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CNN Live Event/Special
Atlanta Child Murders. Aired 9-11p ET
Aired July 18, 2015 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: (voice-over): For two years, the bodies of black children had been found in the woods, then the rivers of Atlanta, Georgia, in all, more than two dozen victims, most of them strangled.
By May 1981, the police and FBI were hiding in the brush beside and below the river bridges. This was to be the last night, almost the last hour.
BOB CAMPBELL, POLICE RECRUIT: I heard the -- heard the splash.
O'BRIEN: Bob Campbell, a police recruit, jumped to his feet down beside the Chattahoochee River.
CAMPBELL: I was really startled. It sounded like a body entering the water.
O'BRIEN: He looked up at the bridge.
CAMPBELL: And I saw brake lights of a car coming. I saw red lights. The car started slowly moving away from me across the bridge.
O'BRIEN: Campbell radioed the other team members up above him.
CAMPBELL: I asked, did a car stop on the bridge? Because I couldn't believe what I saw. And each person told me they didn't see it.
O'BRIEN: Then, a policeman in a chase car hidden on the other side came on the radio.
CAMPBELL: He just said, the car is pulling in the parking lot here, turning around in front of me. It started coming back across the bridge, coming back in my direction.
O'BRIEN: This is that white station wagon. Police followed it and stopped it nearby. FBI agent Mike McComas (ph) rushed to the scene. The driver was standing by the highway.
MIKE MCCOMAS (ph), FBI AGENT: was talking with the officers. Saw a black male. He had on a baseball hat, had on glasses.
O'BRIEN: The young man was Wayne Williams, about to turn 23, a self- anointed music talent scout who slept days and roamed the city at night. McComas invited Williams over to his car. MCCOMAS: He got in the car, and I said, do you know why we're here?
And he immediately said, yes, it's about the missing children. And that kind of stunned me. And I said, well, what do you know about that? He goes, well, I don't think that the various news agencies are covering it adequately. Do you?
Two weeks later, this headline would break the news of that night on the bridge. Wayne Williams would be sent to prison to serve two life sentences for murder.
At first glance, he hardly looks like a serial killer, not much more than 5.5 feet tall, barely 150 pounds, now in his 50s and growing bald.
WAYNE WILLIAMS, CONVICTED MURDERER: The bottom line is, nobody ever testified or even claimed that they saw me strike another person, choke another person, stab, beat or kill or hurt anybody, because I didn't.
O'BRIEN: This is the first time Wayne Williams has talked on TV in at least a decade.
(on camera): Why do you think you were convicted?
O'BRIEN: What do you mean?
WILLIAMS: Atlanta at the time was in a panic. They wanted any suspect that they could find. And let's just be honest. It had to be a black person, because, if it had been a white suspect, Atlanta probably would have gone up in flames. It came very close to that.
O'BRIEN: Do you think you will ever be free?
WILLIAMS: No doubt. It's not a matter of if to me. It's a matter of when.
O'BRIEN (on camera): Some 30 years after Wayne Williams' trial and conviction, there is still debate and some doubt. This time, you can be the judge and the jury. We will lay out the evidence on both sides, and you will hear from Wayne Williams at length.
At the end, you can cast your vote at CNN.com, guilty, innocent, or a third choice, not proven.
(voice-over): The first clue was found on a dead boy's tennis shoes. The victim was Eric Middlebrooks, his body left here in a rainy alley, a foster child who rode his bicycle away one night on an errand, and was dead by dawn.
Detective Bob Buffington saw something red stuck to Eric's tennis shoe.
BOB BUFFINGTON, DETECTIVE: And I noticed in the flap of the edge of this shoe this tuft of what to me appeared to be wool. And that was it. We could find no other evidence.
O'BRIEN: Back at homicide, Buffington showed the fibers to his superiors.
BUFFINGTON: The lieutenant made a big joke out of it and told the rest of the squad that, if I went over to the lieutenant's house and cleaned out the lint trap in his dryer, we could probably clean all -- clear out all the cases in the city of Atlanta.
O'BRIEN: Still, Buffington sent the fibers to the state crime laboratory.
A young forensic scientist, Larry Peterson, took a look.
(on camera): So, why was a fiber stuck in the crack of a shoe, why was that important?
LARRY PETERSON, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: Because it was somewhat loosely there. And people normally don't have tufts of carpet fibers loosely stuck in their shoe.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): From those few thin threads, Peterson would begin to build a case to try to catch a killer.
(on camera): How many fibers across the board did you look at every day in this case, when the case really started getting busy, 100, 500, 1,000?
PETERSON: Well, literally, there's going to be hundreds, if not thousands, of fibers there, depending upon the case.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): In the spring of 1980, no one wanted to believe a serial killer was loose in the city, even when Bob Buffington spotted a disturbing pattern.
BUFFINGTON: There had been a sharp increase in the number of children under the age of 14 who had been killed.
O'BRIEN: When he told his boss at homicide, the major threatened to transfer him.
BUFFINGTON: And I truly think that they were afraid that there would be a panic.
O'BRIEN: It was this mother, after the loss of her 9-year-old son, who finally forced police to listen, but not until almost a year after her boy died.
Camille Bell and her children lived in these project apartments, poor to the eye, but rich in mind and spirit. Yusef Bell was an honor student in the gifted program at school. On a warm October Sunday in 1979, he walked away on an errand to buy snuff for an elderly lady downstairs.
CAMILLE BELL, MOTHER OF MURDER VICTIM: He went barefooted in a pair of Brown shorts. He got to the store. He bought the snuff. He started back home.
O'BRIEN: Less than half-a-block from this store, Yusef Bell stepped off this curb and vanished.
BELL: And nobody saw anybody do anything or anything. But they did see him come back across the street. And that's the last that we saw him.
O'BRIEN: Camille Bell called the police. They came and said they would write a report. That's all. Days went by. Camille waited with two older children and Yusef's 3-year-old sister.
BELL: And so she is terrified. If he can go to the store and they can steal him, then she doesn't want to leave the house. She doesn't want to do anything.
O'BRIEN: Camille hid her own fear from her children.
BELL: And you have got to hold them together, so you can't act as scared as you are.
UNIDENTIFIED NEWS ANCHOR: The body of Yusef Bell was found in an abandoned schoolhouse.
O'BRIEN: His body would not turn up for another month. Yusef Bell had been strangled.
BELL: All of the what could have been, should have been and probably would have been was taken away, and we will never know now, because somebody decided that it was all right to just kill a little kid because they wanted to.
O'BRIEN: For a long time, the 3-year-old would look for Yusef every time it was a foggy day.
BELL: And we would go out into the fog, and she would go as far as she could into the fog. And I would say, come back here. And she would say, I got to go find my brother. And she said, the clouds came down, so Yusef can come down.
O'BRIEN: The child, her mother said, had confused the fog with heaven.
ANNOUNCER: Still ahead: the boy who was too brave.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, he was like, man, I want to find this killer and get this reward money.
ANNOUNCER: A drive-by threat against the FBI chief's child.
GLOVER: Some guy in a pickup truck said, "I'm going to get you, nigger."
ANNOUNCER: And, in the end, the curious question of the CIA.
O'BRIEN (on camera): When you're 19 years old, you're saying you worked for the CIA; you have been recruited?
WILLIAMS: I will let the document speak for itself. I'm not going to comment on that.
O'BRIEN: Do you know how to kill someone with a choke hold? That's a yes-or-no answer.
WILLIAMS: No, it's not. No, it's not.
O'BRIEN: Yes, it is actually.
WILLIAMS: No, it's not. No, it's not.
O'BRIEN: Do you know how to kill someone with a choke hold?
WILLIAMS: No, it's not. No, it's not.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): In the spring of 1980, police were still reluctant to listen to Camille Bell.
BELL: Children were dying on the streets of Atlanta in the daytime.
O'BRIEN: Among them, Jefferey Mathis, only 10. Like Yusef Bell, he walked down the street on an errand to this gas station to buy cigarettes for his mother. She never saw him again.
BELL: What we had here was a predator. And what he was looking for was somebody who was cut off from the herd. And if you don't realize you're in trouble until you're in trouble, then you have no way of getting out.
O'BRIEN: It would be another year before Jefferey Mathis's body was found in a woods miles from his home. His mother would join Camille Bell in forming a committee to confront the city's leaders.
BELL: The reaction of the police was that we were overreacting and that there was no serial killer.
O'BRIEN: Even though, by now, six black children were dead. Four others were missing.
BELL: Perhaps we were, like, distraught parents that really needed everyone's sympathy, but nobody needed to do anything.
O'BRIEN: For years, it has been a dirty little secret among the press and the police: Deaths of blacks draw less attention than deaths of whites.
BELL: Nobody cared. So, you could have several killings go on, and, if the people were poor, then no one discovered there was a serial killing. If you were black and poor, then, really, nobody looked, especially the black and poor and Southern.
O'BRIEN: Police were slow to recognize these deaths were different. Many of the bodies were left in the woods, far from home, unlike most murder victims, who are found where they fall.
BELL: Unsolved murders of children is very rare. If a 9-year-old got killed, it was because somebody slapped him across the room, he hit his head, and he died.
O'BRIEN: Police did not create a task force until a year after the first murders began. FBI profiler Roy Hazelwood came down to help. Three detectives drove him around the city and turned into Jefferey Mathis's neighborhood.
ROY HAZELWOOD, FBI PROFILER: As soon as we turned on to that street, everything stopped. The guy cutting the grass stopped. The guys playing dominoes on the porch stopped. I said, what's going on? I said, everything stopped. That's -- he said, laughingly, that's because we have a honky in the car.
O'BRIEN: John Glover, who took over as FBI chief in Atlanta that summer, says that's why he and Hazelwood decided the killer had to be black.
JOHN GLOVER, FORMER FBI CHIEF IN ATLANTA: The killer is someone who is invisible in the black community. And who is invisible in the black community but another black person?
O'BRIEN: Malcolm Harris (ph) was one of the first task force detectives. He knew it had to be someone who went unnoticed.
MALCOLM HARRIS (ph), DETECTIVE: We felt like it was somebody who could come in the neighborhood and get these children and not draw attention to themselves.
O'BRIEN: The question of which race struck a raw nerve. It had been only a dozen years since the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King. On the surface, Atlanta was a well-integrated city. Beneath the surface, it remained separate and unequal.
HARRIS: My prayer and the prayers of everybody in there was, we wanted -- we wanted the person to be black. And the reason why you wanted him to be black, I knew what it would do to this town if it had been a white person or somebody else of another race.
O'BRIEN: In the black community in the early '80s, a black serial killer was unheard of. All the classic serial killers were white, never black.
HARRIS: It didn't mean you didn't have one now. O'BRIEN: Today, black serial killers are not rare. In 2009, here in
Cleveland, as well as in Milwaukee and Los Angeles, each time the accused serial killer turned out to be African-American.
Dr. Eric Hickey is a psychologist who keeps track of serial killers.
ERIC HICKEY, PSYCHOLOGIST: Overall, in my study, one out of every five serial killers is African-American. In the past -- since 1995, over 40 percent are African-American. We're finally saying, you know what? Blacks do this, too.
O'BRIEN: There were whites who fed the fear in Atlanta, as FBI Chief John Glover had moved into this upper-class white neighborhood. His 12-year-old son was playing outside one afternoon.
GLOVER: Some guy in a pickup truck -- he was out in the yard, in our side yard -- we were on a corner -- we lived in -- had a corner lot -- you know, said, "I'm going to get you, nigger," as he was driving by.
O'BRIEN: Kasim Reed, seen in these childhood photos, was only 10 when the first two bodies were found in the woods close to his home in the summer of 1979.
KASIM REED (D), MAYOR OF ATLANTA, GEORGIA: My life did change.
O'BRIEN (on camera): How so?
REED: Not out as late as -- as you used to be, not able to ride your bike unaccompanied.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): In 2010, Reed would become the mayor of Atlanta. But, back then, as the youngest boy in his family, his teenage brothers were his protectors.
REED: And I didn't move without my brothers, now, for about a year.
O'BRIEN (on camera): The bulk of the victims were boys like you.
REED: You're right.
O'BRIEN: Your age.
REED: You're right.
O'BRIEN: Black boys.
O'BRIEN: Did you personally feel afraid?
REED: I can't honestly say that I really felt afraid, except for at moments. You would have a van slow down, and everybody was very mindful of vans at the time.
HARRIS: People were suspicious of everybody. And they were afraid. And the children -- you had children walking the street. Car go by, you could see some of them were in fear.
O'BRIEN: And for good reason: The murders were about to increase to a body almost every week.
ANNOUNCER: Coming up: a creature of the night.
WILLIAMS: Being an ex-news reporter and all, you know, nighttime is me. That's the time I'm out most of the time.
ANNOUNCER: And a mystery within a mystery.
KATHY ANDREWS (ph), STUDIO CO-OWNER: He walked into the back of the studio, and he had horrible scratches on his arms. And he said he had fallen into a bush.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): So many of the children who died were poor, who earned spending money carrying groceries, running errands for others, or, like Lubie Geter, peddling car deodorizers outside this supermarket on New Year's weekend, 1981. His mother worried about him going off alone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said he was a big boy, that they had to catch him first.
O'BRIEN: Lubie was a good student, a sophomore in high school. A witness at the shopping center that day saw Lubie with a man and helped a police artist draw this sketch, a man with a baseball cap, perhaps a scar on his cheek. Lubie never came home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe he had been kidnapped.
O'BRIEN: Police searched the woods around Atlanta. They did not find Lubie. Instead, police found two other bodies, young boys who had disappeared 10 miles and a month apart, yet both left here at the same dumping ground, the number of known dead now 15.
The unsolved murders of so many children had become front-page news around the nation and the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the reward.
O'BRIEN: The city announced a $100,000 reward, soon to grow to $500,000. The task force was swamped with sketches of suspects, none of them alike, many suggested by psychics.
At the state crime lab, Larry Peterson was sifting through thousands of fibers, nylon, rayon, acrylic, acetate.
(on camera): Is it like looking for a needle in a haystack or smaller? (CROSSTALK)
PETERSON: It's like looking for multiple needles in multiple haystacks.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Then, in January 1981, a breakthrough: Peterson realized they were seeing one green carpet fiber with a unique shape. This is a cross-section of that fiber magnified many times.
PETERSON: This particular fiber had two very, very large lobes and one short lobe.
O'BRIEN: The lobes are the three ends of the boomerang shape.
PETERSON: The shape was the most distinctive feature of the fiber.
O'BRIEN: He showed me a slide taken from another carpet.
PETERSON: This is a single tuft from the carpet cut in cross-section.
O'BRIEN (on camera): Yes, I can't tell that's green.
(voice-over): Even putting the tiny fibers under the microscope didn't help me.
(on camera): How can you tell what color this is? Because, in this, this green carpet, because of that light green, looks very whitish.
PETERSON: The color seen microscopically is not going to be identical to what overall carpet would be.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Instead, an even more sophisticated microscope...
PETERSON: So, let me just open this up
O'BRIEN: ... can separate colors to identify a specific fiber. We took another look.
(on camera): Oh. Now you're talking.
(voice-over): Now Peterson knew what to look for.
PETERSON: When I was looking at the fiber at first, I had no idea who had made it. I just knew it was very distinctive, and I would recognize it instantly.
O'BRIEN: But he didn't know where to find it.
Wayne Williams was not yet on anyone's radar. He had freelanced as a TV cameraman who shot fires and overnight news. He told us:
WILLIAMS: You know, I know the streets of Atlanta. I have been around a while. Being an ex-news reporter and all, you know, nighttime is me. That's the time I'm out most of the time. O'BRIEN: Now almost 23, a wannabe music producer, he was trying to
form a singing group modeling after the Jackson 5. In fact, the afternoon Lubie Geter disappeared, Williams says this receipt shows he had an alibi, auditioning young singers from 4:30 to 8:30 that evening.
ANDREWS: The studio was a small demo studio.
O'BRIEN: Kathy Andrews (ph) was co-owner of that studio.
ANDREWS: To my best recollection, he auditioned young kids for a group that never existed. They were roughly as young as 8 and as old -- for the kids, they were as old as 11 or 12.
O'BRIEN: Now living in another state, Kathy Andrews did not want her face shown because of what she saw on another day at her studio.
ANDREWS: At one point in time when Wayne came from one of the sessions, he walked into the back of the studio, and he had horrible scratches on his arms.
O'BRIEN: Deep and painful, crisscrossing both arms.
ANDREWS: It was more this way and that way and that way and that way and that way. And they were angry-looking. And when I looked at him, the first words out of my mouth was, oh, Wayne, what happened? That looks awful. And he said he had fallen into a bush.
O'BRIEN: Fifteen-year-old Terry Pue died late that January, his body dropped by the roadside in a rural county 20 miles from home. He had been strangled.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whoever killed him, he had to tussle with him because he had scratches all over him.
ANDREWS: It gives me chills down my spine still.
O'BRIEN: To this day, Kathy Andrews does not believe Wayne's explanation.
ANDREWS: He did not fall in a bush. That was after he realized that it was fairly obvious, I mean, and I don't know what else could have caused that kind of wound on his arm.
O'BRIEN: The intervals between murders were shrinking, 19 days from Lubie Geter's disappearance until Terry Pue's death, then 15 days until the next victim, soon 13, then 11, and, before long, a body a week.
FBI profiler Roy Hazelwood says, this is not unusual for serial killers.
ROY HAZELWOOD, FBI PROFILER: They come to believe that they, in fact, are almost immune to mistakes, if you will. And they can take greater risks because it's more exciting and because they're so superior they don't have to worry about the inferior police catching them.
O'BRIEN: After a month, Lubie Geter's body would be found in the woods. The boy left naked except for scraps of underwear. The medical examiner would testify Geter apparently had been killed by, quote, "a choke hold around the neck, a forearm across the neck." It's a question we'll have reason to ask Wayne Williams by the end of all of this.
(on camera): It's actually a very simple question. Can you kill someone with a choke hold? And when you were 19 years old --
WAYNE WILLIAMS, SUSPECT IN ATLANTA CHILD MURDERS: You probably could. You probably could under the right circumstances.
O'BRIEN: I know for a fact I could not.
ANNOUNCER: When we return, the boy who wanted to catch a killer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The body was indeed another victim of Atlanta's child killer or killers.
SHEILA BALTAZAR, STEPMOTHER OF PATRICK BALTAZAR: I just know right away it was his body. Oh, my God.
ANNOUNCER: And later, a failed lie detector test.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It surprised him that he didn't beat that polygraph test. He was convinced he could beat a polygraph test.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's yet another twist in the missing and murdered children case.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Atlanta is a city of frustrations and fears.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the number of missing and murdered children grow --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The body was indeed another victim of Atlanta's child killer or killers.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Patrick Baltazar was the kid who was convinced he could catch a killer.
SHEILA BALTAZAR, STEPMOTHER OF PATRICK BALTAZAR: He was like, man, I want to find this killer and get this reward money. And I'm going to buy my mom a house and I'm going to do this and I'm going to find this killer.
O'BRIEN: His stepmother, Sheila Baltazar, was worried.
BALTAZAR: For a 10, 11-year-old child to be talking like that, that was just like, wow, you know, where is his mind at?
O'BRIEN: Patrick was a latch-key child living unsupervised with an older brother in a project apartment near downtown.
BALTAZAR: He was very streetwise.
O'BRIEN: He stayed out late at night, often at the Omni Center, now the headquarters of CNN, but back then a hotel complex with an indoor skating rink and a game room for kids.
BALTAZAR: And that's where he spent a lot of his time at, at the games arcade.
O'BRIEN: Wayne Williams was known to frequent the Omni, passing out these fliers as a talent scout to offer auditions to boys from age 11 on up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fifteen kids are dead. Two others are officially missing and listed as --
O'BRIEN: By early February, 1981, more than a dozen young African- American boys had been found dead, many dumped in the woods around Atlanta.
BALTAZAR: I was very fearful. My God.
O'BRIEN: Sheila Baltazar pleaded to send Patrick back home to the rest of his family in rural Louisiana.
BALTAZAR: If I had somewhere to send my son, I would have sent my son.
O'BRIEN: One evening, a white man in a big car appeared to threaten Patrick and a small friend.
BALTAZAR: The little boy said that Patrick said, man, that might be the killer.
O'BRIEN: Patrick used a pay phone to call police. He told them, "a man was chasing me and my friend in a brown Cadillac.
BALTAZAR: Well, actually, they thought it was a prank phone call. They didn't send a car out.
O'BRIEN: This is a sketch the other boy provided to police after Patrick was dead. Two weeks later, on February 6th, Patrick stopped by the restaurant where his father worked to ask for money, then walked back toward the Omni. He never made it home that night.
BALTAZAR: I'm like, he didn't come home? Oh, my God. That was the first thing that popped in my head. Missing. Murdered. Oh, my God.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Atlanta missing persons bureau continue their hunt for this missing child, 11-year-old --
BALTAZAR: One day seemed like it was a week. That was the longest search in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was almost 2:00 p.m. when maintenance man Ishmael Strickland (ph) found the lifeless figure of a young black boy.
O'BRIEN: On the seventh day, a maintenance man spotted a body tossed down into the woods behind a parking lot at a suburban office complex.
JOSEPH BURTON, MEDICAL EXAMINER: The bank was fairly steep.
O'BRIEN: Medical examiner Joseph Burton had to hold on to a rope to get down to the scene.
BURTON: He had a ligature mark on his neck like if somebody had a ligature and they were behind you or off to the side behind you and they closed their hands or fists together and pulled the ligature, basically.
O'BRIEN: In other words, killed from behind.
BURTON: Most likely, yes.
LARRY PETERSON, STATE CRIME LAB SCIENTIST: All right. Let me place another sample on this side.
O'BRIEN: State crime lab scientist Larry Peterson attended the autopsy.
PETERSON: I can recall at one autopsy pulling a fiber off of one of the victims. It was a green carpet fiber and mounted the sample on the slide, went over and looked under the microscope. I went -- it's the same one.
O'BRIEN (on camera): You knew right away?
PETERSON: I knew right then.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It because apparent that the body was indeed another victim of Atlanta's child killer or killers.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Local television carried these pictures live from the crime scene.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As it was studied, it became apparent it was one of the three children listed as missing. We're told that the child's body again --
O'BRIEN: Sheila Baltazar got a call from her mother.
BALTAZAR: She say, they found another body. She say, I really feel like this is Patrick's body here, you know. Oh, my God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But if he is one of the three missing children, the chances are strong that he was 11-year-old Patrick Baltazar who disappeared one week --
O'BRIEN: Mrs. Baltazar and her husband went to the funeral home to identify their child.
BALTAZAR: They told me he had struggled, you know, for his life. And seeing the print -- just you know, the rope print across his neck, all the way around in the front.
O'BRIEN: At Patrick Baltazar's funeral, she would insist on an open casket.
BALTAZAR: I just wanted the world to see that this child could have been anybody's child.
O'BRIEN: Patrick's fifth grade classmates wrote a poem read at his funeral, this from local TV coverage that day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Patrick Baltazar, our schoolmate, you came to school though sometimes late, but you were never mean to anyone. You tried to help people and thought it was fun. Then one night, one terrible night, you didn't come home, not even at daylight. Something's happened to that boy. The people said Patrick is missing. Is Patrick dead? We cried some, and we bowed our heads.
VOICE OF DIANNE ALEXANDER, CLASSMATE: And hope for your safety and prayers were said. Oh, God, please bring back that missing boy. When he returns, we will shout for joy. The police and the news people came and went. In all our hearts was no content. No one could rest until we knew whatever, whatever had happened to you.
Then one day your body was found out in the woods on the cold, cold ground. Someone killed you and dumped you there. It was a mad cruel person who did not care. There was not a word about how you died. It is no wonder that we all cried. Patrick, we miss you and wish you knew how much your school mates grieve for you. .
ANNOUNCER: Just ahead -- the Klan under suspicion.
BOB INGRAM, GBI: It was an entire family of brothers that were involved in the Klan.
ANNOUNCER: And then, a disappearing nylon cord.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could have been the murder weapon, as far as I knew.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening. I'm Anderson Cooper live from New Orleans. The "Atlanta Child Murders" continues in a moment. But first a "360" bulletin.
Federal researchers today doubled their estimates of how much oil has been gushing from BP's ruptured well into the gulf. They now say it's between 20,000 to 40,000 barrels a day. In response, here's what BP said. Quote, "BP fully supported this effort, providing the scientific team with data including a considerable amount of high resolution video."
Well, sure, but this was also video they'd had for weeks and only shared when pressured to cough it up.
At the White House today, President Obama met with families of the 11 men who were killed on the Deepwater Horizon. A short time later, I talked with some of them about what if any contact they've had from BP.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERRI REVETTE, HUSBAND KILLED ON DEEPWATER HORIZON: There's been no communication between BP and myself.
COOPER: Wait a minute. They haven't called you? They haven't sent you a card?
REVETTE: No. No phone call. Nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We'll have much more from some of the relatives of the 11 men killed on the Deepwater Horizon. Tonight, all the latest news from the gulf on "360" at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. That's the latest from the gulf.
The "Atlanta Child Murders" continues after the short break.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): In February 1981, a troublesome tip reached the police. A man involved in the Ku Klux Klan could be Atlanta's serial killer.
BOB INGRAM, GBI: Atlanta was about to explode, and here was information potentially that the Klan could have been doing this.
O'BRIEN: Bob Ingram with the GBI, Georgia's Bureau of Investigation, got the case.
INGRAM: It was an entire family of brothers that were involved in the Klan that were the focus of this particular intelligence information.
O'BRIEN: An informant said one brother had threatened Lubie Geter, the child found dead only weeks before. The Klan associate lived here on a dead-end street in the railroad town of Mountain View on the outskirts of Atlanta.
INGRAM: We're tapping telephones. We heard a lot of rhetoric. We heard a lot of racial slurs.
O'BRIEN: On one wiretap, the detectives heard this said. "Go find you another little kid?" The GBI followed the four brothers for almost two months.
INGRAM: These family members were under surveillance at that time, physical surveillance where we had an eyeball on them.
O'BRIEN: In those two months, six more black youths would disappear and die. Detectives saw nothing to link the Klan to them.
BOB BUFFINGTON, HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: If somebody was in there with a van or two or three men who -- you know, to grab somebody and dump them in the back of the van, people would have noticed if they were white.
O'BRIEN: The brothers were called in. They took lie detector tests and passed.
INGRAM: They were polygraphed and cleared as to their involvement in the killing of Atlanta's children.
O'BRIEN: Clearing the Klan didn't stop the murders. Jo-Jo Bell was one of the victims who vanished during the surveillance. He used to hang out at this seafood carry-out place. Manager Richard Harp.
RICHARD HARP, MANAGER: You come here and do anything, I'd give him a dollar just long enough to get money to go to a show or get money to -- you know, to buy stuff at the store or something like that.
O'BRIEN: Jo-Jo Bell, unrelated to Yusef Bell, came by Cap'n Peg's one last time.
CARP: Around 3:30, 4:00 Monday, he came by and stuck his head in the door. Said, Richard, I'm going to shoot basketballs, I'll see you later. Threw his hand up, went on up the street.
O'BRIEN: To a school yard basketball court like this. This witness, Lugene Laster (ph) knew Jo-Jo and so him leave the game. He said Jo- Jo left in a station wagon that looked like this. Laster testified, "He got in the car. Got in Wayne's car."
In court, Laster will identify Wayne Williams as the driver.
O'BRIEN (on camera): Lugene Laster.
WAYNE WILLIAMS, SUSPECT IN ATLANTA CHILD MURDERS: OK.
O'BRIEN: He's pretty much an eye witness, said that you gave a ride to Jo-Jo Bell --
O'BRIEN: -- in your station wagon.
O'BRIEN: Did you?
WILLIAMS: No, I did not. O'BRIEN: You never gave a ride to Jo-Jo Bell.
WILLIAMS: No, I did not.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Williams did not deny he was the driver. He instead insisted his passenger had to be someone else. Jo-Jo Bell was never to be seen again.
SAMMY DAVID JR., SINGER: It would be horrendous if another child dies, period.
O'BRIEN: A week later, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra came to Atlanta for a concert to benefit the children. The photographer up on stage, that's Wayne's father, Homer Williams, with the black newspaper "Atlanta World."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How come you got no tuxedo on there on the stage looking like that there?
O'BRIEN: Backstage with Sammy Davis Jr. in a photo which made the front page, that's future Mayor Kasim Reed.
MAYOR KASIM REED (D), ATLANTA: I remember that. It was so cool meeting Frank Sinatra.
O'BRIEN: As a young child, Reed would help the volunteers searching Atlanta's woods every Saturday.
REED: We literally would walk through wooded areas chaperoned and we would walk for a period of time until about an hour before nightfall.
O'BRIEN: But now, a new twist in the murders. Patrick Baltazar, the 20th victim, would be the last child to turn up in a wooded area. A day or two later, an official would tell reporters fibers and dog hairs were being collected from the victim's clothing. The next child to die would be found in a river wearing nothing but underpants. Fewer clues now for Larry Peterson.
PETERSON: We're talking maybe a dozen or dozens of fibers as opposed to hundreds or potentially 1,000 fibers.
O'BRIEN: The 13-year-old victim was found beneath this bridge over the South River in Atlanta's suburbs. A driver crossing that bridge earlier in the week saw a man leaning over the railing. It turned out to be the same afternoon Jo-Jo Bell disappeared. At trial, the witness said the man was Wayne Williams. Jo-Jo's body would not be found for seven more weeks, until Easter Sunday. It had floated far down the South River, almost into another county.
BURTON: He also had nothing on but underwear basically.
O'BRIEN: Medical examiner Joseph Burton went out in a boat to retrieve the boy.
BURTON: We've got the body wrapped in a sheet. I'm the one with the shirt off. O'BRIEN: Dr. Burton ruled both Jo-Jo and the other boy found in the river had been asphyxiated.
BURTON: We didn't have any history of either one of these boys swimming in the South River in their underwear.
O'BRIEN: Other bodies were now washing up in the Chattahoochee River to the west and the north of Atlanta. Five victims in that river in the next six weeks.
MIKE MCCOMAS, FBI AGENT: I said, you know, if I was doing that, I'd be throwing them off the bridge.
O'BRIEN: FBI agent Mike McComas grew up along a river in Tennessee. He knew if something were to float on downstream, it had to be dropped in the middle of a river. McComas suggested the bridge stakeouts.
JOHN GLOVER, FBI AGENT IN CHARGE: We looked at remote places, dark places. We believed it would be at nighttime as opposed to daytime.
O'BRIEN: The FBI and police began night watches at 14 bridges over the Chattahoochee and South Rivers. The stakeouts were to last four weeks. Nothing until the very end.
GLOVER: We, at that point, were ready for that to be our last night. And Wayne Williams showed up that night.
O'BRIEN: Just before 3:00 a.m., the station wagon drove on to the bridge.
MCCOMAS: He waited a couple more hours we might not have been there.
GLOVER: Otherwise, we would have missed him.
ANNOUNCER: Next, the night on the bridge.
O'BRIEN (on camera): You said, I know this is about those boys, isn't it?
WILLIAMS: Correct. That's what I said.
O'BRIEN: Pretty damning statement, don't you think?
O'BRIEN (voice-over): That night on the bridge, Wayne Williams says police made him the scapegoat because he was black.
WAYNE WILLIAMS: Soledad, when this case happened, if those police had arrested a white man, Atlanta would have erupted as well as several major cities. You possibly would have had another race war.
O'BRIEN: No, says the FBI chief.
GLOVER: Atlanta Police Department's side, they were looking for a white guy. So why would all of a sudden the black guy be considered a scapegoat?
O'BRIEN: Williams disputes almost everything police witnesses said about that night.
(on camera): What happened that night on the bridge?
WILLIAMS: OK. In the first place -- and I'm not being facetious -- but nothing happened on the bridge. That's the whole misconception.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): As he tells it, there was no splash. He never stopped and didn't turn around.
(on camera): So you never stopped on the bridge?
WILLIAMS: No, I didn't.
O'BRIEN: You didn't throw trash?
O'BRIEN: You didn't throw anything?
WILLIAMS: No, I did not.
O'BRIEN: You didn't throw a body?
WILLIAMS: Definitely not a body, no.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): His story.
WILLIAMS: I crossed the bridge. I turned off briefly after I crossed the bridge at what I call a liquor store.
O'BRIEN: Williams said he pulled into the parking lot only to look up the phone number of a singer he was trying to locate at that hour.
WILLIAMS: I turned back on the highway. I went to a Starvin Marvin (ph) store. I used the telephone and I came back.
O'BRIEN: The call didn't go through.
WILLIAMS: I got some recording this number is not in service. And I said this is a prank.
O'BRIEN: This is the closest thing he had to an address he said he had for a singer he said was Cheryl Johnson. The FBI looked hard and could never find her.
JOHN GLOVER, FBI AGENT: It says to me that Cheryl Johnson didn't exist and he made it up.
O'BRIEN: Williams says only after that call from a gas station did he turn around to cross back over the bridge again. Police would stop him moments later. You said, I know this is about those boys, isn't it?
WILLIAMS: Correct. That's what I said.
O'BRIEN: Pretty damning statement, don't you think?
WILLIAMS: No. I mean, the perception in Atlanta was at the time kids were missing. And I think if I'm not mistaken, the perception was a lot of young males were missing. And that's what I asked. I said, this is about those kids or boys or something like that, isn't it?
O'BRIEN: Remember what FBI agent Mike McComas said he saw when he got to the scene?
MCCOMAS: Saw a black male. He had on a baseball hat.
O'BRIEN: This is the sketch provided by the witness who saw Lubie Geter talking to a man the day Lubie disappeared and died. McComas had never seen this until we came back to show it to him nearly 30 years later.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a real strong resemblance to the person that I talked to, Wayne Williams. He had on a baseball cap. His hair was in an afro. So this just looks like him.
O'BRIEN: Williams agreed to let McComas search his station wagon. On the floor, in the front of the back seat, he saw --
MCCOMAS: There was a nylon cord. The best that I could describe the nylon cord was a ski rope type, the woven type. And it was my guess about 24 inches long.
O'BRIEN: Williams denies there was any such cord.
WILLIAMS: Because if that rope had been in the station wagon that night, I'm sure they would have taken it.
MCCOMAS: The fact that I didn't confiscate it doesn't make it go away. It was there.
O'BRIEN: The nylon cord would never be seen again.
MCCOMAS: Could have been the murder weapon, as far as I knew.
O'BRIEN: Yet, FBI supervisors decided to let Wayne Williams go that night.
GLOVER: We first of all didn't have a body. So -- secondly, there was no one who saw Wayne Williams outside of his car. There was no one that saw him throw anything overboard.
O'BRIEN: Two days later, only a mile downstream from that bridge, another body. After two years, one suspect now, Wayne Williams. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we come back, the lie detector test.
RICHARD RACKLEFF, POLYGRAPH EXAMINER: It surprised him that he didn't beat that polygraph test. He was convinced he could beat a polygraph test. I said some reaction like, I'll be darned. You're the guy we've been looking for for two years.
O'BRIEN: The second day after Wayne Williams was seen on the Chattahoochee River Bridge, the body of Nathaniel Cater washed up downstream. He was a down on his luck drunk, 28-years-old, but small, weighing under 150 pounds.
Again, the medical examiner said Cater could have been killed, quote, "with a choke hold, trapping the neck in the crook of the arm." His would be the last body found in the Atlanta murders, the 27th male victim.
At Cater's funeral, Wayne Williams' father, Homer, took this photo for the "Atlanta World" newspaper. On June 3rd, the FBI brought Wayne in for a long night of questioning. Wayne agreed to a lie detector test.
RACKLEFF: He was as composed and calm as you can get. Got 26 bodies out there in the woods and rivers and he's sitting there in total control.
O'BRIEN: Richard Rackleff was the FBI polygraph examiner.
RACKLEFF: I said I don't dare what you threw in the bridge, I don't care what you threw in the water, if it wasn't a little boy's body, you won't defy this test.
O'BRIEN: He told Williams in advance what he would ask him.
RACKLEFF: Did you kill Nathaniel Cater? Did you kill him that night that you were on the bridge and did you throw Nathaniel Cater into the river? And when I ran that test, I was like, wow, this is it.
O'BRIEN: Wayne Williams flunked all three questions.
RACKLFEF: I said, well, this test reflected that you did kill Nathaniel Cater and it was his body you threw off the bridge that night.
O'BRIEN: The polygraph measures sweating, the heartbeat, blood pressure, all rise with tension.
RACKLEFF: You breathe a little faster. You have a hard time getting your breath. You sweat a little more. He did all those.
O'BRIEN: Wayne Williams took the test three times. He failed each time.
RACKLEFF: I said, some reaction like I'll be darned, you're the guy we've been looking for for two years. It surprised him that he didn't beat that polygraph test. He was convinced he could beat a polygraph test. He sat there and studied it and he said what's this question right here? I said that's pretty good. Did you cause the death of Nathaniel Cater? Then he said, what's this question? I said did you throw his body into the Chattahoochee River.
O'BRIEN: With the media waiting outside the FBI, the mayor's spokesman, Angelo Fuster was called in to handle the press.
ANGELO FUSTER, SPOKESMAN, MAYOR: And in come Homer Williams.
O'BRIEN: Fuster asked Homer, a press photographer, why he was inside the building. Trying to get a scoop on the suspect?
FUSTER: And he said, no, that's my son. I thought, oh, jeez.
O'BRIEN: Homer told Fuster.
FUSTER: They detained him and impounded my car for littering. They detained him for littering is what said. I said that doesn't -- this is at night. I said littering? He said, yeah, he was driving over this bridge and stopped to throw some garbage and they rushed him and stopped him. At that point I said, Homer, I don't think you need to talk to me anymore.
O'BRIEN: We asked Wayne Williams about throwing garbage off the bridge. He denied his father ever said that. Your father said you stopped to get rid of some trash.
WILLIAMS: No, he -- my father never said that. I never said that and my father never said it.
O'BRIEN: While father and son were inside the FBI, evidence technicians were combing the Williams home. The FBI's top fiber expert, Harold Deadman, led the search. In Wayne's bedroom he took clippings from a purple bedspread and from a yellow blanket.
HAROLD DEADMAN, FBI FIBER EXPERT: The yellow blanket was located under Wayne Williams' bed.
O'BRIEN: On the floor, a green carpet. This is a blow-up of those carpet fibers.
DEADMAN: They're the only company to produce a fiber like this.
O'BRIEN: But Larry Peterson was still in the dark.
LARRY PETERSON, FORENSICS: I had no idea there was a bridge incident.
O'BRIEN: He had been called to the FBI office to help search this station wagon. But not told why. Then he spotted FBI techs returning from their search and so he went out to the home to snip fibers for himself.
PETERSON: Saw all the green carpet.
O'BRIEN: Did you feel, this is it? PETERSON: You know, I really didn't.
O'BRIEN: Because it was a middle class home, a young man living with his parents. But Peterson thought --
PETERSON: I'm going to run this back to the lab and just look. I started with the green carpet. Once I put that sample under the microscope, I mean, I knew instantly that that was it.
O'BRIEN: You knew that they had the killer?
PETERSON: I knew that was it. And I -- you know, I had made hundreds and hundreds of comparisons to carpeting in various suspects' environments before and nothing was even close, until that night.
O'BRIEN: Did you stand up from your microscope and scream, hallelujah, we've caught the guy?
PETERSON: I really did just want to say, oh, my god!
O'BRIEN: Still, Wayne Williams was allowed to go home that night.
WILLIAMS: And I make a couple of other errands so I was in the area.
O'BRIEN: In the morning Wayne Williams called in reporters and TV crews who agreed not to show his face.
WILLIAMS: He asked what was dropped in the river? Nothing.
O'BRIEN: He acknowledged he failed a lie detector test. Then asked about the victims, Wayne Williams said this.
WILLIAMS: Some of these kids are in places they don't have no places being at certain times of the day and night. Some of them don't have no kind of home supervision. They're just running around in the streets wild. I'm saying when you're doing that, that's not giving anybody a license to kill but you're opening yourself up for all kinds of things.
O'BRIEN: We asked Wayne what he meant. When you say that's not giving anybody a license to kill but you're opening yourself up for all kinds of things --
WILLIAMS: My point is very simple. All right. If you're out roaming the streets like -- not all of these but some of these victims were -- you put yourself in a position for bad things to happen.
O'BRIEN: For days, the district attorney was reluctant to take Wayne Williams to court based on fibers alone. While he hesitated, the FBI, police and media all kept a watch on Wayne. In this parking lot one day, he showed an angry face to a CNN camera crew.
WILLIAMS: Well, hey, I'm telling you to quit following me because I'm saying at this point you're following me and you're on private property and if I were you I'd get the hell off it. O'BRIEN: Finally, on Father's Day evening, 1981, detectives arrive to
arrest Wayne Williams for the murder of Nathaniel Cater. Once he disappeared in the back of this police car, Williams would never be free again, to this day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ahead, the trial and the blow-up on the witness stand.
WILLIAMS: I was probably my own worst enemy. I could see almost the shock in the jurors' faces.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they said, you want the real Wayne Williams, you've got him, I think the jury understood that.
O'BRIEN: Wayne Williams would go on trial at the start of 1982. Testimony would last almost two months. It would be a trial like no other ever before. A case built on fibers -- no fingerprints, no murder weapon, no apparent motive.
Now, remember, you're the jury and you can cast your vote at the end of this hour on CNN.com. Three choices -- guilty, innocent or simply not proven. This time, the verdict's yours. Mary Welcome was Wayne Williams' defense attorney.
MARY WELCOME, ATTORNEY: Good morning. Good morning. How are you?
O'BRIEN: This was her first murder trial. What was he like when you met him?
WELCOME: A most unlikely killer.
O'BRIEN: Yeah? Why?
WELCOME: Because he just didn't appear to be the kind of person that could strangle anyone or have the strength to.
O'BRIEN: To her, Wayne Williams seemed gentle, child-like.
WELCOME: One day I left him in jail. I said, Wayne, is there anything I can bring? Would you like anything? He said, would you bring me some bubble gum?
O'BRIEN: Williams was charged with and tried for only two murders -- Nathaniel Cater and Jimmy Payne, both adults found in the same area of the Chattahoochee River. Cater's body was nude, but his hair was caked with mud.
PETERSON: Digging through that silt, I was able to recover dog hair and fibers that were close to his scalp.
O'BRIEN: The dog hair was consistent with Sheba, the Wayne Williams family dog. In Cater's hair was one of those unusual green carpet fibers. Under a microscope, Peterson could see the boomerang shape just like those in the Williams carpet. This is an actual piece of that carpet which the FBI's Harold Deadman said was quite rare.
DEADMAN: It's got an unusual carpet fiber. It was manufactured a limited amount of time. It was a 10-year-old carpet.
O'BRIEN: On Jimmy Payne, the other victim, Deadman found yellow rayon fibers stuck to his cotton shorts, fibers consistent with the blanket under Wayne's bed.
DEADMAN: I personally took the cutting from the yellow blanket that was under the bed.
O'BRIEN: This evidence slide contains the yellow blanket fibers that Deadman clipped that night, magnified by our own video camera. But when Larry Peterson had returned that June for a second search a couple weeks later --
PETERSON: There was no yellow blanket to be found that I could find.
O'BRIEN: There are a lot of things in your case that disappeared, a lot of disappearances. Yellow blanket.
WILLIAMS: In the first place, there was never a yellow blanket.
O'BRIEN: There were fibers of a yellow blanket.
WILLIAMS: There were fibers alleged to have come from a yellow blanket. Nobody has been able to produce the yellow blanket because quite simply -- and I'm just being very blunt with you -- there was no yellow blanket.
O'BRIEN: Or maybe you got rid of it between the first time they searched and they came back.
WILLIAMS: Seems like to me if I was a police officer I would have confiscated the blanket, too. It doesn't make sense.
O'BRIEN: The prosecution was allowed to bring in 10 other deaths -- among them Patrick Baltazar, Eric Middlebrooks, Jo Jo Bell, to try to show a pattern.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a chart showing fibers that were recovered from the body of Patrick Baltazar.
O'BRIEN: Fibers consistent with that blanket with Wayne Williams' bedspread, the green carpet, hair from Wayne's dog, plus a leather jacket.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The jacket as I recall was hanging in his closet.
O'BRIEN: And Deadman told the jury two human hairs were found inside Patrick Baltazar's shirt.
DEADMAN: These two hairs were concerned with originating from Williams.
O'BRIEN: Then there was Eric Middlebrooks and the fiber stuck to his tennis shoe. This is a blow-up of those red fibers. The same kind were in a car Williams was driving that year.
DEADMAN: This puts Middlebrooks both in the interior and -- of the '79 Ford and the trunk of the '79 Ford.
O'BRIEN: Did you ever meet any of the young men who were victims?
WILLIAMS: No, I did not.
O'BRIEN: Never met them once?
O'BRIEN: Not once?
PETERSON: It's incalculable the odds that it's not, that they were not in contact with the fiber.
O'BRIEN: The fiber evidence is your biggest obstacle.
WILLIAMS: That fiber evidence may well have been manipulated in this case point blank and simple because they had a suspect which was Wayne and that manipulation no doubt continued even after my trial up until this point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were just too many fibers placed on too many bodies.
O'BRIEN: Mike Dearham (ph) in blue seen here the night of the verdict was one of the jurors.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would the chances be of finding these same -- all of these fibers? The chances would be just astronomical.
O'BRIEN: This witness, Robert Henry, did place Williams with the very last victim, Nathaniel Cater. Henry worked with Cater. He said he saw him leaving this theater with Wayne Williams on the night of the bridge incident. Henry has no doubt even today about what he saw.
ROBERT HENRY, WITNESS: They were holding hands, you know, like male and female. Well, if you're holding hands with one of my co-workers and both of you are males, what am I supposed to do, turn my head? The next time I saw him, he was in the courtroom.
WILLIAMS: What's up people?
O'BRIEN: When Wayne Williams took the stand, he swore he never met Nathaniel Cater. On the evening Henry said he saw them, Wayne testified he was home, sick and asleep in bed. His mother and father, now deceased, backed him up. Homer Williams said he had the white station wagon until almost midnight. Under cross-examination, in his third day on the stand, Wayne Williams blew up at prosecutor Jack Mallard.
JACK MALLARD, PROSECUTOR: that morning, he was a complete different person. Immediately he started attacking. He came out of the chute like a bull. When he said, "You want the real Wayne Williams? You've got him," I think all of us -- the jury understood that, yeah.
WILLIAMS: I was probably my own worst enemy. I was an arrogant, bus- headed idiot at the time and I played right into these people's hands. I could see almost the shock in the jurors 'faces. My god, is this the same Wayne that was up here yesterday? I could see that.
O'BRIEN: Patrick Baltazar's stepmother was watching in court that day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm like, this man got to be crazy. This man -- I mean, he -- it's like he's saying, yeah, I killed them, but you better prove it. Can you prove it? He was doing everything he can to outsmart everybody. And it was like, I did it but can you prove I did it?
O'BRIEN: Camille Bell, Yusef's mother, believed Wayne to be innocent. She feels that last day on the witness stand convicted him.
CAMILLE BELL, YUSEF'S MOTHER: and then when he flared off, then they were ready to say, well, OK, so he does have fire.
O'BRIEN: When you got angry with the prosecutor, you said, you're a drop shot.
WILLIAMS: I called him a drop shot.
O'BRIEN: What's a drop shot? What does that mean?
WILLIAMS: Quite simply in our vernacular, a drop shot is a guy who is not worth much of anything. Just drop him and shoot him and get him out of the way. In other words, you're useless.
O'BRIEN: We reminded Wayne he also called poor black children on the streets the same thing, drop shots.
WILLIAMS: That does not make me a murderer simply because I said somebody was a drop shot or because I called him a drop shot. That does not make Wayne Williams a murderer because I said somebody is a street urchin. Come on, we're talking about murder. The fact is, I didn't kill anybody.
O'BRIEN: The jury didn't come back until late the second evening. The verdict, guilty on both counts of murdering the two adults, Cater and Payne. Wayne Williams was sentenced to serve two life terms.
WILLIAMS: People only wanted to look at the negative side because they wanted in their heart for this case to be over and for Wayne to be the Atlanta monster. They wanted closure at any cost.
O'BRIEN: Leaving court, Homer Williams walked by the prosecutor's table. MALLARD: He looked at us and called us sons of bitches.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still to come, no verdict in the deaths of any of the children.
BELL: Even if it takes 30 trials, I don't care, you know. Prove it.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Anderson Cooper live from New Orleans. "The Atlanta Child Murders" with Soledad O'Brien continues in a moment. But first a "360" bulletin.
Between 20,000 and 40,000 gallons a day, that is the new estimate from federal researchers of how much oil has been gushing from BP's ruptured well into the Gulf. It's nearly doubled the old estimate though if you had been watching the underwater leak cam this past several weeks, it's not going to surprise you.
They released the revised numbers today. Here's what BP said in response. "BP fully supported this effort, providing the scientific team with data, including a considerable amount of high-resolution video."
That may be true, but that high resolution video is the one that BP kept to itself for weeks and only shared after Congress pressured them too. At the White House today, President Obama met with the families of the 11 men who were killed on the deepwater horizon and gave his condolences. He also listened. A short time later, I talked with some of the family members about what these past seven weeks have been like.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARLENE WESE, SON DIED ON DEEPWATER HORIZON: One foot in front of the other, one day at a time. Just -- I went back to work and that's a distraction for me, but I think I need a little more time off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We'll have much more from some of the relatives of the 11 men killed on the deepwater horizon. That's tonight on "360" at 10 p.m. Eastern. That's the latest from the Gulf. "The Atlanta Child Murders" continues after this short break.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Defense attorney Mary Welcome did not expect the guilty verdict.
WELCOME: I was crestfallen.
O'BRIEN: So why do you think the jury convicted him?
WELCOME: Because he might have been guilty. Because he might have been. O'BRIEN: During the trial, medical examiner Robert Stivers told the
jury there had been very few strangulations of black males in the years before these murders began, and none at all with bodies left in rivers or by the roadside since that night Wayne Williams was stopped leaving this bridge.
WELCOME: They were convinced that the crimes had stopped because Wayne had been arrested.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I think what happened is people stopped looking and stopped counting.
O'BRIEN: Murders have continued in Atlanta, shootings of black men, stabbings of black women. But not strangulations like before, not black youth dumped far from where they were killed. Detective Welcome Harris would stay on the police force another 25 years. We asked him how many more children were killed the way they were in the '80s.
HARRIS: None that I can recall. None that I can recall.
O'BRIEN: Wayne Williams' appeals would drag on for years. He almost won the first one. Georgia Supreme Court Justice George Smith helped a colleague write a ruling that would have reversed the verdict.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He would have found the evidence didn't support a conviction. That's what he did find originally.
O'BRIEN: But the five other justices resisted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we met they pitched a royal fit. They were not going to overturn the conviction, the five of them wasn't.
O'BRIEN: In the end, all the justices, except Smith, agreed to uphold the conviction. Wayne Williams said the court was bullied into making its U-turn.
WILLIAMS: I think the pressure came from as high as the White House. And we'll leave it at that.
O'BRIEN: Not so, said George Smith, now retired from the court, but still practicing law in his 90s.
GEORGE SMITH, LAWYER: I can't imagine that would have happened in a case like this. I can't imagine happening any case but certainly this case. It didn't reach to the White House.
O'BRIEN: Smith did write a dissenting opinion. He said the fiber evidence fell short of scientific certainty, and the prosecution should not have been allowed to use the so-called pattern evidence on ten other murders.
SMITH: I said only similarity in the crimes in this case is the fact that all of them were dead.
O'BRIEN: Smith was denounced on the floor of the Georgia legislature.
SMITH: I was an N-lover. You know what "N" stands for.
O'BRIEN: Mary Welcome agreed when Justice Smith wrote the defense attorneys were ineffective.
WELCOME: We were rendered ineffective. We were rendered incompetent because of the lack of funds, the lack of time and the lack of resources, absolutely.
O'BRIEN: Things did go wrong in the trial that should not have. An ambulance driver suggested an explosive motive for Wayne Williams. This from CNN's report at the time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bobby Tollin (ph) said Williams asked him once had he ever considered how many blacks could be eliminated by killing one nigger child.
O'BRIEN: But unknown to either side, Tollin was not his real name. In fact, he had a criminal record.
(on camera): He testified under a false name, had an extensive arrest record under his real name.
WELCOME: I'm not sure that we knew all of that at the time or it was disclosed to us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rogers' home is eight blocks away from where he was found today.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Then there was the murder of Larry Rogers, a retarded youth. This witness testified she saw Rogers slumped over in a station wagon as Wayne Williams drove away. But another person also saw Rogers in that stationwagon at that same intersection that day. He helped a police artist draw this sketch. It does not look like Wayne Williams. However, the defense never called the other witness to ask about the sketch.
WELCOME: No. I don't even remember seeing that.
O'BRIEN: Supporters of Wayne Williams say there was one murder which shows the fiber evidence could be faulty. The death of 12-year-old Clifford Jones, left by a dumpster in an alley on a summer night in 1980. Some of those unusual green carpet fibers were on his body. Yet, another boy said he saw a coin laundry operator kill Clifford Jones. Detective Welcome Harris said the boy was not believable.
HARRIS: He exaggerated stuff. He could -- in other words, he was open to suggestions. And if you said that Mickey Mouse was up there and if he sensed that you wanted him to say that, he'd say yeah.
O'BRIEN: Wayne supporters point out the laundry manager failed two police lie detector tests. But few are aware of a third test given by the FBI examiner, Richard Radcliff. The result --
RICHARD RADCLIFF, FBI EXAMINER: In layman's terms, he passed. He wasn't involved in killing Jones. O'BRIEN: Only days after Wayne Williams was convicted of killing two
adults, Atlanta's police commissioner closed the books on 21 other murder victims, declaring they too were killed by Williams. Most were children. Among them, Clifford Jones and Yusef Bell (ph).
But without trials, the mothers were left without a verdict, one way or the other, in the deaths of all of the children. Camille Bell.
CAMILLE BELL, MOTHER OF MURDERED CHILD: Even if it takes 30 trials, I don't care. You know, prove it.
O'BRIEN: The prosecutor's answer, it would serve no purpose.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can only serve one life sentence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just ahead, a new alibi that backfires.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was out that night, no question in my mind. He was not at home. He was out and about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And after all these years, new DNA evidence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It probably would exclude 98% or so of the people in the world.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Four years after the trial, Robert Henry would change his story about seeing the last victim, Nathaniel Cater, holding hands with Wayne Williams. In this affidavit, Henry wrote, "if my life depended on it, I could not say the man I saw with Cater was Wayne Williams." Our producer confronted Henry with that affidavit. His signature is at the bottom.
ROBERT HENRY, WITNESS: Yes, that's my handwriting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whose words are those?
HENRY: They're not mine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whose words are they?
HENRY: I'd rather not say.
O'BRIEN: In the summer of 1986, Henry was in prison here when he said an associate of Wayne Williams came to see him and told him what to write.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you said, I could not I.D. the face of Wayne Williams as the man I saw with Nathaniel Cater, are those your words?
HENRY: Those are words I was told to say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By?
HENRY: I'd rather not say. It might cause problems. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you I.D. the face of Wayne Williams?
HENRY: The person I saw holding Nathaniel Cater's hand was Wayne Williams, the man that was convicted of it.
O'BRIEN: In fact, Henry had passed a lie detector test before he took the witness stand. When his visitor came to see him, Henry was serving five years for sex crimes. His false affidavit was used in court appeals. Wayne Williams lost each time anyway.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To this day, is there any question in your mind whom you saw with Cater?
HENRY: No, there's not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was?
HENRY: Wayne Williams.
O'BRIEN: Robert Henry is not the only one whose story has changed back and forth over the years. So has Wayne Williams'. At trial, Williams testified he was home all evening sick in bed, when Henry said he saw him holding hands with Cater. Now Williams says he has a different alibi for that evening.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was at a place called Hotlanta Records in College Park.
O'BRIEN: Williams says he drove to that office near the Atlanta airport. He had taken photos for this poster the night before, and went there to turn in this invoice to get paid.
WILLIAMS: We delivered a bill and statement of services and we were cut a check for. And it was probably about 9:00 or 9:30 when I left that location.
O'BRIEN: We reached Hotlanta's owner, Melvin Ware, now living in Los Angeles.
MELVIN WARE, OWNER OF HOTLANTA: He called in advance and when he came, I went back and wrote the check behind the desk. That's where our checkbook was.
O'BRIEN: But he said Williams didn't stay that long, not as late as 9:00.
WARE: It wasn't like five minutes or ten minutes. We already spent maybe a half hour or something like that. .
O'BRIEN: How did Wayne get to the office?
WARE: He drove. I think he had his dad's car, if I'm not mistaken.
O'BRIEN: Wayne's father, Homer Williams, testified he had the station wagon until almost midnight that night. But Chet Dettlinger, an investigator for the defense, said Wayne told him long ago this was a lie.
CHET DETTLINGER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He told me he had the car, and daddy didn't have the car. But Wayne said, I had the vehicle and I didn't want to corrupt the -- my dad's testimony in the eyes of the jury, so I lied about it and said I didn't have it on the stand.
O'BRIEN: What makes this important is what time Robert Henry says he saw Wayne and Nathaniel Cater together.
HENRY: It was about 9:15 to 9:30. It was on Lucky and Forsyth Street in downtown Atlanta.
O'BRIEN (on camera): So at the trial you said that you were in bed until 10:00 p.m. You were so sick that your mother said she had to help lie your body out on the bed you were so sick.
WILLIAMS: This is where the confusion with all of us came in. I got back from Hotlanta Records probably about 9:00, 9:30.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): But there's no one to corroborate that, even if his mother were still alive. Wayne said she probably didn't see him come in. Prosecutor Jack Mallard.
MALLARD: He was out that night, no question in my mind. He was not at home. He was out and about.
O'BRIEN: Less than six hours after Henry said he saw Williams and Cater here, police heard a splash under this bridge. Cater's body washed up downstream two days later.
Thirty years ago, there was no DNA testing. Now there is. And so new evidence.
Remember those two human hairs found inside 11-year-old Patrick Baltazar's shirt? In 2007, the hair fragments were sent to the FBI's DNA laboratory in Quantico, Virginia. The result? The lab said it found this DNA sequence in only 29 out of more than 1,100 samples of African-American hairs in its database, less than three percent. Most important, Wayne Williams' DNA had the same sequence. .
WILLIAMS: I think -- I don't think they said it was a match. They said they could not rule out whomever the hairs were from as being the possible donor.
O'BRIEN: The FBI's Hal Dedman, a DNA expert, said this finding is as strong as it can get with this particular type of testing.
HAL DEDMAN, DNA EXPERT: It probably would exclude 98 percent or so of the people in the world.
O'BRIEN (on camera): Did you kill 11-year-old Patrick Baltazar?
WILLIAMS: I did not kill Patrick Baltazar or anybody else.
O'BRIEN: Did you ever meet Patrick Baltazar?
WILLIAMS: No, I did not.
O'BRIEN: Never been in contact with that kid?
WILLIAMS: I don't even know a Patrick Baltazar.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): We offered to show the DNA findings to the stepmother, Sheila Baltazar.
SHEILA BALTAZAR, MOTHER OF MURDERED CHILD: I can't read it. Please don't make me read it. Oh, my god!
O'BRIEN: So we told her what the FBI report said; Wayne Williams cannot be excluded as the source of those two hairs. She listened. Then this.
BALTAZAR: Without a shadow of a doubt, I really in my heart believe that Wayne Williams killed Patrick Baltazar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next, trained to kill.
O'BRIEN (on camera): Were you trained in unarmed combat techniques? Could you grab somebody bigger than yourself, put them in a choke hold.
WILLIAMS: I'm sure there are other things in unarmed combat besides putting somebody in a choke hold.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): When we returned to prison for our final interview with Wayne Williams, we had one question he was not expecting, what Wayne had written about being recruited for espionage training as a teenager. At a secret government camp hidden in the woods near this north Georgia lake, where he was given what could amount to a license to kill.
(on camera): It's called finding myself. What is finding myself? It reads like an autobiography.
WILLIAMS: Go ahead. I'm listening.
O'BRIEN: It's an account of your CIA training.
WILLIAMS: We're not going to get into that.
O'BRIEN: Why not?
WILLIAMS: We're not going to get into that.
O'BRIEN: I have a copy of it.
WILLIAMS: We're not going to get into it.
O'BRIEN: Why not?
WILLIAMS: We're simply not going to get into it. O'BRIEN (voice-over): By his account, Wayne was fresh out of high
school, just 18 years old, when he was approached by an associate of an old World War II spy living in the Atlanta area, and was initiated into a secret world.
(on camera): You're not going to answer a single question on this.
WILLIAMS: No, ma'am.
O'BRIEN: Is it fake? Is it fictional writing?
O'BRIEN: Did you work for the CIA?
WILLIAMS: We're not going to get into it.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): In these pages, he said he spent his summer weekends in those woods, learning how to handle plastic explosives, hand grenades, and something even more chilling.
(on camera): So I'll do the talking part and you can answer what part of it you want. You write how you fired rifles, sub-machine guns, handled assault weapons, grenade launchers, C-4, learned unarmed combat techniques, through this training group over weekends. Is it true or is it false?
WILLIAMS: I'm not going to comment on it.
O'BRIEN: When you were 19 years old? You're saying you worked for the CIA. You've been recruited.
WILLIAMS: I'll let the document speak for itself. I'm not going to comment on that.
O'BRIEN: Did you work for the CIA?
WILLIAMS: I cannot comment on that.
O'BRIEN: Copyright 1992 by Wayne Williams. Is this an autobiography?
WILLIAMS: I cannot comment on that.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): In his own words, Wayne Williams said this was part of a secret plan to send young black agents into the worst trouble spots in Africa in the late 1970s. He wrote that he finished training, then withdraw from the program.
(on camera): Either this is a true story and you have been trained in evasive tactics, exfiltration techniques, weapons use, unarmed combat techniques, which would include a deadly choke hold, or it is made up.
WILLIAMS: Let me ask one question. Where did you obtain that?
O'BRIEN: I can't tell you that.
WILLIAMS: Now, there we're talking.
O'BRIEN: You're a newsman. You knew the answer to that question before you asked it.
WILLIAMS: OK. I was --
O'BRIEN: Is it true? It's got your name on it.
WILIAMS: I will say this.
O'BRIEN: Were you trained in unarmed combat techniques? Could you grab somebody bigger than yourself, put them in a choke hold? Because that's what that is.
WILLIAMS: I'm sure there are other things in unarmed combat besides putting somebody in a choke hold.
O'BRIEN: When I talked to the military experts and I say to them what exactly does that mean, that's one of the things on their list. Top two things, by the way.
WILLIAMS: I wouldn't doubt that.
O'BRIEN: So are you trained --
WILLIAMS: Let me say this.
O'BRIEN: I'm asking such straightforward questions.
WILLIAMS: I understand that. I understand that. But again, I ask you to understand my position on this. Let's say that that were true, that were the case -- or let's just say that I had some experiences that I do not want to comment on today for reasons that the document says, OK? The fact is, what does that have to do with the situation today?
WILLIAMS: You tell me.
O'BRIEN: It has everything to do with it. A big part of the conversation when I talked to your lawyers was, could Wayne Williams grab somebody? Did he have the strength? He's not a big guy. Could he --
WILLIAMS: I see what you're saying.
O'BRIEN: Could he grab someone in an unarmed technique and kill someone. Your attorneys would say, he's not a big guy. So you're telling me, yes, in fact I was trained by the CIA, which is basically what this document says, in a nut shell, on weekends when I was a teenager, and I am trained in the choke hold technique. That's one thing.
If you're telling me that, no, that never happened, but you're writing a long fantasy about being trained with the CIA in weaponry, and the choke hold technique, that takes it a whole other direction.
(voice-over): Remember, doctors said at least two of the victims, and perhaps more, were probably killed by choke holds.
(on camera): Do you know how to kill someone with a choke hold?
WILLIAMS: I'm sure --
O'BRIEN: That's a straightforward question. I can answer that. My answer would be, no, sir, I do not know. What's your answer to that?
WILLIAMS: Let me say something to that.
O'BRIEN: That's a yes or no answer.
WILLIAMS: No, it's not.
O'BRIEN: Yes, it is, actually.
(voice-over): Not until the very end of our prison interview did we come close to a real answer.
(on camera): It is a very simple question. Can you kill someone with a choke hold?
WILLIAMS: You probably could. You probably could under the right circumstances.
O'BRIEN: I know for a fact I could not. I know you're being facetious. I know for a fact I could not. Were you trained as a teenager to do that? That's what you're writing in this. And I get CIA, you don't want to talk about it. It's all off the record.
WILLIAMS: Let me state this for the record. OK, I think in the paper that you have -- and I will say this, that it says that was contact with a certain program. And I will say it was the joint officer -- excuse me, the junior officer training program, which was run by a certain agency, and you're correct, CIA. But I never said that I worked for them.
O'BRIEN: Now who is splitting hairs? Were you trained --
WILLIAMS: I had some contact with some person and that's all I'm going to say.
O'BRIEN: Were you trained in these techniques?
WILLIAMS: That's all I'm going to say.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): He did acknowledge it was CIA training, but said no more.
So is this true? Or only a fantasy in his mind? The mind of a man the courts have found to be a killer.
We'll leave that question with you. (on camera): The verdict is now yours to decide. At the top of the
hour, to go cnn.com. Three choices, guilty, innocent, or not proven either way. As we leave you, here are some of the answers from those who lived through the terror 30 years ago.
(voice-over): The prosecutor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously, guilty.
O'BRIEN: The defense attorney.
WELCOME: Not proven, one way or the other.
O'BRIEN: The FBI agent in charge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guilty of two double homicides.
O'BRIEN: Sheila Baltazar.
BALTAZAR: He could have killed all of them.
O'BRIEN: The Supreme Court justice.
UNIDENTITIFIED MALE: Not proven.
O'BRIEN: The witness.
O'BRIEN: Camille Bell.
BELL: Innocent but stupid.
O'BRIEN: That first task force detective.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No maybes, ifs, guilty. The right man for those homicides is in jail.