tv Parts Unknown Last Bite CNN November 24, 2013 1:00am-2:01am PST
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. >> i heard the splash.
>> bob campbell, a police recruit, jumped to his feet down beside the chattahoochee river. >> i was really startled. it sounded like a body entering the water. >> he looked up at the bridge. >> and i saw brake lights of a car coming. i saw red lights. the car started slowly moving away from me across the bridge. >> campbell radioed the other team members up above him. >> 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. >> then a policeman in a chase car hidden on the other side came on the radio. >> he just said, the car is pulling in the parking lot here turning around in front of me and started coming back across the bridge going back in my direction. >> this is that white station wagon. police followed it and stopped it nearby. fbi agent mike mccomas rushed to the scene. the driver was standing by the
highway. >> he was talking with the officers. saw a black male. he had on a baseball hat. had on glasses. >> 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. >> 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. that kind of stunned me and i said, what do you know about that? he said, 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 5'1/2" feet tall now in his 50s. and growing bald.
>> 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. >> this is the first time wayne williams has talked on tv in at least a decade. why do you think you were convicted? >> fear. >> what do you mean? >> 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. >> do you think you'll ever be free? >> no doubt it's not a matter of if to me. it's a matter of when. >> 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'll lay out the evidence on both sides and you'll hear from wayne williams at length. then we'll invite you to reach your own verdict, guilty, innocent, or a third choice, not proven. 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. >> 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. >> back at homicide, buffington showed the fibers to his superiors. >> 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 clear out all the cases in the city of atlanta. >> still, buffington sent the fibers to the state crime laboratory. a young forensic scientists, larry peterson, took a look. why was that a fiber
that was stuck in the crack of a shoe, why was that important? >> because it was somewhat loosely there. people normally don't have tufts of carpet fibers stuck loosely in their shoe. >> from those few thin threads, peterson would begin to build a case to try to catch a killer. 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? >> literally there's going to be hundreds if not thousands of fibers there, depending upon the case.
>> 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. >> there had been a sharp increase in the number of children under the age of 14 who had been killed. >> when he told his boss at homicide, the major threatened
to transfer him. >> and i truly think that they were afraid that there would be a panic. >> 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. >> he went barefooted in a pair of brown shorts. he got to the store. he bought the snuff. he started back home. >> less than half a block from this store, yusef bell stepped off this curb and vanished. >> 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. >> camille bell called the police. they came and said they'd write a report. that's all. days went by. camille waited with two older children and yusef's 3-year-old sister. >> 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.
>> camille hid her own fear from her children. >> and you've got to hold them together so you can't act as scared as you are. >> the body of yusef bell was found in an abandoned schoolhouse. >> his body would not turn up for another month. yusef bell had been strangled. >> all of the what could have been, should have been and probably would have been was taken away, and we'll never know now, because somebody decided that it was all right to just kill a little kid because they wanted to. >> for a long time, the 3-year-old would look for yusef every time it was a foggy day. >> and we'd go out into the fog and she would go as far as she could into the fog. and i'd say, come back here. and she'd say, i got to go find my brother. and she said, the clouds came down, so yusef can come down.
>> the child, her mother said, had confused the fog with heaven. still ahead -- the boy who was too brave. >> i mean, he was like, man, i want to find this killer and get this reward money. >> a drive-by threat against the fbi chief's child. >> some guy in a pickup truck said, i'm going to get you, nigger. >> and in the end, the curious question of the cia. >> you're 19. you say you work for the cia. you've been recruited. >> i'll let the document speak for itself. i'm not going to comment on that. >> then -- >> you know how to kill somebody with a choke hold? that's a yes or no answer? >> no, it's not. >> yes, it is, actually. do you know how to kill somebody with a choke hold? >> no, it's not. [ male announcer ] this is jim,
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in the spring of 1980, police were still reluctant to listen to camille bell. >> children were dying on the streets of atlanta in the daytime. >> 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. >> 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.
>> it would be another year before jefferey mathis' body was found in the woods, miles from his home. his mother would join camille bell in forming a committee to confront the city's leaders. >> the reaction of the police was that we were overreacting and that there was no serial killer. >> even though by now six black children were dead. four others were missing. >> perhaps we were like distraught parents that really needed everyone's sympathy, but nobody needed to do anything. >> 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. >> 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.
>> 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. >> 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. >> 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' neighborhood. >> as soon as we turned on to that street, everything stopped. a guy cutting the grass stopped. guys playing dominos on the porch stopped. i said, what's going on? everything stopped. they said, laughingly, that's because we have a honky in the car.
>> john glover, who took over as fbi chief in atlanta that summer, said that's why he and hazelwood decided the killer had to be black. >> the killer is someone who is invisible in the black community and who is invisible in the black community but another black person? >> malcolm harris was one of the first task force detectives. he knew it had to be someone who went unnoticed. >> we felt like it was somebody who could come in the neighborhood and get these children and not draw attention to themselves. >> 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. >> my prayer and the prayers of everybody in there was 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 have been a white person or somebody of another race. >> in the black community, in the early '80s, a black serial killer was unheard of. all the classic serial killers were white. never black. >> didn't mean we didn't have one now. >> 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. >> overall in my study, one out of every five serial killers is african-american. in the past since 1995, over 40% are african-american. we're finally saying, you know what, blacks do this, too.
>> 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. >> some guy in a pickup truck, he was out in the yard in our side yard. we were on a corner. we lived in -- we had a corner lot, you know. said, i'm going to get you, nigger, as he was driving by. >> 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. >> my life did change. >> how so? >> not out as late as you used to be. not able to ride your bike unaccompanied. >> 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.
>> and i didn't move without my brothers for about a year. >> the bulk of the victims were boys like you? >> you're right. >> your age. >> you're right. >> black boys. >> yes. >> did you personally feel afraid? >> 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. >> people were suspicious of everybody. and they were afraid. and you had children walking the street, car go by, you could see some of them were in fear. >> and for good reason. the murders were about to increase to a body almost every week. ♪ the time of trouble ♪ in the time of trouble
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. >> he said he was a big boy. they'd have to catch him first. >> 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. >> i believe he had been kidnapped. >> police searched the woods around atlanta. they did not find lubie. instead, police found two other
bodies, young boys who had disappeared ten 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. >> this is the reward -- >> 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. is it like looking for a needle in a haystack? >> like looking for multiple needles in multiple haystacks. >> then in january of 1981, a
breakthrough. peterson realized they were seeing one green carpet fiber with a unique shape. this is a cross-section of the fiber magnified many times. >> this particular fiber had two very, very large lobes and one short lobe. >> the lobes are the three ends of the boomerang shape. >> the shape was the most distinctive part of the fiber. >> he showed me a slide taken from another carpet. >> this is a single tuft from the carpet. cut in cross-section. >> yeah, i can't tell that's green. even putting the tiny fibers under the microscope didn't help me. how can you tell what color this is? because in this, this green carpet because of that light green, looks very whitish. >> the colors microscopically is not going to be identical to what overall carpet would be. >> instead, an even more sophisticated microscope. >> so let me just open this up -- >> -- can separate colors to
separate fibers. we took another look. now you're talking. now peterson knew what to look for. >> 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. >> 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 in overnight news. he told us -- >> i know the streets of atlanta. i've been around a while. being an ex-news reporter and all, nighttime is me. that's the time i'm out most of the time. >> now, almost 23, a wannabe music producer, he was trying to form a singing group modeled 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.
>> the studio was a small demo studio. >> kathy andrews was co-owner of that studio. >> 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. >> now living in another state, kathy andrews did not want her face shown because of what she saw on another day at her studio. >> at one point in time when wayne came to one of the sessions, he walked into the back of the studio and he had horrible scratches on his arms. >> deep and painful crisscrossing both arms. >> 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. >> 15-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. his mother -- >> whoever killed him, he had to tussle with him because he had scratches all over him. >> it gives me chills down my spine still. >> to this day, kathy andrews does not believe wayne's explanation. >> he did not fall in a bush. it was after you realized, it was fairly obvious. and i don't know what else could have caused that kind of wound on his arm. >> 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. >> 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. >> 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. it's actually a very simple question. can you kill someone with a choke hold? >> you probably could. you probably could under the right circumstances.
>> i know for a fact i could not. when we return, the boy who wanted to catch a killer. >> the body was indeed another victim of atlanta's child killer or killers. >> i just knowed right away it was his body. oh, my god, momma. >> and later, a failed lie detector test. >> it surprised him that he didn't beat that polygraph test. he was convinced he could beat a polygraph test. zçzç
there's yet another twist in the missing and murdered children case. >> atlanta is a city of frustrations and fears. >> as the number of missing and murdered children grow -- >> the body was indeed another victim of atlanta's child killer or killers. >> patrick baltazar was the kid convinced he could catch a killer. >> he was like i want to find this killer and get the 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. >> his stepmother, sheila baltazar, was worried. >> for a 10, 11-year-old child to be talking like that, that was just like, wow, where is his mind at?
>> patrick was a latch-key child living unsupervised with an older brother in a project apartment near downtown. >> he was very streetwise. >> 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. >> that's where he spent a lot of his time at, at the games arcade. >> 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. >> 15 kids are dead. two others are officially missing -- >> by early february, 1981, more than a dozen young african-american boys had been found dead, many dumped in the woods around atlanta. >> i was very fearful. my god. >> sheila baltazar pleaded to send patrick back home to the rest of his family in rural louisiana.
>> if i had somewhere to send my son, i would have sent my son. >> one evening, a white man in a big car appeared to threaten patrick and a small friend. >> the little boy said that patrick said, man, that might be the killer. >> patrick used a pay phone to call police. he told them, a man was chasing me and my friend in a brown cadillac. >> well, actually, thought it was a crank phone call. they didn't send a car out. >> this is a sketch the other boy provided to police after patrick was dead. two weeks later, on february 6, 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. >> i'm like, he didn't come home? oh, my god! that was the first thing popped in my head. missing.
murdered. oh, my god! >> the atlanta missing persons bureau continue their hunt for this missing child. >> one day seemed like it was a week. that was the longest search in the world. >> it was almost 2:00 p.m. when maintenance man ishmael strickland found the lifeless body of a boy. >> on the seventh day a maintenance man spotted a body tossed down into the woods behind a parking lot at a suburban office complex. >> the bank was fairly steep. >> medical examiner joseph burton had to hold on to a rope to get down to the scene. >> 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. >> in other words, killed from behind. >> most likely, yes. >> all right. let me place another sample on this side. >> state crime lab scientist
larry peterson attended the autopsy. >> 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 and it's the same one. >> you knew right then? >> knew right then. >> apparent it's another victim of atlanta's child killer or killers. >> local television carried these pictures live from the crime scene. >> as it was studied it was apparent it was one of the three children listed as missing. we're told the child's body -- >> sheila baltazar got a call from her mother. >> she say, they found another body. she say, i really feel like this is patrick's body here, you know. oh, my god.
>> but if he is one of the three missing children, the chances are strong that he was 11-year-old patrick baltazar -- >> mrs. baltazar and her husband went to the funeral home to identify their child. >> they told me he had struggled, you know, for his life. and seeing the print -- the rope print across his neck. all the way around in the front. ♪ >> at patrick baltazar's funeral, she would insist on an open casket. >> i just wanted the world to see that this child could have been anybody's child. >> patrick's fifth grade classmates wrote a poem read at his funeral, this from local tv coverage that day.
>> patrick baltazar, our school mate, 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. >> and hoped 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 schoolmates grieve for you. just ahead -- the klan under suspicion. >> it was an entire family of brothers that were involved in the klan. >> and then a disappearing nylon cord. >> could have been the murder weapon, as far as i knew.
in february 1981, a troublesome tip reached the police. a man involved in the ku klux klan could be atlanta's serial killer. >> atlanta was about to explode, and here was information potentially that the klan could have been doing this. >> bob ingram with the gbi, georgia's bureau of investigation, got the case. >> it was an entire family of
brothers that were involved in the klan that were the focus of this particular intelligence information. >> 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 mountainview on the outskirts of atlanta. >> we're tapping telephones. we heard a lot of rhetoric. we heard a lot of racial slurs. >> on one wiretap, the detectives heard this said. go find you another little kid? the gbi followed the four brothers for almost two months. >> these family members were under surveillance at that time, physical surveillance where we had an eyeball on them. >> in those two months, six more black youths would disappear and die.
detectives saw nothing to link the klan to them. >> if somebody was in there with a van or two or three men who -- to grab somebody and dump them in the back of the van, people would have noticed if they were white. >> the brothers were called in. they took lie detector tests and passed. >> they were polygraphed and cleared as to their involvement in the killing of atlanta's children. >> 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. >> 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. >> jo-jo bell, unrelated to yusef bell, came by cap'n peg's one last time. >> 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. throwed his hand up, went on up the street. >> to a school yard basketball court like this.
this witness, lugene laster, knew him and said he saw him and left in a station wagon that looked like this. lester testified he got in the car, got in wayne's car. in court lester would identify wayne williams as the driver. >> lugene laster pretty much an eye witness said you gave a ride to jo-jo bell in your station wagon. >> okay. >> did you? >> no, i did not. >> 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. >> it would be horrendous if another child dies, period. >> 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." >> how come you got no tuxedo on there on the stage looking like that there? >> backstage with sammy davis jr. in a photo which made the front page, that's future mayor kasim reed. >> i remember that. that's so cool meeting frank sinatra. >> as a young child, reed would help the volunteers searching atlanta's woods every saturday. >> we literally would walk through wooded areas chaperoned and we would walk for a period of time until about an hour before nightfall. >> 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. >> we're talking maybe a dozen or dozens of fibers as opposed to hundreds or potentially a thousand fibers. >> 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.
>> he also had nothing on but underwear basically. >> medical examiner joseph burton went out in a boat to retrieve the boy. >> we've got the body wrapped in a sheet. i'm the one with the shirt off. >> dr. burton ruled both jo-jo and the other boy found in the river had been asphyxiated. >> we didn't have any history of either one of these boys swimming in the south river in their underwear. >> 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. >> i said, you know, if i was doing that, i'd be throwing them off the bridge. >> 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. >> we looked at remote places, dark places. we believed it would be at nighttime as opposed to daytime. >> 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. >> we at that point were ready for that to be our last night. and wayne williams showed up. that night. >> just before 3:00 a.m., the station wagon drove onto the bridge. >> had he waited a couple more hours we might not have been there. >> otherwise, we would have missed him. next, the night on the bridge. >> you said, i know this is about those boys, isn't it? >> correct. that's what i said. >> pretty damning statement, don't you think? is this the bacon and cheese diet?
you possibly would have had another race war. >> no, says the fbi chief. >> 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? >> williams disputes almost everything police witnesses said about that night. what happened that night on the bridge? >> okay. in the first place -- and i'm not being facetious -- but nothing happened on the bridge. that's the whole misconception. >> as he tells it, there was no splash. he never stopped and didn't turn around. so you never stopped on the bridge? >> no, i didn't. >> you didn't throw trash? >> no. >> you didn't throw anything? >> no, i did not. >> you didn't throw a body? >> definitely not a body, no. >> his story. >> i crossed the bridge. i turned off briefly after i crossed the bridge at what i call a liquor store. >> williams said he pulled into the parking lot only to look up