Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Wayne Williams and the Atlanta Child Murders

Mounting Evidence

Later into the trail, the prosecution presented a group of eyewitnesses who claimed they saw Wayne Williams with various victims or that the eyewitness verified that Cater was alive the afternoon of the bridge incident:

Examples of this eyewitness testimony included Lugene Laster, who saw Jo-Jo Bell get into a Chevrolet station wagon driven by a man he identified as Wayne Williams. Robert Henry, who knew Cater, claimed he saw Cater and Williams holding hands the evening of the bridge incident. Also, a couple of youths claimed Williams made sexual advances to them.

One of the most significant and controversial moments of the trial occurred during arguments and testimony concerning the linkage of similar fibers amongst the ten "pattern" cases to Cater and Payne's murder. Investigators found on the bodies of the murdered victims fibers that were similar in appearance to carpet fibers found in Williams home and automobile. In total, there were twenty-eight fiber types linked to nineteen items from the house, bedroom and vehicles of Wayne Williams. Of interest to the prosecution were trilobal fibers, which the state contended, were of a rare variety. Fiber analysts speculated that the fibers found on the victims were most likely transferred to the victims from contact with Williams's environment, thus connecting him to the murders. The prosecution contended that there were so many fiber matches between the Williams' household and the victims that it was statistically impossible for the victims not to have been in Williams' home and cars.

Controversy arose when the state failed to tell the jury that most of the fibers found on the victims were not rare. In fact, such carpet fibers could be found in many apartment building complexes, businesses and residential homes throughout the Atlanta region. Therefore, it would not be that unusual for the victims to have come in contact with trilobal type fibers. There was more controversy over the transference of such fibers. The state argued that fibers were transferred directly from Williams's environment to the victims. Therefore, one must assume that if fibers could be transferred from Williams's environment to the victims, then fibers from the victims clothing or living environment would naturally be found on Williams or in his home or car, especially, if they had been killed in his house or transported in his car, which the state believed to have happened. Yet, absolutely no evidence of hair or fibers from the victims was found in Williams's house or car.


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