updated 05/06/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 05/06/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT
He did not, at first, want to be seen. Approached by Fox six years after the 1981 kidnapping and murder of his 6-year-old son, Adam, the former Hollywood, Fla., hotel management consultant resisted the television overtures for months. "I finally did it because the first guy we were going to do was David James Roberts, who had raped 17 women and killed 4 people, 2 of them small children," Walsh, 50, says. "I said, 'Wouldn't it be something if we caught him?' And we did." Walsh's continuing passion for crime-fighting, says Heflin, "is a fire that burns through his eyes." Logging 14-hour days and traveling nearly a million miles annually, the 5'9", 160-lb. Walsh battles stress with a low-fat diet and constant workouts. The sober television suits encase a 40-inch chest and 30-inch waist. Because his rugged looks are all too familiar to vengeful criminals, Walsh, his wife of 25 years, Reve, and their three children—all born after Adam's death—have round-the-clock security guards and keep a low profile. "John is a beautiful person in a lot of ways," says Reve. "He's like a phoenix risen from the ashes."