Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Wayne Williams and the Atlanta Child Murders

The Looming Crisis

In a four-month period, two very high profile street murders of whites by blacks would crystallize their fears:  On June 28, 1979, a young white doctor attending one of the city's conventions was murdered by two black robbers.  Then on October 17, 1979, a mentally unstable black man gunned down a white legal secretary on her birthday.  Everyone was outraged and the media demanded a crackdown on crime.

Mayor Maynard Jackson
Mayor Maynard Jackson

In 1978, Mayor Jackson had replaced his controversial black public safety commissioner Reginald Eaves with Dr. Lee Brown, who was an intelligent, capable manager but had very limited street experience and was perceived as socially distant from the poor black community. Little did the city understand that these two highly publicized crimes would be dwarfed by two other crimes which, when they happened, received almost no publicity at all. 

Two black boys were found murdered at the end of July 1979, officially starting one of the most highly publicized murder series in history.  A couple of years later, twenty-nine black youths would be dead and a black man, Wayne Williams, who many people believe was railroaded by the government, would be imprisoned for life.


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