Atlanta's Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children S1E4 Script

Part 4 (2020)

(SCHOOL BELL RINGS)

FRANK TASSONE: I wanted to make a difference.

We did!

WOMAN: This is a criminal matter.

TASSONE: If this scandal gets out, we will lose everything.

(BLENDER WHIRRING)

♪ The hardest button to button ♪

The FBI developed detailed profiles of the suspect.

MAN: He checks all the boxes.

When the body of Nathaniel Cater washed up, I said, "I think Wayne Williams has a problem."

♪ (DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYS) ♪ MAN 2: Trace evidence was a critical aspect of an investigation.

MAN 3: Fiber samples from the Williams' home matched fibers on multiple victims.

-This is it. -But that really wasn't it.

I hadn't killed anybody.

MAN 4: Why was Wayne Williams on the bridge?

'Cause he was dropping a body.

MAN 5: They had to close the case.

They were going to implicate him by any means necessary.

MAN 6: He was being charged with the murder of two men.

Where is the solution to these dozens of children?

[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 ♪ In an Atlanta courtroom yesterday, testimony began in one of the most widely publicized murder trials in recent times.

Williams is charged only with 2 of the 28 murders on the special task force list, those of Nathaniel Cater and Jimmy Ray Payne.

But the prosecution wants to introduce evidence linking Williams to ten additional victims.

[dramatic music]

Wayne Williams' team knew the prosecution intended to introduce evidence of one or more of the official child murders, but they didn't know how many.

And in the middle of trial, they announced that they are introducing evidence of ten other murders.

Good luck with that defense.

Joe Drolet notified Judge Cooper the state would like to show the jury a pattern of killings it claims Wayne Williams committed.

Drolet read the names of ten other victims:

Alfred Evans, Eric Middlebrooks, Charles Stephens, Lubie Geter, Terry Pue, Patrick Baltazar, Joseph Bell, Larry Rogers, John Porter, and William Barrett.

The prosecution said, with magic dust and mirrors, "We're gonna," you know, "Give you an additional ten murders."

It was absolutely crazy.

How do you defend against what we did not know?

[solemn music]

[indistinct chatter]

No comment.

Mary, it's the first time that the police have publicly stated that Wayne is the suspect in more than the two cases he is charged in.

Any comment on that?

I have no comment on anything.

The state built its case around this notion that if Wayne Williams killed one, he killed them all.

Similar transactions have been used as long as there have been courts in the Anglo-American system.

First case I found in the United States Supreme Court on it was in 1842, saying that it is a common practice and it is completely appropriate to use evidence of another crime, proves the crime on trial.

[indistinct chatter]

Normally in cases where they allow pattern evidence, they stop the trial, and you have a hearing to determine whether or not these cases should be allowed as pattern evidence.

We didn't have that.

Judge Cooper did not help the defense at all.

He decided to allow the prosecution to bring on the pattern evidence.

Out of 11 choices, the computer picked this man to sit in judgement over all future decisions about accused murderer Wayne Williams.

Ironically, Judge Cooper, randomly selected from that computer, knows both sides real well.

In fact, he worked for Fulton County District Attorney Lewis Slayton for eight years.

Cooper was then an assistant district attorney.

He still refers to Lewis Slayton as "the boss."

Clarence Cooper was the city of Atlanta's first black superior court judge, and I don't really think he wanted the case.

It was almost as if the cards were being stacked so that if this black man is found guilty, it's black people who did it.

So the black community will therefore accept it.

There were so many other judges who could have done it who had more tenure.

So why was it given to him?

And I think it was given to him because he was the most prominent black judge.

With every critical decision, Judge Cooper is ruling in favor of Lewis Slayton, and so here comes the pattern evidence.

[ominous music]

They said, "This person should be considered

"a part of the pattern because that person was black, "found partially clothed, either stabbed or strangled or drowned."

Every case could have been a part of the pattern, because how many other ways is there to die?

They were under 12.

They were over 25.

They were very tall.

They were very small.

Find me a pattern.

Wayne's been charged with two murders.

The task force has more than 20 murders.

Do the investigators think he's guilty of more than two?

Is it 10? Is it 22?

Is it all of them?

There were so many things that just pointed directly at Wayne Williams.

The 12 cases were logically connected, because the same fibers kept showing up over and over and over again.

♪ ♪ Okay.

So this a summary chart that I put together to help me keep track of the number of associations with the different victims.

If you take any particular victim and you look across, some victims only had one association.

Some had as many as eight or nine different types of associations.

That's different objects that linked the victim to Williams' environment, the ones that I considered kind of the more primary fiber types.

In terms of the dog hair, there 18 cases where dog hair is associated with Sheba, the German Shepherd from the Williams home, were found to have a positive association.

There are fibers that match different vehicles that the family had access to throughout the time frame of the cases, fibers that matched a throw rug that was in the kitchen... and a bath mat set.

The only fiber type that had more matches than the 18 dog hairs was the violet acetate, where there were 21 different victims that had fibers matching the violet acetate.

One of the distinctive fibers was this green carpet, and the green carpet fibers had 15 different cases where there were associations that matched the Williams home.

Both Payne and Cater had the green carpet, both had the violet acetate.

All of it matched the Williams environment.

As the defense watched intently, an FBI expert used detailed charts to make his conclusion that fibers removed from the 12 victims were similar to those taken from the home and car of Wayne Williams.

[dramatic music]

Man-made carpet fibers have a very specific chemical composition and specific shape.

Wayne Williams' green carpet fiber was man-made by a specific factory, by a specific company, during a relatively short period of time.

Because most fibers have identifiable characteristics, investigators had hoped to trace the Williams carpet fiber to its source.

A breakthrough led quickly to Wellman Industries of tiny Johnsonville, South Carolina.

Today a company official testified the fiber in question was indeed a Wellman fiber.

We know of no one else in the world who makes a fiber like that.

Wellman was a small company in Johnsonville, South Carolina, so small that people in the industry didn't consider them as a source.

West Point-Pepperell used the Wellman fiber to make a carpet called the Luxaire line.

It was an English Olive color.

They had only used the 181B fiber in 1970.

820 rooms of carpet was distributed into ten southeastern states.

So we did not know how much was shipped to these ten states.

But if you consider an equal distribution, that would put roughly 82 rooms of that carpet for the entire state of Georgia.

It's unique, you know, this fiber.

Remember, this is 1980.

You're in cloth country down here.

This our business in the South.

The industries all up and down the river, you know, are dumping right into the river.

Of course it was full of fibers.

Not only the green fibers or the red fibers or the German Shepherd hair follicles, there was everything in there.

[foreboding music]

Dr. Randall Bresee conducted several tests, one by placing a so-called "fiber-free" pillowcase into the Chattahoochee River for 30 minutes.

We bought two pillowcases, and we took 'em down to the Chattahoochee and dragged 'em in the water.

He told the jury when it came out, hundreds of fibers clung to the material, suggesting fibers found on Cater and Jimmy Payne's bodies may have been picked up from the river, not Williams' home and car.

♪ ♪ I got to examine the fibers on this pillowcase study he had done, and there were about 35 fibers total.

And none of them were remotely close to anything of any of the fibers from any of the cases.

I was so immersed into the fiber and the hair and production of exhibits for the trial.

It was just an overwhelming task, even though the trace man from the FBI lab and myself were sharing that load.

There was work underway even after the trial started, and exhibits were being produced at the FBI and flown back and forth.

[dynamic music]

At the trial, the FBI lab in Washington came up with the charts to give a two- or three-day education to the jury and to the judge on how fiber is made.

It was a very deliberate strategy on the part of the prosecution to impress the jury with the overall weight of the evidence.

[tense music]

It was a lot of charts, and we did see the comparison, what they found on the rug, what they found on the dog hair.

We just kind of had to go by what they said, and we didn't--we w--of course, we not scientists.

♪ ♪ They made all these different matches to Wayne's carpet, bedspread, et cetera, and then they drew statistical probabilities.

1 in 100 chances that this child was in this environment, 1 in 200 chances that he was in this environment, 1 in 1,000 in this environment.

They multiplied 'em all together, and the probabilities were off the chart that it could be any other environment other than Wayne Williams'.

♪ ♪ The coincidences were literally astronomical that all of these victims could have ended up with fibers identical to those found in Wayne Williams' house and car without them being in his presence.

♪ ♪

"Unique" doesn't make sense.

Homer Williams buys carpet. He puts it on the floor.

If it's only one place, it's only in Homer Williams' house, but that's not the case.

Other people bought that carpet.

There's no direct evidence that Wayne Williams committed the murders.

The fiber and the hair evidence does not put Wayne Williams' hand or a ligature killing these victims.

It's a connection to the environment.

Whether Wayne Williams killed these victims or not are beyond the scope of what the evidence directly shows.

[dramatic music]

But the evidence supports the fact that they were clearly in his environment-- collectively home, car, person-- shortly before they were killed.

So someone has to be wrong.

♪ ♪ I could see where this was going.

Basically, they overwhelmed us.

It was a beautiful orchestrated dog and pony show that they put on.

The prosecution started presenting eyewitness testimony.

They said that, one, Wayne was homosexual; two, that he was bisexual; three, he was a virgin.

One witness came forward to say that Wayne Williams picked him up, very friendly, and then he starts asking him about whether he has sex with women and--and then reaches over and starts grabbing his penis.

"I can't forget his face," the boy claimed.

"It's that man over there, Wayne Williams."

This case had a lot of witnesses who said they saw victims with Wayne Williams, many of them shortly before their death.

♪ ♪ Robert I. Henry was a witness who saw Wayne Williams holding hands with Nathaniel Cater the night before he died.

He said, "I saw a guy, "and he was holding hands with him near the Rialto Theater in downtown Atlanta."

And then he pointed directly at Wayne Williams.

Come on, we said we wouldn't--

Don't stand in front of the car.

Give him room.

And so many other witnesses who claimed that they saw Wayne with victims.

♪ ♪

[indistinct chatter]

Lady in the brown coat...

Ruth Warren happened to be at the shopping center and saw Lubie Geter talking with Wayne Williams about whether or not he could go with him.

♪ ♪ I ain't gonna say he murdered all of 'em, but he was in it.

♪ ♪ He acted like he was gonna put 'em in movies and make pictures of 'em.

And you know what he was.

And I ain't gonna say it, but you already know.

He was a homosexual.

♪ ♪ Wayne Williams was a total fraud.

He had no contracts with recording studios.

He didn't sell anything. He never made any money.

He was using it as a cover.

He might have been trying to make money, but he failed.

His failure was directed at young black men that he resented.

I believe he was a homosexual who hated young African American men.

Witnesses testified to that.

♪ ♪

He's a narcissist.

He's a predator motivated by whatever demons are inside his head to make him want to do this.

He felt some kind of anger towards these kids because of some kind of rage he had inside against hisself.

[tense music]

Bobby Lee Toland was one of the crucial witnesses, if not the most crucial witness for explaining why.

♪ ♪ He was an ambulance driver who testified that Wayne was a racist.

He had heard Wayne talking about how poor kids should all be killed.

Bobby Toland said Williams asked him once, had he ever considered how many blacks could be eliminated

"by killing one nigger child"?

♪ ♪ Toland then testified Williams even had numbers on a piece of paper answering his own question.

♪ ♪ And then the final witness, who said she was a friend of Wayne Williams, took the stand.

♪ ♪ Sharon Blakely was our last witness.

We knew she would be an incredible witness.

She knew a lot about Wayne.

She worked with Wayne.

She liked Wayne.

She was trying to protect Wayne.

She could say things that had happened that were very damning of Wayne Williams.

In a final dramatic episode, Ms. Blakely told the jury this:

"I said to him, 'The game's gotta end someday.

"'If they get enough evidence on you, Wayne, will you confess before you get hurt?'"

Williams allegedly replied, "Yes."

[tense music]

You could tell she was very troubled in testifying.

She did not want to be there.

She did not want to say what she knew, that Wayne was complaining about these street kids.

♪ ♪ And she said, "Wayne, you need to be careful.

You know, some of those kids might hurt you."

And he said, "No, they're not gonna hurt me.

"I know a way to squeeze their neck, and they won't hurt me then."

You know, and it was like, "Oh, my golly."

So we wanted to get that in.

And she kept looking over at Wayne like she was apologetic about it, almost.

Wayne was so confident that she was going to cover for him that he had Al Binder ask a question that Al did not want to ask, and that was, "Do you think Wayne Williams killed anybody?"

And Sharon Blakely took the longest time.

It was an extremely dramatic moment.

♪ ♪ She stared at Wayne.

She began crying, tears coming down her face.

Now the jurors are all just leaning forward, and we are leaning forward.

"What's she gonna say?"

She said, "Yeah, he did. I'm sorry."

And it was just like... you could hear the air being let out in that courtroom.

You know, it was just an incredible--incredible event.

Um, and that was our last witness in the case, and we rested after that.

After 5 weeks and more than 100 witnesses, the prosecution today rested its case in the Wayne Williams murder trial.

Bob Sirkin reports.

As of now, the defense plans to call some 70 witnesses, and ABC News has learned one of them will be Wayne Williams.

He wanted to tell his story.

He would be in the spotlight.

This would be his moment for stardom.

We decided it would be best for him to be heard saying, "I didn't kill any children."

The FBI said that in the short run, he will look wonderful, and that's what happened.

At one time during questioning, when Binder told him to speak up so the jury could hear him, the 23-year-old said, "I'm scared."

"Have you ever known Cater or Payne?" Binder said.

"I don't know them.

I've never seen them before in my life," explained Williams.

He sounded, you know, like this all-American kid, but the strategy was when he gets stressed, he's gonna do something different.

Just keep him on the stand as long as possible.

[dramatic music]

Most observers said that it was probably a draw with no clear-cut winners.

However, the prosecution will have another chance tomorrow to score some points with the jury, because Wayne Williams will be back on the stand in the morning.

And the first day on the witness stand, I was nervous, of course, but Mary would come back to the jail--

Mary Welcome-- and talk to me and say, "Well, Wayne, uh, you're being too cool.

You're being too calm on the witness stand."

I say, "Well, Mary, I've never done this before.

"This is how you said be.

"'Just get up and just be yourself,' which I did."

I said, "Wayne, you're being charged

"with killing two persons, "and the implication is that

"you've killed all these children, and you're showing no emotion whatsoever."

Something should come out showing that this is not right.

He had a right to be outraged, because not only had they said he killed these two adults, but the implication was that he killed all these children.

We went through all the questions that we knew he could not answer and just had a list of 'em.

What we did was just repeat the questions that we had asked him the day before, and it was the bridge that did it.

That messed him up because his whole explanation of the bridge varies with every telling of the story.

That's when he blew up.

Assistant DA Jack Mallard came at him with a verbal ice pick.

"Didn't you start dumping your victims in rivers because of the publicity about fiber evidence?"

Williams: "I haven't killed nobody."

The suspect continued his tirade, calling several FBI agents "goons."

Then he blurted out, "Mr. Mallard, I am no more guilty of killing these children than you are."

The prosecuting attorney continued, "Isn't it true that

"when you were choking them to death, "with their last breath, they were scratching your arms and face?"

"No," said Williams.

At that point he said, "I'm not answering any more of these questions."

And he jumped up from the witness stand.

"You want the real Wayne Williams, you got him."

And the jury, you know, is looking at that.

Boom!

According to the prosecution, this person became a violent killer.

"And now you see the real me."

And that's like, you know, "Whoa.

Jekyll, Hyde. Jekyll, Hyde."

Of course he blowed up.

Who wouldn't?

[suspenseful music]

That didn't prove that he killed the childrens.

That we supposed to be satisfied with what they just made him do?

You know, so that wasn't a big thing to us.

It really wasn't.

It didn't find the piece to the puzzle.

♪ ♪ They used that outburst in their closing argument.

"See, he's a violent man.

He's prone to these violent outrages."

The question has been asked of me several times.

"Did you tell him to do that or was that done?"

I said, "Blame me, because I suggested to him that he show-- show some emotion."

And that's what he did.

♪ ♪ District Attorney Lewis Slayton had the last word, calling Wayne Williams

"cunning" and "evil," saying he's like

"Attila the Hun," "Adolf Hitler," and "Idi Amin," believers in a master race all doing away with inferiors.

♪ ♪ It's now up to the jury to decide who the real Wayne Williams is, the psychotic killer the prosecution claims or the innocent young man the defense charges was brought to trial as a scapegoat.

Williams now has only to wait and wonder whether the jury will decide he's innocent or guilty.

[indistinct chatter]

What do you think the jury is likely to do?

If you were to call it, what would you say?

I'd say it'd be guilty.

I think they gonna find him not guilty.

Think they're gonna find him not guilty?

Why?

Because they don't have the concrete evidence, you know, on Wayne Williams.

They just didn't prove it beyond a reasonable doubt?

Yes.

[solemn music]

♪ ♪ I saw this pretty little girl down here that I need to talk to.

What you doing--what you doing standing out here in the snow?

[indistinct chatter]

He--they might take him out the back door.

Sometimes they, um, you know--they switch up.

Why do you want to see Wayne anyway?

♪ ♪ Wayne Williams, guarded by three deputies, settled into a borrowed office on one of the top floors of the courthouse.

He told one visitor he felt nervous inside.

Whether or not District Attorney Lewis Slayton was pressured into making the arrest last June, the gamble paid off.

The jury came back with a verdict much sooner than anyone expected.

The jury came out after 11 hours.

After weeks of evidence, there's no way they could've considered all the evidence presented.

The first vote was not--choo-slam-bam.

Mm-mm.

It was more people wanting to see some more evidence before they made up their minds.

[dramatic music]

♪ ♪ Jurors were led under tight security from the hotel where they'd been sequestered for eight weeks.

One man nodded when asked if he felt they made the right decision.

Judge tell you not to talk?

Your own decision?

Who was--whose was it?

I can only go by what was presented to me, to the jury.

We can only go by what they gave us.

And to be quite honest with you, I do think I was the last one to vote against him.

[laughs]

It's over.

You know, Williams is the Atlanta Child Killer.

Guilty as charged.

Guilty of two of that city's series of killings.

The sentence, imposed immediately, "Two consecutive life terms."

Here. Come here.

Mr. Williams, here.

Mr. Williams, any thoughts?

Homer Williams' exit from the courthouse tonight reflected his fury at what had been done to his son and to him and his wife.

Move back. Move back.

[engine revs]

He's innocent.

Not only do I feel he's innocent, but if the prosecuting team had to make one last statement before they die and that statement would cause them to go to heaven or hell, they would say he's innocent.

There's no such thing as justice as far as this case is concerned.

[indistinct chatter]

When we went into that courtroom, we were facing a prosecution team directed, supported, and financed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

They spent about $2 million.

My parents were retired schoolteachers.

I think we gave Mary Welcome $5,000.

After that, we were shot.

How in the world can you tell me that you've got justice when a prosecution has this much to work with, and we have this?

There's no way.

The FBI was heavily involved in this.

Vice President Bush came to Atlanta and brought some money.

The Reagan administration was invested in the outcome of the trial.

[somber music]

The FBI was pulling the strings.

They orchestrated the entire prosecution.

In the story of David and Goliath, David had more of an advantage than we did.

He at least had a slingshot.

With the inadequate resources, the inadequate time, um, there was just no way for Wayne Williams, or anyone for that matter, to defend--defend against

12, um, crimes...

The trial had an unbelievable effect on me that has lasted to this day.

Wayne was not an easy person to love... but I cared a great deal for him.

And aside from that, I cared a great deal about the system, and I was more disappointed with the system that I think failed him and that I was a pawn in that system and felt that way for many years.

Just, "What could I have done differently?"

♪ ♪ When you have all this evidence presented before you, and it is all leaning toward guilt... then what are you supposed to do?

If at any point they could prove that he was innocent or had no part in it, then the only thing I could do at that point would be to ask God for forgiveness for being a part of sending someone somewhere if he wasn't, um-- if he wasn't guilty.

That's all I can do for my peace of mind.

He dropped a body off a bridge.

We had a police recruit there that heard it.

He got arrested. He got convicted.

He's gonna die in prison.

That's a success story.

[indistinct chatter]

Reporters and photographers and officials who hadn't been here since Williams was arrested came together one last time.

With the conviction of Wayne Williams, we have reviewed all of the evidence that's present today, and as a result, we've cleared 23 cases.

Effective one week from today, we will officially close down the task force operations.

The decision that was made today is based on the evidence.

The evidence allowed us to do what we've done.

Almost overnight the 23 cases are boxed up, closed out with these kids, and it's like Wayne did them.

And to me, that is shockingly negligent.

I think the pressures were so extreme that once Atlanta was provided an out, they took it.

Will Williams be charged with any of the additional murders with which he has been linked?

District Attorney Lewis Slayton.

We don't have any present plans of bringing any further indictments in Fulton County.

Commissioner Brown denied that any murders attributed to Williams are being swept under the rug.

He said the attribution is based on evidence.

After they locked up Wayne Williams, city officials didn't want to have nothing to say to us anymore.

The case is closed, and that's it.

And there it is.

They didn't want to hear anything the parents had to say.

The mother of victim Yusuf Bell was very disappointed with the outcome.

Some people might say this is just sour grapes because they never have solved your son's death.

Um, if I believe that Wayne Williams killed the other 12 that they claim-- the same fibers that were found on those bodies were also found on Yusuf's body--then I must believe that Wayne Williams killed my son.

But since I don't believe that Wayne Williams killed anybody, I can't believe that Wayne Williams therefore killed my son.

What it all boils down to is now we have Wayne Williams, 23, the 30th victim of the Atlanta slaying.

[dramatic music]

♪ ♪

The disappointment when Wayne Williams was tried for the murder of these two men was deep in the black community.

Very deep, because there's still no answer to who killed--who kidnapped and killed these children.

And...the public officials were saying, "It's done.

We have him. It's over."

The disbanding of the special task force is the clearest indication that as far as law enforcement is concerned, the Atlanta tragedy is over.

Former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson said his city was stronger now.

We trust now that matter is behind us.

♪ ♪ They wanted the world to feel like it was over with.

You want to feel safe like, "Okay, they got the man who did all these killings, and now the world is all right now."

You know, you want to feel like that, but, you know, that's just impossible.

♪ ♪

[traffic rumbling]

After he got sentenced, Wayne called me, and I went to the jail.

And we talked about the trial, and--and I knew it was gonna involve a lot, you know, of my time, my effort, but I think this has been a part of my calling.

Looking back on it, I wonder how I'm still standing.

[melancholy music]

♪ ♪ This is my war room.

♪ ♪ I had to designate a room for Wayne Williams' appeal.

This here is all stuff about Wayne.

We got the trial transcripts.

♪ ♪ That's some of it there too.

And all that over there and then all of this over here.

♪ ♪ It took us a year to get the appeal ready.

♪ ♪ In '83, we took it to the Georgia Supreme Court.

It was the longest brief ever filed in appeals court.

[dramatic music]

We took up 33 points of error in the trial.

The big part of that was the witnesses.

The prosecution tried to go out and find any of these witnesses they could to say, "Well, we need you to say this about Wayne Williams," or "You need to say that."

♪ ♪ During the trial, the prosecutors came up with some pretty damning witnesses.

But later on, information came out, and you realize almost every key witness against Wayne Williams either committed perjury or gave misleading testimony.

Davis and Ruth Warren had both earlier given police descriptions notably differing from their trial testimony.

Ruth Warren testified on the Lubie Geter case, but the person that she identified to police had a scar "like lightning"-- that's how she described it-- down his face.

Wayne did not have this lightning-type scar on his face.

In a brief conversation on her front porch, she made the puzzling statement, "I'd never seen Wayne Williams before in my life until I saw him in that courtroom."

Another witness, Robert Henry, who testified that he saw Wayne holding Nathaniel Cater's hand, later recanted.

Henry now declares that he insisted to interrogating officers, quote, "If my life depended on it, "I could not say the man I saw with Cater was Wayne Williams."

But says Henry, quote, "I was told I had to testify I was positive in naming the person as Williams."

Bobby Toland, an ambulance driver, told the jury that Williams didn't like poor people.

Toland gave the jury a motive.

It was discovered that Bobby Toland, who testified to the motive...

Williams despised, quote, "lower class blacks."

Had said earlier that he hated that Williams kid, that Bobby Toland wanted the reward money.

This guy testified, it turns out, under a fake name.

His real name was Williams.

This was an utterly unreliable witness.

Bias, motive to lie, prior conduct that put his own interests above those of society, hatred of the defendant.

I mean, everything!

He was sort of a classic ball of impeachment all wrapped into one, but none of that information was provided to the defense.

And the kicker is that Bobby Toland was a member of the Klan.

He said that he was a member of Klan, but Bobby said a lot of things.

I do know for a fact that Wayne Williams did not make that statement.

[suspenseful music]

♪ ♪ I know for a fact that Bobby Toland did make that statement.

So this critical testimony that was given at the trial was in fact a lie?

Yes.

No doubt about it.

They lied to make this story make sense.

You know, they say the thing about a lie is that once you tell one lie, you have to tell another one to cover that one and another one to cover that one.

For example, the dog hairs.

If you look at the FBI files before Wayne Williams' arrest, they all say these dog hairs we're finding on these victims are white with a tip.

They said the hairs are from an Alaskan Malamute or a Siberian Husky, to the exclusion of all other dogs.

[foreboding music]

Now, Wayne had a German Shepherd that was brown, very little white hair.

Once Wayne becomes a suspect, all of a sudden they're saying, "Well, we're finding German Shepherd hairs on these victims."

♪ ♪ And they start putting in their files that these hairs are now white or brown.

That really stuck out.

The trial of Wayne Williams marked one of the first times that tiny fibers were the key evidence in a major murder case.

Lawyers for convicted murderer Wayne Williams charged the prosecution used unreliable fiber evidence and unfairly characterized Williams as a mass murderer.

The state focused on this green, trilobal carpet fiber made by the Wellman company and tried to say that that fiber was very unique.

[dramatic music]

♪ ♪ They blow up these enormous pictures of the carpet fibers, blown up, like, a hundred times or whatever.

♪ ♪ You know, the jury's looking at all this.

"Wow, they must really know their stuff."

The prosecution claimed that the fiber in Wayne's carpet was rare.

But in fact, they were only able to get partial sales records for the fiber that went into that carpet and the carpet itself.

In other words, they had no way to account at all.

So what the FBI did was just basically, you know, "Well, we can assume this much carpet was made."

But you can't assume that if you don't have the records.

It was all fake math, mathematical possibilities that could not possibly be justified.

And they presented it to the jury as hard fact.

One problem was the word "consistent with."

For example, if a murder was committed, and the killer was described as an older white male with gray hair, that description is consistent with me.

But what you need to know is, how many old, white, gray-haired guys are there?

And if there's just one, me, that's pretty powerful.

On the other hand, if there are, for example, millions... all that means is I can't be excluded.

I could be one of the millions of people who could have committed this crime.

And so it was with almost all of the fiber evidence.

Without some sort of database that showed their distribution and their likelihood of proximity to each other and their overall commonality, it was just junk science.

[tense music]

Basically, the experts overstated... overstated their opinions.

♪ ♪ Some people are just gonna have doubts no matter--no matter what the evidence indicates.

We look at a lot of fibers.

For the rest of my career, I never saw a Wellman 181B fiber of any color.

And no other forensic scientist I'm aware of in any other case ever saw a Wellman 181B fiber.

♪ ♪

The Supreme Court only gets six months to decide these cases.

And it was getting long, you know.

The six months was coming up on us fast, and they hadn't ruled and ended up ruling on the last day.

The court affirmed Wayne Williams' conviction.

♪ ♪ And Georgia's Supreme Court Justice George Smith wrote an extremely powerful and detailed dissent.

I did not think he received a fair and impartial trial.

I felt like legally there was more wrong with it than there was right.

But when you're one out of seven and the other six go the other way...

30 pages doesn't have much to do with it.

About two weeks after the appeal was denied, I heard from George T. Smith.

A Supreme Court justice is calling me?

That doesn't happen.

He said, at first, the Georgia Supreme Court decided to reverse, to overturn this case for a new trial, but then there was a phone call, and the other justices turned.

And they upheld the conviction because of that phone call.

[dramatic music]

If I had to hypothetically say who made that call, it was either the governor or the president... or Bush, who was vice president.

♪ ♪ I'm convinced there was somebody interfering in the decision-making process by the Georgia Supreme Court.

♪ ♪ And Smith felt compelled to say something, you know.

I would have given him a new trial then.

I'd give him a new trial now.

I did what I thought was right.

I did what I thought should have been done, and that was it.

But I was not applauded for my stand.

I'll tell you that.

[melancholy music]

♪ ♪ After all that...

[sighs]

Well...

I didn't feel good about the legal system, but I just kept chugging along.

The turning point of the case was when we learned there was overwhelming evidence not being shared with the defense team.

♪ ♪ Which way? Over there, sir.

[indistinct speech over PA]

Pleasure. You sit over here.

[indistinct chatter]

I'm convinced if the jurors had known what we discovered, they never could have found him guilty.

When 28 young adults have been murdered, and those cases have been closed, it's incredible.

We are not gonna get to the root of murder and why people are murdering if we're gonna close murder files.

It's unheard of.

The public needs to know certain information.

Could you elaborate on the eyewitness?

You said in your statement you had an eyewitness to one of the murders.

S--um, sure, we can.

Okay, Clifford Jones was found in a washerette.

They're talking about-- and a witness states that he observed "X" person kill a little boy with a rope around his neck.

In the Clifford Jones case, this is information that will be made available to you.

That file was released to Channel 2 News under a court order today.

Bob Sirkin reports on the contents of the Clifford Jones file.

The three-inch, 400-page investigative file contains evidence and statements by witnesses given to police and the FBI about the murder of Clifford Jones, reportedly inside this northwest Atlanta laundromat on August 20, 1980.

Eyewitnesses told police of seeing a suspect carrying...

Around 1986, I was reporting about the Clifford Jones case in which there was new exculpatory evidence in Wayne Williams' favor.

The lead detective, Sidney Dorsey, came to me and said that Clifford Jones was murdered by another suspect other than Wayne Williams.

♪ ♪ I heard that the Clifford Jones case had been closed along with the other cases, and that's when I said, "Wait a minute.

"I don't think that's right, "because here's a guy that I have every reason to believe was responsible for this kid's death."

James Edward Brooks, a 36-year-old homosexual convicted felon, was identified by witnesses as killing or disposing of Clifford Jones.

Jamie Brooks was a known sex offender.

He actually admitted to having sex with young boys, and he had a criminal background.

One eyewitness told police of seeing a man sexually attack Clifford Jones inside this laundromat.

Fred Cosby, then a 19-year-old high school student, claimed to have witnessed the murder of Clifford Jones.

We had eyewitness testimony from an individual who gave graphic details of what took place in the laundromat.

[sinister music]

Jamie Brooks and Calvin Smith sexually assaulted him.

♪ ♪ Cosby's statement, quote, "When the little boy started crying real loud, "Jamie put a rope around the little boy's neck and pulled on the rope."

♪ ♪ He had bruises all up and down his neck.

You can see where it choked him so bad.

It just like the rope was just rubbing up and down his neck.

The witness sounded extremely credible

'cause he was giving details of a murder that he had witnessed.

And of course, it seemed all we needed is a search warrant and find the evidence.

[ominous music]

And there was nothing there.

It ended up Jamie looked like a good suspect, but there was no evidence Jamie had done it, and the person that was an eyewitness was less than credible.

Because Fred Cosby was deemed a slow thinker by police, bosses, and prosecutors, Cosby's statement against Brooks was discounted.

This boy was able to describe every piece of clothes, socks, the stripes in his shirt.

That's a good witness.

Even though the police deemed him as being "slow,"

I thought that he was very credible, and he was not the only witness.

People who lived behind the laundromat saw someone lying an object down out near a dumpster.

And then the body of Clifford Jones was found there.

The person carrying that plastic bag containing Clifford Jones' body, look like Wayne Williams?

No, he didn't look like Wayne Williams to me

'cause he looked just like Jamie.

I would have arrested Jamie Brooks, but the city fathers at that time of the task force hierarchy apparently ruled him out as a suspect when Wayne Williams was arrested.

That really bothered me.

What would you like to see done with this case?

What should be done with it?

I'd like to see it reopened.

I think the investigation should pick up where it left off.

After Sidney Dorsey did an interview with me, he was demoted to the rank of lieutenant for his public remarks about the case.

Reopening the Jones case could disprove the 23 other murder cases blamed on Wayne Williams, all linked by the same fiber evidence.

The green trilobal fiber was on the two charged cases, plus ten pattern cases.

It showed up again in the case of Clifford Jones, which was not one of those pattern cases.

The state did not include Clifford Jones in its pattern cases because the eyewitness accounts named a killer other than Wayne Williams.

In addition, the prosecution alleged that this green trilobal fiber could only have come from the carpeting in Wayne Williams' home.

But in the Clifford Jones case, who is to say that that fiber didn't land on Clifford Jones' body in the laundromat in which he was killed?

It calls into question the uniqueness of the green trilobal fiber, so the Clifford Jones case demolishes the state's case.

[dramatic music]

They made over 100 different matches to environments that Wayne was in.

I think the hair and fiber evidence is good.

It links him to the crime scene.

So, I mean, Bob Sirkin can have his opinion.

I happen to be the one that was there, and I have my opinion.

♪ ♪ Throughout two searches of the house, 20 hours of searching my car, not one fiber from any victim, their clothing, or their environment, was ever found in my house.

Not only did they not find fibers in my house, no fingerprints were found, nothing indicating a struggle or anything.

No--you know, it's just preposterous.

If you've got eyewitnesses that say, "I saw so and so kill somebody," they need to be in jail.

So why am I here?

They know Wayne Williams did not kill him.

They know that.

Jamie Brooks and Calvin Smith.

That's who I think did it.

We found out about Jamie Brooks after Jamie Brooks was--died in jail.

They didn't tell us about Jamie Brooks at the time Clifford was murdered.

We didn't find out about Jamie Brooks until years later.

Authorities blamed Clifford Jones' murder not on Jamie Brooks, but on Wayne Williams.

Parents of 13 missing and murdered victims have confronted Public Safety Commissioner George Napper.

The parents are threatening to sue Napper and other city officials.

They charge police with covering up the facts behind 24 murders blamed on Wayne Williams.

Here's Bob Sirkin.

The parents of 13 missing and murdered victims converging...

After we rolled out five or six of these stories, the families marched on George Napper, the police commissioner's office, demanding that he reopen this case.

We want to see Commissioner Napper.

Told that Napper was away from his office, the angry parents staged a sit-in of sorts, police officials ordering them to stop chanting civil rights songs.

You did not accommodate us. Why should we accommodate you?

Napper and Police Chief Morris Redding arrived agreeing to meet with the parents.

They were so desperate for answers and a more thorough investigation.

They were really enraged.

This may be strong language, but I think the city became an accessory to the murderer.

If they had enough proof to say he killed my child, I feel they should have enough proof to bring him back to court and try him for killing our children.

I'm really mad about it, because I don't think the city of Atlanta did us right.

The angry parents have now departed vowing--

It was very frustrating that the police never arrested Jamie Brooks in connection with Clifford Jones' murder.

The question is, would we charge somebody without evidence?

And the answer is no.

And there wasn't enough evidence to charge him with the case of Clifford Jones, 'cause there really wasn't much evidence.

The public needs, and has a right, to know.

It was disgusting, quite honestly.

To me, as a journalist, that the city would turn their backs on a story like this.

Bob Sirkin live in our newsroom.

And when Action News returns...

The issue for the world is how are we gonna stop this from happening in our cities and countries again?

The city administration just wanted the community to stop making a big deal about this.

And of course, the community was not going to, because it was our kids.

I'm convinced Wayne Williams is innocent.

I'm convinced that this was a political-- more of a political thing than it was a trial about guilt or innocence.

So you don't think he killed your son, either?

I don't think he killed anybody.

It was also very clear that the city saw the mothers as troublemakers.

They were being loud.

They were not shutting up and sitting down and going away.

The Committee to Stop Children's Murders sign is still up on MLK Drive, but its doors are locked, and the phones are disconnected.

A lot of these women were accused of, you know, just being in front of the camera so that they could get speaking engagement money, or they could get donations.

Some people called them hustlers or whatever.

Some ministers said stuff like that.

Some politicians said stuff like that.

It was outrageous.

An investigation is underway by the state government to see why their Committee to Stop Children's Murders has not registered as a fundraising organization.

They did everything they could to discredit Camille and to drive her out of the city.

♪ ♪ You know, Atlanta is funny because I really, really love Atlanta in a lot of different ways, but I guess Atlanta's like a bad spouse.

You know, like you don't stop loving them, but you can't keep staying there with them.

♪ ♪

I think going back many generations, there's a tendency, in the African American community especially, for us to tuck our hurt and our pain away.

We--I think it's something that we've learned as a survival mechanism during slavery, even, that we don't often talk about those painful parts of our history.

And I think that's exactly what's happened with the missing and murdered children.

Remembering this part of our story, I think it's our responsibility to do that.

A number of the investigations were at various phases, and as soon as Wayne Williams was arrested, they just cut them off.

No matter-- if they were pointing towards family members.

One child they thought may have actually been an accidental fall from a bridge.

I think what's clear already is that some of these children perhaps should not have been attributed to Wayne Williams, and there also may be other children who should have been included on this list who weren't included.

They feel pretty certain, and, Joshua, you can correct me if I'm wrong on this, that perhaps the two girls were not victims of Wayne Williams.

Right. That's what she communicated during our last conversation.

The investigators think that there was at least one other killer out there.

[dramatic music]

♪ ♪


[bright tone]

MAN: The homicides stopped after the arrest of Wayne Williams.

I'm 100 percent certain that Wayne Williams is the killer.

There is no justice in the United States of America.

MAN 2: The Georgia Bureau investigation had opened up an entire investigation focusing on Ku Klux Klan involvement in the killings.

Charles T. Sanders admitted killing Geter.

They've been trying to cover this stuff for 40 years.

And they slipped up.

MAN 3: They chose Wayne, but had they pinned this on somebody white... there would have been riots all over America.

♪ (DRAMATIC OUTRO PLAYS) ♪