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The Case of the State of Georgia vs. Wayne B. Williams

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          During 1980-81 while working for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab (see photograph, the image on the left is a photo of the GBI Headquarters and Crime Laboratory) I became involved in what was later termed

the "Wayne Williams" case or the "Atlanta Murdered & Missing Children" cases. I attended and helped process several of the crime scenes along with other personnel from the GBI (most notably my long time friend and fellow Criminalist - Mr. Larry Peterson).

          Long before Wayne Williams was developed as a suspect it was discovered in the laboratory that each victim had one or more of a set of matching hairs and fibers on them, suggesting that they had come into contact with the same person or person's environment. One of these matching fibers (shown below) came to figure prominently in the overall case. This was a fiber with very unusual properties - a tri-lobal green nylon fiber with one leg of the three lobes much shorter than the other two lobes. This fiber is depicted as seen under the microscope and SEM in longitudinal views and cross-sectional views.

          This fiber, which turned out to be a relatively rare carpet fiber produced by the Wellman Corporation and woven into carpet by the West Point Pepperell Corporation in Dalton, GA (dyed English Olive Green) some 10 years prior to the case, came to be associated with the carpet in Wayne Williams' home after he was developed as a suspect. The FBI calculated a conservative estimate of a probability of occurence of 1 in 7,792 for this fiber alone. A search of his home and automobile also produced numerous other hair and fiber sources for the different fibers formed on the victims' bodies. Shown below is one of over 40 charts and 350 photographs which were shown to the jury at trial.

          Ultimately, Wayne Williams was arrested, tried and convicted in the murders of two of the thirty children associated with this series of killings.

          I was called to testify twice during the trial as an expert witness on the processing of evidence gathered during the case. Wayne Williams was convicted in July 1981, and remains incarcerated today.

          Click the image below for a short movie clip (8.8 MB) about the Wayne Williams case.

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