The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia on June 23, 1981 · 10
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The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia · 10

Atlanta, Georgia
Issue Date:
Tuesday, June 23, 1981
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THE ATLANTA INSTITUTION, Tin., Jm 2.1, 1081 I. Williams Scheduled For Preliminary Hearing Tuesday By Barry King , , , Constitution Staff Writer 't - A preliminary hearing for Wayne B. Wil- rliams, who is charged with murder in connection -with the slaying of Nathaniel Cater, is scheduled fori p.m. Tuesday. .)'t' Fulton District Attorney Lewis Slaton and -attorneys for Williams agreed to the date in a '.meeting Monday in the chambers of the senior judge of the State Court of Fulton County, v Williams, a 23-year-old Atlanta free-lance photographer, was arrested on a warrant Sunday . afternoon charging him with one count of murder in connection with the death of Cater, 27, whose body was found May 24 washed against the bank . of the Chattahoochee River. Cater was the most recent in a string of 28 killings of young Atlanta blacks over a period of nearly 23 months. Although many of the cases are believed related, officials would not say Monday whether Williams might be charged or is even a suspect in any of the other 27 cases. He will remain under close guard in the Fulton County jail without bail bond pending the preliminary hearing in which a judge will determine if there is probable cause to bind Williams over to the Fulton grand jury. , State Court Judge Dan Duke set the commitment hearing before Fulton Magistrate A. L. , Thompson, who reportedly signed the warrant Sunday for Williams arrest . Duke ordered that the Tuesday hearing be open, but that those attending the hearing be searched for weapons. , ,' " , : " . .;, Atlanta Public Safety Commissioner Lee P. Brown said in a news conference Monday that ' Slaton decided Sunday to arrest Williams after conferring with Brown and Deputy .Police Chief Morris Redding, who heads the special task force investigating the slayings. Brown denied knowing anything about reports that Vice President Bush asked Gov. George Busbee to pressure Slaton to make an arrest. "We have received tremendous (federal) support for the investigation and the Safe Summer program," Brown said. "But the White House was not involved in the decision to arrest, nor can I conceive any reason for them to be involved in a criminal matter in Atlanta," he said. ' Brown said the FBI was informed Sunday of the pending arrest but was not present at the meeting when the decision was made. C " In an impromptu news conference Monday, Slaton also denied that he was pressured by Bus-bee or the White House Friday to make a quick 'arrest . ' ,' ' Although Slaton bad resisted seeking a warrant for Williams' arrest for nearly four weeks, he would not say what bad caused him to change his mind Sunday. He said witnesses and evidence would be presented at Tuesday's hearing to support his decision to have Williams arrested, but he declined to identify the witnesses or discuss the evidence. . - A commitment hearing for Williams had been scheduled for noon Monday. However, Slaton said Williams' attorneys Mary Welcome and Tony Axam asked for the postponement and he agreed. He said Williams would appear at the Tuesday hearing but is not required to enter a formal plea. Ms. Welcome said in a statement that she wanted the commitment hearing postponed to gain time for Williams' defense. She said Williams maintains he is innocent and that he is relieved that the case is now in court, "the proper place for histriaL If Magistrate Thompson orders Williams bound over to the grand jury for possible indictment, Williams' attorneys could ask for a bond hearing and enter a plea then, or Williams could wait until after any true bills are returned by the grand jury and he could enter a plea at an arraignment Slaton declined to say when he would seek the indictment if Williams is bound over. Slaton said that if Williams is brought to trial, Slaton would oppose any effort to remove the case from Fulton County. "That's my present thinking, subject to change," he said. Investigators became interested in Williams after officers staking out the South Cobb Drive Bridge over the Chattahoochee heard a splash ahd saw him driving away on May 22 between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. : Shortly thereafter, Williams was questioned on Interstate-285 for about two hours by FBI agents and released. The FBI questioned Williams again that morning at his home. Two days later when Cater's body was discovered in the river, a full-scale surveillance was placed on Williams. On June 3, the FBI obtained a search warrant for the Penelope Street home Williams shared with his parents and asked him to submit to questioning at FBI headquarters in Atlanta. He was questioned for 12 hours and released early June 4 without being charged. ... t jr. - ' ; , j I 1 MW j '-ft ) Sill Four youths at West End Mall, (left to right) Lucius Pullins, Ronald Towns, Jeise Pulling and Vincent Beasley, said they knew of Sunday's arrest in at least one of the Atlanta slayings but fear that "two or more killers" still walk the streets. (Staff Photo-Louie Favorite) Young Blacks Still Afraid Killers Are Roaming Streets For Them By Brenda Mooney Constitution Staff Writer West End Mall was upbeat on Monday afternoon, a carnival of sunlight, disco music and the pungent odor of frying fish. But it was the air-conditioning and a comfortable bench that had attracted ' the four 16-year-olds - young, black and still afraid. . y They were talking about Sunday's arrest of 23-year-old Wayne Williams in connection with the death of one of Atlanta's 28 slain young blacks. And they were convinced that despite the arrest, a killer or killers still stalked the city's streets. ' "I still have that fear," said Jesse Pullins, who listed some of the extra precautions he had been taking since the slayings became publicized. "We walk around in groups. No. More than that We live in groups." ' ? Pullins, dressed in shorts, was perched on the bench with his brother, Lucius, and two friends Vincent Beasley and Ronald Towns. All are students at Hoke Smith High School in southeast Atlanta, and all fit the age and race profile of the victims in the string of slayings that has haunted the city since July 1979. "I'm sure there are at least two or more killers out there," said Jesse Pullins. "Probably four or five," added Beasley. The reaction of the four young blacks was similar to that expressed by others interviewed Monday by The Atlanta Constitution. Most were grateful for what seemed to be a break in at least one of the cases, but no one dared to believe the city's nightmare would end with Williams' arrest. , Perhaps the only spontaneous, joyful reaction to the news came Sunday night at Piedmont Park where the Atlanta Symphony was performing. Fulton County Commission Chairman Michael Lomax took the stage to open the concert and told the crowd that there had been an arrest in the case. "That brought rather loud applause and hurrays. They were tremendously relieved and pretty overwhelmed. The initial response was a tremendous sense of relief." Lomax asked the crowd to stand in memory of the slaying victims, he said, "in hopes that (Sunday's) event marked an end to a tragic chapter of the city's history. The 20,000 people who had been sitting down suddenly were standing." i , But he said the morning-after reaction apparently was, quieter. "I think every--body is sobered in this community. (Atlantans) have endured so much emotionally for so long, they are not pre-" pared to give over, to euphoria. I think , people understand that this is only one arrest and one charge and that the inves-. . ' ligation Is ongoing." f i ' r. Officials said the arrest was based on a similarity between fibers found in Williams' home and on the body of victim Nathaniel Cater as well as the spotting of Williams on a bridge over the Chattahoochee River. Cater was found in the river two days later on May 24. Dorothy Bolden, founder and president 1 of the National Domestic Workers Union here, said she talked Monday to some of ' her membership about the arrest and found them "highly disappointed because they (police) don't seem to have much evidence." .. ' "It's kind of a dead-end feeling," she said. "People aren't so enthusiastic over . his being arrested. A lot of people said it's a frame-up, that it's mixed up." Doubts extended beyond the black community. The Rev. Charles Higgins, who pastors a white Independent church in Cobb County, said he and his friends "have a great deal of skepticism" about ' the arrest. "I'm confident it isn't over simply for the reason 'that I cannot be convinced that one individual is responsible for all the killings," said Higgins, a former Oklahoma City police officer who was -sipping a soft drink at Lenox Square in northeast Atlanta. "I fear, however, that he (Williams) could become a scapegoat for a number of them because police officials have been feeling the pressure." Those who monitor Atlanta's potential for violence, meanwhile, said the arrest should be a big help in keeping the city peaceful through the hot summer. "It does make the community feel a little calmer," said Grace Davis, who founded Atlanta Women Against Crime. "It is a relief to know they have arrested someone. But we can't get excited over it. We still have 27 other (killings) that no one has been arrested for." Ozell Sutton, who heads the federal Community Relations Service office in Atlanta, said the "simple arrest of a person is far from a conviction or any real pointedness toward guilt There has been so many ups and downs in the case. People are reluctant to feel exuberant about anything. What they are saying is, 'We're glad that something is occurring, but there is no use in getting jubilant until there is some solution to the problem of the other 27 people."' Still, Emma Ford and her neighbors have allowed themselves to get a little bit excited about the arrest of Williams. - Mrs. Ford, who heads the Kimberly Road tenants association and recently was named as a liaison between the city and public housing residents, said, "I'm really glad the police have come up with a suspect We have so many people who felt they were lackadaisical and weren't interested and that if it had been a white child they would have done more." The tenant association leader said she was especially surprised that the person arrested is black and middle class. On the other end of the city, the affluent northside, the conversation about the arrest also was non-stop. Bea Ross sat at a Lenox Square table and said she trusted the police and the action they had taken. - r-v. Asked if she had discussed the case with friends, she noted, "Of course. Everybody in Atlanta is talking about it, has been talking about it all along." Arrest Continued From Page l-A Officials' fear that Williams might flee was bolstered by a report that the suspect's father, Homer Williams, had visited the Fulton County Airport-Brown Field on Saturday looking for a private pilot. Officials said that last Friday Atlanta FBI Agent-in-Charge John Glover and acting U.S. Attorney Dorothy Kirkley argued forcefully for the arrest and prosecution of Williams during a meeting called by Busbee at the Governor's Mansion in Atlanta., Glover argued that Williams might escape police surveillance and pose a threat to public safety,-officials added. His warning was echoed, they said, by GBI Director Phil Peters, who also attended the meeting. The governor also sought to assure Slaton that the GBI and FBI would not leave the investigation once Slaton brought the charge, one official said. "He wanted Slaton to know that everyone would continue to be supportive," said the official "It was clear that he (Busbee) was pressuring him (Slaton) to move," another participant in the meeting said. "The governor was not pleased with the inaction." The governor called the meeting at the request of a high-ranking federal official in Washington acting on behalf of the FBI, which had been pushing for Williams' arrest for several weeks. Busbee, Vice President George Bush and Public Safety Commissioner Lee Brown Monday denied published reports that Bush had called Busbee and asked him to set up the meeting. However, other officials privately said that an unidentified federal official called Busbee on Thursday with the request ; . Busbee said during a news conference in Washington, "I don't think the White House has ever pressured me to do anything." ; . ,v.y,--y According to participants, Georgia Attorney General Arthur K. Bolton and three of his deputies attended the meeting Friday at the mansion but did not take an active role in the discussions. . One participant said an "implied threat" was made that Busbee might direct Bolton to prosecute Williams if Slaton refused to take action. However, other participants noted that Busbee also defended Slaton's right to handle the case as he saw fit "You don't make any specific threat to a guy like Slaton," one source said. "You just bring the person who could replace him to the meeting." Under Georgia law, the state attorney general's office can prosecute a local case at the governor's direction if the district attorney fails to act. The governor can appoint any practicing attorney to act as a special prosecutor. Such a prosecutor would then work through the attorney general's office. According to participants, Slaton said during the meeting that he was close to authorizing an arrest but wanted time to develop stronger evidence that would increase his chances of gaining a conviction.' Following the meeting, Slaton and his staff met Friday night but made no decision to arrest Williams. The decision to arrest Williams came at a meeting Sunday of district attorney's staff workers and members of the special police task force investigating the slayings. The Friday meeting at the governor's mansion came on the heels of a conversation between Busbee and Jackson Thursday in which the two agreed that Williams should be arrested and prosecuted. Slaton, officials said, was aware of the pro-arrest sentiment but probably not aware of any agreement between Busbee and Jackson about a special prosecutor. In any event, officials said, Slaton probably would not take a weak case to trial whether there was mention of a special prosecutor or not By the time Slaton and his staff gathered on Sunday, word of new and firmer laboratory test results had reached Busbee and Jackson, and "the governor, the mayor and the top police officials all agreed that an indictment should be sought," a source said. Various officials interviewed Monday said several concerns and bits of evidence came together prior to the week-: end and helped spur the arrest of Wil- Fibers liams. None of that evidence was startling or new, investigators said. Williams for weeks has been under constant police surveillance. Such intense surveillance was in itself unusual, and many officiate felt that police had to arrest Williams or drop their surveillance, ne official said. The official added that police had loped that Williams would think he had ihaken the officers trailing him and lead , Mlice to some valuable evidence. But Williams in fact eluded police on .wo occasions and over the weekend led them on a chase by the homes of Mayor Jackson and Public Safety Commissioner Brown. That worried police "And because of the nature of the case and the neighborhood, discreet (subtle) surveillance was impossible," one official said. Two top law enforcment officers said authorities had been "speculating" for some time that Williams, who until Sunday had not been placed under arrest, might leave town. A spokesman for Hangar One, a firm which charters flights out of Fulton County Airport-Brown Field, said Monday that Williams' father had been at the airport Saturday "looking for a certain flight instructor." He identified the person sought by the elder Williams as Julius Alexander, who is president of the Atlanta Negro Airman's Flying Corp., a private organization headquartered at the airfield. Alexander was not available for comment Monday, and it could not be learned whether the elder Williams ever contacted him Saturday or made any attempt to charter an aircraft Tom Abarr, a supervisor for Hill Aircraft at the county airport, said he did not see the elder Williams on Saturday but did receive a call from one of his competitors who said the FBI had talked to her and that federal agents "did not want us to charter an airplane for this guy Williams." Contributing to this story were Constitution staff writers Ken Willis, Gail Epstein, Henry Eason and T.L Wells. Continued From Page l-A An officer on the scene said that Williams' father, Homer Williams, remained in the house and requested that the officials not use his electricity to conduct the search. Representatives of Fulton County Police Department's crime scene unit pulled a van up into the driveway of the house and took out flood lights and a generator, presumably to use in the house when it got dark. Officers pulled an unmarked detectives' car into the backyard of the house and opened the trunk. Bags of material were sitting next to the car. . Williams' attorney, Mary Welcome, was on the scene talking with the officers. She left about 6:15 p.m., telling reporters she would have no comment task force officers brought dinner for the searchers at 6:35 p.m. The agents already had searched the liouse on June 3, when Williams was interrogated for 12 hours at FBI headquarters downtown, During that search, they confiscated several samples of fibers and hairs found in carpets and clothes in the house. The officials also searched Williams' car at that time. "Dick Berry, spokesman for the FBI, confirmed Monday afternoon that a search warrant had been issued for Williams' house and that a search was taking place. He said the agency would have no comment on the search. Meanwhile, it also was learned Monday that a young mi-croanalyst whose testimony on fibers helped convict Theodore Bundy in the slaying of a Florida child has examined fibers in Atlanta relating to Williams. Lynn Henson, 28, who specializes in fiber analysis for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, confirmed that the State Crime Lab in Georgia had asked her to come to Atlanta June 12 and 13. She was among a number of forensic experts invited to double-check fiber evidence police have collected in connection with the slayings of young black Atlantans. Police believe fibers found on some of the bodies indicate that a number of the slayings are linked by a common denominator. Miss Henson declined Monday to discuss the Atlanta killings or her specific role in analyzing fibers here. "To the best of my knowledge," Dr. Byron Dawson of the Georgia State Crime Lab said, there were "no surprises" that developed from the visits by the out-of-state forensic experts. Contributing to this report were Constitution staff writers T.L Wells, Ken Willis and Sam Hopkins. MART A Riders Resigned To 60$ Fare By Donald Caldwell Constllullon Staff Writer Atlantans seem to be accepting the idea of a 10-cent increase in MARTA transit fares with quiet resignation. There has been little protest of the fare hike since MARTA General Manager Alan Kiepper made the proposal on May 26. This contrasts markedly with the uproar that accompanied last year's transit fare increase from 25 cents to 50 cents, a controversy that is not over yet. A suit is pending against that increase in federal court. 1 On Monday, however, Velda Thompson, one of several Atlanta residents who were interviewed Monday after, the MARTA board voted for the 10-cent increase,, said, "With the progress that they've made with the trains in the last year, I think the 60-cent fare is worth it."' , . . . Edith Satterwhite of Decatur also sup- Farted the increase. "I think it's fair and m going to continue to take the train," she said. One of the criticisms most frequently cited by opponents of the hike was that the wages of MARTA bus drivers arc too high. Many felt that it is unfair to increase the system's costs to the public at the same time that many transit worker salaries are in the $24,000-125,000 range. "The biggest concern in my mind right now is the wages that the bus drivers are getting." said Norm Dodds of Roswell. "I question how well MARTA is monitoring its costs, especially salaries," he said U Kenneth Street Velda Thompson Edith Satterwhite "It's ridiculous!" said Kenneth Street of Atlanta. "The bus drivers are already making top dollar, and it's the poor who are having to pay for it." Ronald Alston, also of Atlanta, felt that "MARTA isn't making the budget cuts it needs to make in the right places." Salaries must be controlled, he said. "I don't think any bus driver is worth $25,000 a year." Fred Mangct of Decatur opposed the increase, saying that "the unions and the MARTA board have gotten together and agreed to allow costs to rise and let the public suffer. I would, however, support a five-cent increase If the transit unions agreed to some cuts," he said. Opinion was divided over how high MARTA fares would have to before commuters would switch to cars. The figure most frequently mentioned was $1, though one man said he would be willing to pay $2, since the cost of parking a car in downtown Atlanta would re-, main prohibitively expensive up to that ' point. ' ' "I'd pay a dollar or more since I don't have a car," said Ronald Alston. Jose Maldonado, a transplanted New Yorker, was perhaps the most representative of all the MARTA riders interviewed. "I'm not in favor of paying more money for transit, but when you compare Atlanta's services to the paucity of services in New York, it's not all that bad," he said. "I don't have a car so I'm hostage to MARTA." , Continued From Page l-A essential to making MARTA permanently viable. "Let's begin with a symbolic act relinquishing board compensation and asking all employees to forgo certain levels of increase to get us through this crisis while we go to work to do the things we need to do . . .," said Lowery. ., Murray called for forfeiture of cost-of-living adjustment increases for all MARTA workers; no remuneration for board members; purchase of diesel fuel from the low bidder on a daily basis; and utilization of buses in storage rather than purchasing new equipment ,. He also called for MARTA to give up its memberships at the Commerce Gub and City Club; and to begin charging at all of its park-and-ride lots. i' H Other ways of saving and making money suggested by Murray include leasing concession stands in MARTA stations and charging "premium fares" from the park -and-ride lots on the borders of counties that don't pay the MARTA sales tax. Union officials have said repeatedly isince the proposed fare Increases were .announced on May 26 that they will not iglve up the cost-of-living adjustment in 'their contract with MARTA. They also contend that it is "overpaid executives," not overpaid workers, who are hurting the system. According to J.C. Reynolds, (oca) MARTA MMiy:::::y --y:- " 9r ljj - ;tf.. . yty: i - S'f ; "" ' """'T :V'" ' "t Alan Kiepper (right), MARTA's general manager, checks figures with board chair-man Dan Pattillo. (Staff Photo-Andy Sharp). E resident of the Amalgamated Transit additional 5 cents shortly after New nion, the transit system board knows it Year's, but is awaiting to announce it so is going to have to raise cash fares by an It can blame the union.

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