With the anniversary of the Wayne Williams trial beginning 40 years ago this month some of my old photos of the story are resurfacing. Among those is this one of a grieving mother at her son’s funeral. There is a second photo of mine of Wayne Williams leaving jail for the courthouse
I covered a number of funerals during the child murders and was always more than happy to be told the family didn’t want photographers in the church. It was possible to get good, storytelling photos from across the street. Most of the principals in the continuing story knew the photographers and allowed us good access when required.
My schedule was changed to make Saturday one of my normal work days because that day was when more people participated in searches for missing children. Saturday was also the preferred day for funerals of the ones who were found.
I was surprised to read the headline on the story linked below, “The Atlanta Child Murders Through The Eyes Of People Who Reported On It,” and see four AP photos without any reporting about the photographers who covered the story. Photographers from the AJC were exceptionally important in telling the story. None were interviewed.
“The Atlanta Child Murders started 40 years ago this month, and for people like Pearson who covered the case — who lived and breathed that dark period in the city’s history — the memories remain vivid.
“The headline of the Tuesday, March 31, 1981, Atlanta Constitution — before it became the Atlanta Journal-Constitution — simply read ‘Body of youth found in Chattahoochee.’ Those six words shared the front page with multiple stories of President Ronald Reagan’s improving condition following being shot by John Hinckley Jr. a day before.”
It was all about the children. Black children, mostly boys, were missing and found dead throughout Atlanta. In some cases they were strangled, in others stabbed and shot.