Best Miami Herald Story - 2010
Adam Walsh murder revisited: The case against Jeffrey Dahmer
The Miami Herald is not the venerable newspaper she used to be. The digital age, employee buyouts and layoffs, and the real estate meltdown have left her ragged and battered. She's even fallen to fifth place among the largest dailies in the state. (Great Alvah Chapman's ghost, Batman!) Yet more often than people give her credit for, the Herald shows her old feistiness for dogged reporting. Our favorite was the March 28 Sunday front-page sordid crime tale penned by reporters David Smiley and Arthur Jay Harris. The duo retraced the evidence and witness statements that pointed to serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer as the man who kidnapped and subsequently decapitated 6-year-old Adam Walsh in 1981. Before he was murdered in prison in 1994, Dahmer told Hollywood Police detectives that he was in South Florida when Walsh disappeared, but he denied killing the boy. Smiley and Harris interviewed several witnesses who firmly believe Dahmer was the killer. The story eerily describes how Phillip Lohr saw a "man carrying a struggling, freckled child out of Sears' toy department exit" and putting the kid inside an illegally parked blue van that matched the description of a vehicle Dahmer was driving at the time. Smiley and Harris detail how cops did not follow up on a tip from two truck drivers who saw Dahmer fumbling with a bucket next to his blue van, which was parked on the side of the road off Florida's Turnpike. The creepiest anecdote was the revelation by Terry Keaton, who was 10 years old around the time Walsh disappeared. Keaton recalled that one week before Adam vanished, he was almost kidnapped by a man he now claims was Dahmer. Keaton's quote: "In my heart, I truly believe that was the guy who tried to get me that day.''