Wayne Williams, the long-accused Atlanta Child Murders suspect, released a statement Monday morning saying he was pleased officials are taking a new look at old evidence in the killings.
Williams, 60, has long maintained his innocence in the killing of 29 black children and young adults murdered around the city four decades ago. He is serving two life sentences for the murders of two adults but was never charged with the other murders.
“I stand fully ready and willing to cooperate with any renewed investigation to find the truth on what happened with the purpose of straightening up any lies and misconceptions of my unjust convictions,” he said in a statement read in a news conference by Dewayne Hendrix of the Wayne Williams Freedom Project.
The statement comes just weeks after Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that authorities would attempt to use new technology to test evidence in the cases, such as DNA and fibers. Bottoms noted evidence ties Williams to many of the victims, but said the cases should be reexamined in an attempt to find the truth in all the homicides.
During Monday’s news conference, Hendrix also read a letter from Sidney Dorsey, in which the former DeKalb County sheriff said he wouldn’t rest until the truth was known in the murders because he owed it to the children’s families and Williams’ parents.
Dorsey is in prison for orchestrating the murder of Derwin Brown, who’d beat him in an election.
The statement by Williams, a former freelance photographer who covered some of the crime scenes before his arrest, also offered sympathy for the children.
“You know the news media painted these kids to be street kids, thugs and all of that, which is not the case,” wrote Williams.
That stands in contrast to the portrait of Williams that emerged during his 1982 trial.
Several teenagers testified that Williams, who came from a middle-class black family, strongly disliked impoverished black people, especially those who hung out on the streets. The children were from poor neighborhoods and were often out, working to help their families make ends meet.
Williams has courted families of the victims for years, reportedly sending them Christmas cards and letters professing his innocence.
Some of the families don’t think he killed their children, particularly the families who have never seen any evidence of Williams having a connection to their children.
Indeed, some officials through the years have said they believe Williams killed many of the victims, but not all of them.
Danny Agan, a former Atlanta police detective, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week he believes there are at least two murders Williams didn’t commit. Agan said it seems unlikely that Williams, a reputed pedophile who prosecutors claimed was attracted to boys, killed the two girls who were among the victims.
Though Williams wasn't charged in the children’s deaths, 10 of their murders were brought up at his trial in an attempt by prosecutors to establish a "pattern."
In some cases witnesses testified they’d seen Williams with children before their deaths. In others, authorities relied on fiber evidence found on the bodies. Fiber analysis was a brand new technology at the time of Williams’ 1982 trial and has since been subject to criticism. Hendrix called it junk science at the news conference.
The children’s cases were closed after Williams’ conviction.
On Sunday, The AJC reported new allegations against Williams from Atlanta native Derwin Davis, who said Williams tried to molest him in 1979 while giving him a ride. The alleged encounter took place before the other killings began.
Davis’ story was similar to that of Tim Thomas, who came forward to tell Channel 2 Action News that Williams offered him money for sex while giving him a ride in the late 1970s.
At Williams’ trial, a 15-year-old boy testified Williams offered him money for sex while giving him a ride.
Davis said he never alerted authorities because he realized who his would-be attacker was only after Williams was arrested. By then, he felt they had their man. He said he came forward now because, with the renewed interest in the case, he wants to make sure Williams isn’t recast as a totally innocent man.
“I know what he tried to do to me,” Davis said.
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