Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Wayne Williams and the Atlanta Child Murders


Jefferey Mathis
Jefferey Mathis

The very next day after Angel's body was found, Jefferey Mathis, aged ten, had left his home to buy cigarettes for his mother in the early evening. Like Yusef Bell, Jefferey would never return from his errand, which was only a few blocks away from his home. His mother Willie Mae Mathis became worried when he was gone over an hour and sent her other sons to look for him. Later that night, a patrolman told Mrs. Mathis to call the missing person's department if he did not come home by morning.

What she did not immediately understand when she contacted that department the next day is that the missing person's department at that time in the Atlanta Police Department — and in many major cities — did very little to investigate the disappearance of young people. It was assumed that children and teenagers were runaways and not the victims of foul play.

Jefferey had last been seen by a friend getting into the backseat of a blue car, possibly a Buick. Thirteen days after Mathis had gone missing, Willie Turner, who had recognized Mathis' picture from the newspaper, claimed that he saw Jefferey in a blue NOVA car, driven by a white adult man. Willie Turner also told police that the man he had seen with Mathis had later in the week pulled a gun on him before taking off in his car. Police did little in response to the information given by Turner. The report was filed away and forgotten. The blue car that was earlier seen by Mathis' friend in connection with Jefferey's disappearance was very similar to the description of a car seen by an eyewitness in a later disappearance case of a boy named Aaron Wyche. Jefferey Mathis' two brothers had also reported seeing a blue Buick in the driveway of a house that Jefferey frequented. Interestingly, shortly after Mathis' disappearance, boys from his school had complained to their principle that two black men in a blue car had attempted to lure them away from the schoolyard. The youngsters had memorized the license plate and reported it to police. Once again, police did little to investigate the matter.


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