Wayne Williams

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Wayne Williams
Background information
Birth nameWayne Bertram Williams
Also known asThe Atlanta Monster
The Atlanta Child Killer
The Atlanta Child Murderer
Born(1958-05-27) May 27, 1958 (age 54)
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
PenaltyLife
Killings
Number of victims2-31
CountryU.S.
State(s)Georgia
Date apprehendedJune 21, 1981
 
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Wayne Williams
Background information
Birth nameWayne Bertram Williams
Also known asThe Atlanta Monster
The Atlanta Child Killer
The Atlanta Child Murderer
Born(1958-05-27) May 27, 1958 (age 54)
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
PenaltyLife
Killings
Number of victims2-31
CountryU.S.
State(s)Georgia
Date apprehendedJune 21, 1981

Wayne Bertram Williams (born May 27, 1958) is an American serial killer who committed most of the Atlanta Child Murders that occurred in 1979 through 1981. On February 26,1982,[1] Williams was found guilty of the murder of two adult men. After his conviction, the Atlanta, Georgia police declared that an additional 23 of the 29 child murders were solved, with Williams shown to be the murderer.

Contents

Biography

Williams was born and raised in Atlanta's Dixie Hills neighborhood of Northwest Atlanta to Homer and Faye Williams. Both parents were teachers. Williams graduated from Douglass High school and developed a keen interest in radio and journalism. Eventually he constructed his own carrier-current radio station. He also began hanging out at radio stations WIGO and WAOK radio and befriended a number of the announcing crew and began dabbling in becoming a music producer and manager. [2]

Trial and conviction

He first became a suspect May 1981 when his car was on the bridge from where the sound of a loud splash was heard in the river by a stake out team investigating the child murder case. He was stopped by police and questioned and claimed that he was going out of town to audition a young singer, Cheryl Johnson. The police would later discover that that phone number he gave them did not exist. FBI tried to find Cheryl Johnson from the address and phone details given, but were unable to find her.[3]

Two days later, the body of 27 year old Nathaniel Cater, who had been missing for days, turned up in the river. The medical examiner on the case ruled he had died of "probable" asphyxia, but never authoritatively said he had been strangled. Police theorized that Williams had killed Cater and had thrown him off the bridge the night they had pulled him over. Their suspicions about Williams increased after the results of his polygraph test came back inconclusive, and hairs and fibers on one of the victims' bodies were found consistent with those from Williams's home, car, and dog. Police found a book on how to beat a polygraph test when they searched his home.

Throughout the course of the investigation, police staked out Williams's home for several weeks while he taunted them with insults and jokes. During this time, people working in Williams's studio also told police they had seen him with scratches on his face and arms around the time of the murders, which the police thought could have been inflicted by victims during a struggle. Williams held a press conference outside his parents' home, proclaiming his innocence. He was nevertheless arrested on June 21, 1981, for the murders of Cater and 29-year-old Jimmy Payne.

The trial began on January 6, 1982. The prosecution's case relied on an abundance of corroborating evidence. During the two-month trial, prosecutors matched 19 different sources of fibers from Williams's home and car environment: his bedspread, bathroom, gloves, clothes, carpets, dog and an unusual tri-lobal carpet fiber to a number of victims. There was also eyewitness testimony placing Williams with different victims, blood stains from victims matching blood in Williams's car and testimony that he was a pedophile attracted to young black boys (although none of the victims were sexually assaulted).

Williams took the stand in his own defense, but alienated the jury by becoming angry and combative. Williams never recovered from that outburst, and on February 27 the jury deliberated for 12 hours before finding him guilty of murdering Cater and Payne. Williams was sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment.

Williams would later appeal for a retrial in the late 1990s. However, a Butts County Superior Court judge, Hal Craig, denied relief in the habeas corpus petition. Attorney General Thurbert Baker said that "although this does not end the appeal process, I am pleased with the results in the habeas case." and that his office "will continue to do everything possible to uphold the conviction."[4]

In early 2004 Williams would once again seek a retrial. The 146-page federal court filing said Williams should be retried because law enforcement officials covered up evidence of Klan involvement, and that carpet fibers linking him to the crimes wouldn't stand up under scientific scrutiny.[5] A federal judge rejected a request for retrial on October 17, 2006.[6]

Throughout time, Williams has contended that he was framed and maintained that Atlanta officials covered up evidence of Ku Klux Klan involvement in the killings to avoid a race war in the city. His defense lawyers have maintained that a "profound miscarriage of justice" has occurred in the matter, which not only has kept Williams behind bars for a majority of his adult life, but also which kept a blind eye to bringing the real killers of these many victims to justice.[7]

Aftermath

Neither Williams nor anyone else was ever tried for the murder of the boy, later identified as Curtis Walker, aged 13, whose body was dumped into Atlanta's South River in 1981. This was the same case which would lead to the stakeouts of Atlanta bridges by the Atlanta PD and FBI that resulted in Williams becoming a suspect in May 1981 and his later apprehension in June 1981.[8] Williams is serving his sentence at Hancock State Prison.

Controversy

Williams's guilt has been disputed by some. Others, most notably the author James Baldwin in his essay The Evidence of Things Not Seen (1985), have raised questions about the investigation and trial of Williams. Some people in his community, and several of the victims' parents, did not believe that Williams, the son of two professional teachers, could have killed so many.[9] On May 6, 2005, the DeKalb County Police Chief Louis Graham ordered the reopening of the murder cases of four boys killed in that county between February and May 1981, which had been attributed to Williams.[10][9] The reopening of the investigation was welcomed by some relatives of victims, who believe the wrong man was blamed for the bulk of the killings and they hoped a new police investigation will uncover the real killer.[11]

DeKalb County Police Chief Louis Graham, formerly an assistant police chief in neighboring Fulton County at the time of the killings, said his decision to reopen the cases was driven solely by his belief in the innocence of Williams. Also former DeKalb County Sheriff, Sidney Dorsey, spoke out stating he believed, Williams was wrongly blamed for the murders, elaborating that "if they arrested a white guy, there would have been riots across the U.S". Dorsey was an Atlanta homicide detective at the time of the Atlanta child killings.[12][13][14] Both men investigated the Atlanta child murders in the early 1980s and have also previously spoken out publicly of their belief of Williams' innocence.[15]

However, the legal authorities in the neighboring Fulton County, where the majority of the murders occurred, have not moved to reopen any of the cases under their jurisdictions. Williams has always vehemently denied the charges, however it is common for prison inmates to deny they did anything wrong.[9]

On August 6, 2005, it was revealed that Charles T. Sanders, a white supremacist affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan, who had been investigated for a role in the Atlanta child killings, once praised the crimes in secretly recorded conversations. Although Sanders did not claim responsibility for any of the deaths, Williams' lawyers believed the evidence would help their bid for a new trial. Sanders told an informant for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in the 1981 recording that the killer had "wiped out a thousand future generations of niggers." Police dropped the probe into the KKK's possible involvement after seven weeks, when Sanders and two of his brothers passed lie detector tests. The case was once again closed on July 21, 2006.[16][17][18]

Former FBI profiler, John E. Douglas, wrote in his book Mindhunter, that while he believes that Williams committed many of the murders, he doesn't think that he committed all of them. Douglas added that he believes that law enforcement authorities have some idea of who the other killers are, and that "It isn't a single offender and the truth isn't pleasant." [19]

See also

References

  1. ^ [Saferstein, Richard. Criminalistics: An Introduction to Forensic Science. 8. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2004. 75. Print.]
  2. ^ Police Chief says Wayne Williams Blamed for Too Many Cases by Stan Washington and Hal Lamar for Atlanta Voice
  3. ^ CNN SPECIAL: Atlanta Child Murders July 4, 2011
  4. ^ Children's killer loses appeal in The Augusta Chronicle in November 7, 1998
  5. ^ Convicted killer blamed for Atlanta child murders seeks new trial in The Associated Press, February 24, 2004
  6. ^ Court won't reconsider man's murder conviction in The Augusta Chronicle October 18, 2006.
  7. ^ Child killings conviction disputed in The Augusta Chronicle on October 6, 2006
  8. ^ Atlanta Revisits 1981 Child Murders in AP News on May 15, 2005
  9. ^ a b c "Missing in Atlanta". The Investigators. episode 141. season 5. 2004-05-20. TruTV. 
  10. ^ Police reopen some Atlanta child killing cases in The Augusta Chronicle May 7, 2005
  11. ^ Atlanta murder cases are reopened after 20 years in The Augusta Chronicle on October 5, 2005
  12. ^ Police chief reopens 5th child slaying case in The Augusta Chronicle on May 11, 2005
  13. ^ "Cold-case squad to probe decades-old Atlanta murders". CNN Justice. 7 May 2005. http://articles.cnn.com/2005-05-07/justice/wayne.williams_1_unsolved-murder-cold-case-squad-murder-cases?_s=PM:LAW. 
  14. ^ Former DeKalb sheriff prefers talk of Williams' innocence in The Augusta Chronicle on May 30, 2005
  15. ^ Child killer called innocent in The Augusta Chronicle on June 4, 1998
  16. ^ Possible KKK Link to Atlanta Child Killings? in First Coast News on August 5, 2005
  17. ^ New Questions in Atlanta Murders - Did prosecutors withhold evidence of Klan involvement in children's death? p. 36 in ABA Journal, The Lawyers Magazine in May 1992
  18. ^ Was Wayne Williams framed?/Recruiter for KKK said to admit role in Atlanta murders in Houston Chronicle, Section A, Page 4, 2 STAR Edition on September 10, 1991
  19. ^ Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's elite serial crime unit by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker published in 1995

External links