HBO’s Watchmen series launched with a depiction of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which was still widely unknown to the public at large, nearly a century after the decimation of Black Wall Street. Following the season finale, historians announced the discovery of a possible mass grave in the city, and HBO is now shining light on another U.S. tragedy that will hopefully now receive the mass attention that it also deserves through a docuseries called Atlanta’s Missing And Murdered: The Lost Children.
As this trailer indicates, the show promises a never-before-seen look at dozens of murders (of African American children and young adults) that took place in Atlanta in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The cases began when two teens disappeared with their bodies later discovered, which sent fear running through the city. A defendant, Wayne Williams, was indicted for those murders, but as cases began to add up, there was an official move to shut down subsequent cases as they mounted at an alarming rate. From the show’s official synopsis:
In the period between 1979 to 1981, at least 30 African-American children and young adults disappeared or were murdered in Atlanta. Although 23-year-old Wayne Williams was prosecuted for two of the crimes, the rest of the cases were ultimately closed following his conviction in 1982. The docuseries hears from the victims’ families and examines the original trial materials and court documents, raising new questions for further investigation, and takes a closer look at the racial tensions and cultural clashes that brought Atlanta to a boiling point and caught the nation in a moment of transition.
The FBI’s website now contains case files from the multi-agency investigation of the 1980s. Stunningly, law enforcement (in a post-trial capacity) linked Williams to 20 more of the Atlanta Child Murders, although as mentioned above, those cases were closed for decades. It wasn’t until August 2019 that this dark chapter in U.S. history was reopened following renewed interest ignited by Netflix and David Fincher’s second season of Mindhunter. The HBO docuseries promises to bring new evidence to public view, along with interviews from family members of the victims.
HBO’s Atlanta’s Missing And Murdered: The Lost Children debuts on April 5.