It has been four decades since the Atlanta Child Murders – a dark period in the city's history when, for three years, 24 children, mostly young boys, along with six young men, disappeared from African-American neighborhoods.
The victims were shot, strangled, suffocated, stabbed and clubbed to death; their bodies dumped in forests and rivers. One child, Eric Middlebrooks, was thrown away in a container behind a local bar.
The Atlanta Child Murders is now an important storyline in the second series of Mindhunter, directed by David Fincher, released on Netflix last Friday.
The drama, which follows the FBI's emerging Behavioral Science Unit, sees agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench interviews with serial killers, including Charles Manson and & # 39; Son of Sam & # 39; David Berkowitz, and consult on major crimes, including the Atlanta Child Murders and the & # 39; BTK & # 39; serial killer who terrorized Wichita, Kansas for two decades.
Some of the victims in Atlanta lacked clothing, others were so poorly dissolved that they had to be identified by dental records. Darron Glass, which disappeared in 1980 at the age of 10, was never found.
The Atlanta Child Murders is now an important storyline in the second series of Mindhunter, directed by David Fincher, and was released on Netflix last Friday and follows the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit when investigating the cases. Actor Christopher Livingston (left) plays assassin Wayne Williams (right)
Jonathan Groff (center) plays special agent Holden Ford. Researchers in the series interview other serial killers, including Charles Manson and & # 39; Son of Sam & # 39; David Berkowitz, and the & # 39; BTK & # 39; series killer who terrorized Wichita, Kansas for twenty years
City leaders have tackled the outbursts of grieving mothers who fought to draw attention to the murders of their children and the investigators for murder who feared that a serial killer was working in their midst.
There were rumors that the killers could be white agents. The Ku Klux Klan was strongly suspected.
& # 39; It was absolutely frightening, & # 39; Derrick Boazman, a former Atlanta city councilor whose classmate, Charles Stephens, was murdered, told DailyMail.com.
Under increasing pressure, a task force was set up with 100 officers who worked around the clock.
FBI serial killer John E. Douglas, who had profiled Berkowitz, Manson, and Ted Bundy, was drafted to help resolve the case. Nevertheless, the number of people increased, sometimes even to one victim per month.
At 3 o'clock on the last night of a hail Mary ring in May 1981, an Atlanta police officer heard a splash in the Chattahoochee River and a car was seen on the bridge above.
Behind the wheel of the Chevrolet station wagon stood Wayne Bertram Williams: a chubby 23-year-old wannabe music producer and part-time news photographer who lived with his elderly parents and liked to appear on crime scenes.
Chris Richardson, (left), was one of the 24 children killed in a series of murders in Atlanta from 1979 to 1981. He was strangled in June 1980 and Patrick Rogers (right) was clubbed to death months later. November 1980
Angel Lenair, (left), died of suffocation in March 1980 and Jefferey Mathis, (right), died in March 1980. His death was undetermined
Wayne Bertram William, a chubby 23-year-old wannabe music producer and part-time news photographer who lived with his elderly parents, was known for appearing at the crime scene. He was convicted of two murders in 1982
Williams was known to the police and visited the neighborhoods where the children were missing, but he was never a suspect. Gloves and a ski rope were seen in his car.
Two days later, the body of Nathaniel Cater, 27, flushed downstream in the Chattahoochee – not far from where the body of Jimmy Ray Payne, 21, was found weeks earlier. Both men were suffocated.
The infamous murders have inspired the second season of Netflix & # 39; s Mindhunter that was released last Friday
Williams was charged with the murders of Cater and Payne and sentenced in 1982. He was sentenced to two consecutive life-long terms without conditional release.
After he was convicted, the authorities closed 22 cases, believing that Williams was responsible.
He was never accused of the murders and the families of some victims wondered if he really was the perpetrator or if the murderer is still there.
The Atlanta Child Murders remain a painful scar for the city, inflamed by allegations of police violence, racial prejudice and media bias.
Williams, 60, sits behind bars in Telfair state prison in Georgia and maintains his innocence and claims that officials have hidden proof of Klan's involvement to prevent a race war.
Earlier this year, Atlanta ordered Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to re-test evidence in the Atlanta Child Murders case, but reminded the public that evidence already links Williams to many of the murders.
The operation, the first of the new Conviction Integrity Unit, will use the most up-to-date technology to test evidence such as fabrics and carpet fibers for DNA.
There is also a memorial planned in honor of Atlanta & # 39; s lost children.
In June, Mayor Bottoms set up an advisory committee, the Atlanta Children & # 39; s Memorial Taskforce, to find a way to recognize the lost life.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, (photo), and police chief Erika Shields, announced in March this year that evidence will be assessed in the so-called & # 39; Atlanta Child Murders & # 39; to see if they can be used for further testing
& # 39; It is important that Atlanta recognizes the innocent lives lost during one of the darkest hours of our city. This task group will determine a lasting and appropriate tribute to the victims and their families and serve as proof that those lives mattered. That African-American life matters, & she said.
In their own words, edited for clarity and length, some of those who have experienced the notorious case first hand speak with DailyMail.com.
THE HOMICID DETECTIVES
Robert Buffington, 71, a Vietnam war doctor and recipient of Purple Heart, joined the Atlanta police as a helicopter pilot but moved to narcotics and later to murder cases.
He was shot in 1977 and retired a few years after the murder case was closed. He then became director of the police academy in Georgia.
Former police detective Robert Buffington in Atlanta discovered the fiber proof – which was initially rejected by his superiors
Retired Atlanta Police Assassin Commander Lieutenant Danny Agan, 65, was a rookie assassin detective in July 1979 when the remains of Edward Hope Smith and Alfred Evans, both 14, were found in the southwestern Atlanta forest.
Agan later partnered with Buffington and the couple investigated one of the early child murder cases in Atlanta, Eric Middlebrooks, 14, in 1980.
Agan: In the & # 39; 70, Atlanta was the murder capital of the US. In 1979-81 we were there with 240 murders a year, extreme for a city with 450,000 inhabitants.
In 1979 I was reassigned from drugs to murder. I was in the unit for three months when it was called that a body had been found in the forest. It was a hot, humid summer day in Atlanta. It was a young black man in an advanced state of decomposition. Animals had come to the body, parts were strewn.
We searched and found another body, a young black man, about a hundred meters away, not so dissolved and with some clothes on.
At first no one suspected that these two bodies could be from the same killer. It was a very isolated place, an ideal place to dump a body.
This was the beginning of what became known as the child murder investigation in Atlanta.
Buffington (depicted in the 1980s) collaborated with rookie detective Danny Agan at the time to investigate one of the early child murder cases in Atlanta, Eric Middlebrooks, 14, in 1980
Buffington: In 1976, Lou Arcangeli, Danny Agan and his partner, Charles Horton, were in drugs and we stayed together. After I was shot at my service, those guys saved me. I asked for a transfer to murder that I had always wanted. Danny and I worked together in the morning watch – midnight to 8 am.
At five o'clock in the morning, one morning in 1980, we received a phone call to the dead end of Flat Shoals Road (in the southeast of Atlanta). A child's body has been found.
On the stage, the boy lay on his side with both shoes raised, off the ground. His pockets turned out to be like a raid with pennies, pennies, and dimes, scattered all the way to the street.
At the bottom of his tennis shoe I noticed a fiber in the rubber flap. I thought it was a fiber that could have been stuck while being pulled over a carpet. We grabbed it with a few fibers from his hair.
Retired Atlanta Police Assassin Commander Lieutenant Danny Agan, 65, along with Buffington, worked 36 hours in a row to identify the schoolboy
At 10 o'clock I was sitting behind my desk putting the fibers in pharmaceutical packaging and writing my report. The lieutenant came in – he was not what you would describe as a thinker. He asked what I was doing and I explained that the fibers might have come from the killer.
The lieutenant said: & You are a good Buffington. Why don't you come to my house, then we'll clean up the fluff of the dryer and you can clean up all the cases in Atlanta. & # 39;
The boys on the day watch laughed but I collected my things and went with Danny to the State Crime lab to talk to (microanalyst) Larry Peterson.
My idea was that the similarities between tracing a hair and a fiber were so close that you should be able to do it. Larry thought he could do it too.
Larry began researching fiber colors and materials and compiled a book about how many items with specific formulas were sold in the Atlanta region.
Agan: Bob & # 39; s discovery of fiber proof was a huge event, but we didn't know it then.
Buffington: Danny and I have worked 36 hours in a row to identify the child. He looked like a high school student, so we went to the school closest to where he was found.
We asked to see the absence schedule and explained to the director that it was likely that one of his students had been killed. The director was pretty arrogant and said we should get a detective.
Detective Agan (depicted in his youth) said at the time that people did not believe & that a black man could be a serial killer & # 39;
People were also reluctant to cooperate with the police because they didn't want to be seen as a snitch and wanted to tackle the hostility of their neighbors, Agan said (photo)
I told him that a murder investigation obstruction was a serious matter for which you could go to jail, but he still wouldn't give us the schedule. I said to hell with this, handcuffed him and put him in the back of the car.
When I returned, the secretary gave us the absence list. Eric Middlebrooks was the only child who had missed school that day and the day before yesterday. People in the community said that Eric would ride his bike to the store to bring a pack of cigarettes or a beer to the neighbors. That is the way the child made money.
At that time we had a logbook called the & # 39; deathbook & # 39; and we would write in murders and suicides. I went back a few years to compare with the last 12 months. There was a significant increase in the number of murders of young children. At that time, Danny and I believed that we had a pedophile and a serial killer.
I wrote a detailed letter about what I had discovered and included every victim, who was currently about half a dozen children. I sent the letter to my major and asked him to share it with the chief.
The next day I came to work at midnight. There were usually no ranking officers at that time, but the major waited when I got out of the elevator. I was glad I believed he wanted to talk about my letter.
At the time, people did not believe that a black man could be a serial killer – serial killers were white like Ted Bundy. This was a deviation.
He said: & # 39; Buffington, do you like to work murder? What about car theft? I think you're good there. & # 39;
I said, Major, I don't want anything to do with stolen cars. I'm happy with murder cases.
He said: & # 39; Well – if I see another letter like this, you will go into car theft. & # 39;
I was dumbfounded because I thought we needed to gather information and draw conclusions about where the investigation should go.
The major made it very clear that I was not allowed to tell anyone or do anything else. They didn't want a serial killer.
But they had one. It was chaos in the community, small children came by every month.
Agan: The victims were mostly black teenage boys who were known to do chores to make money. They trusted and would easily be exploited by a predator. It was a terrifying time for children, but it made them take precautions.
People often wonder why the killer went from killing children to young men – perhaps because children were not so easily available after all the hysteria about the case.
Williams (photo in 1982) focused on black teenage boys who were known to have & # 39; chores & # 39; did for money
A black serial killer was rare at the time and people originally suspected that the Ku Klux Klan was responsible
The first FBI profile said the murderer would be white, but local investigators knew that if someone hadn't been in the neighborhoods where the murders took place, people would have noticed.
At the time, people did not believe that a black man could be a serial killer – serial killers were white like Ted Bundy. This was a deviation.
Buffington: The media didn't help. There were rumors that white police officers were the murderers because they would not be noticed in a black neighborhood. We were suspected.
The Klan was suspected, but I believe that if the Klan had killed black children in Atlanta, they would have called a newspaper to get credit for it, just like bombers arrive.
Every time we made progress in the investigation, a politician would come on TV and share the information. A politician told the public that we found fiber material, so the killer started shaving the victims' heads, taking off their clothes, and dumping them into the river.
Agan: The dump sites changed over time – bodies were found in the provinces of Dekalb, Rockdale and Fulton, outside the city limits of Atlanta.
At the time, in the & # 39; stone age & # 39; of police work, we didn't have computers yet, so there were few ways to track crimes over jurisdiction lines. There was little communication between police services.
Sometimes people were reluctant to cooperate with the police. They did not want to be seen as a snitch and deal with the hostility of their neighbors.
In the south, black people mistrust the police for being abused and abused.
A recent story highlighted that the research ran into. A man (Derwin Davis) came to a newspaper after 40 years to say he knew Williams was guilty for trying to kidnap him all those years ago.
As a teenager he had taken a ride in a stranger's car and the man began to say inappropriate things. The boy got scared, hit him in the head and jumped out of the car. He did not report this to the police at the time.
The victims were shot, strangled and suffocated, stabbed and clubbed to death before being dumped into forests or rivers. Pictured above is Niskey Lake Road, where various bodies were discovered
A police officer holds his head against his head as he leads other officers to the floating body of a naked black man by the shore. The body was discovered in the Chattahoochee River
Serial killers don't kill everyone they come in contact with, that's not the way it works, but (Davis) is exactly the kind of & # 39; surviving victim & # 39; that you need to crack a case.
There are six unresolved cases that are not connected to Williams through physical evidence or witness statements. Progress has been made in forensic technology and I hope that the re-examination of the evidence can now shed light on those cases.
But no matter how much solid evidence you present, some people believe that Williams did not do it. They have their reasons. I cannot condemn them for it.
I hope (the new tests for evidence) that the families get some closure, but their child is still dead. They have suffered from sadness and fear for decades.
For me, the facts speak for themselves – Wayne Williams committed most of these murders. The only two murders that I am convinced he did not do were the female victims, Angel Lanair and Latonya Wilson.
Williams is a homosexual predator, little girls had no attraction for him. They are completely out of the pattern.
He would keep going if he hadn't been caught. I do not know that he can determine what is in him, so that he does this. He is not a prisoner who can be recovered. He is a danger.
Just like Jack the Ripper, we are going to look at the Atlanta Child Murder case in a hundred years' time and still talk about it.
Buffington: I understand why they are re-examining the evidence, but I don't think it will be successful. When that evidence was seized, we had no idea about DNA. Fingers were used to pick up fibers.
If all evidence was correctly stored for temperature changes and condensation and bacteria could not reach it, they could get DNA. I hope so, but it was 40 years ago.
Wayne is a pedophile and a necrofile, he liked to play with the bodies and the deadly part.
Williams had all his appeals and the verdict has been confirmed by the Supreme Court. He is where he will stay.
THE COMMUNITY LEADER
Derrick Boazman, 52, served two terms in the Atlanta City Council and is now hosting a radio show and community leader.
In May he moderated a panel discussion entitled: & # 39; Did Wayne Williams kill someone? & # 39;
The panel included Catherine Leach, mother of victim Curtis Walker and Anthony Terrell, brother of victim Earl Terrell.
Williams spoke to the public from prison over the phone.
Boazman grew up on Atlanta & # 39; s Southside where Williams chased his victims and was a schoolmate of victim Charles Stephens, who was suffocated in 1980.
& # 39; I was 13 when the killings started. Young boys and girls were snatched from this community and from my school.
Derrick Boazman, 52, who served two terms in the Atlanta City Council, was a schoolmate of victim Charles Stephens, who was suffocated in 1980
I am the youngest of six. My school was less than a mile from home, but my mother and father did not allow us to walk.
Our older brother had a car and he had to pick us up. Sometimes, if I was rebellious, I wouldn't wait for him.
I would come close to my house and where there were a few abandoned apartments, I would run.
When Charles Stephens went missing, it revealed the fact that this could really happen to us. It was frightening when you heard the body of a child was found. Your mother looks at you differently.
Elected officials called on the community to be vigilant and watch out for our children. You would see doors swing open when school busses pass by and other parents keep watch.
As a former city councilor, Arthur Langford (former Senator of Georgia and Minister of Baptist) was my mentor.
As an adult, I learned more about his affairs because he had organized searches for the missing and murdered children. (Arthur & # 39; s brother Michael Langford is now in the Atlanta Children & # 39; s Memorial Taskforce).
Recently Mayor Bottoms stepped forward to say that she wants to reopen this case and it created a blast of conversation. Last month we had a forum to facilitate the conversation. It was helpful and therapeutic.
The people from Wayne Williams wanted to get him on the phone for the event. I was willing to tell him that he could not speak because there were people in that room who absolutely believed he was doing it, such as Patrick Rogers' brother, Isaac Rogers.
He says that Wayne not only killed his brother, but at one point tried to grab him when he was seven years old.
Williams was ultimately held responsible for the most gruesome periods in the history of our city and certainly in a progressive black city like Atlanta. If you ask me based on what I've seen and heard from the evidence, I don't think a jury would find him guilty today.
But the majority of people wanted to hear from him. Williams told us that his biggest mistake was to stand on the stand and walk with his mouth.
The prosecution destroyed his credibility, they made him angry and pressed his buttons, he said. It was a turning point in the process.
Williams is very intelligent, he built a radio station at his home. He wanted to be in the inner circles, make his way in politics.
He was fascinated by law enforcement, he went way too far and he was a willing patsy.
I think you had a 23-year-old who believed he was outsmarting the police, but what he didn't realize is that this entire country wanted to stop the case.
At the time, the vice-president, George HW Bush, flew into the city and wanted to solve it. A few weeks later it is solved. These things are not a coincidence.
Williams was ultimately held responsible for the most gruesome periods in the history of our city and certainly in a progressive black city like Atlanta.
If you ask me based on what I've seen and heard from the evidence, I don't think a jury would find him guilty today.
I don't know anyone who has actually seen the files. No one went through the cases one by one and said the way and the cause of death.
The body of Jimmy Ray Payne, 21, is brought to the office of Fulton County Medical Examiners in Atlanta in 1981 after being discovered in the Chattahoochee River. He was the 26th person who died
Wayne Williams (second from left) and his father (left) talk to police officers on the lawn of their house. Een getuige die meldde dat hij de 23-jarige Wayne Williams had gezien met een van Atlanta's 28 jonge zwarte moordslachtoffers twee dagen voordat hij verdween
We hebben alles gehoord, van genitale verminking tot genitale extractie. Er waren zoveel verschillende theorieën, zoals dat de Klan erbij betrokken was.
Het enige dat werd gezegd, was dat we geloven dat Williams dit bij twee volwassenen heeft gedaan en we gaan de zaak sluiten bij nog eens 20 jonge mensen, zonder uitleg.
Dit was een geval waarin we in feite te maken hadden met vezelbewijsmateriaal dat kan worden opgepikt in informele uitwisselingen. En ons wordt verteld dat verschillende slachtoffers dezelfde vezels hadden.
Maar er is geen serologisch bewijs, er is geen bloed. De manier van dood – er is geen mes, geen wapen. In 2019 denk ik niet dat dat voldoende zou zijn.
Een ding dat je in het hele strafrechtsysteem tegenkomt, is dat ooggetuigenverslagen het meest onbetrouwbaar zijn. De geest kan je laten zien wat je niet ziet.
Dat wil niet zeggen dat Williams de slachtoffers niet kende. Hij was gefascineerd door de muziekindustrie die al tientallen jaren een hoofdbestanddeel van Atlanta is. Iedereen is de volgende RnB-zanger, talentscout, rapper.
Ik denk dat er mensen zijn die zouden zeggen dat een blanke niet alleen in de buurt kon oprollen, maar als 13-jarige hoorden we dat (de moordenaar) een politie-uniform droeg.
De enige manier om in bepaalde zwarte gemeenschappen te komen is om een autoriteitsfiguur te zijn. En wie zou dat kunnen doen? Atlanta politie.
Volgens hen stopten ze Williams op Jackson Parkway Bridge. Ze hebben hem diezelfde nacht ondervraagd.
Een van de onderzoekers keek in de auto en zag een touw. De rechercheur gaat door de auto omdat Wayne ermee heeft ingestemd en ze hem toestaan weg te rijden.
Wie doet dat? De politie van Keystone doet dat niet eens. Niets is logisch voor ons.
Het bewijs van het touw komt nooit opdagen. Williams is misschien de moordenaar, maar de vervolging bewees dat niet zonder twijfel.
Het enige dat Atlanta heel goed doet, is het politie-apparaat. De FBI en de betrokken onderzoeksbureaus werkten om bewijsmateriaal voor de mensen te houden.
Het verhaal van Williams is zeer meeslepend en ik kan je vertellen dat hij beter is geworden in het vertellen van zijn verhaal, maar hij handhaaft zijn onschuld.
Ik ben er echter van overtuigd dat Wayne in de gevangenis zal sterven omdat hij zijn beste schot legaal heeft geschoten. Daar lijkt hij vrede mee te hebben. Hij is hoopvol, maar wat heeft hij nog meer?
Ik bid dat hier een passend monument uitkomt. Ik denk dat dit echt is wat deze families willen, want het wordt erkend dat hun kinderen niets verkeerd hebben gedaan en dat ze het slachtoffer waren.
Hun kinderen waren pionnen in een veel groter spel. Ze willen gewoon dat hun leven wordt erkend en dat hun verlies wordt erkend.
De echte tragedie van dit alles is dat we wisten dat kinderen elke week vermist werden en dat we absoluut niets konden doen om het te stoppen.
DE PROSECUTOR EN HET BEWIJS
Joseph Drolet, 75, was hoofd van de beroepsafdeling van het kantoor van de Fulton County District Attorney en maakte deel uit van het juridische team dat Wayne Williams na zijn proces in 1982 met succes veroordeelde.
1. Het verhaal van Cheryl Johnson
(On May 22, 1981, Williams was stopped by police at 3am on Jackson Parkway bridge over the Chattahoochee River.)
A police recruit was below the bridge and heard a splash. Another officer saw a car turn around in a parking lot at the end of the bridge. The car was stopped by police. Wayne Williams can never get around that fact that he was there on that bridge.
When he was stopped, Williams said: 'I bet this is about those boys, isn't it?'
That was a little tell-tale remark because the killer knew that he didn't kill the girls who are on the list of missing and murdered children. He's killed only males.
In Williams' car, there was a pair of thick, heavy gloves on the seat next to him. It was late May and 90F.
In the back, there was a 24-inch length of a braided ski rope, the kind of thing you could use as a ligature.
Williams then told the first version of the so-called 'Cheryl Johnson story'.
Detective Agan said while he believes the facts 'speak for themselves' he does not believe Williams is responsible for the murders of two girls. 'He's a homosexual predator, little girls had no attraction for him. They are completely out of the pattern,' he said
Investigators said Williams fit the FBI profile very well. He'd been treated as a gifted child and then dropped out of school. He was an only child whose parents doted on him. Pictured above is the house where he lived with is parents
He claimed that he was out driving at 3am, trying to find the home of someone called Cheryl Johnson.
Later, Williams gave a slightly different story to an FBI agent, explaining that he was planning to meet two sisters – Cheryl and Barbara – the next morning.
Then Williams claimed he saw a truck on the bridge. No one else saw any vehicles. The FBI let him go. They didn't have a murder at that point.
At the District Attorney's office the next morning, we were told about Williams and began assessing the case.
The morning after he was stopped on the bridge, two FBI agents went to Williams' house and he gave another story – that his mother took a phone call from Cheryl Johnson. Williams gave the agents a phone number. It didn't exist.
Williams was brought into FBI headquarters to take a hair sample to compare to hair found on bodies. He took and flunked a polygraph exam. He offered to take it again if he could pick the victim. He chose Latonya Wilson, one of the girls.
Joseph Drolet, 75, was head of the appellate division at Fulton County District Attorney's office. He said most people who don't believe Williams committed the murders 'are totally unaware of the evidence'
He was released and went home and held a press conference. Incredibly, he handed out resumes which are filled with fabrications about how he flew fighter jets and was a race-car driver.
He volunteered the information that he was the main suspect in the case. He then said that he never talked to Cheryl Johnson, one of his employees did. He commented how kids shouldn't be out, running about the streets.
The case just kept getting stronger and stronger.
Two days later, the body of Nathaniel Cater was found a mile downriver from the Jackson Parkway Bridge, almost in the same spot where Jimmy Ray Payne had been found weeks earlier.
(Cater) was naked and had been strangled, very similar to prior cases in the last six months, in particular the Payne case. Both had died of asphyxiation.
In total, Williams gave seven different versions of the 'Cheryl Johnson' story and none made sense. No one ever did find a Cheryl Johnson.
On June 21, 1981, the DA decided Williams was to be arrested and his home was searched with a warrant.
2. The 'fingerprint' fiber evidence
At that time, we had all these fibers (found on the victims' bodies) and Larry Peters at the crime lab knew if he could find the source of those fibers, then we'd probably have the killer.
The combination of fibers had come from an environment so unique, it was almost like a fingerprint. When they searched the Williams' house, all those fibers were there.
One carpet fiber (found on victims) was incredibly unique. It came from the Wellman Company, in South Carolina, who had decided to try to beat the patent held by another carpet company for a unique trilobal carpet fiber which was very durable and didn't show up dirt.
They created something different – a fiber that had one short leg and two long legs – but it was difficult to make and they quickly abandoned the effort after producing a very small quantity.
Wayne Williams (pictured) was given two life sentences for convictions in the deaths of two adults and evidence tied him to other murders
Wellman sold this carpet to West Point Pepperell Company in Georgia. West Point dyed the carpet 16 different colors – one-sixteenth of the small production line was dyed in 'English Olive'.
English Olive was the color of the Williams' carpet throughout the family home. Some 17 victims were found with a Wellman fiber on them.
The crime lab had also found a very unusual violet acetate fiber, interwoven with green cotton, on 21 victims. Williams' bedspread was made of violet acetate and the green cotton woven together.
That was two fibers that were incredibly rare, both found on victims.
A yellow blanket, found under Williams' bed, matched fibers on five or six victims. Additionally, there was dog hair found on around 20 victims. These hairs matched Williams' German shepherd, Sheba.
There were also fibers from the carpets in Willams' cars.
Williams first drove a (decommissioned) Plymouth detective's car and he had equipped it with radio scanners, blue lights, and a siren.
Fibers from the Plymouth were found on Alfred Evans, one of the first victims. When Williams got rid of that car, those fibers never showed up on victims again.
The Williams' family then got a Red Ford LTD and fibers from that car started showing up on victims. When the car was sold, those fibers never showed up on victims again.
In October 1980, Williams got a Chevy station wagon from his uncle. Then those fibers were on victims. Never were fibers from cars found on victims when Williams didn't have those cars.
It was extremely powerful evidence. Over the years people have said, "oh it's just some fibers". If you say that, then you don't know what fiber evidence is.
3. The profile
We studied Williams' background. He fit the FBI profile very well.
He was a person who appeared to have great promise and just fizzled completely. He'd been treated as a gifted child and then dropped out of school. He wasn't holding a job, life was not going well.
He was an only child whose parents doted on him. He was a police buff who followed the crimes and he was articulate. All these traits were presented in the FBI profile.
For two years in the early 80s, you had 11 different police agencies, 102 officers working full-time, turning over every rock and suspecting everybody.
Everyone was trying to figure out, how somebody could commit these crimes and go unnoticed? There was no evidence of struggle in any of the murders – so why would a kid go with someone?
Drolet said – the jury was able to find Williams guilty due to his fabricated explanations, the blood evidence, the incredible fiber evidence, the scratches, victims being seen with him
It had to be someone that these kids felt comfortable with – like a presumed police officer in a detective's 1978 Plymouth car who was wearing a police jacket, as we know Williams did.
A lot of police officers thought Williams was a police officer when he showed up at crime scenes.
Or the news camera guy at a crime scene, like Williams. Or a music producer who was starting the next 'Jackson 5', like Williams.
Wayne could con just about anybody.
4. The eye-witnesses
More than a dozen eye-witnesses had seen Williams with victims. Three witnesses had seen him with Joseph Bell.
There was a witness called Sharon Blakley – Wayne Williams admitted to her that he had 'dumped garbage in the river'.
After the trial, Blakley indicated to me that Williams said the garbage was Nathaniel Cater.
Four or five eye-witnesses saw Williams with severe scratches down his arm, from the elbow to wrist. He was asked about them and said he had fallen and then that his dog bit him. It was completely inconsistent with the wounds.
A medical examiner testified at trial that if someone was being strangled, they would reach behind themselves and grab at the arms of the attacker and he would likely have scratches.
5. The bloodstains
There were two different bloodstains on the back seat of William's Chevrolet station wagon.
Some victims had ritualistic stab wounds, horizontally inflicted, usually in the abdomen.
John Porter and Billy Barrett had been murdered in the 60 days prior to the car being searched in June 1981. The blood found matched the blood type of those two victims. The enzymes were still active and experts testified that the enzymes are only active for up to 60 days.
6. A weapon
A number of victims had been struck in the head by a flat, blunt object. At Williams' house, hidden in a ceiling panel above his office, was a 'slap jack' – a flat, lead-weighted device made of leather that if slapped in the head, would inflict serious injury.
Police remove the body of 21 year old Larry Rogers from an abandoned apartment
Most people who don't believe Williams committed the murders are totally unaware of the evidence – the fabricated explanations on the bridge, the blood evidence, the incredible fiber evidence, the scratches, victims being seen with Wayne Williams.
The jury found it to be overwhelming and all added to his guilt.
The team was made up of lead prosecutor, Jack Mallard, whose specialty was examining and cross-examining witnesses, and Gordon Miller, our fiber expert.
I was head of our appellate division, handling all appeals on murder, robbery, rape and drug cases. I was asked to join the team to make sure all the legal issues were handled properly.
Half the courtroom was reserved for press and people would line up every day for the trial, it was very hard to get in.
The FBI Behavioral Science Unit suggested that we should keep Williams on the stand as long as possible.
As they described it, serial killers are real good in the short run, not in the long run. That proved to be true with Wayne Williams.
When he was questioned by his defense lawyer, Wayne was fabulous.
Like many serial killers, he can be very articulate and sound like he was an expert on things which he knew nothing about.
He is very narcissistic and self-confident. He also sounded like a really nice, intelligent young man.
Then the prosecution got to cross-examine. Wayne handled everything beautifully. I recall thinking, this guy is good, he can convince people that the sun rises in the West.
Around 5pm, Jack leaned over to me and said: 'I don't have any more questions.'
I knew we needed to keep him on the stand and bring him back in the morning. We recessed for the day and spent the night going through all his answers which had made no sense.
The next morning, Jack questioned Williams and he changed immediately. He became extremely combative, yelling, refusing to answer questions.
He was painted into a corner and he couldn't get out of it.
He had danced around the day before and done a really good job. He thought that he could win at cross-examination but no witness being cross-examined can win. The best you can do is come out even.
Williams wanted to show that he was smarter than everyone but he when he was frustrated in that, he didn't like it. He blew up on the witness stand. We were amazed.
The jury saw a person who changed from being completely competent and apparently able to explain the unexplainable, to someone who couldn't do it anymore.
THE 22 UNCHARGED BUT CLOSED WILLIAMS' MURDERS
Prosecutors don't always prosecute everything conceivable that you could charge a person with.
We prosecuted the Cater and Payne cases because Williams was stopped on the Jackson Parkway Bridge.
Williams always maintained his innocence for the crimes and said authorities wanted to convict a black man because arresting a white man might have sparked a race war
Those were almost identical cases found in the same place, their bodies probably dropped from the same point.
At the time we indicted Williams, those were the two strongest cases we had. We convicted him on two murders and he got consecutive life sentences.
However, at trial, we presented 10 cases to show that they were all connected to Payne and Cater.
We picked 10 cases, rather than 15 or 18, because it becomes unmanageable for a jury.
Another issue was that five of the murders did not happen in Fulton County so they could not be prosecuted by us, but we introduced some at trial to show their similarities.
Overall, you've got 24 victims that clearly fit a murder pattern – a pattern which ceased to exist after Williams was arrested. When Williams was put away, those killings stopped.
There were 17 murders by asphyxiation. There had been very few asphyxial deaths prior to that and there were very few after Wayne WIlliams became a suspect.
Some victims had been in the river a long time – Michael McIntosh, Timothy Hill, Eddie Duncan. They were all found in a very similar state to Nathaniel Cater. They were older kids or young adults.
One of them was developmentally disabled, none of them had cars. They were all folks who frequented the streets. And all were found strangled without clothing and dumped in the Chattahoochee River.
Wayne Williams appealed the verdict, challenging every ruling the trial judge, Clarence Cooper, made.
The case went to the Georgia Supreme Court. The reason I had been involved in the trial was to make sure that we were on sound legal ground in everything that we did. And the Supreme Court agreed that we were.
In 1985, after the series, The Atlanta Child Murders (starring Morgan Freeman and James Earl Jones), was released, a dream team of defense lawyers filed a writ of Habeas Corpus to challenge Williams' conviction, with great fanfare.
Again, the Georgia Supreme Court didn't find any merit in it.
The 1985 series fabricated events and changed testimony to make it make it look like Williams had been railroaded.
Major Maynard Jackson (Atlanta's first black mayor) asked me to go with him to community forums to explain the evidence to people.
Most people don't know what happened during that trial and very few have read the thousands of pages of transcript.
In the past 40 years, every time I have been able to go through the evidence, people are shocked by its significance.
I think if they want to (re-examine the evidence) using newer DNA techniques. That's fine. There may be other bodies out there and I hope they find them.
It's important to remember that there are six cases that were never closed, including the two girls. There's still work to be done.
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