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A Utah lab could help solve the Atlanta Child Murders cold case

Oct 19, 2021, 1:11 PM
atlanta child murders...
Artwork in Atlanta honors each of the 29 children and young adults murdered between 1979 and 1981. Screen grab from HBO's Atlanta's Murdered and Missing: The Lost Children

SALT LAKE CITY — The mayor of Atlanta says investigators working on the decades-long Atlanta Child Murders case will bring evidence to a Utah lab that specializes in old DNA.

In a tweet, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced the involvement of the private Utah lab in the case. She did not name the company publicly.

“It is my sincere hope that there will be concrete answers for the families,” she said.

Looking for answers

The Atlanta Child Murders investigation focuses on the deaths of 29 Black children and young adults, most of them boys, between 1979 and 1981. However, in July, Bottoms said investigators planned to expand the time range under scrutiny to look for more potential victims that hadn’t been associated with the case.

fbi records for atlanta child murders case

A portion of the FBI’s archived records show the agency discussing the growing number of known missing and murdered Black children in 1980. Screen grab: FBI.gov

Wayne Williams, the main suspect in the case, was never charged or convicted in any of the child deaths. He was instead convicted in the murder of two adult men, for which he is serving two life sentences. To this day, he maintains his innocence in the Atlanta Child Murders case.

Read more: The FBI’s “records vault” for the Atlanta Child Murders case

Over the years, a number of analysts have cast doubt on Williams’ guilt with respect to the child deaths. A podcast, Atlanta Monster, re-examined the murders 40 years later, casting further doubt on Williams’ relationship to the case but also not ruling him out completely. HBO later produced a television series based on the reporting in the podcast.

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