ATLANTA — Children who were killed in a rash of violence that terrorized Atlanta more than 40 years ago will soon be permanently memorialized at City Hall.
Between 1979 and 1981, more than 20 Black children and teenagers were reported missing from the Atlanta area and were found dead.
The families of 28 victims are still dealing with the fact that their cases seem unresolved.
Channel 2′s Christian Jennings learned the memorial consists of a wall of names and an eternal flame to remember that time in the city’s history.
The families of the victims told Jennings that this memorial means the world to them.
“I still cry. I still have nightmares,” said Catherine Leach.
[PHOTOS: Victims of the Atlanta Child Murders]
She told Jennings that there isn’t a day that goes by that she doesn’t think of her son Curtis Walker. He was 13 when he disappeared in 1981.
“He had just got out of school and was going down to Kmart. Young boys like to go help ladies put groceries in the back of their trunk and he never came back,” Leach said.
The body of Brenda Colbert and June Thompson’s brother was never found. Darron Glass was 10 when he vanished.
“He was on his way to see a Braves baseball game. That was the last time he was seen,” Thompson said.
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On Wednesday morning, Atlanta city leaders celebrated the groundbreaking of what will soon be the Atlanta Children’s Eternal Flame Memorial, where the city will forever remember and honor the lives of the children slain during the Atlanta child murders of 1979 to 1981.
“It means a lot to me. A lot. And my family,” Colbert said.
“That lets me know they won’t ever be forgotten,” Thompson said.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms got emotional as she read each child’s name aloud Wednesday.
The memorial will be built outside Atlanta’s City Hall. For the families, it will be a place of healing.
“I’m looking forward to coming out here every day that God puts breath in my body. I’m going to be right here,” Leach said.
[Atlanta Child Murders: A chronology of the missing and murdered cases]
Police arrested Wayne Williams, who was convicted in the murder of two men. Investigators believe he was responsible for those children’s disappearances.
“Once Wayne Williams was arrested, the tragedy of the missing and murdered children stopped,” retired Atlanta police detective Lou Arcangeli said.
But with 28 cases still considered unsolved, Atlanta police recently sent DNA evidence to a crime lab in Salt Lake City, where Bottoms hopes they will find more answers.
“We owe it to each of the families and the memories of these children to do all that we can to have the answers that can help bring peace to these families,” Bottoms said.
Bottoms said it may take several months for that crime lab to get any results.
As for the memorial, that’s expected to be finished in about six months.
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