From the summer of 1979 to the summer of 1981, murder and fear stalked Atlanta as children were being abducted and killed. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reviewed the 29 deaths, known as the Atlanta Child Murders, that traumatized the city. It was a time many Atlantans had almost forgotten until last week, DeKalb County Police Chief Louis Graham decided to reopen five cases in his jurisdiction.
Graham’s decision rekindled a debate about whether Wayne Williams, who was convicted of killing two men during that period and later implicated in 22 of the remaining 27 cases, could have been responsible for that many murders, as the police said he was. Williams, a free-lance photographer and music promoter, was convicted in 1982 of killing two men and was sentenced to two life terms. He has maintained his innocence. Some blacks ask whether the cases have been closed so quickly if the victims were white. “I don’t believe he [Williams] killed those children,” said Monte Curry, a barber at Hasan’s Atlanta’s Finest Barber Shop, where customers have been talking about the case all week. After radio personality Frank Ski aired a prison interview with Williams on a top-ranked R&B/hip-hop station, callers favored reopening the cases.