ATLANTA - Wayne Williams, long considered by many authorities as the prime suspect in the Atlanta Child Murders, has been denied parole.
[The Atlanta Child Murders: An interactive timeline]
Williams, 61, 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. Prosecutors said he was also 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]
The Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole's decision to deny Williams parole comes amid new scrutiny on the Atlanta Child Murders. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced last years that city police and the Fulton County District Attorney's Office would re-examine the cases.
[Atlanta Child Murders: A chronology of the missing and murdered cases]
Channel 2's Tony Thomas has been speaking to Williams' close allies and his private investigator over the past few weeks. At one point, they said they were 99 percent sure he would be released on parole.
"I don't see why anyone would want to hold a man in prison if there is still lingering doubts that's he didn't do any of the things he's convicted of," said leader of Wayne Williams Freedom Project leader Dewayne Hendrix.
A parole board spokesman said that the board set Williams' next date of parole consideration to November 2027. That is as far into the future as the board can push it.
Venus Taylor's 12-year-old daughter Angel was killed in March 1980. She said years after her daughter's death, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent told her they knew who killed Angel, but would never be able to prosecute him.
"Wayne Williams had nothing to do with killing my child," Taylor said.
Taylor also wants Williams released.
"I think he's done enough time," Taylor said.
In a letter dated last month but just released Monday, the state board cited the main reason for the denial was "insufficient amount of time served to date given the nature and circumstances of your offense(s)."
"There's just polarizing facts surrounding the two convictions," Hendrix said.
Williams' private investigator has set up a tip line for callers -- 770-337-3999. Callers can remain anonymous and don't have to give identifying information.
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