A suspected serial killer has been convicted of the Atlanta child murders, but the truth could be even worse. (2023)

Although Wayne Williams was convicted on two counts, who was behind the remainder of the Atlanta murders that killed at least 28 people between 1979 and 1981?

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a mysterious killer terrorized Atlanta's black communities. Little by little, black children and young adults were abducted and found dead days or weeks later. These gruesome cases later became known as the Atlanta Child Murders.

Police eventually arrested a local man named Wayne Williams in connection with the heinous crimes. But Williams was only convicted of two murders, far fewer than the 29 murders in which he was involved. He was also found guilty of killing two men in their 20s, not children.

Although the killings appeared to have stopped after Williams' arrest, some believe he was not responsible for the murders of children in Atlanta, including some of the victims' families. The tragic case was later explored in the Netflix series.mind hunterin 2019. And that same year, the real case of the Atlanta Child Murders was reopened in hopes of discovering the truth.

But will the city's new investigation really bring justice to the children? Or will that only lead to more unanswered questions?

Atlanta Child Murders in the 1970s and 1980s

A suspected serial killer has been convicted of the Atlanta child murders, but the truth could be even worse. (1)

AJCThe victims of the Atlanta murders were all black children, teenagers and young adults.

On a warm summer day in July 1979, the first body in connection with the Atlanta child murder case was discovered. Alfred Evans, 13, was found in a vacant lot, cold, shirtless and barefoot. He had been choked to death. Tragically, he had disappeared just three days earlier.

But as police investigated the apparent crime scene on the vacant lot, they couldn't help but notice a strong odor emanating from nearby vineyards. And soon they would discover the body of another black boy: 14-year-old Edward Hope Smith. Unlike Evans, Smith was shot. But strangely, he was found just 45 meters from Evans.

Evans and Smith's deaths were brutal. But authorities weren't overly concerned: They simply dismissed the murders as "drug-related." Then, a few months later, more and more young black men turned up dead.

A suspected serial killer has been convicted of the Atlanta child murders, but the truth could be even worse. (2)

fake picturesPolice, firefighters and volunteers scoured the city for evidence of the Atlanta Child Murders.

The next bodies discovered were 14-year-old Milton Harvey and 9-year-old Yusuf Bell. Both children were strangled. Bell, the fourth victim, lived in a condominium complex just four blocks from where her body was found. His death hit the local population particularly hard.

"The whole neighborhood cried because they loved this kid," said Bell's neighbor, who knew he liked math and history. "He was blessed by God."

Four black children murdered in a matter of months raised suspicions among the victims' families that the crimes might be connected. Still, Atlanta police have made no official connection between the killings.

A suspected serial killer has been convicted of the Atlanta child murders, but the truth could be even worse. (3)

AJCYusuf Bell, 9, was the fourth victim discovered in the Atlanta child murder case.

(Video) Atlanta Child Murders Exclusive: The 7-year-old who escaped Wayne Williams

In March 1980 the death toll reached six. By this time, it was becoming increasingly clear to residents that their communities were in grave danger. Parents began to impose a curfew on their children.

And yet the victims kept turning up. They were almost all boys except for two girls. And while some of the victims linked to the case were later identified as adult males, most were children. And they were all black.

Black communities in and around Atlanta were gripped by fear and concern, but also extremely frustrated that Atlanta police had yet to connect the cases.

Black mothers protest police inaction

A suspected serial killer has been convicted of the Atlanta child murders, but the truth could be even worse. (4)

Archiv der Georgia State University LibraryCamille Bell, Yusuf Bell's mother, joined with other victims' parents to form the Committee to End Infanticide.

Even with increasing surveillance in the community, children continued to disappear. In March 1980, Willie Mae Mathis was watching the news with his 10-year-old son Jefferey when the two saw investigators moving the body of one of the victims. He warned his son against associating with strangers.

"He said, 'Mom, I'm not doing this. I don't talk to strangers,'" says Mathisremembered🇧🇷 Tragically, the next day, Jefferey went to the corner shop to buy a loaf of bread, but he never made it there. His remains were found a year later.

The fact that black youth were being persecuted and killed in Atlanta shocked the city's communities.

A suspected serial killer has been convicted of the Atlanta child murders, but the truth could be even worse. (5)

Bettmann/Beitrag/Getty ImagesDoris Bell, mother of another Atlanta murder victim, Joseph Bell, weeps during her son's funeral.

Even more chilling is that the circumstances surrounding the deaths in the Atlanta Child Murders varied. Some children died from strangulation, while others died from stab, blow, or gunshot wounds. Worse, the cause of death of some victims, like Jefferey Mathis, remained undetermined.

As of May, the bereaved had not received any significant news about the investigation. Frustrated by the inaction of Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson and the reluctance of the Atlanta Police Department to acknowledge the connection between the killings, the community began to organize itself.

Im August,Camila bell, the mother of Yusuf Bell, joined forces with other victims' parents and formed the Committee to End Infanticide. The committee must act as a community-driven coalition to be held accountable for deadlocked investigations into murdered children.

(Video) The Man Who Killed 27 People In 21 Months | The New Detectives | Real Responders

A suspected serial killer has been convicted of the Atlanta child murders, but the truth could be even worse. (6)

Bettmann/Beitrag/Getty ImagesA student is comforted by his teacher during the funeral of his friend Patrick Baltazar, 11, who was murdered.

Can't believe it worked. The city has significantly increased the size of the Investigative Task Force and the total tip reward money. Bell and the committee members have also been successful in inspiring the community to take an active role in protecting their neighborhoods.

"We encouraged people to get to know their neighbors," Bell said.saidpersonsmagazine🇧🇷 "We encouraged busybodies to get back into other people's businesses. We said if you tolerate crime in your neighborhood, ask for trouble."

According to Bell, the murder of 13-year-old Clifford Jones, a visitor from Cleveland, also helped spur Atlanta authorities into action. After all, the murder of a tourist made national headlines.

Meanwhile, local residents armed themselves with baseball bats and volunteered to patrol the city's neighborhoods. And more volunteers joined the citywide search for clues that could help solve the case.

A few months after the committee was formed, Georgia authorities requested that the FBI join the investigation. Five of the country's top homicide detectives were hired as consultants. Two officials from the US Department of Justice have also been dispatched to the city to assist.

Eventually, the authorities took the case seriously.

The arrest and conviction of Wayne Williams for several murders in Atlanta

A suspected serial killer has been convicted of the Atlanta child murders, but the truth could be even worse. (7)

WikimediaCommons/NetflixWayne Williams after his arrest (left) and Williams played by Christopher Livingston inmind hunter(R).

Between 1979 and 1981, 29 black children and youth were identified as victims of child murders in Atlanta. On April 13, 1981, FBI Director William Webster announced that Atlanta police had identified the killers of four of the murdered children, apparently pointing to multiple perpetrators. However, authorities did not have sufficient evidence to press charges.

Then, a month later, an officer working with the department's surveillance operation on the Chattahoochee River heard a splash. The officer then saw a pickup truck drive over the South Cobb Drive Bridge. Suspicious, he decided to stop the driver for questioning. This driver was a 23-year-old man namedWayne Williams.

The officer released Williams, but not before removing some fibers from his car. And just two days later, the body of 27-year-old Nathaniel Carter was discovered downriver. Curiously, the body was not far from where the body of 21-year-old Jimmy Ray Payne had been found just a month earlier.

In June 1981, Wayne Williams was arrested in connection with the deaths of Payne and Carter. He was later convicted of the murders of both men, who were among the few adult victims in the Atlanta murders case. And Williams was sentenced to life imprisonment. But despite being accused of being the Atlanta child killer, he was never convicted of any other murder.

A suspected serial killer has been convicted of the Atlanta child murders, but the truth could be even worse. (8)

fake picturesNotorious FBI profiler John Douglas believed Wayne Williams was responsible for some of the Atlanta murders, but perhaps not all.

(Video) 'Pattern of a Killer: The Trial of Wayne Williams'

There have been no murders, at least none reported as such, since Wayne Williams' arrest. But there are some who remain skeptical that Williams was a serial killer, including many of the victims' families. And to this day, Williams maintains his innocence.

In addition, Wayne Williams' conviction depended on some strands of fiber that prosecutors claimed were found on the bodies of Carter and Payne. These fibers apparently matched a carpet in William's car and a blanket in his house. But the evidence for fiber is often considered less reliable. And inconsistencies in witness statements cast further doubt on Williams' guilt.

Various alternative theories have surfaced over the years, ranging from a pedophile ring to the government conducting cruel experiments on black children. But one of the most widely accepted theories is that the Ku Klux Klan is behind the Atlanta child murders.

In 1991, it was revealed that a police informant allegedly overheard a KKK member named Charles Theodore Sanders verbally threaten to strangle a black teenager named Lubie Geter after the boy accidentally scratched his pickup truck during the Atlanta Child Murders.

Shockingly, Geter became one of the victims. His body was discovered in 1981, just weeks after Sanders' threat. He had been strangled, missing his genitals, the lower part of his pelvis and both feet.

A suspected serial killer has been convicted of the Atlanta child murders, but the truth could be even worse. (9)

AJCA 1981 article from theConstitution of the Atlanta Journalafter Wayne Williams' conviction.

Years later, a 2015 report from theturnmagazinediscoveredShocking details from a high-profile undercover investigation conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and several other law enforcement agencies. This investigation apparently found that Sanders and his white supremacist family members plotted to kill more than two dozen black children in order to start a race war in Atlanta.

Evidence, testimony, and whistleblower accounts pointed to a connection between the Sanders family and Geter's death and possibly 14 other child murders. In order to keep the peace in the city, investigators reportedly decided to suppress evidence of possible KKK involvement in the Atlanta child killings.

But despite authorities' efforts to hide evidence related to the KKK, many of the city's black residents already suspected, and do, that the white supremacist group was responsible for the crimes.

However, officers involved in the main investigation claim they had enough evidence to link Wayne Williams to the murders. To this day, Williams remains in prison and has been denied parole multiple times.

In a rare 1991 interview, Williams revealed that he had befriended some of the victims' brothers when they ended up in the same prison. He also said he had been in contact with some of the victims' mothers. He said, "I really hope they find out who killed their kids."

Why the Atlanta child murder case was reopened

A suspected serial killer has been convicted of the Atlanta child murders, but the truth could be even worse. (10)

(Video) The Atlanta Child Murders | Six Theories

Keisha Lance Bottoms/TwitterAtlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announces the reopening of the investigation into the 2019 Atlanta child murders.

Despite the myriad theories surrounding what really happened to the Atlanta kids, it's clear that much remains to be solved. That's a big reason why the case was reopened.

In March 2019, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who was raised during the height of Atlanta's child killings, reopened the case. Bottoms said the evidence needs to be re-analyzed using the latest forensic technology, which was unavailable during the investigation four decades ago.

In an emotional interview after the announcement, Bottoms recalled growing up during that horrible time: "It was like there was a bogeyman out there, and he was kidnapping black kids."

floorsadditionally, "It could have been any of us... I hope that [re-examination of the case] tells the public that our children matter. African American children still matter. They were important in 1979 and [important] now.”

Not everyone shared the mayor's belief that the case required further investigation. In fact, some believe it's basically already solved.

“There was other evidence, more fibers and dog hair that was brought to court, along with testimonies. And then there's the inescapable fact that Wayne Williams was on that bridge and two bodies turned up two days later," said Danny Agan, a retired Atlanta homicide detective who investigated three of the murders. "Wayne Williams is a serial killer, a predator , and he committed most of those murders.”

While some, like Agan, insist Williams was the Atlanta child killer, Police Commissioner Erika Shields believes the Atlanta child murder case warrants a further investigation.

“It's about being able to look these families in the eye,” says Shieldstold theNew York Times, "and say that we have done everything possible to close your case."

In recent years, renewed interest in Atlanta's child murders has permeated pop culture as well. The infamous case became the main plot of the second season of the Netflix crime series.mind hunter🇧🇷 The series itself was heavily inspired by a book of the same name written by a former FBI agent.Juan Douglas- who is considered a pioneer of criminal profiling.

A suspected serial killer has been convicted of the Atlanta child murders, but the truth could be even worse. (11)

NetflixActors Holt McCallany, Jonathan Groff and Albert Jones play the FBI agents involved in the Atlanta child murder casemind hunter.

As for Douglas, he believed Wayne Williams was responsible for some of the murders, but perhaps not all. He once said: "Not a single criminal, and the truth is not pleasant."

Researchers are currently examining and re-examining all available evidence. But it's hard to say if the renewed effort will result in meaningful closures for families and the city at large.

“The question will be who, what, when and why. It will always be that way," said Lois Evans, mother of the first victim, Alfred Evans. "I'm happy to still be here. Just [to] wait and see what the end will be before I leave this earth. "

He added, "I think it's going to be a part of history that Atlanta will never forget."


After reading about the Atlanta Child Murders, you'll find out the real story behind themJerry Brudos, the shoe fetish in 'Minhunter'. So look11 Famous Murders That Are Still Horrifying To This Day.


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