ATLANTA -- Thirty-three years after Wayne Williams was convicted in the Atlanta Missing and Murdered Children's case, his guilt is still being debated. Even some of victims' family members believe he is not the Atlanta child killer.
New information exclusively learned by 11 Alive News will only stir that debate. The US Department of Justice recently sent a letter to William's attorney notifying him that hair evidence used in the trial by the FBI was tainted.
In 1982 Williams was convicted of killing two adult men and sentenced to life in prison. He has been implicated in 29 child murders, but never indicted for any of them. That may be one reason there are still doubts lingering after 33 years.
"I feel Wayne Williams was a scapegoat," said Stevie Rogers. "I feel like that man was in the wrong place at the wrong time." Roger's brother Patrick was one of the children who was killed. He was 16-years old when his body was found in the Chattahoochee River two weeks after he went missing in 1980.
"We ain't going to ever know. I just don't believe Wayne Williams did it," she said. "If he did do it, well, he's been in there for 30 years and they ain't shown us either or."
Emanuel Williams remembers vividly the day he identified his brother Clifford Jone's body 35 years ago. He was 13, his brother was 12-years-old. "My brother, he was laying there on the side of the road with black marks on his neck, strangled, raped and beat to death," Williams said. "Wayne Williams did not kill Clifford Jones."
A website waynewilliamsfreedomproject.com is dedicated to bring forth new evidence that will set him free and clear his name.
But even though he was never tried for killing a child, prosecutors matched 19 different sources of fibers from William's car and home to fibers found on several murdered children at his trial.
But could he have killed all 29 children? Chief Prosecutor Jack Mallard says yes. "Most, if not all," he said. "Every court that he has gone to has denied him."
Two appeals filed by William's attorney have been rejected. In 2007 they had the hair samples used in trial tested for DNA and the results supported the evidence in the trial.
Attorney Lynn Whatley said Williams probably has only one appeal left and it will include the Department of Justice's admission that hair evidence was tainted.
"We do not believe it will have an impact on the case of any appeals," said Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard.