These photos show most of the victims killed in the Atlanta area between 1979 and 1981. Wayne Williams is serving life in prison for the murders of two of the adults and has been blamed for most of the other deaths.
Photo: HANDOUT
Photo: HANDOUT

Calls pour in after Atlanta announces fresh look at decades-old child murders

Atlanta police have created a dedicated phone line to handle a deluge of calls pouring in from would-be tipsters since Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced plans to retest evidence in the Atlanta Child Murders

Police have made no commitment to actually reopen the decades-old investigation. Instead, the mayor and other officials said last week that the police department, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation would gather evidence — such as DNA or fibers — still in their possession then determine if any of it can be retested with technologies that weren’t available in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when nearly 30 black children and young adults were killed. The purpose is to bring closure to the cases, which were closed after Wayne Williams, a brash young photographer, was convicted of murder in the deaths of two adults.

Convicted killer Wayne Williams is pictured in May 1999 near the fence line at Valdosta State Prison in Valdosta, Ga.
Photo: AP Photo/John Bazemore

While following leads from callers isn’t part of the new inquiry, APD spokesman Carlos Campos said the agency would listen to callers and look into tips deemed credible.

A spokesman for the DeKalb County Police Department, which worked five of the cases, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the agency would do what was needed to help Atlanta’s project.

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Williams, 60, is serving two life sentences for the murders of two of the adults. Authorities closed the children’s cases after those convictions, saying they were certain Willliams was responsible for the entire string of crimes, although he was never charged with them.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms speaks at a news conference Thursday, announcing a new look at the Atlanta Child Murders evidence.
Photo: Bob Andres

Consequently, questionsamong victims’ family members, some investigators and members of the public have lingered over the years.

Williams has been tied by authorities to many of the child victims, the mayor said last week. Bottoms’ public announcement coincided with the 40-year anniversary of the case and the release of a new documentary on the killings.

Williams’ attorney, Lynn Whatley, told Channel 2 Action News the reexamination of evidence needs a third-party observer to make sure the process is done fairly.

Anyone with information can call 404-546-2603.

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