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Today in Georgia History
is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.

June 21

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Atlanta Child Murders

June 21, 1981 - Atlanta
In July 1979, two 14-year-old boys went missing. When police found the bodies of Edward Hope Smith and Alfred Evans, it began a two-year nightmare that held Atlanta in the grip of fear. A serial killer was on the loose, and in the end at least 28 children, teenagers, and adults were victims in what became known as the Atlanta Child Murders case.

With the discovery of each victim, officials struggled to counter the growing panic. In August 1980 the Atlanta police formed a task force to investigate the murders, joined three months later by the FBI.

Investigators finally got a break in May 1981. During a stakeout on a Chattahoochee River Bridge, police heard a splash and pulled over a car driven by 23-year-old Wayne Williams. Fiber evidence taken from his car and a body found floating downriver two days later helped convict Williams of two of the murders.

Police eventually linked him to most of the others, and eventually closed the books on the case after Williams was arrested on June 21, 1981, Today in Georgia History.

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Fast Fact

The story was chronicled in the 1985 TV miniseries The Atlanta Child Murders and the 2000 cable movie Who Killed Atlanta's Children?