The Atlanta Child Murders

The Atlanta Child Murders
Atlanta: 1979 - 1981
• 27 black boys are murdered
• Similar fibers are found on
the bodies
• When this is revealed, bodies
start being dumped in water
Wayne Williams
Wayne Williams
• Stopped by police on a
• Said he was at a club, but no
one saw him there
• Two days later a body
appears downstream
Serial killers usually are…
• White
• Male
• Middle-aged
• Heterosexual
Wayne Williams was…
A young black man—not a
typical serial killer
This case pioneered the use of
fiber evidence.
Key Fiber Evidence
• Avocado carpet fibers
matching those in Williams’
• Purple carpet fibers matching
those in Williams’ car
These two fibers were found
on almost all the bodies.
Many also had dog hairs,
blanket fibers, etc. that also
matched items in Williams
Because the carpet fibers were
unusual colors, the probability
they would be on a body was
quite low.
The probability they would
appear together was even
House carpet
1 in 5000
Car carpet
1 in 1800
Overall probability …
5000 X 1800 = 9,000,000
… about 1 in 9 million
There are about 2 million
people in metro Atlanta, so it is
VERY unlikely the murderer
was someone else.
Williams was convicted and
sentenced to two life terms in
Since his conviction there have
been numerous appeals and
re-investigations, most recently
in May, 2005.
Each time, the evidence was
found convincing.
After Williams was taken into
custody, the murders stopped.
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