Crime & Courts

September 4, 2011

TV host Walsh: 'I say never give up'

John Walsh spent two weeks wondering if his son, Adam, was dead or alive.

John Walsh spent two weeks wondering if his son, Adam, was dead or alive.

Adam was 6 years old when he disappeared July 27, 1981, from a mall in Hollywood, Fla.

His severed head was found two weeks later.

That two weeks was hell.

Walsh said his wife, Reve, tells people of losing a child: "It's a color you can't explain to people. It's not a color you want anyone to see. It's beyond unbearable."

Walsh has spent the past 30 years working to bring other families answers.

He is the host of "America's Most Wanted," a TV show on the air for 23 years that he said has helped catch 1,200 criminals and bring home 50 children.

Walsh was in Wichita last week for the eighth annual Protect Our Children conference.

A few days before his presentation, Walsh spoke with The Eagle by phone about the disappearance of his son and of Jaquilla Scales, a Wichita girl who has been missing since Sept. 5, 2001.

Q: Jaquilla Scales has been missing 10 years. Do you think there is any chance she could be alive?

A: "Even though the odds are dramatically against recovering that child, there have been some wonderful stories," like those of Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard, who were kidnapped and found later.

"I say never give up."

Q: What should parents do if something happens to their child?

A: "I'm one of those people that it is up to the parent to not give up hope."

Wish for the best, he said, because "sometimes your children are alive."

He said his show profiled Dugard 15 times in the 18 years she was missing.

Eureka Scales, Jaquilla Scales' mother, said Jaquilla has been featured on the show once.

When Walsh's son went missing, "we hoped and prayed he was alive," Walsh said. "We mounted the largest search for a missing child in Florida. We did everything we could."

Walsh said parents such as Scales should stay in touch with police.

"You have every right to say to your cop, 'What are you doing to solve the case?' You are your child's best chance. I learned that looking for Adam."

Media attention helps, he said.

Q: Eureka Scales believes her daughter didn't get as much national media attention as white children who have been missing. Do you think that's a valid concern?

A: "I think it's valid. It's always the beautiful blond kid. I agree."

He said "America's Most Wanted" has featured "many Hispanic and black children that nobody (else) does national stories on. It always seems to be the Elizabeth Smarts, the Adam Walshes."

Q: What can parents do to keep children safe?

A: Keep an open line of communication. Know what they are doing online, where they are going and who they are spending time with.

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