A string of related murders that occurred in the Atlanta area from 1979 to 1981 still hang heavy over the city. Many of these murders, which are known as the Atlanta Child Murders, were attributed to Wayne Williams, but he was only convicted for two. Now, the Investigation Discovery special The Atlanta Child Murders revisits the infamous case, and addresses his claim to innocence, despite the fact that Wayne Williams' is still in jail.
Atlanta Child Murders is the most recent in a long string of investigations into the case, which includes CNN's 2010 documentary on the murders and the 2018 Atlanta Monster podcast. This new special is produced by Will Packer, who is most famous for producing blockbuster comedy films like Girls Night and Night School. Packer feels a connection to this particular story, telling Deadline, "Having lived in Atlanta for over 20 years, the story of this senseless tragedy is personally important to me, and the echoes of what happened 40 years ago still resonate in the city."
Just days before the premiere of the documentary, Atlanta Mayor
Despite the amount of coverage the murders have gotten in the past 40 years, however, there is still no definitive proof that Williams is responsible for everything of which he is accused, something most documentaries about him address with varying biases.
"Atlanta Child Murders" refers to 29 deaths that occurred in Atlanta between 1979 and 1981, and while not all of the victims were children, enough of them were to warrant referring to the spree with the now infamous moniker. Williams was arrested after he was allegedly connected to the washed-up corpse of Nathaniel Cater, a 27-year-old man, per AJC.com. William's was found guilty for the death of Nathaniel Cater, as well as the death of Jimmy Ray Payne whose body was reportedly found near the same location that Cater was found in one month earlier. After Williams was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in prison, the Atlanta special police task force closed 22 other cases from the child murder, connecting them to Williams. Five deaths remain unsolved to this day, having not been attributed to Williams, and Williams still maintains he's innocent of every murder he's accused of.
FBI profiler and Mindhunter author John Douglas, who worked on the child murder case, wrote a profile on Williams, saying that the "Atlanta child killings commenced when stress in the life of Wayne Williams became unbearable." He later wrote in Mindhunter that he believes "the forensic and behavioral evidence conclusively points to Williams as the killer of eleven young men in Atlanta. Despite what his detractors and accusers maintain, I believe there is no strong evidence linking him to all or even most of the deaths and disappearances of children in that city between 1979 and 1981."
While the matter of what Williams seems to be guilty of is disputed by Williams himself and others, the fact of the matter is that there is no clear answer to the question of who is responsible for each and every child that was murdered in that two-year period. But maybe the new documentary will offer some answers.