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  • FTC

Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

(available on Crave/HBO)

Extra Warning: Images and descriptions of crimes against children

FTC Rating: 4 out of 5

One of the desired outcomes of a conviction is to provide a sense of closure for the families and communities affected by the actions of the accused. Wayne Williams was tried and convicted in 1982 for murdering two men but he was suspected of killing twenty-eight (number to be debated) young black men and children in Atlanta. After William’s conviction, police and the FBI closed the investigations of the uncharged crimes, leaving the families of the victims searching for justice. This five-part docuseries focuses on the central question, was William’s responsible for all these murders or is he a convenient scapegoat?


- Provides a platform for the families of the victims to share their pain

- An abundance of historical photos and video

- Tribute to Camile Bell and her tireless efforts to hold Atlanta’s justice system to account

- Examines the dynamics between the politicians, police, and the community in 1970s-1980s


- Includes interviews and footage of a staggering number of significant actors involved with the case, including FBI agents, law enforcement, attorneys, activists, vigilantes, politicians, families of the victims, journalists, etc.

- Examines the evidence against Williams, esp. fiber evidence, witness testimonies

- Presents both sides although the filmmakers are clearly not impartial


- Includes uncensored crime scene photos

- In episode five, the segment on the appeals process is incomplete

- The docuseries ends prematurely and does not explore the next steps after the investigation is reopened. Is there DNA evidence left, if so, what has it revealed?

Final thought:

- I’ve read numerous critiques about this docuseries and some reviewers claim it is not actually True Crime but part of “the liberal agenda”. However, my rebuttal is that it is impossible to analyze this case without considering the politics, systemic issues, and racism in Atlanta during the 70s and 80s. Perhaps not all the theories and opinions presented in this docuseries are correct, but a sensible person must conclude that there is sufficient reasonable doubt surrounding the outcome of the trial and the end of the investigations after William’s conviction, to re-examine the Atlanta Child Murders, not only for William’s but for the sake of the surviving family members.

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