Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...

UPDATED 03/02/1998 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 03/02/1998 at 01:00 AM EST

>John Walsh

A TV CRIMEBUSTER NAILS NO. 500

JOHN WALSH, THE STERN-FACED HOST of America's Most Wanted, is in a rare jubilant mood as he recounts the FOX reality show's 500th capture (airing Feb. 28 at 9 p.m. ET). Amy Rica DeChant had been on the lam since 1996 for allegedly slaying her boyfriend, a Las Vegas bookie. AMW first dramatized her case last April, and on Jan. 28, a viewer's phone tip led police to a house near Fort Pierce, Fla., where DeChant was living under an alias. How had she eluded capture up to then? Walsh laughs. "She was hiding out in a nudist colony."

The naked truth is that Walsh, 52, AMW's anchor since its debut 10 years ago, loves his job but loathes the fugitives the show has helped collar, such as James Charles Stark, a rapist and murderer who hanged himself in prison in 1991. "Great," says Walsh.

His most satisfying moment? When 12-year-old Genny Krohn "ran up and gave me a hug." In 1992, two days after the Florida girl had been kidnapped, that week's AMW aired a short with Genny's photo—prompting her rattled abductor to let her go.

Sadly, Walsh doubts even AMW could have saved his own child, Adam, who was 6 when he was snatched in 1981. "I don't think Adam had a chance," says Walsh, whose son was slain just hours after his abduction. Walsh, wife Revé, 46, and their kids Meghan, 15, Callahan, 13, and Hayden, 3, now keep their address a secret and use high-tech security—the result of anonymous death threats. Still, says Walsh, "I get great satisfaction when we take somebody really dangerous off the streets."

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