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Police prepare to wrap Adam Walsh case

Boy, look at that poor family. 27 years later, and you'd swear they were looking at a door they expected Adam to walk through any second.

When I took the bus to Calgary last week I was struggling to find a word for the people I always meet at the Greyhound station—undernourished working people with stringy hair and poor dentition who have lived in many places and find themselves doing different jobs that require steel-toed boots every couple of years (which invariably emerges quite early on in conversation). Reading the Adam Walsh wire story was like having a finger jabbed into my chest. That's right, isn't it?—they're the "drifters" you always read about in crime stories!

Reporters use the word like it was some obscure occupational classification—as if "drifter" were a specific, indisputable role in life that you could decide to occupy when you were 18. And, of course, it's never used except in stories about murderers, but there must be lots of drifters who have never killed anyone. Here's a headline you will never see: "HEROIC DRIFTER SAVES FIVE FROM FLAMING BUS".


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Comments (8)

Crid [cridcridatgmail]:

More passerby heroics.

Half Canadian:

While I agree that you'll be hard pressed to read of the heroics of a drifter on the front page, Heinlein did include the attempts of a hobo to rescue a young lady (along with her husband) from a train. He died in the attempt, and Heinlein used this event to highlight true selflessness.

I can't find it online (where I first came across it), which means it could be falsely attributed to him, or he could have made it up.

That's all I've got.


This guy confessed repeatedly to killing Adam Walsh - the police dismissed it because he claimed to have killed just about everybody, and there is and was zero evidence to connect him to the crime.

What changed?

The cops were pretty clear that nothing had changed, they had just reviewed the file and found that Toole was the last man standing. They had a bloodstained carpet from Toole's car at one point but it went missing before the advent of affordable DNA testing.


And especially they had the testimony of his niece from his deathbed.

"Psst, niece - btw, I killed Adam Walsh."

Case closed!


The Littlest Hobo = heroic drifter


The Heinlein anecdote comes from (IIRC) a speech to the graduating class of the US Naval Academy, probably in the late 'eighties or so. In any event, you didn't imagine it (or if you did, we are suffering from the same delusion). As I recall, the couple were caught on the tracks with a train bearing down on them.

Half Canadian:


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