Crime Stoppers: 15 years since the murder of Josh Walden
Fifteen years ago, a 10-year old Chattanooga boy who had gone out to ride his bike, was found murdered in the woods near his home. The Hamilton County District Attorney's Cold Case Unit has not given up on bringing the killer to justice.
One of the working theories in this case is that little Josh's murder may have been accidental, but that does not leave his family with any solid answers, nor does it leave justice served. Fifteen years and there is nothing new in this awful case. There is only the hope that a Crime Stoppers cash reward and guaranteed anonymity will get someone to finally make a phone call.
"I'm not mad anymore," said Crystal Walden. "I just need to know why." It has been an emotional decade-and-a-half now for Crystal Walden since her brother Josh was found in the woods off 16th Avenue. The 10-year old had been smothered, and his body was found doused with muriatic acid, a relatively common additive in cleaners, in what investigators believe was an attempt to cover up the crime.
"I always worried about him, but not about being murdered," said Crystal. An outgoing kid who loved the outdoors and helping others, she had basically raised him. "I remember looking at him more like my son then my brother. You know? Because, I mean, I did everything for him. I remember when he came home from hospital, getting him dressed, changing diapers, and giving him bottles. I don't know, he was always a special person to me. All of my brothers were special but him, he was just my baby."
That December sticks in her mind for a number of reasons. Christmas was coming and so was her first child. "He was excited. he was super excited around that time, especially because he was going to be an uncle. I was having my first child. He was so excited he would say, 'I can't wait 'til he gets here!'"
Just days after her baby was born, Josh went missing. Then, he was gone. "I don't even think I realized what happened. At first, I was like, 'you guys got it wrong. Go home. He's coming home anytime,'" Crystal recalled. "It didn't hit me that he could be dead or murdered, but I knew that something wasn't right. But, I never could've imagined he was dead."
Her brother's murder and years with no answers have changed who Crystal Walden is and the way she treats her children. "I was emotional, I was young, and it changed everything," she admitted. "My kids do not leave the street we live on, much less go stay overnight places. I always keep in the back of my head: that person is still out there. And my kids are very sheltered."
What would resolution to this case look like to Crystal Walden? "Closure, to me, would be just to understand why," she said. "I'm not mad at them anymore. I just want to know why my brother, if my brother did something to anybody. Why did he deserve to die?"
For her own personal well-being, Crystal says he has forgiven whoever committed this heinous crime. "I understand stuff happens accidents happen, every day, but no child deserves to die," she explained. "Be courageous and come forward don't be scared of nothing because is not to be scared of."
With Crime Stoppers, you do not need to fear retribution because we will never even ask for your name. You will receive a case number and, if your information leads in the right direction, we will pay you up to $1,000 reward. Call: 698-3333
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