The True Story of Wayne Williams and the Atlanta Child Murders

The True Story of Wayne Williams and the Atlanta Child Murders

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Is Wayne Williams the police scapegoat in the Atlanta child murders, or is he a die-hard serial killer who still denies his crimes four years later?

From 1979 to 1981, there were about 29 murders in the Atlanta area that appeared to be linked. Most of the victims were boys, and they were all black. Most are young – some are even children. As a result, the community dubbed the killing spree the Atlanta Child Murders.

In 1981, a man named Wayne Williams (played in the second season of Netflix) mind hunter) was arrested for the murder of two young men in Atlanta. But many were quick to believe that the trajectory of his death could be even more horrific, and that he was behind the Atlanta child murders.

Bateman/Contributor/Getty Images Wayne Williams, believed to be responsible for the Atlanta child murders.

While his eventual arrest and conviction for two murders coincided with the end of Atlanta’s reign of terror, speculation remains as to whether Wayne Williams actually committed the Atlanta child murders, or whether he was just a handy police scapegoat.

Wayne Williams’ Early Life

Wayne Bertram Williams was born on May 27, 1958 in Atlanta. As the only child of two teachers, Williams excelled in the classroom. He is a bright little boy whom teachers and classmates call a “virtual genius”.

Bateman Archives/Getty Images Wayne Williams in a photo taken by his father as a child.

He showed his entrepreneurial spirit by trying to start a radio station in his parents’ basement.He also gained short-lived fame after being reported injection Magazine.

In 1976, a young Wayne Williams graduated from Douglas High School and went on to attend Georgia State University, only to stay for a year before dropping out. Since then, the once promising young man seems to have lost his way. By the age of 23, he was jumping from one thing to another, from radio jobs to record production to talent scouting.

Eventually, Williams also began to dabble in freelance photography. Despite the ambition, Williams’ work never came to fruition. His dream cost his parents a lot of money, and they eventually filed for bankruptcy.

Bateman Archives/Getty Images Wayne Williams’ teachers and classmates call him a “virtual genius.”

A longtime neighbor of the Williams family later told FBI agents that nearby children thought Wayne Williams was a cop because he spoke and acted like a cop, even carrying his badge.

“Many of them thought he started acting crazy two or three years ago… He would approach the kids in a very formal-looking vehicle and tell them to get off the street or he would lock them up,” he said. said the unidentified neighbor.

On May 22, 1981, things took the worst turn. Wayne Williams, who was driving, was stopped by police patrolling a bridge over the Chattahoochee River around 3 a.m. that morning. Although they eventually let him go, they will definitely be back.

Two days later, the body of Nathaniel Cater, 27, was found near the lower reaches, where police had questioned Williams. It is believed to be linked to a series of homicides that terrorized the city.

So Wayne Williams is officially a suspect in the Atlanta child murders.

Atlanta Child Murders

Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images Shotgun-toting police officers provided tight security for Wayne Williams as he was brought to court.

The first victims of the Atlanta child murders were two boys, 14 and 13, who both disappeared within three days. On July 28, 1979, the two were found dead side by side on the side of the road. One was shot, the other suffocated.

From there, the bodies continued to pile up. By March 1980, the death toll had reached at least six.

Frustratingly, every clue in the Atlanta child murders has provided no information for local authorities. It didn’t take long for the FBI to step in.

Prominent FBI profiler John Douglas weighs in on the potential killer profile of Atlanta’s murder culprit. He has devoted much of his work to interviewing serial killers and assassins, including James Earl Ray, David Berkowitz (aka “Son of Sam”) and Richard Spike. So it’s no surprise that Douglas had a hunch about this particular case.

Bateman/Contributor/Getty Images Atlanta child murder suspect Wayne Williams is handcuffed.

In his case file on the Atlanta child murders, Douglas ( mind hunter) reported that he believed the killer was a black man, not a white man. He speculated that in order to reach black children, the Atlanta killer needed to reach out to the black community without raising suspicion.

By late May 1981, many bodies related to the case had been recovered within the same geographic area. Some have been pulled out of the Chattahoochee River, so investigators have put their bridges in place.

That’s when they found Wayne Williams, who was very close to where Carter’s body was later found. The body of 21-year-old Jimmy Ray Payne was also found nearby – apparently allowing police to build their case.

Wayne Williams falls

Handout/AJC About 29 black youths were killed in Atlanta over a period of about two years.

Police did not arrest Wayne Williams until June 21, about a month after the body was found. He was handcuffed after his alibi was found to be weak and a polygraph test failed.

Police also collected fiber from Williams’ car and his family’s dog. These same fibers were found on both Carter’s and Payne’s bodies.

In addition to mounting evidence, FBI profiler John Douglas uncovered a compelling motive for Williams. Douglas pointed to Williams’ many failures in life and speculated that he may have felt like he was losing control. In a sense, these murders may have brought him back a sense of control.

AJCAN Atlanta Journal-Constitution Article on Williams’ conviction.

Douglas was involved in Williams’ trial and concluded that the man “was very much like other serial killers studied and interviewed by the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit in the past.”

In his notes, the FBI agent suggested that Williams was eager to be in the limelight, as he showed signs of enjoying the attention the murders drew. Douglas noted that, like many serial killers, Williams believed he would never fall for his crimes.

Getty Images Prominent FBI profiler John Douglas suspects Wayne Williams to be responsible for some murders — but not all.

But Wayne Williams’ calm demeanor changed as his case began to lose steam.

Douglas suggested prosecutors focus on Williams’ failed and inconsistent statements during cross-examination. Once they deployed the tactic, Williams began arguing, calling prosecutors “dumbs.”

When prosecutors asked him if he had been instructed in testimony, Williams replied defensively: “No. Do you want the real Wayne Williams? You brought him here.”

But is he really an Atlanta serial killer?

Getty Images Wayne Williams in the back seat of his car on his way to court in 1982.

In February 1982, Wayne Bertram Williams was convicted and subsequently sentenced to two life sentences for the murders of Payne and Carter. Williams has never been convicted of other murders in the Atlanta child murders, but local police say he is responsible for them.

While FBI profiler John Douglas linked Williams to about a dozen murders, most of them remain unsolved. Although the murders appeared to stop once Williams was in custody, the lack of evidence has fueled speculation of his innocence.

Wayne B. Williams has maintained his innocence since being imprisoned decades ago. In a 1991 interview, Williams said he accepted his destiny and that God had a plan for him.

Wikimedia Commons/Netflix Wayne Williams is depicted in the series mind hunter on Netflix.

But in 1994, Williams wrote a letter to the parole board defending his release:

“I realize it’s not always a question of right and wrong, guilt or innocence, but how we deal with adversity and grow from our mistakes… My life is an example of going from commitment to the abyss. Now, I just ask for Opportunity to do my part to restore the confidence a lot of people once had in me.”

Some Atlanta residents, including relatives of Atlanta child murder victims, believe Wayne Williams did not commit the crimes. Filmmakers Penn Lindsay and Donald Albright compiled research and interviews to find out if Williams was an Atlanta child serial killer.

The project is part of a 10-episode podcast titled Atlanta Monsterwhich delves into the nearly 40-year-old case.

“The victim’s family said they didn’t think he did. They didn’t feel like their child was really getting justice,” Albright said.

During his 40-year prison sentence, Wayne Williams maintained his innocence.

Another great report rotate The magazine revealed that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) suppressed evidence that could suggest a Klan member was involved in the murder. But to prevent ethnic conflict, GBI keeps this information private.

Williams’ lawyers called his arrest a scapegoat — investigators had found their presumed black killer and were able to close the case cleanly.

But in 2010, DNA forensics complicated the Atlanta murder mystery, reinforcing the original case with modern tests on hairs originally found at the scene. Officials involved in the original investigation upheld the charges against Williams and believed he was responsible for the Atlanta child murders.

Meanwhile, Wayne Williams is in jail waiting for his time. Even as Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms opened a new investigation into the murder in 2019, he was repeatedly denied parole. A spokesman for the parole board said Williams’ next parole consideration date is November 2027 – the furthest date the board has considered allowing it to be pushed to the present.

Check out the true story of Lizzie Borden’s murder after learning about alleged serial killer Wayne Williams. Then, check out the strange story of Myra Hindley and Moors Murders.

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