Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Atlanta Child Murders

Ransom

Earl Terrell
Earl Terrell

Two weeks later on July 30, 1980, eleven-year-old Earl Terrell went with some friends to the South Bend Park swimming pool. Earl began to misbehave and the lifeguard threw him out of the pool. After that, Earl disappeared.

Earl's aunt, who lived next door, got a phone call. "I've got Earl. Don't' call the police," he told her. Shortly afterwards, the man — who sounded like a white southerner — called back, saying, "I've got Earl. He's in Alabama. It will cost you $200 to get him back. I will call back on Friday." (Detlinger and Prugh).

According to Detlinger, police learned of a child pornography ring that was operating right across the street from the South Bend Park pool. John David Wilcoxen was convicted when police found thousands of photos of children pornographically displayed. Police dismissed the connection between Wilcoxen and Terrell because the photos were of white boys, but a witness claimed that Earl Terrell had been to Wilcoxen's house several times. Also, there was some disagreement as to whether the photos were actually all white boys or not.

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