Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona on December 27, 1981 · Page 8
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona · Page 8

Phoenix, Arizona
Issue Date:
Sunday, December 27, 1981
Page 8
Start Free Trial

REPUBLIC MAIL A . The Arizona Republic Sunday, December 27, 1981 Atlanta trZlriued (torn A 1 W i illiams' trial is scheduled to begin Monday. Authorities say they have found no more bodies since Williams - was. arrested in the case, which has been described as'a mass murder and depicted by the national press in "crime of the decade" terms. Far from settling the issue, however, Williams' arrest has xamd questions. "They fouled it up from day one," said W.K. "Jack" La JB&Kyr former thief homicide detective for the Atlanta xrmte Department Perry, 547 retired in 1979 after 28 years on the force. He said he left the force during a record crime wave in the city iffngeausfr he couldn t get enough manpower to probe "SWenta's homicides. But Perry says the biggest obstacle to the investigation of the current murder case is not too few officers but too many, generally stumbling all over each other. A task force of 25 to 30 officers of state and local police and the FBI, formed in March 1980, quickly grew to more than 100. Many were raw recruits whom Perry says lacked the special savvy needed to pick the right leads, employ the proper follow-up and sift through as many as 1,000 citizen tips a day. "If they'd looked around and found 10 qualified people, they would have made some arrests," Perry said. "They could have had it stopped. "They were loading up people on that task force who no more business there than my 10-year-old son."' rry is not alone in the belief that the task force was teo-unwieldy to be effective. Ihe rulton County medical examiner. Dr. Morton .Qtivore ujhr, urill toctifu fnr the nrrtcamt inn nt Willinme i trial, suggests the task force was expanded more for the sake of silencing the public hue and cry over the deaths than for efficient investigation. Stivers believes that as many as half of the 28 deaths may be the work of only one killer. Eleven deaths, including those of Payne and Cater, were ruled asphyxia-tions. But those 11 deaths did not occur until after the task force was formed and expanded under pressure from earlier, victims' parents and civic groups, which is "how the whole "bandwagon got started," Stivers said. Soon thereafter, President Reagan called the killings "one of the most tragic situations that has ever confronted an American city" and assigned Vice President George Bush to oversee the federal effort, which eventually exceeded $4 million in aid. Three-time heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali contributed $400,000 to the investigation. Celebrity benefits and donations, including those from Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Burt Reynolds, amounted to more than $110,000, while funds poured in from a sympathetic nation for the probe, which was costing $231,000 a month. In Phoenix, about 5,000 citizens rallied and marched from the Civic Plaza to Patriots Square downtown in April to commemorate the victims, while the owner of a Tucson home-improvement firm started his own fund-raising campaign. As many as 3,000 volunteers combed the Atlanta countryside as part a massive manhunt, and on March 17, a group of psychics called the People of Light joined hands in Atlanta's Hillside Chapel, seeking a vision of the slayer. Atlanta arms-and-ammunition merchant Mitch Werbell lent several members of a group taking weapons training at his camp near the city to aid the manhunt. Vigilante groups drew the ire of Atlanta police by patrolling ghetto housing projects with guns and baseball bats, as Maynard Jackson, the city's black mayor, pressed for more federal money Oddly enough, a study published by the Atlanta Police Department in March 1980 before the task force was formpd concluded that child homicides that had occurred during the previous five years, including the five bodies that had been found at the time in the current murder case, showed no particular pattern. It was only after the formation of the task force, and the attendant publicity, that bodies began to turn up with stunning frequency, prompting speculation here that if there is a mass murderer involved, the uproar drew him out of the woodwork. And Stivers told The Arizona Republic that 28 child homicides over a period of two years in Atlanta black or white -p- is not unusual. "Unfortunately, here in Atlanta, we run 10 to 14 children's deaths (by homicide) every year," Stivers said. "That's why we didn't pick up on anything initially. It was pretty much business as usual. rFrom a medical examiner's standpoint, we didn't pick anything happening back in 1979. The fact is, really, 'much even in 1980. jjTheh, of course, once they formed the task force and all tag local news media started adding up the numbers, ewything we had was added to the list." itivef s .believes the killer or killers reacted to the news coverage oy cnangmg tne metnoa ot dumping Doaies. or instance, when one of the TV stations unfortun ately disclosed' the trace evidence the business about fibers (found on the bodies) and the rest of it the next thing we knew, the bodies were (being) found unclothed," 1 iimi . i l i t mi ne saia. men me newspapers saia, Ana: rney re unclothed, but the fibers are still being found in their hair and underpants that s when the bodies started being dumped in the river." J Plenty of reports Jiave leaked from the police laboratory ) that dog hairs and carpet or bedspread fibers said to have !been found in Williams' home are "microscopically" the same as those allegedly found on the bodies of several i victims. How many victims is open to question. Estimates range from six to 15. The fact that no bodies have turned up since Williams was arrested does not surprise Perry, who says an arrest in a murder spree usually causes a delay or a halt in killings by other possible murderers who fear the police are close. But Williams is charged only with the murders of Payne and Cater, and neither Stivers nor the police are prepared to say exactly what happened during the stakeout of the James Jackson bridge the morning Williams was stopped. According to testimony in Atlanta City Court before Williams' arrest, one officer heard a splash in the river and soon afterward, another officer stopped Williams' car. The presumption is that the splash the first officer heard was caused by the dumping of Cater's body. But the officer who heard the splash apparently did not indicate in his testimony what he saw, if anything. And the second officer apparently saw only Williams' moving car. Thus, the defense has raised the questions as to how anyone could toss a body into a river from a moving car and how anyone could stop a car on a two-lane bridge at 3:30 a.m., get out, remove a body from the car, dump it into the river and drive away in the midst of a police stakeout without being detected. J The incident has triggered charges here that the -stekeout crew was asleep or inattentive. The task force has denied the charges. As recently as last spring, Stivers, Atlanta Police Commissioner Lee Brown and Fulton County District "AlKrney Lewis Slaton all stated that the evidence pointed tavure than one killer. Slaton suggested that as many as 5killers could be involved beqsethe methods were so diverse shooting, stabbing, bludgeoning and asphyxiation. But on May 28, a week after Williams was stopped on the bridge, Brown's office released a statement reflecting an official police position that all 28 children and young adults were victims of a "pattern murder." Brown declined to be interviewed by The Republic. His spokeswoman, Beverly Harvard, would say only that the task force has been reduced to 37 members. (Fulton County Superior Court Judge Clarence Cooper, who will preside at Williams trial, issued a gag order in August after warning the defense and prosecution about releasing prejudicial statements. (On Dec. 7, Cooper cited defense attorney Mary Welcome for contempt, stating the defense team violated the gag order when defense experts granted interviews with The Republic and the Atlanta Constitution. Ms. Welcome declined comment on the case or the contempt citations. The Republic was denied permission to interview Williams.) Stivers told The Republic that Payne and Cater died of asphyxiation and that Cater "also got trauma to the neck." "(But) if we get asked on the stand, 'Could these people have drowned?' the answer is 'Yes,' because that's (also) an asphyxial death," he said. "But the circumstances of the death ... is what makes it a homicide." Dr. Daniel Stowens, the defense pathologist, disagrees. "There are no overt signs of injury," said Stowens, an associate professor of clinical pathology at Utica College in New York. Based on his review of the autopsy reports, Stowens conluded that the hemorrhages found on Cater's body probably occurred naturally after he drowned, although he is unsure of what killed Payne. "I really don't know why they died, but I just don't see any evidence that either of them was murdered," he said. Stowens contends no more than five of the 28 deaths can be demonstrated to be homicides and that the causes of the other deaths can't be determined conclusively. If Williams was involved in any of the deaths, retired investigator Perry surmises, he was a "copycat" a term used to describe someone who is not initially involved in a crime spree but is spurred by publicity to copy the originator's crime. Regardless of Williams' guilt or innocence, Perry's misgivings about the evidence in the deaths of Payne and Cater stems largely from his opinion of the police work in the case sloppy. Perry, now a private investigator, scores the task force very low for its failure to search Williams' car while they questioned him for two hours on the James Jackson bridge the morning of May 22. Perry said the officers apparently spotted shoes and clothing in the car but never bothered to get a search warrant. He also refers to the deaths of Jeffrey Mathis, 10, and Patrick Baltazar, 11, whose bodies were found early this year on the same day, Feb. 13 Mathis' in Atlanta and Baltazar's in neighboring DeKalb County. The medical examiner's office ruled that Baltazar died of strangulation. The cause of Mathis' death remains undetermined. Perry said Mathis' mother asked him for help after her son had been missing for three months. "We found witnesses where this kid was last seen that the police hadn't talked to," Perry said. He said the witnesses claim they saw two black men lure Mathis into their car March 1 1, 1980 the last day he was seen alive. Baltazar called the police Feb. 6 of this year the last day he was seen alive to report being chased by a man in a car. Perry said the police never responded and that the task force did not begin to investigate his case until March, when they heard Baltazar's voice on a tape recording of his phone call. Dr. Joseph Burton, medical examiner for DeKalb County, complained that the state crime laboratory never directed him to look for the type of fibers that had been found on other bodies. "I'm very concerned that the agencies intimately involved in this case were not informed about the key things to look for," Burton said. The evidence thus far made public that allegedly connects Williams to the murders of Payne and Cater as well as several others is circumstantial. But Perry regards District Attorney Slaton as a top-notch prosecutor who probably hasn't revealed all his cards. "I feel sure they'll convict (Williams) because the people want to convict," Perry said. "The question is, will it stand on appeal?" At this point, the questions are better than the answers, and some of the evidence has not been divulged, including the results of court-authorized wiretaps and the contents of seven or eight sealed bags taken from Williams home by searchers who combed the house from crawl space to attic. A possible homosexual nature of the killings is also in dispute. An unidentified police investigator was quoted last spring as stating that some of the victims had frequented an abandoned house in northwest Atlanta that is known to be a hangout for homosexual prostitutes. Although some of the victims including Payne and Cater were found nude or partly clothed, none showed signs of sexual molestation. Police have not ruled out the sex angle, however, on the grounds that molestation is not the only indicator that a homosexual killer can be stimulated by death alone. But chief defense investigator Will Northrop of Phoenix contends Williams is not homosexual. And defense psychologist Dr. Michael Bayless, also of Phoenix, contends Williams is not sick. "I gave Williams every psychological test known to man," Bayless said. "He's very defensive but not psychopathic. "If Williams is guilty, then he should pay for the crime. But if he is convicted of a crime he didn't do, then nobody's children will be safe." Atlanta body count Height Date Date Cause Name Age Weight Last Seen Found of Deatn Edward H. Smith, Jr. 14 5' 5" 70lbs. 7-20-79 7-28-79 Gunshot wound Alfred James Evans 13 5" 4" 80lbs. 7-25-79 7-28-79 , Undetermined (possible strangulation) Milton Harvey 14 5'1" 95lbs. 9-4-79 11-5-79 Undetermined YusefBell 9 4' 714" 65lbs. 10-21-79 1 1-8-79 Strangulation Angel Lanier 12 5' 3" 100lbs. 3-4-80 3-10-80 Strangulation Jeffery Lamar Mathis 10 4 8"71lbs. 3-11-80 2-13-81 Undetermined Eric Middlebrooks 14 4 10" 88lbs. 5-19-80 5-19-80 Blunt force to head Christopher Richardson 11 5' 3" 80lbs 6-9-80 1-9-81 Undetermined Latonya Wilson 7 4'0"60lbs. 6-22-80 10-18-80 Undetermined Aaron Wyche 10 4' 10" 55lbs. 6-23-80 6-24-80 Asphyxiation Anthony Carter 9 5'1'81lbs. 7-6-80 7-7-80 Stab wounds Earl Lee Terrell 11 4 8" 80lbs. 7-30-80 1-9-81 Undetermined Clifford Jones 13 4' 9" 78lbs. 8-20-80 8-21-80 Strangulation Darron Glass 10 4' 9" 75lbs. 9-14-80 Still Missing Charles Stephens 12 4'9"108lbs. 10-9-80 10-10-80 Asphyxiation Aaron Jackson, Jr. 9 4' 8" 80lbs. 11-1-80 11-2-80 Asphyxiation Patrick Rogers 15 5' 9 150lbs. 11-10-80 12-8-80 Trauma to head LubieGeter 14 5" 7" 130lbs. 1-3-81 2-5-81 Asphyxiation Terry Lorenzo Pue 15 5' 5" 105lbs. 1-21-81 1-23-81 Strangulation Patrick Baltazar 11 5" 1" 105lbs 2-6-81 2-13-81 Strangulation Curtis Walker 13 5' O" 75lbs. 2-19-81 3-6-81 Asphyxiation Joseph Bell 15 5' 5V4" 1 10lbs. 3-2-81 4-19-81 Asphyxiation Timothy Hill 13 5' 3" 100lbs. 3-13-81 3-30-81 Asphyxiation Eddie Duncan 21 5' 11" 140lbs. 3-21-81 3-31-81 Undetermined Michael C. Mcintosh 23 5' 4" 100lbs. 3-25-81 4-20-81 Asphyxiation Larry Rogers 21 5 4" 130lbs. 3-30-81 4-9-81 Strangulation Jimmy Ray Payne 21 5" 4" 130lbs. 4-22-81 4-27-81 Asphyxiation Asphyxiation William Barrett 17 5 4" 125lbs. 5-11-81 5-12-81 (consistent with ligature strangulation) Nathaniel Cater 28 5' 10" 150lbs. 5-21-81 5-24-81 Asphyxiation ATLANTA Her first murder case as a defense attorney may be the most celebrated trial Mary Welcome, 37, ever will experience. Her client is Wayne Williams, 23, accused of killing two of the 28 black children and young adults whose bodies have been found in the Atlanta area since July 1979. Still smarting from a Dec. 7 contempt-of-court citation issued by Judge Clarence Cooper of Fulton County Superior Court, Ms. Welcome was guarded in her comments during an interview at her Atlanta office. Cooper said interviews granted to the press by defense experts were responsible for his order. The judge cited Ms Welcome two days after The Arizona Republic and the Atlanta Constitution published an interview with a New York pathologist, Dr. Daniel Stowens. Stowens said the bodies of the men Williams is accused of killing Jimmy Ray Payne, 21, and Nathaniel Cater, , 27 show no evidence of homicide. Last month, a defense psychologist, Dr. Michael Bayless of Phoenix, said publicly that he believes Williams to be innocent. Ms. Welcome declined to comment on the citation. Mary Welcome People close to the defense told The Republic that she has been paid little thus far. They also have complained of the federal government's $1.5 million contribution to the investigation and prosecution of the case while no funds have been available for expert defense witnesses. Ms. Welcome declined to say what fee, if any, Williams has paid her. She said she did not know Williams before his family hired her. Although the Williams homicide Gus WalkerRepublic This chart of the victims of the Atlanta slayings indicates their vital statistics and when their bodies were found. Wayne Williams' lawyer is defending her first client charged with murder case is her first as a defense attorney, Ms. Welcome said, she acquired some experience as a homicide prosecutor while serving as the city solicitor, who is Atlanta's chief prosecutor. The solicitor's office was created in 1975 by Mayor Maynard Jackson, and Ms. Welcome was the first person to head the office. In that capacity, she was responsible for handling homicide cases in their early stages, she said. Ms. Welcome has been in private practice since leaving the solicitor's office in 1980. She also was in private practice for 18 months before accepting the solicitor's position and served as assistant attorney general in the Virgin Islands from 1971 to 1973. Born in North Carolina, she was raised in Baltimore and received her bachelor's degree from Morgan State University there. She received her law degree from Howard University in Washington. Before practicing law, she worked for a brief period with a federally funded housing organization for indigents in Washington. Ms. Welcome has served on the boards of numerous civic organizations, including the Atlanta branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Girl Scouts, the Atlanta Business League and the Christian Council of Metropolitan Atlanta. Prosecutor suspected of holding 'trump card' Lewis R. Siaton ATLANTA The lawyer who will attempt to convict Wayne Williams of murder is a dapper, genteel, career prosecutor with a reputation for professionalism. A Georgia native, Lewis R. Slaton, 59, maintained a private law practice and served as a city prosecutor in Atlanta before being appointed Fulton County district attorney in 1965. He has been elected to the position four times since then. Before the Atlanta murders, perhaps the most celebrated case in Slaton's career was his 1974 prosecution of Marcus Wayne Chenault in the shooting death of Mrs. Martin Luther King Sr. Chenault, now 28, was convicted and received the death penalty. He still is on death row. Unlike the Atlanta murder cases, Slaton said, Chenault was apprehended at the scene of the shootings, and prosecution began immediate "Here, the thing's gone on two years before you really got started," Slaton said. Slaton was asked by The Arizona Republic if he still stands by a statement he made in March that as many as 10 people might be involved in the killings, which numbered 26 at the time. He responded that Williams is charged in only two of the killings those of Nathaniel Cater, 27, and Jimmy Ray Payne, 21 and that both occurred after he made the statement. Payne's body was found April 27, and Cater's was found May 24. The evidence that has come to light thus far allegedly linking Williams to the deaths includes fibers and dog hairs found in Williams' home that, authorities say, match fibers and dog hair found in the victims' hair. Williams also was observed crossing a bricC. over the Chattahoochee River aWkit two days before Cater's body was found a mile downstream. In addition, there have been unconfirmed reports that there are witnesses who allegedly can place Williams and Cater together shortly before Cater's death. The evidence that has been publicized is circumstantial. People close to the case, however, believe Slaton probably is holding a trump card. "Slaton is a top-notch prosecutor," said W.K. "Jack" Perry, who spent nearly 30 years as a police officer in Atlanta 10 of them as head of the homicide division before retiring in 1979. '; J ' "It leads me to believe, personally, there's something he's holding back," Perry said. The case has been assigned to Judge Clarence Cooper of Fulton County Superior Court. He served under Slaton as an assistant district attorney from 1968 to 19riS

What members have found on this page

Get access to

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 20,900+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the Arizona Republic
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

Try it free