I’m like John Douglas, Robert Ressler, and a few other investigators, I have serious doubts about Wayne Williams being the serial killer in the Atlanta Child murders. For those that don’t know, the Atlanta Child Murders are a group of murders that started in July 1979 and continued until May 1981. There were 24 children murdered (17 years of age and younger) along with 6 males over 18. He was convicted of 2 of the adult murders and his guilt was just assumed in the other murders that are attributed to him.
Now, I could be critical of the investigation, but investigators have a hard job and everybody wants a child killer caught and the murders did stop after Williams was arrested. As of June 2019, I’ve heard that all the murders are being reinvestigated, not just the ones that they didn’t attribute to Williams. Some sources have described Wayne Williams as mentally challenged and slow. Some sources have said he was basically average. I tend to believe Wayne Williams is a bit on the slow side, based on interviews with him that I’ve seen. I also tend to believe that Williams might be responsible for a few of the murders, but definitely not all of them, and I believe there were two serial killers involved who may not have been connected (ie: not a partnership) and Wayne Williams may have been set up by one of them. I think this because some of the victims were sexually assaulted, but not all of them. Most of the victims are males, but there are a few females, and it is really rare for a sexual predator of children to sexually assault children of both genders. Also, there is a wide variance in the age ranges of the victims and one of the other horrifying things we know about pedophiles, is that they have an age range they like and don’t deviate from it very often. Meaning a killer who likes prepubescent boys isn’t going to also be sexually interested in pubescent boys or pubescent girls. Some have also pointed to the variation in how the victims were killed as another indicator that more than one killer is involved. I have less faith in that as an indicator, as I’ve noticed a tendency for serial killers to change how they kill when it fits their needs. To understand these things, I’ve provided a list of victims. It includes their names, ages, gender, and how they were killed. I did not include whether a specific victim was assaulted or not, because a master list of that doesn’t seem to exist in the public form. Names in bold were attributed to Wayne Williams:
- Edward Smith – 14 years old – male -Shot
- Alfred Evans – 13 years old – male – strangulation
- Milton Harvey – 14 years old – male – undetermined (it took several months to find Milton’s body)
- Yusef Bell – 9 years old – male – strangulation
- Angel Lanier – 12 years old – female – Ligature strangulation (most profilers feel manual strangulation, which takes a long time and ligature strangulation which is usually much faster are very different forms of murder hence the denotation that a ligature was used)
- Jeffrey Mathis – 11 years old – male – undetermined
- Eric Middlebrooks – 14 years old – male – blunt force trauma to the head
- Christopher Richardson – 12 years old – male – strangulation
- LaTonya Wilson – 7 years old – female – undetermined
- Aaron Wyche – 10 years old – male – asphyxiation
- Anthony Carter – 9 years old – male – multiple stab wounds
- Earl Terrell – 10 years old – male – asphyxiation
- Clifford Jones – 12 years old – male – Ligature Strangulation
- Darron Glass – 10 years old – male – undetermined (the only child whose body was never found)
- Charles Stephens – 12 years old – male – Suffocation
- Aaron Jackson – 9 years old – male – Asphyxiation
- Patrick Rogers – 16 years old – male – Blunt Force Trauma
- Lubie Geter – 14 years old – male – Asphyxiation
- Terry Pue – 15 years old – male – strangulation
- Patrick Baltazar – 12 years old – male – strangulation
- Curtis Walker – 13 years old – male – asphyxiation
- Joseph Bell – 15 years old – male – asphyxiation
- Timothy Hill – 13 years old – male – asphyxiation
- William Barrett – 17 years old – male – strangulation
- Edie Duncan – 21 years old – male – strangulation
- Larry Rogers – 20 years old – male – strangulation
- Michael McIntosh – 23 years old – male – Asphyxiation
- Jimmy Payne – 21 years old – male – asphyxiation
- John Porter – 28 years old – male – multiple stab wounds
- Nathaniel Cater – 27 years old – male – asphyxiation
This list shows that Wayne Williams’ victims were males between the ages of 9 and 28. Williams was convicted in the murders of Jimmy Payne and Nathaniel Cater. It also shows that if Williams did kill Cater and Payne, he really likes to asphyxiate people. Surprisingly, asphyxiation, suffocation, and strangulation aren’t all that different. And while Cater’s cause of death was asphyxiation, it was listed as undetermined asphyxiation which could be smothering, choking, or strangulation. Cater was seen holding hands with Wayne Williams in the weeks before his death. It was 1981, so none of the articles specifically list Cater or Williams as homosexuals, but it was suggested by several articles I found. Jimmy Payne was definitely not a homosexual and a few days before Payne was known to be missing another man named Fred Wyatt tried to use Payne’s prison ID at a pawn shop. When Payne’s body was found, it was nude except for his underwear.
This is one of the things that have always bothered me. In the 1970s and 1980s, homosexual men were accused of many, many things that they weren’t guilty of, simply because they were gay. Many people actually believed that a homosexual man, was a pedophile by default, because if they could be attracted to another man, they would be attracted to young boys too (this is totally incorrect, just FYI, being gay and being a pedophile are very different things).
My thoughts on this clusterf*ck… If Wayne Williams is a killer, I would attribute the adult victims who were homosexuals, but not the ones who weren’t and honestly, not the majority of the child victims… I have a reason for this. It was 1979-1981 and homosexual black men might as well have been plague carriers. At this time, killing homosexuals was not considered a hate crime. This means that gay black men would have been comfortable around other gay black men, but most heterosexual black men would not have been comfortable around homosexual black males. This means it seems unlikely that someone like Jimmy Payne would have palled around with Wayne Williams who does seem effeminate in interviews.
Also, 15 year old boys, even if they look young, are not the same as 9 year old boys, not by a long shot when it comes to child predators. There seems to be a magical dividing line for pedophiles, either they like really young kids like 9 year olds or they like older children like 14 year olds and they rarely pick victims outside of that preferred age range, because it doesn’t provide the sexual stimulation a pedophile needs. There are exceptions (ie: Tommy Lynn Sells may have cared less about gender and age than most pedophiles), but they are truly exceptions and rare.
What does that mean for these cases? I would group the child victims under 12 into one group and child victims over 13 as another group. I would then group the adult males into two groups; homosexual and heterosexual. It seems terribly unlikely there were 4 serial killers in Atlanta during those two years. But there could have been two of them. One preying on the older children and one preying on the younger children. Also, we know that when a serial killer case is getting headlines, people kill people and dump their bodies in the manner they think the killer is doing it, so there’s less of a chance they will be caught. This means a half dozen or more of these “victims” could easily be copycat murders, by people who knew the victims. Especially, considering many of the children knew each other.
Also, there are other suspects that seem a little extreme at first, but after much consideration, I don’t think are so outlandish. It was 1979-1981 Atlanta, Georgia and racial division was still very much in place. At the time of the murders, many people in the neighborhoods were concerned their children were being taken by the Ku Klux Klan and murdered. When I first read this, I thought it was crazy, not because I don’t believe the KKK is violent (they totally are), but because of the sexual assaults against some of the victims. I have since revised my opinion. Raping and murdering black children would definitely be something the Klan would do, they don’t see African-Americans as people, so why not? Furthermore, I’ve learned a lot about killers and sometimes, the violence and act of killing provides all the sexual stimulation needed. Besides, if you don’t see them as people, then using them for sexual gratification isn’t “really” raping a child.
A couple of the adult victims were seen with a white man in a sports car who was running around with an African-American man who was not Wayne Williams. These two men have never been identified. An inter-racial serial killer team is rare, but then so are serial killer partnerships and it isn’t as if it has never happened before (Charles Ng and Leonard Lake were ethnically different).
Every time I re-investigate this case, I start to fall into rabbit holes. Most of the time, I find myself believing Wayne Williams; a homosexual African-American male was a scapegoat for the murders and whoever the real killers were, they were smart enough to stop after Williams was arrested.