.  They’ll push hard.  Lots of DAs don’t.  They’ll take a plea bargain.  But I think the whole system let down little Chelsea King, starting the laws not being stiff enough, no money for monitoring, for parole officers and probation officers and a judge who probably should have given him the max and should have said I’m listening to the psychiatrist.  This is a dangerous animal.  This is a rabid dog that doesn’t need to be let back into society. 

You brought up the dog metaphor.  So do you feel that we as a society are righteous in putting these people to death or imprisoning them for life?  What’s your stance? 

J. Walsh:  I’m not a huge death penalty advocate, but I also know that when you cross the line and you kill a child and I believe you need to be sent to the next life.  You can come back and try again as a butterfly or a dolphin or whatever. 

But I think the one crime that really warrants the death penalty is the murder of an innocent child.  I think once you cross that horrible line, I have profiled many guys on America’s Most Wanted and seen it over the years, that ones who have been sentenced to life without possibility of parole, their sentence has been commuted after year to life. 

I’ve seen them gone out and paroled in New York state where I am right now.  Arthur Shawcross killed a 9-year-old and a 12-year-old girl and boy in separate occasions.  He was sentenced to death.  He actually ate part of the girl’s heart and part of the boy’s heart. 

He was sentenced to death.  His sentence was commuted.  He was paroled in New York state, even though everybody said he’ll never be paroled.  Arthur Shawcross killed 11 women in New York state while he was on parole.  No one knew that he was being let out. 

No one knew that he was going to kill 11 women.  Those women had 17 children.  The death penalty would have put Arthur Shawcross in a different place. 

When you kill a 12-year-old and a 9-year-old and eat part of their hearts, you should never be released in society.  And it cost the state of New York 11 women’s lives.  So that’s how I feel about people who kill children.


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