Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says investigators have recently “methodically reviewed” an estimated 40% of evidence related to the deaths of more than 20 young Black children, teens and adults who have been missing for decades.
Bottoms shared the update on the Atlanta Child Murders during a Friday morning press conference about new public safety plans recommended to her by her recently formed anti-violence advisory council.
The mayor said investigators processed that evidence on June 21, but authorities do not to plan to publicly name the victims that they we were able to extract DNA from for testing because “we want to be mindful of the integrity of the investigation.”
Bottoms in March 2019 announced that police and prosecutors would potentially reopen the child cases using modern technology to test old case evidence. Forty years ago, freelance television cameraman and music promoter Wayne Williams was taken into custody and charged with murdering 27-year-old Nathaniel Cater.
In 1982, Williams was convicted of killing two adults, but police also linked him to the deaths of over 20 Atlanta children and teens from 1979-81.
“This was a very, very painful time in our city’s history,” Bottoms said Friday.
“Part of my asking that this be reopened was in light of where we are with DNA testing some 40 years later...to make sure that we have examined everything possible to make sure that the person or people responsible are being held accountable.”
Bottoms said a private lab is analyzing the deteriorated DNA and fiber evidence in all 30 of the cases. She also said investigators have extended the timeline from 1970 to 1985 to see if there are any additional children or victims that may have been overlooked.
“I believe there are two cases...that we have been able to send off DNA for additional analysis,” Bottoms said.
“We certainly hope to have that information back over the next few months. Hopefully, before I leave office I hope that we’re able to get it back, but if not, I trust that whomever the next mayor will keep this as a priority,” she said. “And it’s truly my hope that with the analysis of this additional DNA that we can have some additional answers.
Portraits of the missing children were recently installed as an art memorial at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The city is also creating an “eternal flame” and memorial wall that will list the names of those murdered or left missing at City Hall.