Mike Mathis retired from the police force, but this week's case is one that convinced him to come back into service with the District Attorney's Cold Case Unit. "Everyone on this wall is just as equally important, but there's something different about a 10-year-old. It's the innocence," he said as he pointed to photos of victims on the walls of the unit's conference room. "I was actually one of the original detectives that worked on Josh's case and a 10-year-old sticks in your heart."
It was December of the year 2000. Josh Walden was last seen leaving for a bike ride on a Friday afternoon. "It was a neighborhood, community, looking for him along with law-enforcement," Mathis remembered, "and some other kids stumbled upon his body in a wooded area up above East Lake Park."
That was two days later, on Sunday. The cause of death was 'mechanical asphyxiation,' the technical description of having one's torso compressed, perhaps by another's body weight, to the point where they cannot breathe. "Was it intentional? Until we can get to the bottom of it, we can't say a hundred percent," said Mathis. "But, we do think there's an aspect that this may not of been intentional."
Whoever killed Josh, it seemed, had tried to cover their tracks by pouring acid over his body. Instead, the chemical preserved the remains and the fumes kept animals away. Mathis says, people are talking. "We want to talk to anybody that knows anything about the acid, about where that acid could've been used, about what they've heard, even if it's a rumor," he said.
The passage of time, though, is both an aid and a hindrance. "Time changes people, relationships change, people pass away," Mathis explained. "We don't know how many people who knew about this took it to their grave, so we gotta work on it. It's getting too old. We need to really get moving on this one"
There is a saying in the cold case office: "you don't know what you know." That means you just can't tell what little piece of what may seem like insignificant information may solve this case. Anything you have heard about Josh or what happened to him, call it in. Let Mike Mathis and the others working this crime figure out where it fits in to what they have already learned.
You can do it without telling anyone who you are and up to $1,000 reward is on the line.
Call tonight: 698-3333
If you get voicemail, leave a way for an officer to get back with you. Remember, he or she will never ask your name.