Skip to main content /TRANSCRIPTS



Interview With John Walsh

Aired June 26, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Elizabeth Smart, kidnapped at gunpoint from her own bedroom three weeks ago. The round-the-clock hunt for her grips the nation.

Joining us tonight, John Walsh, the host of America's most wanted. The brutal murder of his young son Adam made him a crusader for missing kids and the enemy of criminals on the run. John Walsh for the hour with your phone calls, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's always a great pleasure to welcome him to this program. We'll be taking calls later for John Walsh, the host of "America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back." He's an advocate for victims' rights and missing kids. His son Adam was abducted and murdered in 1981. Lots to talk about. We'll get your first read now on this Elizabeth Smart story.

JOHN WALSH, HOST, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": Heartbreaking case, Larry. I know your wife is from Utah and has a lot of, you know, ties out there. I think this is a story that has gripped the nation because this little girl was taken right from her home, right inside of her home, every parent's nightmare, and the case is three weeks old.

As time goes on, we never lose hope, and we're praying for these parents. But the Justice Department says in stranger abductions that the vast majority of these children, about 99 percent of them, are murdered within the first four hours. So it's been almost three weeks now.

KING: Have you eliminated, in your concept, family involvement?

WALSH: Family went right in and did the right thing. They went in and took the polygraphs. They questioned the family. There has to be the parallel investigation, and the family has to cooperate. And this family has cooperated. They've gone in and they've passed the polygraphs, and they've done the right thing.

The focus has been on anybody else besides the family. Of course, we all focused on Bret Edmunds, the guy that was sleeping in his car, the homeless guy. Where that good neighbor in the morning that came out to get the newspaper took a picture of this car and said what's a guy that's sleeping in his car, a homeless guy, doing in a neighborhood with million dollar homes? He wasn't meeting a realtor that morning to buy a million dollar home. KING: Turned out, though, he was...

WALSH: He is a heroin addict. And you know he's a heroin addict, and so we put him on "America's Most Wanted." We thought that this might be the lead, and then we got, last Saturday night, we got a pretty good break, we got some pictures from a friend. You know, we had this old picture that he looked pretty good. He looked pretty healthy for a heroin addict.

We got some pictures from an old friend, and then he checked into this hospital under a drug overdose. They've totally eliminated him, said that he is a very bad heroin addict, and now they've focused in on the handyman.

KING: Richard Albert Ricci.

WALSH: Absolutely.

KING: A man with a near 30-year rap sheet. Sources tell us at CNN, at least one of the seat covers in his 1999 jeep, given to Ricci by Smart in partial payment for his work, is missing, and that he robbed stuff from the Smart house.


...has admitted that.

WALSH: He robbed stuff from the Smart house. He has a terrible rap sheet. This guy spent a lot of years in prison for shooting a cop, trying to kill a cop with a sawed off shotgun in Salt Lake City. He has a history of burglary.

KING: No history of pedophile?

WALSH: No, no sexual assault of children. But we do know lots of times that people who have access and are burglars -- access to homes, they will commit a crime of opportunity. If there's a woman in the house, they will rape the woman, or if they become obsessed, like the Danielle Van Dam case that's right now a trial right now, David Westerfield lived two doors away. Everybody thought he was probably a nice guy. He was a millionaire, owned a couple patents.

But they found out that he was a weirdo. He was a pedophile. He was obsessed with children. Never had any track record. No history of pedophilia or sexual assault.

KING: So Ricci is a logical suspect?

WALSH: A very logical suspect, because he worked in the house, Larry. A year ago...

KING: He's been in prison now. They've had him held for a long time.

WALSH: He's been in prison for over a week. They've been talking to him. But of course, he's been educated in the system. You and I talk about this. Here's a guy who's been in the system. He's been in prison for multiple years for attempted murder of a cop.

So these are not the guys who flip over and talk. This is a guy that knows the system.

KING: If I'm the parents, though, don't I hope it's not him, because if it is him, it's probable that she's gone?

WALSH: If you're the parents, in your heart of hearts -- we talked about the Levys the last time I was here. In their heart of hearts they knew that -- and I said that Chandra was probably dead. You and I talked about it, that they'd be lucky to find her, that she would probably be found within two to three miles of the house, and unfortunately I was dead right.

The Levys always held out hope -- maybe she ran away with a guy, or somebody else, whatever the situation. But you're prepared for the worst. And I think the Smarts are at the point right now -- yes, they keep having this wonderful courage, they keep coming out and talking to the press and saying, we know that we're getting our daughter back. But in their heart of their hearts, I think they want to know, they need to know.

And I know that they must know that this guy had access to the house, keys to the house, got in the house, did work in the house. They paid him with a car, a car that the seat is missing. I mean, he is a very, very logical suspect.

KING: What do you make of the search being done by all of the people in Utah?

WALSH: It is heartwarming.

KING: They did that for your son, too, didn't they?

WALSH: The people of south Florida mounted the largest search in the history of the United States for a missing child. And that was 20 years ago. The good people of south Florida, before anybody ever looked for missing children, put on one of the greatest searches. They put over a million flyers of Adam.

KING: Where was Adam found?

WALSH: He was found 120 miles north of our home in Vero Beach, Florida, part of him. He was decapitated. His head was found...

KING: Where was it found?

WALSH: Floating in a canal by two fishermen. And lucky enough we had dental records, and that we don't know. And that's the point that I was going to make about the Smart family -- the not knowing is killing them now. It's three weeks. They know the odds of finding their daughter alive are diminished almost down to nothing.

Right now, I think they want to know. They need to know. That's what parents need to know.

KING: The Mormons that we know, a very close family of people.

WALSH: Phenomenal. This community, they are -- when this is all over, whatever happens, whether they ever find Elizabeth Smart or not, I will say that it's not only just the Mormon community of Salt Lake City, but the Mormon community in the state, will now probably have mounted the most organized and extensive search ever for a missing child, because they really pulled together.

KING: You know Utah very well, visit very often.

WALSH: Yes, I do.

KING: Would you say that there's a chance they never find her?

WALSH: I would say because of the rough terrain -- you've been out there because your wife is from there. You've got all these valleys. You've got incredible national parks there. You've got the Great Salk Lake. This would probably be the easiest place in the United States to hide a body. There are not enough people in the state of Utah, there are not, probably, enough people in 10 states to search the surrounding area.

And if this guy knew what he was doing, he could deposit Elizabeth Smart out in the woods out there. Now you know, when they found Chandra Levy here, she's right in Rock Creek Park in the middle of Washington, D.C., for a year decomposed, and animals move the body around and they move the bones...

KING: We hear the parents talk. But you lived it. So what...

WALSH: It's hell for them. It's hell for them.

KING: Do you sleep?

WALSH: You can't sleep. You can't eat. You're waiting for every phone call. You are getting advice from good people that love you. You're getting advice from people who don't really -- you don't know what they're talking about.

You're talking to different police agencies. You're talking to people who are telling you, "Talk to the media." You're talking to people who are saying, "Don't talk to the media, rest. Don't talk to this one or that one."

I always give them the same advice. I have sent that word out to them. You got to remember one thing. You know who the real victim is? Elizabeth. Elizabeth is the victim out there. Be strong. Go and talk to anybody that will talk to you. Keep her name out in the forefront, because I'll tell you what -- one month from now, probably three weeks from now, no one will know Elizabeth Smart's name any more.

KING: I want to pick right up on that when we come back. John Walsh is our guest. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "America's Most Wanted") WALSH: It's now one of the most biggest search efforts ever for a missing child, a massive operation involving thousands of volunteers and covering thousands of square miles of rough terrain around Salt Lake City.

Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart hasn't been seen for a week and a half, since a kidnapper apparently broke into her home in the middle of the night and abducted her at gunpoint.

This family's agony has gone on far too long, so let's do what we can to bring Elizabeth Smart home tonight. If you know anything about where Elizabeth Smart might be, call 1-800-CRIME-TV right now.



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "America's Most Wanted")

WALSH (voice-over): Milwaukee police have begun a massive search for a missing 7-year-old girl. They say Alexis Patterson vanished while she was on her way to school last week.

Alexis was last seen at 8:00 a.m. on May third after her stepfather says he walked her to an intersection just a block from the High Mount Community School. But Alexis was never seen at the school.

Please, if you can help bring little Alexis home, call our hotline right now: 1800-CRIME-TV.


KING: Why, John Walsh, do some cases get more attention than others? Is it because Alexis is black?

WALSH: I don't think so. Alexis Patterson is a tough case, because we got stepdaddy, who says he brought her to school. Now, I have a 7-year-old, and I brought this 7-year-old to school. And there's usually 10, 15 teachers out there. There's other parents. They say, you know, when you bring your little boy to school, hey, it's Larry, how are you? Da-da-da-da-da-da.

Nobody can verify that this stepfather brought Alexis to school that day. Nobody saw him. Nobody saw Alexis.

You know, he is a potential suspect in this. So when it's a little dicey like this, the -- you know, it doesn't get this attention.

KING: A lot of media commentators have accused the national media of ignoring missing kids generally. True?

WALSH: Absolutely. I've often said it.

You know, I mean, there were 4,600 attempted stranger abductions last year. If there were 4,600 missing anchormen, 4,600 missing editors of newspapers, 4,600 missing stars, it would be a big problem.

It's pack reporting. They're all out -- everybody's in Salt Lake City right now because this little girl got abducted from a million- dollar home and it...

KING: Does it have to do with the parents being wealthy?

WALSH: Not necessarily the circumstances of the case.

Of course, for "America's Most Wanted," we don't care where the kids are from, what the background...

KING: But we have another Utah girl missing, Kiplyn Davis missing from Spanish Fork, Utah, not far from Salt Lake, under suspicious circumstances since 1995. She was 16.

What happened to her story?

WALSH: Hate this case. I hate this case.

Here's an intact family; a good family. Here's a girl that came home from school every day at 3:30. Usually if you have a runaway, they take, you know, a wallet, they take a teddy bear, they take something. There's some indication that there's problems in the family, or they got a boyfriend, et cetera.

One cop obviously said, you know what? I think this girl is a runaway. The family -- you don't know.

I watched the family the other night. They were on a show, and they were talking about, why did Elizabeth Smart get this attention in 1995? Why didn't we get any attention? We couldn't get anybody in the media involved in this.

KING: The answer is because the cop said it was...

WALSH: Cop says, hey, she's 15 years old, she probably ran away.

But you know what? You and I have talked about this. Twenty- seven of Ted Bundy's 29 victims were listed as voluntarily missing or runaways when they were women that had kids, or that they were -- you know, it's...

KING: By the way, how are the Salt Lake City, in your opinion, police and FBI handling all this?

WALSH: Well, they're working closely together. The Mormon community is very tight-lipped. And I think in the beginning that the FBI said to the Mormon police, we're here to help you. I mean, you know...

KING: Lot of Mormon policemen?

WALSH: There are a lot. I mean, you know, 800,000 people in Utah of the million-or-so people there are Mormons. I mean, et cetera. I think they're working closely together. But this Kiplyn Davis case really, really bothers me, and really disturbs me because somebody made an arbitrary decision -- one cop. I think that just because this girl didn't come home from school one afternoon, she's a runaway. I don't think any cop in this country has the arbitrary right to make that decision.

KING: How should it be handled?

WALSH: It should be handled -- do you know what they should be doing right away, is say, OK, let's look into this. She's 15 years old. She comes home every day. Mom and dad are OK. They're not divorced. There's no problems here. Let's go to school and see if she had any problems at school. Does she have a shaky boyfriend?

KING: There was no big investigation?

WALSH: None whatsoever. It was, you know, she's a runaway...

KING: And now she's still listed as a runaway?

WALSH: Now, well, I think they're relooking at this because the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has done a computer-enhanced picture of what this girl may look like. And I think they're looking back and saying, you know what, we might have made a mistake.

KING: How about the two missing Oregon City girls? That goes back to January ninth.

WALSH: This case...

KING: January ninth and then March eighth.

WALSH: This case absolutely drives me crazy. Ashley Pond was walking to school one day and never made it to the school bus. A cop comes to the house because she doesn't show up that night. So she's missing that crucial 10 or 12 hours because she was in a dance class.

Cop comes to the house. He finds out that there's been a couple reports of social service come to the house. It's a single mom. He doesn't go and look in the room and find out that all her stuff is in the room. He doesn't go to school and find out that she's a good student, that she's the one who cleans the house and everything.

He lists her as a runaway. He never tells anybody for five days. Doesn't tell the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The FBI went on record and said they weren't called until the sixth day. "America's Most Wanted" wasn't called until the sixth day.

Six days this girl is missing.

KING: What was the mother doing...

WALSH: The mother was screaming and pleading with the cops and saying, come on, this is a good girl. She never made it to school. Then her little friend Miranda Gaddis, who's in dance class with her, another 12-year-old from Oregon City, goes on television. She says, I want to see my friend Ashley Pond. I want her brought home alive.

Guess what happens to Miranda Gaddis? She gets kidnapped on her way to school.

So now do you know what we have? We didn't have a runaway in the beginning, we have a serial child abductor; a predator in Oregon City.

And you know what? He's out there. Those two little girls are missing.

Who's covering it? You and I are talking about it. They've dropped off the front page.


KING: ... any leads?

WALSH: Not one lead. We had about 600 calls.


KING: ... why isn't everybody on it? Why?

WALSH: Why? Because, you know what? Everybody's on Elizabeth Smart now.

The media, the pack reporting -- here's a girl taken from a million dollar house broken into in the middle of the night.

But I'm saying, OK, why isn't every story -- you're doing it, and I commend you and give you all the credit in the world. You're asking...

KING: We're not doing it every night.

WALSH: No, but you're talking about Elizabeth Smart. But you're also talking about Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis.

KING: We are tonight.

WALSH: You are tonight. And you're showing their pictures. And you're giving that family hope.

And you're saying: What the hell is going on in Oregon City? You've got a serial child abductor up there who's gotten two 12-year- old girls on the way to the school bus.

KING: Why isn't the whole community up in arms?

WALSH: They are. They're scared to death up there. They're still riding it. They're still looking into it, et cetera. But it's no longer a national story. KING: How about, tomorrow is the two-year anniversary of Molly Bish. After she was dropped off in Warren, Massachusetts where he was a lifeguard -- she was 16, 5-foot-7, 127.

WALSH: Hardly got any national attention whatsoever. A beautiful girl, nice girl.

KING: Because?

WALSH: Because she's 16, OK.

Mom comes to pick her up. A suspicious guy is seen in the area. Witnesses give a composite of the guy. Girl's got a great track record. She's a good student. She's a lifeguard working hard, et cetera.

But because she's 16, she's not 9, she's not 12, she wasn't taken from the house. Again, all of a sudden she drops off the pages.

And I kept saying, you know, come on: If Molly Bish was your daughter, you'd be out there. If it was a news director's daughter, if it was the head of NBC News or CBS News or CNN news channel, they would be -- you know, Molly Bish should be on every night.

KING: We'll get a break. We'll come back.

We'll be including your phone calls. Taking a lot of calls tonight for John Walsh.

Tomorrow night Pat Boone is here. Do you remember the story of his grandson that crashed through the building and was in a coma? Grandson now speaks. Pat Boone and that story tomorrow night.

And Imus, the I-Man returns on Friday night.

We'll be right back with more of John Walsh on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "America's Most Wanted")

WALSH (voice-over): Ashley disappeared on he way to school here in Oregon City, Oregon on January ninth. Her friend Miranda, also 13, disappeared from the exact same spot two months later on March eighth.

Ashley was last seen wearing Tommy Hilfiger blue jeans, white Sketcher tennis shoes and her Tweety Bird watch with the pink wristband she got for Christmas.

Miranda was last seen wearing blue jeans, a blue hooded sweatshirt, and blue or tan book bag.

If you know anything about their disappearance, call us tonight at 1800-CRIME-TV.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "America's Most Wanted")

WALSH (voice-over): Goldberg had turned his backyard into a child's paradise, with swings and a pen for pet rabbits and ducks. Inside his home, kids could play with computer games and art supplies.

But what no parent here knew, cops say, was that Goldberg's interest in their children was far from innocent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has already assaulted six kids. And we know that these guys don't stop.

WALSH: Before cops could close in, Goldberg took off.

If you have any information about Richard Goldberg, please call our hotline tonight.


KING: What about this case?

WALSH: Well, I'll tell you, I'm glad to see the FBI is really refocused -- not that they're just doing terrorists -- they have started to put pedophiles on their Top Ten list.

And this is the third pedophile, Richard Goldberg.

KING: He's on it.

WALSH: He's on it. Long-time sex offender. This is the kind of guy -- and here's a life lesson for divorced and single mothers that are out there.

Here's a guy who sets up his house and his backyard like a playground for children. He's got the bunnies, he's got the rabbits, he's befriending divorced women with young daughters. He's taking them to Disney World.

And I say to these women: Why do you never wonder why he never asked you out? Why he never asked you to dinner? Had any interest in you? And why in the hell would you let your 10- or 9-year-old daughter go to this guy's house? You barely know him. Just because he's got a nice yard and he's got all the pets and all the video games.

KING: Because it looks cute, I guess, is...

WALSH: And you know what he is? He's the rooster in the hen house.

KING: We don't know where he is?

WALSH: No, he could be anywhere. Smart as hell. Long-time sex offender. But he's on the FBI's Top Ten, and I'd love to nail this guy, Larry. Love to.

KING: And there's another one we may be able to catch for you tonight, hopefully. Tell me about Richard Evonnets (ph).

WALSH: Columbia, South Carolina. This guy kidnapped a 15-year- old girl three days ago; grabbed her off the street, lured her to the car. And I keep telling kids, I keep telling young women, don't go to the car.

KING: And there's his picture for our television viewers.

WALSH: I'd love to see you nail this guy tonight, because we won't be able to get him on until Saturday night.

There's his car. She went to the car -- because this is that these guys do...

KING: This was where? Columbia...

WALSH: Columbia, South Carolina.

He's got long history of sexual offenses. He's a previous convicted second offender. Two sexual offenses.

And do you know what these girls do? He called her over to ask for some type of directions or whatever. Got her in the car, put her into a plastic container. He's had her for a day-and-a-half, raped her repeatedly for a day-and-a-half, and she got away. She just got away, and we...

KING: Escaped?

WALSH: She escaped.

KING: Identified him?

WALSH: Identified him, led cops right back to the condo, right back to where he had taken her. They know who he is. They know he's a repeat offender.

KING: He's 38 years old, 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, brown hair, brown eyes. Silver, two-door, Ford Escort hatchback, South Carolina tags: 320LEM. That's the tag number. May be heading to Florida.

WALSH: Absolutely. And you know what I'd love to see? One of your viewers tonight -- they can remain anonymous if they're afraid....

KING: Who do they call?

WALSH: 1-800-CRIME-TV. Got operators -- our hotline operators are on 24 hours a day.

KING: They're on there all the time?

WALSH: All the time. It's -- cops don't answer the phone. So if you're making a call, you don't have to worry about your phone call being traced or tapped. You won't be dragged into the case. If you see this guy pull into a motel, you see him pull into somewhere, a truck stop or something, 1-800-CRIME-TV, nail him tonight.

KING: All right. And the car he's believed to be driving is a silver, two-door Ford Escort hatchback with South Carolina tags: 320LEM. May be heading to Florida. Richard Evonnets (ph).

WALSH: That's him.

KING: Tell me about this fugitive you're interested in -- we're going to go to calls at the bottom of the hour, by the way -- Bablu Hassan.

WALSH: God, I hate this guy.

KING: You hate everyone.

WALSH: Yes, but Larry, let me tell you what this guy did in New York City. He dated this woman, she rejected him. Like a lot of stalkers and everything, he comes to the house to get even.

KING: There's his picture.

WALSH: OK, he kills the mother in front of the 5-year-old daughter. He then slits the daughter's stomach from side to side. She has over 100 stitches. Thank God she doesn't die. She runs to a neighbor's house and calls 911.

What a coward. Kills the mother in front of a 5-year-old, then slits her stomach and tries to kill her.

She survives. This little girl will be in counseling for the rest of her life. I'd love to see this coward nailed. This guy's on the top -- he's on the John Walsh personal most wanted list, this guy, really; this coward right here.

KING: Any clues? Any...

WALSH: Well, he came from Pakistan. He may have tried to run back there. But you saw his picture. He could be anywhere. He could be hiding in a Pakistani community somewhere in the United States.

And I say, you know, whether you're an illegal immigrant, whether -- wherever you're from. Whatever you're afraid of, look at his face. If you know him, let me tell you what he did. He killed a mother and slit the stomach of a 5-year-old girl.

If you know where he is, call "America's Most Wanted." We're not going to send anybody to your house. Nobody's going to come after you. Call anonymously and tell us where this low-life, coward, scumbag is.


WALSH: That's it. KING: Have you ever been able, in all your years, to figure out why people would harm a child? It's beyond me.

WALSH: You and I are loving fathers. And both of us have talked about it on the air and off the air.

KING: But you study it.

WALSH: And I study it.

Where -- how could you cross this line? How could you cross this line?

But you know what these people are? They are so selfish. They are so disgusting. They are so hate-filled. And they do it sometimes for vengeance -- like this guy did, to kill this little 5-year-old girl because her mother rejected her (sic). And other people, it's just their sexual predilection. That's their sexual preference. It's a power thing. It's a sexual thing. They use and manipulate children.

And once they've killed a child, they've gone into a place that you and I cannot understand. Do you know what I mean? They've gone to a planet, a dimension that you and I can't figure out.

But I have figured out one thing: Once they have crossed that line and they've hurt a child and killed a child, they have to be hunted down like the dogs they are.

KING: We don't know why they like the child, though, do we?

WALSH: They obsess on that. I mean, some pedophiles like little boys, like the guy who killed my son. Some pedophiles like little girls of a certain age. Some people like Ted Bundy like dark haired girls between the ages of -- they obsess on them and they fixate on them.

But you know what, I'm sick of psychiatrists saying, you know, let's study them, let's figure them out.

You know what I say? One thing: Once they've crossed that line; once they've crossed that horrible line, hunt them down. Hunt them down and remove them from society.

KING: We'll take a break, come back and take your phone calls for John Walsh.

Pat Boone tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE.

Taking your calls for John Walsh right after the break. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "America's Most Wanted")

WALSH (voice-over): According to her sister, Chastity was always a teacher, especially to her eldest daughter. Most importantly, Chastity (ph) taught her daughter what to do in case of an emergency.

Cops say around midnight little Chastity was awakened to hear her mother fighting with Hassan in the kitchen. Struggling for her life, Chastity asked her daughter to get some help.

Now detectives need your help to find Bablu Hassan. Although he's from Bangladesh, authorities believe he's still in this country.

If you know where Bablu Hassan is hiding tonight, call 1-800- CRIME-TV.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "America's Most Wanted")

WALSH (voice-over): Police say Christina's abductors drove her to this Washington Mutual Bank nearby Montclair. The strange behavior was all recorded by this ATM's camera. Although Christina is not in any of the pictures, the machine recorded the fact that it was her card being used.

A forensic artist has created this sketch of what the female suspect may look like.

If you can identify her or know anything about the murder of Christina Burmeister, please call our hotline at 1-800-CRIME-TV.


KING: Boy, you got some job.

John Walsh, the host of "America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back."

We're going to include your phone calls. Lots of other things coming.

Minneapolis, hello.

CALLER: Hello there. My question is this: John, I admire you tremendously, but, however, admiring is not going to help bring kids back.

As a parent, as a teenager, and also a 9-year-old, what can we do to help our kids not be one of these statistics? And also, is there some way that we can get involved to help find missing children?

WALSH: Absolutely. Two great questions.

Number one, I say you've got to open the lines of communication with your children. I mean, kids, they know -- they look at the headlines. They know that Elizabeth Smart is missing. They know what's out there. And I believe that knowledge is power.

You know, we did a simple survey around the United States, and we asked kids: If you went to Disney World, if you went to a football game, if you went to the mall and you got separated from your parents, what would you do?

And kids said, I'd go to a uniformed security guard. I'd never go out in the parking lot. I'd never leave the store. If I couldn't find a store personnel, I'd go up to a grandma with kids. I'd never go up to a man.

The kids did wonderfully because, you know what? Kids are intuitive, and they need to know good information.

When we asked the parents, the parents failed the test miserably. The parents said, oh, I don't know. We said, you know, you're the adult. When you get to this venue, to this amusement park or whatever, shouldn't you have a game plan? Shouldn't you be telling your children, here's what you do if we get separated; here's what you don't do if we get separated?

It's knowledge. And I believe knowledge is power.

And I'll tell you what, kids are out of school now in the summertime. The buddy system is what works. We tell kids all the time abductors like to use their cars. That's their safety net. They don't like to get out too far. We tell kids, you know what, don't go over to the car.

Adults don't need advice from children. Let adults get advice and get direction from other adults.

And so there's so many things that you should be doing. And, you know what? Get involved. We now have missing children clearinghouses in every state. We have the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington. They have free safety tips. You can call 1- 800-THE-LOST.

Talk to your kids...


WALSH: 1-800-THE-LOST. They have a 24-hour hotline like "America's Most Wanted" does.


WALSH: Absolutely.

And they are the cyber tip-line for child porn. If you're on your kid -- on the Internet, because that's the number one crime now, Internet pedophilia, pedophiles this year, the national center with the FBI, got together with the Innocent Images program, Larry, and they caught 40 pedophiles that were posing as kids in chat rooms like the guy that lured out the 13-year-old girl in New Jersey and killed her.

You know, you've got to know what your kids are doing on the Internet.

KING: Dear Abby was on last night. She got an e-mail, turned the guy in.

WALSH: God bless her.

KING: You like that?

WALSH: God bless her. Absolutely.

You know what? I'm not a vigilante. I don't believe in a vigilante society. But I'll tell you what, whether you have kids or you don't, we all should be looking out for kids.

KING: Scottsdale, Arizona for John Walsh, hello.

CALLER: Hi. Hi Mr. Walsh. I just want to say I'm honored to talk to you.

My question is, I'm kind of a follow-up to the last caller. What can we do? You know, they used to have pictures on milk cartons. And, you know, what can we do? There should be something that we can do to get these kids' faces out there because somebody knows where they are -- these, you know, thousands of kids are.

WALSH: Oh, absolutely.

KING: Somebody knows.

WALSH: And do you know what? It's been proven over the years that 70 percent of missing children are found because of pictures and that the media plays a great role.

Now Wal-Mart shows pictures of missing kids. They found 63 missing kids. Advo, that little company that sends those cards in the mail to you that says, do you want your carpets cleaned, and everybody throws them away. They've found 116 missing kids. The national center has about 200 corporate partners that do pictures of missing kids. WABC in New York City, a big station, every week shows pictures of missing kids.

I don't understand why more media outlets...

KING: Shouldn't all television stations?

WALSH: Oh, absolutely. Come on, Larry, if one of your beautiful boys was missing, you know what you'd be doing? You'd be calling me on "America's Most Wanted." You'd be calling Katie Couric. You'd be calling...

KING: I'd be going nuts.

WALSH: You'd be going nuts. You'd be calling everybody in the media and saying, get my kid on there.

What does it take? Twenty, 15 seconds to show a picture of a missing kid?

We know one thing: The pictures work; that people look at them, and that's how we get them back.

KING: Vancouver, British Columbia, hello.

CALLER: Hi. John, I have a twofold question for you. The first is, every time you become involved with a missing child or a murdered child case, does it bring to you your own son's loss in a fresher, sharper way?

And secondly, this is regarding Elizabeth Smart, since Rikki -- or Ricci works in construction, do you think it's possible that she could be buried in a landfill and covered with cement?

WALSH: Well, to answer your first question, certainly a lot of cases of missing children, you know, hit right home, because I always think of Adam. I mean, you never get over the loss of your child. Do you know, I will always be the father of a murdered child.

And when I think about Adam, I think of how lucky I was to have him for six years. How blessed I was. That I'll see him in the next life. He's my angel. He keeps me going. But he's my inspiration. I wanted to make sure that he didn't die in vain.

So when I get involved in these cases, yes, they break my heart. They're tough.

But you know what? Every now and then we solve them. "America's Most Wanted" has gotten back 23 missing children.

KING: And the construction angle in this?

WALSH: And the construction angle -- let me tell you, this guy, he's got a terrible rap sheet. I mean, here's a guy that tried to blow away a cop with a shotgun. He's a burglar, et cetera. He's a prime suspect.

He could have taken this little girl and put her anywhere in Utah. It doesn't necessarily have to be in a landfill or concrete. I mean, you and I have been out there, Larry. There's enough wilderness that she could be missing forever.

KING: Be right back with more of John Walsh. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "America's Most Wanted")

WALSH (voice-over): Maggie's 16-year-old daughter Molly disappeared from her lifeguard post at Comins Pond in Warren, Massachusetts last summer. The day before Molly disappeared, Maggie had seen a suspicious man in a white car at the pond. He was not there when Maggie dropped Molly off the next day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The main characteristics wouldn't change, but we needed to bring out the personality.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maggie looked into his eyes, and what she saw was a beady eyed look. He was smoking a cigarette. And she picked up on his mannerisms, on his character, on the mood. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't have a name for you, but I know who you are. And if you don't come to us, we are going to look for you, because I'm not going to give up. And we will find you.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "America's Most Wanted")

WALSH (voice-over): Police in Houston, Texas, say 13-year-old Laura Ayala walked from her home to a convenience store just 100 feet away to get a newspaper for a school project. She never came back. Then the FBI got a tip that Laura might be in Mexico.

If you know anything about where Laura Ayala might be, please call 1-800-CRIME-TV tonight.


KING: Nobody does a better public service, a more important one than John Walsh.

Why don't we have an all-crime channel that just shows these stories all day long, all -- cable channel.

WALSH: I think it's a great idea. I think there's tremendous interest in true crime. I think the American public since 9/11 is saying, what can we do? I mean...

KING: I mean, to show these kids that are missing.

WALSH: Show missing kids, show missing women, and wanted guys, and cold cases, unsolved cases. I mean, there's...

KING: The cable networks who make a lot of money -- networks ought to pool together like they do with C-SPAN and come up with a network to look for -- Why not? Let's get it rolling.

WALSH: Absolutely. It's a great idea.

KING: Cedars Rapids, Iowa, hello.

CALLER: Yes, should we be teaching our kids to scream and fight, even when threatened with a gun, to go quietly, especially in a public place, wouldn't they have a better chance to stay alive?

KING: Scream?

WALSH: You are right. You have hit it right on the nose.

And I did a training film for the FBI for children and women. Most of these guys are cowards. They do not like to leave the sanctuary of their car. That's their getaway vehicle. Most of the kids that have gotten away.

The good news is the Justice Department said last year 100,000 kids got away from potential abductors by screaming and yelling... KING: By that concept, Elizabeth should've screamed?

WALSH: It's in her house. I think -- you know, in retrospect, here's a little girl probably totally terrified in her house, the guy with a gun at her head and everything like that.

KING: It's easy to say.

WALSH: Yes, it's easy to say, what do you do when you're 14 years old.

But I subscribe to the theory, that woman is absolutely right. We should teach our kids that if someone tries to grab you in broad daylight, get you by the car; or you're a woman, somebody comes in there, the FBI says it all the time: It's better to take the chance that he shoots you and kills you there than to take you to a motel or the woods somewhere and torture you for hours and kill you. Really.

And make your stand there. Make your stand there, and 99 percent of the time you'll get away.

KING: Tampa, hello.

CALLER: Yes Larry, first of all I'd like to agree with you that a crime channel involving unsolved mysteries and missing children is a great idea.

My question for Mr. Walsh is: Of the 4,600 abductions last year, what percentage of those were actually parents or predators that took children out of our nation's borders? And do you feel that the United States is doing enough with, like, countries like Saudi Arabia in order to bring those children back.

WALSH: Terrific, terrific question.

The 4,600 stranger abductions were non-family members. Three hundred thousand noncustodial parental abductions happened last year. Now they -- we finally got this a felony. And this is the...


KING: ... husband or the father...

WALSH: This is the parent who didn't get custody of the child. To get revenge -- not to care about the child or whatever -- to get revenge. And half of them are women. Everybody says it's men.

The real problem is now, is the international abductions. We have a lot of...

KING: They take them overseas.

WALSH: Absolutely. They'll take them overseas. And the real problem is in the Arab countries, where they believe women are second- class citizens. And we've had a lot of abductions into Saudi Arabia. A lot of Saudis have come to the United States and married women here. We have Moroccans, Libyans, people from Palestine that have come here and have married American women, taken their children, and we know that those children are in those countries.

And they just not -- won't deal with our State Department. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a full-time lawyer in Washington who speaks five languages, works with the State Department and has been trying desperately...

KING: The countries won't listen to...

WALSH: They just will not cooperate.

KING: What do they say?

WALSH: They say, hey, you know, the father is a Saudi, and our laws are he has possession of the child. And we'll say, well wait a second...

KING: That's kidnapping, isn't it?

WALSH: Oh, it's a felony. It's absolutely a felony.

And I really believe that the State Department and Congress, although it is a felony and the FBI is involved, that we deal with these countries. A lot of these countries we give aid to. A lot of these countries we buy tons of things with.

And when they illegally abduct a child, and this is a horrible nightmare, because you don't get to see -- I mean, Larry, if you didn't get to see your two little boys grow up and get to see them go to high school or something, that's a missing child, isn't it? It would break your heart. It would break your heart.

I don't know why we don't really put the pressure on these countries and say, this child was taken illegally and we want this child back.

KING: Back with some more moments with the always welcome John Walsh. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "America's Most Wanted")

NARRATOR (voice-over): As Dr. Smith left the building, somebody jumped out of the shadows and threw some kind of chemical in his face, temporarily blinding him. And then unbelievably, the attack became even more sadistic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just wrapped him in barbed wire, strapped a bomb on his chest.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: If you move, the bomb will go off.

NARRATOR: Finally the man took off, leaving Dr. Smith wrapped in the sharp barb wire, unable to move.

If you have any information that can help us catch this attacker, call us now at 1-800-CRIME-TV.



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "America's Most Wanted")

WALSH: "America's Most Wanted" is unveiling a new race car designed to help recover missing kids. The car will be entered in NASCAR's Busch races. "America's Most Wanted" is putting the face and name of a missing child on each side. A different child will be featured for each race.


KING: Great idea.

WALSH: The crowd loves it. And Larry, we don't have a sponsor; we're looking for a sponsor.

Two guys from Body Dynamics in North Carolina, Scott Davis and Tim Suggs, who build cars for Winston Cup donated the car. A bunch of fans put together this kind of, you know, pit crew -- just volunteers. Put the pictures of missing children in it.

We entered our first race in Dover, Delaware. And, you know, it takes about 5 to $6 million to get a NASCAR there. We got it. We qualified number 43. Came and passed -- Lance Hooper, the driver, who drives trucks in the Craftsman Series passed 20 cars. We came in 23.

I was so thrilled. And you know what? The fans went crazy.

Dale Earnhardt's son, his two sons, came down.

Now, we qualified 43, and they're number one. They walked all the way down pit row and said, you know what, we're so proud, we want to have our picture taken in front of this car.

KING: How do people contact you directly?


KING: San Diego, hello.

CALLER: Hi, John, and thank you for all your wonderful work.

WALSH: Appreciate that.

CALLER: Thank you.

My question is: Should parents and police be more encouraged if there is a ransom note?

WALSH: Well, very rarely in stranger abductions -- nowadays people really, really don't kidnap kids for ransom anymore. I mean, they're really pedophiles. You and I have talked about it.

They kidnap -- the vast majority of stranger abducted children, not the noncustodials -- stranger abducted children are taken by pedophiles: people who want to sexually assault the children, sometimes...

KING: That's the norm?

WALSH: That's the norm.

Once in a while we get a ransom -- remember Steve Wind's (ph) daughter was kidnapped years ago?

KING: Yes.

WALSH: That was for money.

KING: Got her back.

WALSH: Thank God, got her back.

KING: Aliso Viejo, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I'm wondering, is there some sort of national protocol established in the case of missing kids that police can follow so that things like, you know, saying, oh, she's probably a runaway and everything stops, doesn't happen?

WALSH: No, there really is no national protocol. I mean, unfortunately I've been battling and doing this for 20 years since Adam was murdered.

We do now have a missing child state-run clearinghouse in every state. We do have -- most police agencies have abolished the 24-hour waiting period in stranger abducted cases.

But cops are still given the arbitrary decision-making process to decide, oh, you know what, this girl's 16, she probably ran off with a guy, or it's a whatever.

I say, don't assume that. Number one, enter her into the FBI computer immediately. Do your investigation. Talk to the parents. Find out what kind of a girl she was. And don't just arbitrarily assume that.

Because a lot of kids are runaways, absolutely. And they come back within 24 hours. But why take that burden on...

KING: We only got two-and-a-half minutes.

What about this case getting a lot of attention in Florida about Rilya Wilson, the missing girl...

WALSH: Yes, the little girl, social services...

KING: Governor Bush has had a problem over it.

WALSH: Yes, Jeb Bush is a friend of mine. He's a good guy. This is not the first case of social services that's run amuck.

Rilya Wilson is a 5-year-old girl that was taken from her grandmother by an alleged social worker who said, we're coming to do some testing on her.

And at first we thought that Rilya Wilson, when it was discovered that she was missing, might be precious dough -- this little girl that was found decapitated in Kansas City. A 5-year-old African-American little girl whose body was found one day, and then her decapitated head was found the next day.

You know what, and there was no report of her missing. So we figured, you know, this is bad parents who've killed their own children, or somebody in Kansas city.

When Rilya Wilson went missing we thought that it would be a match. The DNA proved that they were not the same little girl.

This little girl is missing. Forty-four other kids are lost in the system in Florida. Jeb Bush has done an awful lot. He's now passed a law, because the social worker in charge of the case falsified the records and said that she checked on Rilya Wilson every month, and she had never gone to the house for an entire year. So now it's a felony in Florida.

But you know what? The average social worker in any state has got 50 to 75 cases, Makes $18,000 to $19,000. The average garbage man in the United States makes $21,000.

When we finally realize that our children are really the most important thing and stop paying football players $6 million and start paying social workers $6 million, then we may not have these problems.

KING: One quick question: What keeps you going?

WALSH: You know what? It's my passion. The American public. The American public has kept "America's Most Wanted" on for 16 years. We are more popular than ever, getting more calls.

You know what I do? I believe we save lives. I believe we get justice. We've caught 716 guys that cops couldn't catch in 31 countries.

And you know what keeps me going? Is I believe you've got to fight back. I believe you've got to fight back.

KING: And boy, do you.

John Walsh, the host of "America's Most Wanted."

Again the number to call if you know anything about anyone is 1- 800-CRIME-TV; 1-800-CRIME-TV. And as we leave you -- we'll come back in a little while, tell you about tomorrow night -- here, once again, pictures of children who are gone.




KING: Remember the story of Pat Boone's grandson who fell and was in a coma? Lot of people came on this program, we went down and saw him. He now apparently is on the road to recovery. That full story tomorrow night.

And Friday night, the I-Man, Don Imus will be with us.

Right now it's time for NEWSNIGHT in New York. Aaron Brown's still on vacation. Still sitting in nobly, is Anderson Cooper.




Back to the top