One of John Douglas’ most famous cases was that of the Atlanta child murders — in part because of the heinousness of the crimes, and in part because of how the killer seemed to be nothing like what Atlanta police had expected. Between 1979 and 1981, 24 children between ages 7 and 17 were murdered, their bodies dumped in rivers or behind dumpsters. Most of them were young boys, and all of them were black.
According to The New York Times, many believed the killer was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and the murders were racially motivated. Douglas, however, disagreed with the assumption. In The Killer Across the Table, he wrote (via the New York Post), “First, these were not Klan-like murders; there was no symbolism, no behavior intended to intimidate or cause fear, and no signature or taking credit for the crimes.”
When 23-year-old Wayne Bertram Williams was caught, he fit Douglas’ profile exactly. In 1982, Williams was convicted of killing two adults. Though he was connected to the child murders, he was never tried for them. Regardless, 22 of the cases were closed once Williams was convicted.