Atlanta's Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children S1E2 Script

Part 2 (2020)

WOMAN: These young people were murdered.

Their cases were never solved.

Somebody know something other than Wayne Williams.

♪ (DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYS) ♪ This is a case of politics, racism and murder.

WOMAN 2: A lot has changed in our world since there was a conviction of Wayne Williams for two of these murders.

This is a really ugly, dark chapter, but we need to own it.

Do the police work.

If Wayne didn't kill the children, then who did?

[TV static drones]

[bright tone]

["Save Me" by Joan Armatrading playing]

♪ ♪

♪ Sinking ♪

♪ Caught up in a whirling motion ♪

♪ Such a strange sensation ♪

♪ ♪

♪ The currents uncertain ♪

♪ Like sails of a mill, I spin ♪

♪ Like wheels, I move in a circle ♪

♪ While you stand ♪

♪ On the bank ♪

♪ Immune or evasive ♪

♪ Throw me a lifeline ♪

♪ Save me ♪

♪ Save me ♪

If there are those who think that by killing black children that they're gonna crush the spirit of the black community, they're mistaken.

If they think that by coming in to kill our children they're gonna divide us and make us turn on each other, they're mistaken.

We're not gonna turn on each other.

We're gonna turn to each other, and out of the death of these children will come a new determination to shake off the shackles of poverty and injustice everywhere.

[dramatic music]

♪ ♪ Okay, we got it covered up, I think.

[indistinct chatter]

I don't know. Hey, Michael.

Are you here yet?

Put those on for now.

Hey, darling. How you doing?

Good. Okay.

All right, welcome back to News & Talk 1380 WAOK, the voice of the community.

We are broadcasting live from West Hunter Street Baptist Church, and the United Youth Adult Conference has opened up this conversation.

Did Wayne Williams kill anyone?

And maybe you were not in Atlanta at the time.

Some of us born and raised here.

I was born here, so 40 years ago, I was 13, and in my own neighborhood, one of my classmates-- playmates that was in my school, Perkerson Elementary School, Charles Stephens was snatched and he was subsequently killed, and he became a part of the list.

Police say Charles Stephens was asphyxiated then dumped.

So it was indeed a era of terror.

Somebody somewhere out there knows who's doing this insane series of acts and attacks on our children.

♪ ♪ Insanity is how Atlanta's mayor has described it.

In a little more than a year, eight Atlanta children have been found strangled, bludgeoned, or shot to death.

Six others are missing.

When the task force was formed to look into these cases, that was a year into the killings, and of course the first question was, what cases are they looking into?

And that's when the list was created, which became extremely controversial.

The list was intended to give the parents of the victims the impression that by putting the name of their child on the list, that warranted a deeper commitment to solving the cases, but at the same time, there were these other disappearances and murders of children which didn't make the list.

You have to remember even with the list that became known as the Missing and Murdered Children, it took a while before people realized there was a pattern, and so we're looking to see if the list is an accurate list.

We won't be surprised if the list grows.

The Atlanta Police Department has already gone back to look back and forward several years at all of the murders of children in our city and the number is staggering.

There were 158 murders of children and 33 are still unsolved.

So we don't know if there was something else going on that we still haven't pieced together.

It was 40 years ago where we-- unfortunately our young brothers were snatched up, picked up.

We don't know when, don't know how.

After 40 years we're still searching for answers.

If you would, I want you to touch the hand of someone close and near.

I know someone's saying, "I didn't come for all that," but this is the house of prayer. all: Amen.

All right, now I'm asking you to touch someone's hand because this may be the last hand that you may touch.

That's how fragile life is.

Just like those young men 40 years ago.

Left home, never made it back.

Never had a chance to tell loved ones they love them

'cause they thought that they had all the time in the world.

To have to tell your children to be careful because people are murdering people your age is a horrific thing to have to do.

There was a concerted effort for people to be on street corners or pathways to school and community programs.

People were kind of teaching children how to keep safe, travel in groups, and, you know, go straight home, don't...

It was frightening because I'd just had a son, Tyrone, Jr., and I was worried about my little boy.

♪ ♪ It was--you couldn't sleep.

I mean, you go to work, and you take your children to daycare, you drop them off, and you wonder, "When I go back, "is my child gonna be there?

Can I afford to let my child play in the yard?"

I mean, it was-- it was painful.

I wouldn't let my daughter sleep in a bedroom that had an unlocked window until she was probably 10.

I wouldn't let her on the other side of the aisle in the grocery store.

I would not let her out of sight any time.

You should always know where your children are going, what time they should arrive, and what time they'll come back home.

Other things to remind them of: travel in pairs, know your address and phone number, never accept rides with anyone, don't accept money or gifts without the parents' permission, don't open the doors to strangers, and always know how to dial...

♪ ♪ For me, being a seven-year-old at the time, I wouldn't necessarily say I was street smart, but there were certain things I knew.

It had been instilled in us never to go anywhere alone.

I knew that, you know, if I didn't know you, then there's no way I'm going anywhere with you.

You know? As a matter of fact, I may just scream 'cause you're a little bit too close to me.

Nobody here will be getting into anybody's car.

Is that correct? Yes.

I don't hear you, children. all: Yes. Okay.

When I think about it now, it's still crazy.

Your dinner conversation was, when you go to school tomorrow, you make sure you all walk to school together, you come home together, you go in the house, you lock the door.

I mean, it was like a monster was out there creeping.

We want to ask all of those individuals who are in the room tonight who actually participated and were a part of the search efforts if you would stand just for a moment.

Be recognized.

I just want you to look around at some of these heroes and sheroes...


Who showed up every Saturday morning, rain, sleet, or snow for over a year.

Thank you very much.

Many of them are gone on to glory now, but we thank them for their contributions.

You know what police are doing and you've seen meetings like this one, but now these talk sessions are turning into act sessions.

450 people-- police, marshals, college students, community volunteers-- are expected to take part in a search Saturday.

What we are fighting here in this city involving these very serious cases, vicious attacks on our children, I think is more powerful than we seem to understand.

Saturday morning, Arthur Langford, who was the city councilman at the time, said he was gonna have some volunteers come search.

We gonna find these kids-- these missing kids.

16, 17...

The first Saturday for the search effort, we didn't know what to expect, but we had 600 people who showed up with their boots and their sticks ready to go out and do something.

The volunteers gathered at Clark College but did their search in the Dixie Hills area of Atlanta.

Definitely don't touch any bodies if you find anybody.

It's one of those memories you have that you really wish you didn't have it.

The volunteers chopped and picked their way through overgrown vacant lots and buildings.

The feeling was so intense of wanting to help and to find these babies.

The only thing we found thus far was an old dead dog back over there.

That's about it.

Well, let's keep moving.

But not wanting to be the one who found them.

Just an hour and a half after the search began, a discovery in this wooded area.

We found a--we found a little girl's body about 12-- [indistinct radio chatter]

Okay. She's about 12.

What have they found? We found a skull.

Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute.

On that very first Saturday, we found a body.

The body was discovered by a group of college students and neighborhood residents, volunteers who began searching the neighborhoods where the children have disappeared.

The body was of seven-year-old LaTonya Wilson, missing since June.

She was kidnapped during the early morning.

When her mother checked around 1:00 a.m., LaTonya was in bed with her sister safe and sound.

Later that morning, she was gone.

The first little girl that was found was found directly across the street from our parents' home.

The first thing my father said they found was a hair bow with hair in it, and that--that traumatized me for a long time.

She was over in a gated area where my father kept his horses.

Everybody was trying to figure out how did she even get over there?

The gate was locked, always. And the gate was locked.

Police had searched this area soon after the girl was kidnapped.

That search did not find anything.

All the way back over to the right, there was a wooded area right here.

We were probably-- Back over in there.

Back over in there. There were so many people.

The majority of them was upset, crying, and-- for an hour or two.

Was there any brushes on top of her or anything?


I was upset and--because the police had been out here the day before.

Now that was all--

From what they told us at the meeting at West Hunter, do not come out here because they had been out here that Friday and searched this area thoroughly.

The police said they had already been out here.

I said, "If you all searched this area thoroughly yesterday, "and then we found a body today, there's something that ain't right."

♪ ♪ That was a real turning point for the administration

'cause they're all the sudden like, "Oh, my God, these volunteers have found this body

"blocks from her house in the field they said they'd searched."

What do we do?

So Maynard had a problem in Lee Brown and the police.

Less than competence came up repeatedly.

We would like to thank you all for coming out this morning.

And it became from then on a logistical nightmare in planning.

All of the bus drivers are on their bus.

[all speaking at once]

We never announced in advance what area we were going to to search because we didn't know who was responsible.

We didn't know if the person responsible was a part of the search team.

So it was a great deal of anxiety at that time.

Investigators are after any possible lead.

They've been looking at television news tapes of the funerals and volunteer searches, hoping to find a suspect.

I recall seeing Wayne and his father on the search.

They were a part of the search efforts.

[tense music]

♪ ♪ Wayne was the kind of guy who was always around.

He was a silent film photographer.

He would cover accidents, fires, murders, even, particularly at night.

Police officers knew him to be the man who showed up at their scene from midnight to 8:00 and he was just part of the landscape.

I knew Wayne Williams because he had been a freelance photographer for our TV station.

That's how he saw himself, as a crime reporter.

This film of a pre-dawn house fire was shot by Wayne Williams and aired on Action News in October of 1978.

At one point he wanted to be a radio broadcaster.

He set up a little radio station in the basement of his home.

It attracted the attention of Benjamin Hooks, the NAACP leader.

♪ ♪ Who is this guy, Wayne Williams?

He's smart, he is, uh-- he's, like, a nerd. He's geeky.

And here's where I really found out just how smart Wayne was.

He didn't go out and hire all these technicians and engineers and electricians and everybody to--far as wiring up the radio station.

He did the whole radio station his self.

Wayne calls me up.

I'm at the headquarters of SCLC, and he tells me who he is, and he tells me he has a radio station, and I didn't believe him.

He says, "I do have a radio station in my backyard."

I said, "Okay. I'll maybe head over there."

I go to the back door.

Before I could ring the bell, he's coming out of the garage where the station is housed and he has this beautiful dog-- beautiful dog, beautiful dog.

I guess it was a German Shepherd.

I don't remember if it-- what it was, but it was a beautiful dog.

And so we go into the radio station and sure enough, he's got all of the equipment lined up.

So I sat there with him in awe. I was like, "Wow."

He had lined up Julian Bond and Hosea Williams and Ralph David Abernathy and others to be on his show.

I was just amazed.

We met Wayne through our father.

Homer Williams and my father were more acquainted friends. As friends.

We didn't hang out with him every day or any of that, but we knew him as coming to our home to the basement to work on CB radios.

Wayne was just interested in that and became more acquainted with my father, teaching him about the CB radios.

CB radios was a technology then just like we do FaceTime now.

You know, we can see each other and talk, you know, back and forth, but then you could talk back and forth on the radio.

He was there with his father to learn about the radios.

Wayne didn't want to play.

Wayne wanted to learn about the radios and stuff so you know what I'm saying?

He wasn't really into children's games or anything like that.

I just thought that he was just pursuing his career.

The murders of Atlanta black children have so aroused residents there that one group has formed its own self-defense patrol.

They displayed the weapons they would carry.

These included baseball bats, four pistols, and a rifle.

There were a lot of men and women in the black community who were armed and patrolling the black community outside of the police work.

The task force that they have is not doing their job, so we decided as a community to do our protecting our own children.

They were on patrol, protecting their communities, and when it got to that point, it probably was not a good thing.

They were like vigilantes.

Police in Atlanta have another problem to deal with now: armed vigilantes who have their own ideas about how to protect the city's black children.

The media referred to them as vigilantes, but they weren't in fact.

It was black men stepping up to protect their children, and that is never the way it is portrayed.

With residents carrying painted baseball bats and guns, the so-called bat patrols continued at Techwood Homes today.

Residents, mostly men, would stop anybody coming in their community, whether it was the delivery man or the milkman or whoever, wanting to know what was their reason for being in their community.

They would stop you. It's like a TSA checkpoint.

They would want to see who was in the car, and, boy, they were mean and ornery and they were swinging and winging, and those were aluminum bats, I might add.

They were not wooden bats, 'cause I got hit with one of 'em.

The only thing that we intend to do is to get out on the streets and look out after our children.

His name is Chimurenga Jenga.

He is 31 years old and has lived all his life in Atlanta except for the time he spent in Vietnam.

I met my husband Chimurenga Jenga when he was involved in the effort to desegregate Atlanta Junior College and we had a little newsletter and I was actually sent out to go interview him for the newsletter.

Chimurenga was very, very smart.

I think the most brilliant mind I've ever met.

He started thinking about things from the big bang and moved on from there.

But he grew up in segregated schools, which he actually said were much better than the desegregated versions that came after them and joined the Marine Corps in 1968, so he was in Vietnam.

He came back to Atlanta in 1975 expecting that lots of things would have changed for the better, and I think that it was his disappointment in seeing that his community was really worse off in many respects than it had been when he left in 1968.

That really politicized him.

The arming of Techwood is turning into a battle between the residents and the police.

What's he charged with?

I'm not going, man. I am not going!

One of the two arrested was spokesman Chimurenga Jenga.

Look at what you're doing, man.

They are killing little children in the street!

You're locking up--no, man. It's wrong!

The police were really afraid that somebody was gonna kill somebody.

Of course there was also the implied criticism that our own police could not protect their children, so there was that tension.

[dramatic rock music]

There was a great mistrust because of past experiences with the police department.

♪ ♪ In the '40s, '50s, and '60s, there were a lot of Klansmen in the Atlanta Police Department.


So that gives you an idea of what black people had to deal with in terms of the police as a kind of an occupying army in a sense-- an occupying force in the black community.

You know, years ago, it hadn't been too long since the first black officers.

They had to go to the Butler Street YMCA just to change clothes.

Black officers could not arrest a white individual.

Just the idea that you could be a law enforcement officer and you see a white person committing a crime and you can't arrest them, you've got to call your white superior.

From Reconstruction all the way up, Klan and law enforcement was one and the same.

You would keep your Klan regalia in the trunk of the car just in case you had to go to a Klan meeting.

♪ ♪ Even though we had our first black mayor who had taken on some great changes within the police department, we knew you wouldn't just change that culture overnight, but it was something that you had to weed out.

There were a lot of animosity toward the police at that time.

The Black Panthers, Hosea Williams, almost every time something happened, there was hatred stirred up against the police.

There were never police there!

The police department was not well liked in the African American community.

As a former mayor, some of that was probably accurate and some of it is probably exaggerated, but the fact of the matter is the African American community saw the police as enforcers.

Everybody was suspect of the police.

Nobody thought they were doing enough.

Many in the black community didn't think they cared enough, that they were not protecting young black lives.

We were finding that the city was taking the attitude of your kids are dead, and we don't care.

I contend that the Atlanta Police Department couldn't catch a cold.

There was a lot of public pressure, so much so that the Reagan administration even had to respond.

Yes, ma'am.

Mr. President, what will you do to honor the request by federal officials--well, from Atlanta officials for you and the federal government to intercede in the Atlanta case of 17 missing black children?

For FBI, for example, on any other thing, there's been no evidence of crossing state lines or anything and-- yet we want to be helpful because that is a most tragic case.

Since the administration here was Democratic, and they have a Republican president saying, "We need to do something about this," was unusual.

But it still didn't solve the case.

The FBI, which is required to have interstate jurisdiction, alleges it cannot find a peg to hang its hat on in Atlanta.

Maynard Jackson went up to the White House in Washington, and I'm paraphrasing, but he said, "The Lindbergh baby was a single white child.

"I've got 14 murdered and missing black kids.

I want every living FBI agent on the planet in Atlanta."

And that's when the Bureau was ordered into the case.

[dramatic music]

Nine-year-old Anthony Bernard Carter was found dead in this grassy stretch behind a building on Wells Street Southwest.

We were assigned two agents to each victim at that time, so I was initially assigned Anthony Carter.

Anthony was a unique case.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was is he and I had the same birthday, and so I went, "Wow.

You know, he would have been 10 on August 31st."

He raised himself.

His mother, Vera, well, was a prostitute.

♪ ♪ I remember when we walked in after when we started our investigation, there was a mattress on the floor and that was basically it in the living room, and according to neighbors, Vera would get up, and she would start her business.

She would go out into the streets but before she did, she most of the time would get Anthony a McDonald's meal and set him on the mattress, sometimes no electricity if she didn't pay it.

So here we have a nine-year-old sitting on a mattress in the dark, eating a McDonald's, and his mother leaves.

What do you expect the kid to do?

He's gonna go outdoors.

If you looked at Tony Carter's coroner's report, he was stabbed I think three times, once over the left shoulder blade and two times in the upper left chest.

I was pretty convinced that Vera killed him.

I was pretty convinced that she chased him down and stabbed him with a knife.

She admitted to Dick Radcliff and I that she killed her son, but we never could get enough to prosecute her.

She told us that.

Was she ever indicted for killing her child?

Why? He has a confession, right?

There's no way she confessed to it.

If he says she confessed, let him show you the confession.

There is nothing in the FBI files about Vera Carter confessing.

If you go back and look at the manner that she took care of him, the first people that you eliminate-- close family members, anybody that had immediate access.

So when we started putting it all together, Vera looked--she had a knife, she had the motive, she wasn't running for mother of the year.

He did get in her way quite a bit.

Last night, members of the Committee to Stop Children's Murders held a closed-door meeting to decide on a formal reaction to FBI allegations of some parents' responsibility in the murders.

Today, victim Curtis Walker's mother told me such talk was nothing new.

She says police repeatedly accused her of killing her son.

What they was trying to say that I had something to do with it, but I told them that was a damn lie, 'cause I ain't killed my child, and they kept saying they gonna try to make me say that my child was a street kid or a hustler or a runaway and I told them to get the hell out of my house and don't come back.

Camille Bell, making the formal statement for her Committee to Stop Children's Murders, called the situation a circus and accused authorities of playing games.

Basically, though, the general feeling is if they think I killed my child, tell them to come get me.

♪ ♪ The dogs were given shoes to sniff.

A label identified one of the shoes as belonging to Earl Terrell.

Do you feel that there's a possibility you might find something today?

You know, I really hope we don't.

The dog men are also expected to meet with the task force tomorrow.

They want to find out if their K-9s are needed to look for 16-year-old Patrick Rogers.

Rogers has been missing since last Monday.

For some reason that day, I stayed home from school, so I was watching the news, and I'd watch the news every day.

I was a seven-year-old, but I was a avid news-watcher, and, um, they'd made and announcement that they found the body in the Chattahoochee River.

They kind of did, like, a flash like, "A body's been found," and then they went--I guess it was like a teaser.

They wanted to keep you watching, you know?

Then they went to commercial, and then the phone rang, and it was my mama.

You know, she was like, "That's him."

I'm like, "What are you talking about?"

She's like, "That's gonna be Pat-Man."

I don't know how she knew it but she knew it, and I remember watching it.

I remember seeing them pulling him out of-- out of the river and, um, I think one of his--one of his feet kind of...

Became exposed from under the-- the cover, you know?

And I'm like, "Oh, no."

I was watching it. I was like, "Wow."

And I'm still like, "No, that can't be him."

You know, 'cause he was a martial art expert, and they can't take him.

Nobody could hurt this guy.

I mean, I think later that night, that's when they came. They came.

They knocked on the door, and it was that knock-- it was that knock that you dreaded, you know?

And so that's when we had become part of a club that no one wants to be a part of.

Patrick Rogers, who wrote music, sang, and appeared in several local talent shows.

Neighbors are telling police Rogers had met a man he called his manager and on the night Rogers disappeared, he was on his way to a recording studio to meet that man.

Rogers never told neighbors the man's name.

I think this was just somebody that he hadn't too long ago met.

Back then, all the neighborhoods would have talent shows.

Like, this neighborhood would challenge this neighborhood, vice versa.

♪ She likes the boys in the band ♪

♪ She says that I'm her all-time favorite ♪

[dramatic rock music]

Pat-Man loved to sing. He loved to perform.

So he would go all around the city to compete in all the talent shows.

Anywhere there was this talent show, anywhere there was a showcase, he was there.

♪ ♪ I learned later on that the guy who I knew was Wayne Williams was actually putting on some of the shows.

I mean, he allegedly went around to kids saying, "I can make you the next Michael Jackson," and claimed to be a record producer, a music producer.

His fliers that he put out indicated he was a talent scout and if you have any ability, call me.

♪ ♪ He had the perfect bait to gain the confidence of young people, and I might add mostly boys.

I'm not talking about girls.

He said he owned a radio station.

He said, "These are transmitters right here."

He had even, like, a mic and the little, um-- you know, the cover.

I just knew that I wanted to sing and I knew that this guy was providing a space for us to do it.

Me and my brother Chris, actually, we both ended up auditioning for Wayne's group--Gemini.

He was a Gemini and so, you know, the idea of the group I think just came out of his zodiac sign.

You know, "I'm a Gemini."

♪ ♪ Wayne, he felt fun. He was, like, light.

You know, he felt like a big brother.

His jokes were kind of corny.

You know, he was trying--

I feel like he would sometimes try to be cool, and he really wasn't cool.

♪ ♪ Never felt unsafe around Wayne. Not at all.

My mom's like a hawk.

She doesn't play, so she thought he was a legit manager.

I mean, his reputation-- this guy was like-- he was known as, like, a genius, as being someone really smart.

And she knew his parents.

I think that's what made her feel kind of safe.

His goal was to make us a family type group.

And the song that sticks out to me that I remember laying the lead vocal for was a song called "The Games We Play."

It went something like, um--

♪ The games we play ♪

♪ Here to stay every day ♪

♪ The games we play ♪

♪ Don't go my way ♪

♪ Don't come my way, yeah, yeah, yeah ♪ That's what I remember.

It had to be somebody that the kids knew and trusted.

He was gonna make them stars like the Jackson Five.

We had this connection between all of these victims.

He was the connection.

With my theory, the person is not abducted, not kidnapped, not snatched off the street at that particular time but is willingly going with somebody for something at least at the instance they get in the car.

During the child murders, there was always speculation about who was doing this, but for us there was always concern about trying to make sure that the kids knew to be careful not just about the known suspects, right?

You know not to go with the man who's offering you candy into the car.

But we also had to say the sources of authority that normally we would tell you you should trust and believe in, you can't believe in them.

Only trust the adults that you know personally.

[tires squealing]

Hi, little boy.

You want to go along with me?

Yeah, you can.

No, you can't.

You have probably heard that voice before.

That is Bill Cosby.

It is that special magic that Bill Cosby can work, his rapport with children, his way of putting things that has community leaders hoping the message will get across.

You just say, "Adios, kemosabe."

That message has never been as important as it is now.

You start having celebrities speak out.

Muhammad Ali put a lot of money forward.

It was a lot of heavyweight people trying to put their resources behind it.

22-year-old Michael Jackson got a brief glimpse of his fans, but that was all it took.

Mayor Jackson tried to calm the crowd but his bullhorn didn't work.

So now you have piles of money.

They were offering this massive reward but nobody really knew anything, you know?

The Atlanta Police will say nothing about the progress of the investigation, but according to Don Laken, who works with them, the signs are that there is more than one child killer.

The first classification would be a religious, um, cult type of situation.

The way certain bodies had been found is the way they would lay the body out.

We also feel that there's a drug and porno group around who would take advantage of these children.

We feel that there is a copycat killer, and then you have family-oriented killing of the child.

The suspicion started spreading, and that's when people were speculating that there's somebody stealing the children and taking their bodily fluids for interferon or something.

Now when you talk about $22 billion a pint for the best interferon, what is interferon made from?

White cells, okay?

What is the best way to get those white cells?

It is to draw it out the head of the penis of little boys aged 5 to 17.

I mean, there were bizarre theories that people had.

Part of the underground conversation about these young people is they were castrated and that their, uh, male members were shoved into their mouths, so this just enraged people all the more.

The mothers talked about they just wanted to know what happened to their child's penis or what happened to their child's hands and stuff and just different parts of their organs was moved, you know?

There have been a lot of rumors about the genital organs in the children, uh, that have been found dead.

Out of all the cases that I have personally done and have been personally associated with, the genital organs have been completely intact.

Some people would say, "You think the government was involved?"

There's plenty of evidence for black people to believe that, so it's not like a wild conspiracy theory.

For black people there's plenty of evidence.

The Tuskegee experiment is an example.

The United States government injected syphilis into 400 black men under the false pretense they was giving them a cold shot.

This was in Tuskegee? In Tuskegee, Alabama.

Not only was it the United States government, but the Department of Health.

And so these ideas that people are dismissing, it's hard for the black community to dismiss.

Why is this happening, then?

Somebody give us an explanation that makes sense.

♪ ♪ And that explanation never came, and nobody's being held accountable.

All these theories are useful to the extent that they show something that James Baldwin talked about, and that is how fear works on people.

When people are not given rational reasons to believe the truth, they will create conspiracy theories.

We had 1,000 theories.

One of the things you have to do when you're conducting an investigation, you do a profile.

What are we looking for here?

Well, back then you could not go into a neighborhood and not be noticed if you were white.

Roy Hazelwood, who was our profiler, who came down from Washington to help us, we drove him into a black neighborhood.

First thing Roy said, "The killer's gotta be black."

He can't go in this neighborhood without being noticed.

So that's one of the things, and we didn't eliminate-- it's been put out, I know-- that, "Well, that was kind of narrow-minded of them for them to eliminate everyone else."

No, it wasn't.

Everyone was a suspect. Everyone.

We didn't limit ourselves by gender or sex at all.

Or race.

But you just said that you decided that it was a black person.

We didn't--it wasn't a-- it wasn't a decision that says, "This is--we're gonna eliminate all those and only concentrate on blacks."

We're saying, you know, "In looking at the killer, it has to be a black person."

And that--that's just a fact.

It's not--we didn't limit our focus to only black people.

Everybody and anybody was a suspect.

White men were in Atlanta neighborhoods back then for lots of reasons.

They were the insurance salesmen, they were the utility workers, and let's not sugarcoat it.

Drugs are being sold in the neighborhood.

So white people knew to come to those neighborhoods to buy drugs.

Three black children are still missing.

The last to disappear, 14-year-old Lubie Geter, who vanished from a south Atlanta shopping center.

We broke for Christmas in December of 1980 and the agents from out of town went home.

Then we come back on January 5th.

Lubie Geter goes missing.

Four days later, the powers that be decided, "Maybe we ought to conduct a search

"for the four missing kids at places used by local thugs to drop bodies."

So on Friday, January 9th, I headed out to Redwine Road.

I parked off to the side, and I started into the woods, and something caught my eye at 11:00.

It looked like a milk jug.

It was the color of a milk jug, and I walked over and I--

"Oh, my God. I have another body."

So we found two that day.

We have found the skeletal remains of two human bodies that appear--I emphasize the word appear-- to be those of children.

They found two bodies next to each other--kids-- so that means somebody dumped them both and they went missing at different times from different locations, so that means somebody used that spot.

It worked one time. He'll go again.

Two victims, same dumping ground.

One killer.

The parents of each of the four children who have been missing for several months know that there's a good chance that their child has been found dead.

I'm trying not to worry, but every time I see someone on the news, I get upset, and I'm about to go to pieces, and I'm hoping that it's not Chris, because any time that you don't hear anything, you know, no news is good news.

She says she's close to the breaking point despite...

I missed him so much.

He was a comic.

Like a cracker jack in the family.

We searched. Couldn't find nothing.

Nothing of him.

[organ music playing]

Now for Sirlena Cobb, the wait is over.

The hope is gone.

It was weird, and it's still weird to me for him to be gone like that.

♪ ♪ I'm fixing to get ready to start crying.

That's--that's just me.

♪ ♪ As a reporter, I was sent to the family house after the body turned up, and I remember the pain and the grief etched on her face was just so-- [exhales sharply]

It was--it was painful to sit with her and see, and then she said--we're sitting and we're not talking.

We're not talking.

We're just sitting around a table, the three of us, and she said, "I feel like somebody balled me up and threw me in the trash."

Ten-year-old Earl Terrell lived here on Browns Mill Road with his family.

For them, months of waiting and wondering came to an end late yesterday afternoon.

Earl's mother Beverly Belt told me today that she had little doubt at that time that the remains found were those of her son.

From what they showed me that I--I knew it was him.

You know, there wasn't no doubt.

When they came by and told me that it was a positive ID, I was, uh, all set for it.


It's a hurting feeling, but I've lived to accept it.

I can't walk these routes.

I just--it's--it's baring.

It's very, very, very baring for me to walk this area because I can see my brother still walking.

And that's something, you know, I don't try to hide, but I'm very emotional, and I think that's where my depression come from, because it bothers me so much to know that, you know, who did it?

You know, he went from big brother to no brother.

Every day they were finding kids, back to back.

They all thought that, you know, the killings was just gonna stop, you know, and it just happened to those people and it, you know, wasn't gonna happen to, you know, this family.

[dramatic music]

There's a body found.

Is it a black male? Yes.

[camera shutters clicking]

Is it one of the missing children?

They do hope for an ID tonight.

Never thought that one of those kids was gonna be my kid, you know?

♪ ♪ And it was just devastating.

♪ ♪ You know, I really wanted his casket to be open the whole time because I wanted the world to believe that this could have happened to anybody's child.

♪ ♪ So-called street kids have been most vulnerable.

Poor black children from one-parent homes out on their own, hustling pocket money.

Who were the victims?

Most of the victims were products of broken homes.

They were street kids.

I don't agree with that.

I know Yusuf Bell wasn't. He was a smart kid.

And just because you were in the street-- well, my son was in the street.

The children who were being killed were primarily poor, primarily black, and no one gets terribly concerned.

But, Mrs. Bell, the police chief and police commissioner of this city are black.

That has nothing to do with poverty.

The conversation that went on was, you know, "These kids are bad kids."

They do drugs, they sell drugs, they carry drugs for-- for grown-ups, and then there's some that are involved in prostitution as well.

These kids will do anything to survive and to make a little money, and that was sort of the envelope for the story of the killings.

My mom and dad.

Try to stay a little closer to them, okay?


The Omni is a complex of amusement arcades, theaters, restaurants, shops in the heart of Atlanta.

It's a meeting place for the city's footloose young blacks, a place which many of the missing and murdered children used to visit.

These victims were either picked up off the street in predominantly black neighborhoods or in areas frequented by black kids, popular areas-- the Omni.

It is known that Patrick Baltazar did work here two months ago.

Now someone says they last saw Patrick around midnight on Friday near the Omni.

His father says the boy liked to go there and play the electronic games.

The family doesn't live far from the complex, only a few blocks away on Foundry Street.

In the Omni, there were offices, there were stores, and there were also game arcades, and that attracted children coming in to play the games and interacting with some bad, dangerous people.

Today we confirm that two-- and as many as ten-- of Atlanta's murdered boys have frequented this house owned by 62-year-old Tom Terrell.

There were pedophiles in an area behind the old Omni, literally in the shadows of downtown Atlanta.

Tom Terrell admitted to having sex with one of the victims, Timothy Hill.

On March 12th, the day before he was reported missing, Timothy Hill spent the night at Terrell's house.

He was here on the 12th 'cause he was supposed to come back on the-- on the 13th and that was my birthday.

But he didn't come back? He ain't been back here.

If he did, I didn't see him.

Baltazar, Timothy Hill, Jo Jo Bell, all these kids had definitely been to Tom Terrell's house.

There were several known pedophiles in the neighborhoods.

People knew who they were.

They called the police and talked about it.

Task force investigators do not deny they are working on the theory that some of the killings are sexually motivated.

Sex was a big part of the Atlanta underground at the time.

The Peachtree Street corridor was full of bathhouses and massage parlors.

I mean, sex was-- this was the '70s.

This was wild, and Atlanta had a lot of it.

Atlanta was considered somewhat of a mecca of definitely pornography.

We had the porn kingpin Mike Thevis.

He had all these bookstores and these little peep shops downtown.

Mike Thevis had a reputation as being an organized crime kingpin and being a very successful moneymaker.

He was called the Sultan of Smut.

He controlled probably 40% of the pornography at that time in this country.

A lot of that business is child pornography.

Three men arrested for operating a sex for hire ring that may have existed for 17 years.

An East Point detective working on the murders ran across the ring, and the defendants are now in court.

It may have involved more than 100 boys.

These pedophiles were actually taking these photographs over to Michael Thevis' businesses and selling them.

It took the jury only an hour and five minutes to decide that this paunchy, gray-haired, unlikely-looking defendant was guilty.

John David Wilcoxen was running a house for child prostitution and child pornography.

The police raided his house and they found volumes-- boxes of pornography, magazines, videos, et cetera, of children.

Pedophiles were paying these kids

$5 for fellatio and then $10 for photographs.

Now, these three guys, between them, they had tens of thousands of pictures of, again, nude kids.

Defense attorney Catherine Lerow said the children and their parents should bear some of the guilt.

In her closing argument, she called the boys nothing but male prostitutes.

I definitely feel like there's no supervision and I don't--just because my man has been convicted, I don't think that's gonna stop these boys in the least.

Two of the victims had been known to go into Wilcoxen's house months before they were kidnapped and eventually killed.

Lubie Geter and Earl Terrell.

Whether it was happenstance or not, there's no question that they were seen in this house by witnesses.

♪ ♪ This is what we used to do.

Walk through the park, walk the street way, so we would come up this street here, get to the stop sign, then make a right.

That was our route.

The only route that we used to make was going through these houses here because it was shorter.

And here is a suspect right here within the same direction that I know my brother walked.

We used to go to South Bend swimming pool and walk around in the park.

We used to do all of that every day.

It wasn't a problem.

We didn't know what was going on.

Nobody ever talked to your family, your mom, about other suspects?

That never came up or maybe it was just not in your earshot

'cause you were too little? Um, no.

Nobody never come to my mom and told my mom nothing about nothing until they found my brother, and that was the only conversation we ever had with the Atlanta Police Department, is that they found my brother.

"Well, we found your son."

And they showed us the graphic pictures of him being in my swimming trunks, nothing but--I mean, bones.

♪ ♪ The task force looked into the pedophiles by interviewing them and interviewing their neighbors.

They did extensive investigation.

They did fiber samples from some of those folks in an attempt to link them to any of these crimes, but they were just suspects.

There were hundreds of suspects.

Mayor. Yes.

I think it's one of the hardest things I had to do in my career was the missing and murdered children's story, because I could never see an end to it.

The bodies were adding up, and we weren't getting any closer to finding out who was doing it and why they were doing it.

We have no idea who's perpetrating them, and even if we did have an idea, there would be no way to substantiate that at this time.

We're concerned about the children.

Oh, Lord, the whole thing became-- you know, all the elements of it.

There were so many angles to the story, so-- and a dramatic story, and one that was building and building, and everybody expected at some point something was going to break.

Often at night I'd go home and look for the answers on my ceiling.

I'd stare up, I'd say, you know-- couldn't figure it out.

Several of the guys were physically-- became physically ill, and it-- it was different-- we could all relate to it because many of us had kids the age of the victims, so we-- it was personal for us, and it was frustrating because as hard as we tried, as long hours as we put in, we simply could not figure it out.

For me to understand what he was doing, I had to convince myself that there was some reason for it before I could start looking for somebody.

Why is he doing this? How is he doing this?

Okay, they're all children.

So he's a pedophile.

The bodies are all killed somewhere, clothed, disclothed, dressed again, dumped.

Why would he do that?

He would do that because he enjoys it.

That's why--that's how he gets off.

Taking the life and playing with them.

♪ ♪ Difficult, okay?

♪ ♪ He doesn't see the world the same way you do.

He sees the world exactly what he wants, totally disregarding any other person's wants, feelings, emotions, value, and I'm gonna do with you what I want to do with you.

Can you see the power that that gives the perpetrator on something like this?

At any moment he knows he can go into the neighborhood and pick up one of these kids and do with him whatever he wants.

If it's the will of this body, would you all like to hear from Wayne Williams tonight?

All in favor say yea. all: Yea.

All opposed say no.

The yeas have it.

Well, I will say to you if it is offensive to you that you can excuse yourself.

I do not want anything done here tonight to be offensive to anybody.

Can we turn the volume up?

Are we on?

This is--of all of the people who are in this room.

Do you believe that Wayne Williams had involvement in killing any or all of these children? all: No. An adult--hold on. Hold on.

Raise your hand.

If you believe he did not have any involvement at all in this, raise your hand.

Put your hand down.

If you don't know whether he did or not, raise your hand.

♪ ♪ If you know with a surety that he did, raise your hand.

♪ ♪ And therein, friends, lies our dilemma.

We don't know. We don't know.

And so it leaves a herculean task for the mayor, for the DA, for these families, and for all of us in this search for truth.

Hello. How are you all?

Mayor, how are you? Good.

♪ ♪

[bright tone]

♪ (DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYS) ♪ MAN: In 1981, the only thing people heard about Atlanta was... children were dying.

WOMAN: The FBI, and everybody else, was being embarrassed by the murders.

The radio squelch broke and I heard something about a splash.

At that point, I knew I was a suspect.

We found the killer, that's it.

But that really wasn't it.