Retired deputy chief says Wayne Williams is guilty as decades-old DNA is retested

In this May 24, 1999 file photo, convicted killer Wayne Williams poses along the fence line at Valdosta Sate Prison, Valdosta, Ga.

John Bazemore / AP Photo

This week the Atlanta Police Department hand-delivered more than 40-year-old evidence from the Atlanta child murders cases to a private lab in Utah specializing in analyzing deteriorated DNA.

That technology for DNA testing was not available in 1982—when a jury found 23-year-old Wayne Williams guilty of two of the killings. But to this day, some remain skeptical that Williams was responsible for all the deaths of dozens of Black children across Atlanta.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms was nine years old when the first child went missing in 1979. In 2019, Bottoms announced the reexamination of DNA evidence in the cases and told WABE that she “wanted the families to know that we care—that their children still matter. As we wait for the outcome of the evidence testing, it is my hope that we can bring some sense of peace to so many of the families still searching for answers.”

Lou Arcangeli is a retired Atlanta Police Department deputy chief who worked to solve the crimes. He says he wants the same closure for families who lost a child.

When Arcangeli joined WABE’s “All Things Considered,” he started by explaining the technological challenges of solving the crimes more than 40 years ago.