ATLANTA — It was a case that rocked the city of Atlanta and beyond. More than 20 Black children killed over a two-year period and it came to an end 40 years ago Monday.
Long considered by many as the prime suspect in the Atlanta Child Murders, Wayne Williams was arrested on June 21, 1981. He is suspected of killing more than 20 Black children in the Atlanta area from 1979 to 1981, but he was never charged in any child’s death.
[PHOTOS: Victims of the Atlanta Child Murders]
He has maintained his innocence even as he was convicted in 1982 of the murders of two adults and then sentenced to two life terms in prison with the possibility of parole.
Authorities closed the children’s cases after Williams’ murder convictions.
Over the last few years the case has come under new scrutiny. In 2018, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that city police and the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office would reexamine the cases.
[Atlanta Child Murders: A chronology of the missing and murdered cases]
Bottoms said at the time that she hoped taking a fresh look at the evidence may give peace to the victims’ families more than 40 years later.
“(We hope) to let them know that we have done all that we can do...to make sure their memories are not forgotten...and in the truest sense of the word to let the world know that Black lives do matter,” Bottoms said.
Catherine Leach, whose son, Curtis Walker, was one of the victims, said that all she wants is closure.
“There’s not a day I don’t think about him, especially birthdays and Thanksgiving when he’s not there with me,” Leach said. “Our children have been forgotten in this city, and nobody cared about (them.)”
The child murders saga is ongoing for the families of the 28 victims whose cases were never resolved.
Anthony Terrell, brother of murder victim Earl Terrell, was part of the 2020 HBO docuseries “Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: the Lost Children.” He’s not satisfied with the reasons why cases such as his brother’s were quickly closed.
“You mean nobody has an answer for (the death of all those) kids? We’re not worth it is what you’re telling me,” he said in the series.
Williams was denied parole in 2019. His next date of parole consideration will be in November 2027. He is currently housed at Telfair State Prison.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this article.
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