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‘America’s Most Wanted’ still going strong
Walsh launched his crime-busting crusade in the aftermath of the abduction and murder of his 6-year-old son, Adam. He became an outspoken advocate for tougher laws against sex offenders, more cooperation among law enforcement agencies and citizen involvement in flushing out fugitives.
He is a former hotel executive with no TV experience. But he brought a zeal to the project that would breed success.
About a year after “America’s Most Wanted” premiered in April 1988, it became the first Fox program to rank first in its time slot. During the 2010-11 season, the show was seen by an average 5 million viewers.
Walsh, now 66, returned his crusade to New York recently by filming spots on two fugitives wanted by the city’s FBI office: Rene Ramirez, a Mexican-born man suspected of trafficking child-pornography, and Jaime Alberto Macias, charged with killing his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter in 1993 while he was supposed to be baby-sitting.
“I walked in those shoes of these victims,” Walsh said. “It broke my wife’s heart, and damaged us forever, Adam’s murder. But the not solving it was worse. You never get over the murder of your child. You have a terrible mortal wound.”
Justice in the barbecue shooting came on Feb. 29 in Queens state Supreme Court. A jury found Williams guilty of killing Roshawn Tate and injuring his cousin, Mark Belizaire.
“It’s been a very long journey for the past 10 years of my life, and as for my family as well,” Belizaire said at sentencing. “This man disabled me for life … mentally, but also physically and financially.”
Williams was sentenced to 50 years to life on the murder and attempted murder charges after telling a judge, “I didn’t do it.”
The show netted several tips, but in the end, Williams was found when NYPD detectives investigating an unrelated case dusted a crime scene for fingerprints, and he was tracked to New Jersey where he was arrested. An accomplice pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, testified against him and got nine years.
Walsh knows from experience that the families of victims need plenty of patience and persistence. His son’s killing went unsolved for 27 years. By then, the drifter authorities believed responsible had already died in prison.
“One thing I know, we get justice,” Walsh said of his show. “I was dying for justice in Adam’s case.”
Associated Press writer Tom Hays contributed to this report.
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