Lifetime has picked up John Walsh’s pioneering series America’s Most Wanted, television’s top crime-fighting show that will return for its 25th season later this year. The announcement was made today by Nancy Dubuc, President and General Manager of Lifetime Networks.
Hosted and executive produced by Walsh, America’s Most Wanted has become one of the most important programs on television, having played a major role in the capture of more than 1,100 fugitives in the U.S. and 30 countries, including 17 on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List, and rescue of 61 children and missing persons since its launch in 1988. Aside from its landmark status in the annals of television as a leader in using the medium to apprehend the world’s most dangerous criminals, the series also has shaped legislation and the national dialogue on crime fighting, and received numerous honors for its work. This month at the Creative Arts Emmy® Awards, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences will present Walsh with the prestigious Governors Award, which “salutes an individual, company or organization that has made a substantial impact and demonstrated the extraordinary use of television.”
“America’s Most Wanted is a seminal program that provides a very valuable service to both viewers and law enforcement agencies,” said Dubuc. “For more than two decades John Walsh has been leading the fight against crime and it’s an honor to partner with him on bringing back this important show.”
“I’ve always believed there was something very special about America’s Most Wanted and that there should be a home for it on television, and I couldn’t be happier to now be able bring it back on Lifetime,” said Walsh. “We’ve often been called the court of last resort…now we are back in the game and ready to saddle up for another season to get justice for victims and put dangerous criminals behind bars.”
Walsh is known internationally as a crime fighter, victims’ advocate and the host of America’s Most Wanted. He never sought the role, but this has been his life since July 27, 1981 — the day his only child, Adam, was abducted from a mall near his home in Hollywood, Florida. Adam was found murdered two weeks later. Born in Auburn, New York, and educated at the University of Buffalo, Walsh moved to Florida with his wife, Revé, and had been a successful hotel developer before Adam’s tragic murder. The Walsh’s experience showed them that the nation was in desperate need of leadership in the fight to protect children. Out of their pain, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) was created in 1984, after President Ronald Reagan signed the “Missing Children’s Assistance Act.” The NCMEC is the premier child protection non-profit, providing invaluable resources to parents, children and law enforcement in the United States and internationally. On July 27, 2006 — 25 years to the day since Adam’s abduction — at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, President George W. Bush signed a new, tough-as-nails law to track and apprehend convicted sex offenders who disappear after their release from prison: “The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.” July 27 is now a bittersweet day for the Walshes. It’s a date that marks the worst day of their lives in 1981, but also a day that brings hope to families who seek justice and answers because of the law named for their son.
A hero to law enforcement, Walsh has been honored numerous times by many local, state and federal agencies. In addition to being named “Man of the Year” by both the U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI, Walsh was also made an honorary U.S. Marshal. He is only the third man to receive this honor in the organization’s 200-plus-year history.
Walsh’s three best-selling books, Tears of Rage, No Mercy and Public Enemies, tell his family’s story and about the toughest America’s Most Wanted cases he’s worked on. Although he’s never held political office, Walsh has been the driving force behind major pieces of child protection legislation. This hard work led to him being honored five times by four presidents: Ronald Reagan (twice), George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
John and Revé were blessed with three more children after Adam: Meghan, Callahan and Hayden. John and his wife continue to fight for victims’ rights and for justice throughout the United States and wherever children or crime victims are in need.