Cold Case

Chattanooga, TN — Dec. 11, 2000 — Chattanooga police found the body of a young boy Sunday afternoon in a wooded area off 16th Avenue in East Lake.
Police identified the body as Joshua Lee Walden, a 10-year-old missing since Friday afternoon.
At about 12:30 p.m. Sunday, a group of children found the boy in area in the 3100 block of 16th Avenue near the East Lake Park, police said.
The body was taken to the Hamilton County Forensics Center, and an autopsy was expected to be performed today to determine the cause of death.
Many area residents — gathered at the base of a hill on East 32nd Street on Sunday afternoon — said they suspected the body could be that of Joshua Walden.
The boy was last seen riding a bike in the 4500 block of 14th Avenue near his home wearing a red shirt and black jeans. He was reported missing at just after midnight Saturday, police said. The boy’s red bicycle has not been found, police said.
Police said they do not know whether the boy was killed where his body was found or elsewhere.
It took police all afternoon to identify the body, leaving Johnny Walden, the boy’s father, wanting answers.
“Josh always calls home,” Mr. Walden said Sunday before learning that his son had died. “He is a big momma’s boy.”
Mr. Walden said another son, Jonathan, was among the group that found the body. Mr. Walden said Jonathan told him that the body was covered in leaves, and that he did not look at its face.
“It scared him and he ran off the hill,” Mr. Walden said.
Police would not let Mr. Walden see the body.
“I wouldn’t want to view anybody else’s boy, but I would sure like to know if it is my son,” he said.
Mr. Walden said he had hoped that the body was not his son since police told his wife that the body may have been in the woods for as long as six days.
Mr. Walden’s wife and their son, Jonathan, along with the other children who found the boy, went to the Police Services Center to give statements.
“I don’t want to think the worst,” Mr. Walden said. “It can’t be my boy. That’s my baby.”
The investigation is continuing.
Dec. 12, 2000 — Chattanooga police detectives Monday continued to investigate the death of a 10-year-old East Lake boy whose body was found Sunday afternoon in the woods on the western slope of Missionary Ridge.
Joshua Lee Walden, whose family reported him missing at 12:10 a.m. Sunday, was found by a group of children just after noon Sunday near 16th Avenue and 32nd Street, about half a mile from his home, police said. The body was in a depression in the ground and covered with leaves, police said.
One neighbor whose son was friends with Joshua said he will move his family to Georgia.
“It was such a shock that I’m moving my family to Wallaceville,” Larry Clayton said. “My boy and Joshua were like two peas in a pod. They were very close.”
Ed Buice, police media director, said investigators are waiting for autopsy results from the Hamilton County Medical Examiner’s office. He said there was no apparent trauma to the body.
Mr. Buice added that police have not identified any suspects in the case.
Joshua’s brother, Jonathan, was among the group of children who discovered the body, said Johnny Walden, the boys’ father.
The boys’ family last saw Joshua on Friday riding his bike near his home in the 4500 block of 14th Avenue. The red bike the boy was riding has not been found.
When police located the body, officers did not permit Mr. Walden to attempt an identification.
“I really didn’t understand how things were handled,” Mr. Walden said Sunday night.
Mr. Walden would not speak with reporters Monday. His son-in-law, who did not give his name, said Mr. Walden was resting and that detectives told him not to discuss the incident.
Mr. Clayton said his son, Chris, grew up with Joshua, who often came over to spend the night at the Claytons’ home.
“Joshua was all boy,” Mr. Clayton said. “He was just a good kid.”
Tim Quarles, 12, who lives around the corner from the Waldens, said he was acquainted with Joshua, a student East Lake Elementary, and wanted to become closer friends.
“He would ride his bike all over the place,” Tim said. “I would say hello to him every time he passed by here.”
Tim’s grandfather, Patrick Roxbury, said he is keeping a closer watch on Tim since Joshua’s death. He said when Tim brings the family dog outside, Mr. Roxbury will walk out in the yard with them.
“What happened to (Joshua), I don’t want to happen to him,” Mr. Roxbury said.
Dec.10, 2001 — Chattanooga Police revealed Monday that acid was poured over the body of 10-year-old Joshua L. Walden, who died of “mechanical asphyxia/suffocation” in East Lake a year ago.
Det. Mike Mathis said at a press conference that the information had been withheld, but it was now being brought forth in hopes it will help bring a break in the mysterious case.
Det. Mathis said investigators who first examined the body noticed there was something “very unusual.” He said it appeared something had been poured on the body to make it appear it had been burned. He said the acid was poured after the boy had been killed.
He said acid was on the body, under the body, and on leaves nearby.
Det. Mathis said tests showed the material was a corrosive acid, similar to a type used in cleaning concrete or metal – as at a car body shop.
He said a check was made with the FBI to see if there were similar cases across the country, and none were found involving a child. He said five FBI experts came here last January to help go over evidence.
A report from the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crimes was that it is believed the killer “came from the immediate neighborhood.”
It says, “The significant feature is the choice of the immediate neighborhood as the body disposal site. Research has shown that when operating under severe stress, individuals tend to revert to the familiar. In other words, the offender was comfortable in the neighborhood, thus that the offender lives or has spent considerable time in the neighborhood.”
The report says the “killer used acid because he is familiar with it or has ready access to it. The offender does not kill the victim and then purchase acid. He uses what is readily available to him and what he is comfortable handling.”
The report says the murderer “was probably involved in an occupation or some activity in which acid was utilized.”
Det. Mathis also said that Joshua’s socks and tennis shoes have been never found.
He said the family was only recently told about the acid. He said they were “shocked and very disturbed.”
He said the family has been “extremely helpful” in working the case.
The red bike that he was last seen riding on a Friday afternoon is also still missing. The body was found the following Sunday morning.
Chief Jimmie Dotson said detectives have spent hundreds of hours on the case and are still actively working it.
An earlier report from the Hamilton County Medical Examiner listed the case as a homicide and stated, “decedent’s respiration mechically restricted.”
It said there were superficial abrasions on the nose and right side of the face.
Joshua was a student at East Lake Elementary School.
Joshua, when last seen, was wearing a red shirt and black jeans and was riding a red 20-inch bicycle.
Officials said Joshua was known to ride his bike near East Lake Park.
He was 4’5″ and weighed 60 pounds. He had blue eyes and light brown hair.
The acid that was was found on the bdoy was muriatic acid.
Maria Flanagin ” Heard that mat maybe Joshua knew somthing that maybe he souldn’t have known
Joshua went to East lake Elementry School
last seen alive on December 8th, 2000
Maria Flannagin and others who lived and worked in Walden’s neighborhood when the crime happened say they were never questioned about the crime.
Neighbors say for a few years someone kept a memorial for Josh near the crime scene