The Atlanta murders that took place between 1979 and 1981 involved children, teenagers and a few adults. Wayne Williams was arrested and convicted for murder of two adults and sentenced to two life terms. Several child murders have been attributed to Wayne Williams leading to closure of the files, but he has not been convicted further.
According BACM Research (1989) tests indicated that several victims of the Atlanta Child murders matched the fibers that were found in William’s house or car. Various conspiracy theories that had developed over the murder were also highlighted in this text. FBI (2014) directs the several murder cases on Williams as it was determined through evidence that all the murders must have been conducted by a single individual. The content in FBI (2014) is similar to BACM Research (1989) which states that headway into the investigations was attained after the murder of Nathaniel Cater.
Gentry (2017) introduces a new angle to the case in which it is stated that he was working in the entertainment industry which brought him into direct contact with young individuals who wanted to get into the music industry. Such contact meant that he was at a position to lure them into his trap. Gilligan (2017) bases the argument linking William to the murder of seven-year-old Latonya Wilson in 1980. The evidence from the murder of the adults is what has been used to link Williams to the murder of baby Latonya (Gilligan, 2017).
Headley (1998) introduces the racial perspective to the case. In the article it is stated that intensive investigation was to prove that the African Americans were not being killed by the Ku Klux Klan. What the article does not mention is direct involvement of Williams in the murder. Mallard (2010) uses his experience as an investigator to follow the links of the murder. In the investigation what is being analyzed is the mental state of William who committed the crime.
Nickell (2011) analyses the validity of the evidence that was produced in court. The fiber which has been highlighted in BACM Research (1989) forms the basis of the court case, and it is argued that the fiber could have been found in any other person’s home or car and not necessarily William’s home. The biography of Williams gives details into investigation, citing that the investigators only needed to carry out surveillance at 14 bridges of the river.
Polk (2010) analyzed the DNA evidence that was brought forward in court. FBI scientist Harold Deadman indicated that the DNA was positive to Williams, even though his attorneys continued to deny his association. Rowson (2015) also based the argument on the hair evidence presented in court. The analysis indicated that 96% of the evidence which brought forward by the FBI could have been faulty. It means that there could have been more twist to the case.
Evaluate the scientific techniques used in processing evidence in the Wayne Williams/Atlanta Child Murder case.
The scientific technique that was used in the Atlanta Child Murder case based on DNA analysis. Harold Deadman testified in court that the hair which had been tested belonged to William (Polk, 2010). At the same time the fiber that was found on the victim belong to William’s family dog named ‘Sheba’ (2010). The report indicated the existence of the same DNA chains.
Even though the research used DNA testing to attribute the murders to William, there is doubt over the accuracy of the DNA tests that were conducted. Rowson (2015) argues that a report has been provided which indicates that 96% of the evidence that was provided by the FBI hair analysis could have been faulty. The case was heavily hinged on the scientific analysis meaning that any doubts over the evidence could jeopardize the legitimacy of the conviction.
Even though the scientific technique was considered fault proof, William’s attorneys though t otherwise (Nickell, 2011). The attorney sought to find fault and discredit the fiber evidence that had been presented. The argument is that the fiber found in the car could have originated from any individual’s home or car. The court was asked to question whether Williams was the only individual who was in possession of a Chevrolet car. The argument was overruled by the fact that the dog’s fiber was found in most of the victim’s body and the dog belonged to William’s family.
Examine the ethical issues and articulates significance on the admissibility of forensic evidence, particularly trace evidence in the Wayne Williams/Atlanta Child Murders case in subsequent legal proceedings.
According to Mallard (2010) the case of Wayne Williams is the most controversial and publicized in the US. The conclusion has been reached that William caused terror in Atlanta and murdered people including children. What the society has been concerned with is the evidence against him. Mallard (2010) goes beyond the moral position taken by the society and goes out to determine what could have been William’s problem that led to his actions.
The society failed morally in terms of determining what went wrong in the mind of an individual who was trusted and loved by the young people in the community. The society was required to find answers to whether Williams was suffering from any mental problem. Such an understanding could have helped the society guard against such actions in future. Mallard (2010) suggests that certain reasons exist which could have led Williams into committing the crimes.
The trace evidence used in the case included hair and fiber that was found on the body of the victims. The evidence could have been transferred between William and the victims during the crime. The trace evidence was used to link William to the murder of the two men. The evidence was based on the testimony of Harold Deadman (Polk, 2010). When an individual’s testimony is vital to determining whether an individual is freed or taken to jail there is so much at stake. Using Harold’s word as the truth depends on what is objective or subjective in nature. The question of ethics arises when one questions the accuracy of the trace evidence used in the case.
Ethics demand that Harold Deadman should give a true statement to the judges which will lead to answering the questions around the heinous crimes. Yet it has been reported that up to 96% of the evidence that was used in the case was not accurate (Rowson, 2015). The scenario leads the public into questioning the professionalism of the investigation agencies. In the minds of the masses, from an ethical point of view one would ask: what if the real murderer is walking free among the people? The danger still exists under such a situation yet the police have indicated that they have closed the case.
Compare and contrast evidence collection and processing methods at the time of the Wayne Williams/Atlanta Child Murders and current collection and processing methods.
According to Rowson (2015) 96% of the evidence that was used in Wayne Williams’s case could have been faulty. It leads researchers into comparing and contrasting the collection and processing of the evidence in the past and the current case. The modern technological advances have led to solving of various crimes which could have been dismissed years ago. At the same time there are cases which were completed decades ago which could have been reviewed in the current day.
In the past, the crime scene was used in the same way as an archeological site which was subject to systematic scientific and police investigations. The scene had to be restrained and disciplined before any further investigations were conducted. It meant that nothing was to be touched or moved until the position of everything within the scene had been recorded. It was followed by an analytical excavation that led to harvesting of traces such as fingerprints and hair. The collected data was then taken to the police laboratory for analysis.
The techniques that were used in the past were highly based on the environment and paid little attention to the entire environment. The past methods have been likened to the tomb raiders who focused on objects that are superficially attractive. In the modern day, what is needed is a small link to the evidence. The forensic scientists can use a small size of blood strain to carry out a Polymerase Chain reaction which was invented by Kary Mullis. It is considered one of the most revolutionary inventions that won him the Nobel Prize. The DNA is a stable molecule, meaning that the current crime scene does not need to be fresh as it was in the past because old and degraded blood can be typed. The analysis of the blood strain and other body fluids is considered to be better evidence than the samples that were being collected in the past analysis. All the factors that have been highlighted above make the use of DNA a better model of forensic investigation.
BACM Research. 1989. Atlanta Child Murders. FBI Files. Retrieved From: https://vault.fbi.gov/Atlanta%20Child%20Murders
FBI, (2014). Serial Killers Part 5: Wayne Williams and the Atlanta Child Murders. FBI NEWS. Retrieved from https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/-serial-killers-part-5-wayne-williams-and-the-atlanta-child-murders
Gentry, M. (October 31, 2017). The Atlanta Child Murders: The man in prison. The Atlanta Journal. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from http://www.myajc.com/news/crime–law/the-atlanta-child-murders- the-man-prison/Mx918z122WFLvqKaaoag8J/
Gilligan, M. (March 07, 2017). Wayne Williams and the Atlanta Child Murders. Did You Know? Retrieved January 19, 2018, from http://didyouknowfacts.com/wayne-williams-atlanta-child-murders/
Headley, B. (1998). The Atlanta youth murders and the politics of race. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
Mallard, J. (2010). The Atlanta child murders: the night stalker. Charleston, SC: Booksurge Llc.
Nickell, J. (2011). The Atlanta Child Murders: Evidence vs. Psychics. CSICOP Retrieved January 19, 2018, from: https://www.csicop.org/sb/show/the_atlanta_child_murders_evidence_vs._psychics
NoAuthorFound, (2015, December 21). Wayne Williams Biography. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from https://www.biography.com/people/wayne-williams-14424594
Polk, J. (September 6, 2010). DNA test strengthens Atlanta child killings case. CNN. Retrieved 19 January 2018, from http://edition.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/06/09/williams.dna.test/index.html
Rowson, K. (April 30, 2015). Atlanta Child Murders: Wayne Williams hopes for appeal. USA TODAY. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/local/2015/04/30/wayne-williams-hair-evidence-fbi/26678019/