Sunday, November 1, 2009

Serial Killer Bedtime Stories: Wayne Williams

Tonight's bedtime story is about Wayne Williams.

Suspected of being the Atlanta Child Murderer, Wayne killed mostly young, black boys and dumped their bodies in the Chattahoochee River. He was caught when he departed from his modus operandi and smoked a couple of adults. When he was arrested Wayne was described as the "Pillsbury Doughboy." Unlike many other serial killers, he was soft-spoken, mild-mannered and friendly.

His thick glasses, soft features and delicate hands made him an unlikely candidate for comitting 28 murders. Many black leaders characterized his arrest as being racial in nature. However, as his trial progressed, Wayne emerged as a person emotionally capable of murder with an "inadequate personality" and an "obsessive need for control." Though at first he presented himself as an innocent victim of circumstance who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, when FBI agents searched the home he shared with his retired-schoolteacher parents, they found books on how to cheat polygraph tests as well as the crucial fiber evidence that eventually linked him to 12 murders.

After his arrest the killings ceased for a period, or so did police say. Some police say evidence against him was flawed and believe the case should be reopened. Williams' lawyer claimed a Klansman named Charles Sanders confessed to the police that he helped the KKK kidnap and murder 21 black children. Allegedly, this evidence was suppressed to avoid a race war.

John Douglas, the FBI agent whose profile led to Wayne's arrest, believes he was probably one of four killers active in the area. Douglas believes that evidence links Williams to at most 12 murders. According to the retired Federal agent, there are still black children being murdered in Atlanta and local authorities -- scared of what they might uncover -- are trying to keep a lid on it.

On June 5, 1998, two investigators of the widely publicized Atlanta missing and murdered children cases said again they believe convicted killer Wayne Williams is innocent. DeKalb County Sheriff Sidney Dorsey and Fulton County Police Chief Louis Graham, both Atlanta police homicide investigators at the time the rash of killings occurred in the early 1980s, made the assertions on "Dateline NBC." The state has also introduced evidence of 10 other murders, for which Williams was never indicted. Police ultimately blamed him for 24 deaths.

Williams was convicted of murder in the deaths of Nathaniel Cater, 27, and Jimmy Ray Payne 21, two of 29 young Atlanta blacks murdered between 1979 and 1981. Williams was convicted of two of the homicides, but 22 others were closed after his conviction; five cases remain open.

After the conviction, authorities blamed Williams, who is black, for 22 other slayings but never charged him. Five of the 29 murders investigated by a special police task force remain officially open. The 41-year-old freelance photographer and talent scout was convicted in 1982 and sentenced to two life terms.

Williams became a suspect in the string of murders in May 1981 when police staking out a bridge over the Chattahoochee River -- where some of the victims' bodies had been found -- heard a splash and stopped Williams as he drove away. Two days later, the body of Cater was found downstream.

The main prosecution evidence against Williams was tiny fibers found on the bodies and matched to rugs and other fabrics in the home and cars of Williams' parents. His attorney said he is pushing for DNA testing to set him free after 18 years in prison. Lawyer Lynn Whatley said he is trying to raise the money to have tests--using advances in the science--conducted on hair and blood that linked Williams to two murders.

Sweet dreams, and may you forever remain Crazy 4 Crazies.

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