Payne Lindsey, host of the Atlanta Monster podcast, opened up to CrimeFeed about his conversations with serial killer Wayne Williams, who is currently serving life in prison for the murders of 29 children in Atlanta between 1979 and 1981. Actually, Williams was only charged with killing two adult victims, but prosecutors effectively linked the other murders to him — and after his arrest, most believe the child killings stopped.
Though the case was officially closed, many people in Atlanta never believed that Williams was guilty of all of the murders, which were nicknamed the “Atlanta Child Murders.”
We asked Lindsey about his conversations with the killer, which took place over the past few months.
CrimeFeed: How did the team get in touch with Williams — and what made him agree to the interview?
Payne Lindsey: I came across a YouTube video from 2015 where victim Clifford Jones’ brother discussed what believes actually happened to Clifford. When I reached out to the creator of the video, it was Dewayne Hendrix, who speaks with Wayne Williams regularly. As I continued to speak with Dewayne, he was updating Williams on our conversations.
Eventually, Williams expressed his interest in speaking with me. Shortly after that, Williams and I began our conversations. I’ve talked to Wayne over the phone for the last couple of months. There are days where I can speak to him at least two to three times, and there are days we don’t speak at all. It really depends on when he’s able to have access to the phone.
Does Williams still claim that he is innocent of all the murders, and does he have any explanation for the circumstantial evidence?
He stands by his innocence of all the murders, so that’s the grounds for a lot of our conversations. There are eye witnesses who place other people at the scene of these crimes, so we continue to talk to these eye witnesses and get their accounts.
There are so many gray areas here, even around the circumstantial evidence, which makes it imperative to investigate every angle here. Since this is all real-time, we can uncover a new piece of crucial evidence at any moment that we hope helps clear things up.
At trial, Williams’ attorneys attempted to paint a picture of him as a happy, carefree young man who had no malice toward anyone. But prosecutors described him as a “Jekyll and Hyde” personality. So we asked: What was he like?
Like this case, Wayne is a really complex individual. He likes to be in control of the conversation, and in a lot of our conversations, I allow him to take the lead and share what he’s ready to share. There’s still so much to be explored here.
Does anyone on the team believe his story?
As for his innocence, we can’t really answer that question fully. As mentioned, there’s so much muddiness in this case, so we’re still trying to figure out what we believe really happened. What we can say is that we don’t believe any one individual or group committed all 30 of these crimes, but this is not a Wayne Williams innocence project.
Our role here is to get all sides of the story in order to find the truth and help give the victims’ families the closure that’s been long overdue.
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Main photo: Wayne Williams [Wikimedia Commons]