Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Atlanta Child Murders

Patterns

Atlanta's Public Safety Commissioner Lee Brown had always maintained throughout the investigation that there was no pattern in the murders. Ironically, it was during Brown's testimony that Jack Mallard introduced the "pattern" that would allow evidence in ten other cases to be introduced in addition to evidence in the Cater and Payne deaths. The "pattern" became the key enabler for evidence to be used by the state against Williams, especially when linking similar fibers. Furthermore, the Cater and Payne cases standing alone were extremely weak and the introduction of evidence from each of the ten "pattern" cases strengthened their case by providing, among many things, eyewitnesses and most importantly, fiber connections amongst some of the victims.

The ten "pattern" cases were:

  1. Alfred Evans
  2. Eric Middlebrooks
  3. Charles Stephens
  4. William Barrett
  5. Terry Pue
  6. John Porter
  7. Lubie Geter
  8. Joseph Bell
  9. Patrick Baltazar
  10. Larry Rogers

The characteristics that formed the "pattern" amongst the victims were listed by the prosecution as being:

  1. Black male
  2. Missing clothing
  3. No car
  4. Poor families
  5. No evidence of forced abduction
  6. Broken Home
  7. No apparent motive for disappearance
  8. Defendant claims no contact
  9. Asphyxia by strangulation
  10. No valuables
  11. Body found near expressway ramp or major artery
  12. Street hustlers
  13.  Body disposed of in unusual manner
  14. Transported before or after death
  15. Similar fibers

There was a great deal of controversy concerning the prosecution's "pattern." Furthermore, if one looked closely into each of the cases, it would be noticeable that several of them did not fit the "pattern" invented by the prosecution. For example, not all of the victims were found near expressway ramps or major arteries, it is unknown whether all the victims were transported before of after they were killed based on lack of evidence and only six of the "pattern" cases showed evidence of strangulation. Therefore, the pattern the prosecution describes is inaccurate. But Judge Cooper, former prosecutor, accepted the "pattern" anyway.

The prosecution focused its efforts on four key areas:

  1. the character and credibility of Wayne Williams,
  2. what happened on the Jackson Parkway bridge,
  3. eyewitnesses to Wayne Williams behavior and alleged interaction with the victims, and
  4. the physical evidence, which was primarily based on fibers, hairs and bloodstains found on victims that matched elements in Wayne Williams environment.
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