Could either the Ku Klux Klan or a pedophile ring have been responsible for the kidnapping and murder of Atlanta’s missing children in the early 1980s?
The HBO docuseries Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children examines those theories and details how the FBI chose instead to arrest Wayne Williams, 61, instead of pursuing other suspects in the killing of so many Black boys and girls.
After the FBI zeroed in on Williams, he was subsequently charged with two life sentences for the murders of the last two victims, Nathaniel Carter, 27, and Jimmy Ray Payne, 21, according to The Daily Beast. Though he has always professed his innocence and never charged with killing a child, he was recently denied parole in December.
There has been renewed interest in the 1979 to 1981 Atlanta child murders in recent years. The docuseries attempts to shed light on the main theories law enforcement were presented with.
In arresting Williams for the two murders, the FBI declined to pursue the remaining 30 or so unsolved missing and child murder cases, even after information on a pedophile ring and KKK-involvement surfaced as theories and other evidence seemed to be in conflict with the case against Williams, The Daily Beast reported. A former FBI forensic scientist, who is interviewed in the docuseries, casts doubt on the case against Williams.
In the series, several other people emerge as suspects in the missing and murdered cases of the black and poor children, however, the FBI declined to pursue their arrests and several FBI agents say in the series that they are confident they have the right man behind bars.
Some aren’t so sure, including some parents of the deceased children.
The timing of the Williams’ parole hearing and the docuseries comes as Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms vows that the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, along with Atlanta police, would revisit the cases.
Sam Pollard, Maro Chermayeff, Jeff Dupre, and Joshua Bennett produce and direct the docuseries.