Atlanta mayor announces new look at 40-year-old child murders

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Afdahe

March 21 (UPI) — The so-called Atlanta Child Murders that spanned from 1979 to 1981 will get a second look by local and state authorities in hopes of definitely learning whether suspect Wayne Williams or anyone else was involved in the murder spree, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Thursday.

Bottoms, who was 9-year-old living in Atlanta at the time of the serial crimes, said that she hopes to bring closure to families who never had their cases resolved.

At least 29 children, mostly African-American, are believed to be part of the murder spree, but Williams, a freelance photographer and the main suspect, was never tried on any of them. He was eventually convicted in the deaths of two adults in 1982 and is serving a life sentence for murder.

Bottoms said the Atlanta Police Department, along with the Fulton County and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, will take part in the review using modern technology to examine the evidence.

“It may be there is nothing left to be tested, but I do think history will judge us by our actions and we will be able to say we tried,” Bottoms said.

Williams has long maintained his innocence in the killing spree, telling CNN during a 2011 interview that no one could connect him with any violent acts involving children.

“The bottom line is nobody ever testified or even claimed that they saw me strike another person, choke another person, stab, beat or kill or hurt anybody because I didn’t,” Williams said. Williams accused police of wanting to arrest a black man for the deaths because they feared that arresting a white man would have sparked a race war.

Bottoms said she was not interested in vindicating Williams, but giving the families closure in knowing that law enforcement has done everything to bring the person or persons who murder their children to justice.

“We don’t know what we’ll find,” Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields said, adding the city feels an obligation to take advantage of new technology to see if new answers can emerge from the evidence collected then.


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