The prime suspect in the Atlanta Child Murders says he hopes a new investigation into the case will finally help clear his name.
Wayne Williams, 60, released a statement through his foundation, “The Wayne Williams Freedom Project, on Monday saying he’s “ready and willing to cooperate” with authorities’ re–examination of evidence from a string of murders that left the city’s African–American community terrorized, and on edge.
“I just hope that not only will some answers come forth as far as the suspects and other suspects that are responsible for these terrible crimes, but I also hope that we can get to the bottom of the social conditions that led to this type of apathy in Atlanta, which continues today,” Williams wrote in statement obtained by Atlanta station WSB-TV. “The news media painted these kids to be street kids, thugs and all of that, which is not the case.”
“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 conviction,” he added.
Between 1979 and 1981, at least 25 Black children — mostly boys — were killed in areas around Atlanta. Several adults were also killled around the same time, bringing the total number of slain people to 31.
Williams, an Atlanta native, was convicted in the deaths of two adults in 1982, for which he received two life sentences. An Atlanta police recruit who reportedly heard the splash of something hitting the Chattahoochee River stopped Williams’ car at the end of the bridge over the river. A body was found in the river days later, and Williams would eventually be arrested in 1981.
At trial, prosecutors offered “pattern” evidence from 10 other murders Williams was not charged in. Police closed cases into 22 of the children’s deaths after Williams’ conviction, pinning them on him without ever formally charging or trying him.
Williams has maintained his innocence and insists he never murdered any children. He is the only person ever tried in connection to the infamous child murders.
Last month, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance-Bottoms and Police Chief Erika Shields announced the Fulton County District Attorney and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation would take another look at the child murder cases to see if any evidence can be retested. With new technological advancements and newly available genetic databases, Bottoms said she hopes the review will turn up new information.
“There may not be any evidence available that can be re-examined, but we are taking the necessary steps to formally say that we are going to open up every box and look in every corner and see what we have left,” she said at a press conference.
“I don’t think it’s any secret that, for many people, there’ve been questions as to whether or not Wayne Williams was responsible for all of the murders,” Bottoms added
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