Oct 20, 2021 - News
Another shot at justice for Atlanta's Missing and Murdered Children
Rows of photographs of young Black children who were some of the victims in the Missing and Murdered Children cases in Atlanta
Some of the victims in Atlanta's Missing and Murdered Children case, a series of killings that gripped the city from 1979 to 1981. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images

This week, Atlanta Police investigators will hand-deliver DNA samples of some victims of the Missing and Murdered Children cases to a private laboratory for further analysis.

  • The move comes nearly 40 years after police and prosecutors closed more than 25 murder cases of missing Black children and teens in Atlanta after Wayne Williams was convicted in 1982 of murdering two of the victims. 

Details: APD investigators are hand-delivering the DNA samples to a private lab in Salt Lake City that the city says specializes in “analyzing deteriorating DNA.”

  • Officer Anthony Grant, an APD spokesperson, says the department won’t release the name of the lab, and declined to tell Axios why.

Context: The killings of more than two dozen black children between 1979 and 1981 left Atlanta families on edge, made national headlines and sparked a multiagency investigation to find the killer.

  • Williams, an aspiring music producer and talent scout, was convicted of murdering two of the adults and sentenced to life in federal prison.
  • Police considered Williams a suspect in more than 20 of the child killings but never pursued charges in those cases, leaving them unsolved and victims' families demanding closure.

Flashback: In May 2019, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms created an advisory committee to contemplate a proper memorial to the victims. Hoping new technology could yield answers in the case, APD said it would reopen the cases.

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