The Atlanta Child Murders Timeline Puts The 'Mindhunter' Season 2 Case Into Frightening Perspective
Spoilers ahead for Mindhunter Season 2. The new season of Netflix's Mindhunter focuses on the case of the Atlanta Child Murderers. While Mindhunter, which focuses on the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit, shows how troubling this case was, the timeline of the Atlanta Child Murders puts it into horrifying perspective the terror this serial killer brought to the city.
In a period of just 22 months, at least two dozen black, mostly young boys, were killed, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The first body was discovered in 1979. By April 1980, Camille Bell, the mother of nine-year-old Yusuf Bell, who went missing in October 1979, started the Committee to Stop Children's Murders. The committee, which appears on Mindhunter, was organized by Bell and other mothers of the missing children to try and show the Atlanta police that the disappearances were connected. It wouldn't be until November of that same year that the FBI would be assigned the case.
The Mindhunter finale introduces viewers to Wayne Williams, who was found guilty in 1982 of two of the Atlanta murders. Williams was later linked to 20 more of the murders, according to the New York Times, but he was never tried or convicted for the murders of the children—nor was anyone else.
This timeline of the Atlanta Child Murders spans the months before the FBI came into town and the later months of the investigation, which were shown on Mindhunter.
Aug. 7, 1979
Edward Hope Smith, 14, and Alfred Evans, 13, were the first of the boys to be found dead. Smith had been missing for seven days, while Alfred had only been gone for three. Both were found a few feet apart on a vacant lot on Niskey Lake Road, according to AJC.
The bodies of 14-year-old Milton Harvey and 9-year-old Yusuf Bell are found, according to the Washington Post.
The body of 12-year-old Angel Lanier is found six days after she is reported missing by her mother. In lead prosecutor Jack Mallard's 2009 book, The Atlanta Child Murders: The Night Stalker, he stated that Lanier's death was “never believed to be part of the pattern” of the missing children, but there was “pressure” to add her to “the list," per AJC. Mallard never revealed who applied this pressure before his 2005 death.
May - June 1980
The bodies of Eric Middlebrooks, 15, and Aaron Wyche, 10, are found. During this time, two more children—11-year-old Christopher Richardson and 7-year-old Latonya Wilson—are reported missing.
Aug. 22, 1980
Thirteen-year-old Clifford Jones becomes the seventh victim. According to AJC, it's Jones's murder that leads the police to suspect that these kidnappings are connected.
Clifford Jones, 13, and Charles Stephens, 12, are both found strangled, and Darron Glass, 10, is reported missing. During this time, Atlanta's police chief invites a New Jersey psychic to come to the city. According to the Washington Post, she tells him that while she is in town, the killer won't strike, and he doesn't.
Nov. 6, 1980
The FBI are officially assigned to the case. Five days later, Atlanta Public Safety Commissioner Lee Brown announces that "five of the nation's top homicide detectives" will consult on the case, according to AJC.
The body of 16-year-old Patrick Rogers, known as "Pat-Man," is found on the banks of the Chattahoochee River.
Jan. - Feb. 1981
The bodies of Lubie Geter, 14, Terry Pue, 15, and Patrick Baltazar, 12, are all found. According to Women's Health, during this time another boy, who was not publicly identified at the time, escaped a kidnapping. His description of the man he claims tried to take him matched the profile of Wayne Williams.
Jan. 30, 1981
Two Justice Department officials are sent to Atlanta to help with the case under the order of President Ronald Reagan. Over the course of this year, Reagan will allocate funds to the city for after-school programs and a 24-hour tip line, according to CNN.
Feb. 17, 1981
"Fibrous materials" found on the body of Patrick Baltazar, the 16th victim, allows authorities to link his death to five of the other child killings.
March 10, 1981
Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. perform a benefit that raises $200,000 to help the city offset costs of the investigation. According to AJC, City Hall was paying $150,000 a month in police overtime.
Days later, the New York Times reported that officials didn't believe all of the disappearances and killings were connected. Instead, the Times wrote "officials believe that as many as nine or 10 killers, acting separately and perhaps for different reasons."
''Very few of these 20 deaths are connected, maybe six to eight at the most," Dr. Joseph Burton, the medical examiner of DeKalb County, told NYT. By the end of the month, the body of 20-year-old Eddie Duncan is found in the Chattahoochee River. The bodies of Curtis Walker, 13, and Timothy Hill, 13, are also discovered during this time.
April 13, 1981
Atlanta police believe they have identified the killers of four of the 23 children who had been found dead. But, they don't have sufficient evidence to file charges, according to AJC.
In late April and May, the bodies of Joseph "JoJo" Bell, 15, Michael McIntosh, 23, John Harold Porter, 28, Jimmy Ray Payne, 21, and William Barrett, 17, are found. After five bodies are found near rivers, authorities add surveillance teams to nearby bridges and river banks.
April 22, 1981
After a police officer hears a splash in the Chattahoochee River during a stakeout of Atlanta's bridges, they stop Wayne Williams, who was driving over the South Cobb Drive bridge. Williams is stopped and questioned, but they let him go. Two days later the body of 27-year-old Nathaniel Cater, is found downstream. It's not far from where Payne was found only a month earlier.
June 21, 1981
Following weeks of surveillance and interrogation, Williams is arrested and charged with Cater's murder. A month later, Williams is indicted on two counts of murder for the deaths of Cater and Payne.
Feb. 27, 1982
Williams is found guilty of murdering Cater and Payne. He's sentenced to two consecutive life prison terms, which he's currently living out. Williams has long denied his involvement in the killings. In 1998, he unsuccessfully appealed his conviction, according to the New York Times.
The Atlanta Child Murders case was reopened, according to Rolling Stone. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Atlanta police chief Erika Shields announced that with the advancements of DNA technology they will retest evidence from the case. The mayor also said there was also new evidence that had not been previously tested that they will go through.
“[We hope] to let them know that we have done all that we can do … to make sure their memories are not forgotten," Bottoms said, per Rolling Stone. "And in the truest sense of the word to let the world know that black lives do matter."
For years, the families of the children who were killed by the Atlanta Child Murderer have been looking for answers. Now they may finally get them.