Wayne Williams

Wayne Williams

Wayne Bertram Williams was born on May 27th, 1958 and was raised in the Dixie Hills neighborhood of southwest Atlanta, Georgia to Homer and Faye Williams. Both of his parents were teachers. Williams graduated from Douglass High School and developed an interest in raido and journalism. He eventually made his own carrier current radio station. He also began spending time at the radio stations WIGO and WAOK where he befriended a number of the annoucing crew and began dabbling in becoming a pop music producer and manager.

Williams was first a suspect in the Atlanta Child Murders in May of 1981 when a police surveillance team watching a bridge spanning the Chattahoochee River (where several bodies had been dumped previously) heard a loud splash which suggested someone had thrown something large over the bridge into the water. The first vehicle to leave the bridge after the splash was Williams’. When he was stopped by the police he told them that he was on his way to a neighboring town to audition a young singer named Cheryl Johnson for his music business but the number he gave police was fictional, along with Cheryl Johnson.

On May 24th, the nude body of Nathaniel Cater, a 27-year-old who had been missing for three days, was discovered by the river. He had died of possible asphyxiation. It was never clear if he had been strangled or not. Police had a theory that Williams had killed Cater and that him throwing the body over the bridge was the loud splash they heard. Williams was brought in for questioning and took three polygraph tests which he failed. Hair and fibers were taken from another victim and were consistent with his home, car, and dog. A coworker told police that they had seen Williams with scratches on his face and arms at around the time of the murders which police believe was caused by the victims during a struggle.

There began a several week long investigation where Williams taunted the police officers staking out his parents’ home with insults and jokes. During a press conference that Williams held outside his home he proclaimed his innocence, and told the press that he failed his three polygraphs, which was inadmissible in court. On June 21st, 1981, Williams was arrested for the murders of Cater and 29-year-old Jimmy Ray Payne.

Williams’ trial began on January 6th, 1982 in Fulton County. During the two month trial, prosecutors matched nineteen sources of fibers from his home and car to a number of victims. Other evidence included eyewitness testimony placing Williams with several victims while they were alive, which showed inconsistencies in his account of his whereabouts. Williams took the stand in his own defense, but alienated the jury by becoming angry. After just twelve hours of deliberation the jury found him guilty on February 27th of the murders of Cater and Payne. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. In the late 1990s he filed a habeas corpus petition and requested a retrial. The Butts County Superior Court Judge Hal Craig denied his appeal. In early 2004 he sought retrial again. In the 146 page federal court filing, his attorneys argued that there should be a retrial because law enforcement officers were covering up evidence of involvement by the Ku Klux Klam and that the carpet fibers linking him to the crimes would not stand up to scientific scrunity. A federal judge rejected it once more.

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