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Prosecutor Says Wayne Williams Case Should Not Be Reopened

January 15, 1987

ATLANTA (AP) _ Police should resist public pressure to reopen 22 child killings blamed on Wayne B. Williams because no new evidence has emerged in the 5-year-old case, a prosecutor says.

Fulton County District Attorney Lewis Slaton said in an interview Wednesday that he felt sorry for mothers who demanded Tuesday that police charge Williams in the 22 killings or reopen the investigations.

″A lot of people thought many of the cases were closed quickly. ... But the issue is, is there any new evidence? ... As far as I know, there is no new evidence that has come forward,″ Slaton said.

Between 1979 and 1981, 29 young blacks were killed in the Atlanta area. Williams was convicted in 1982 of murdering two of them - Nathaniel Cater, 27, and Jimmy Ray Payne, 21.

Following Williams’ conviction, police blamed 22 of the other slayings on him and closed those investigations, but he was never formally charged with them. Five cases remain officially open.

Williams, now 28, has appealed his conviction.

After a meeting Tuesday with mothers of 13 of the victims, Public Safety Commissioner George Napper said he would discuss with Slaton whether Williams should be charged in more of the cases.

However, Slaton said Napper had not contacted him about reopening the cases.

″Napper is not going to come to me and ask me to indict anybody without sufficient evidence because of pressure,″ Slaton said. ″He might ask my advice about reopening one of the murder cases for more investigation.″

Napper did not return several telephone calls Wednesday.

Police recently released two files detailing the investigations into the 1980 slayings of 13-year-old Clifford Jones and 12-year-old Charles Stephens, two of the 22 killings blamed on Williams. The files contain no indication that Williams was a suspect in either murder.

However, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation forensic report in the Jones file said microscopic fibers were found on the boy’s body. Fiber evidence played a crucial role when Williams was convicted of two other murders.

The files in both cases show that authorities considered arresting suspects other than Williams, but no charges were filed because witnesses could not provide conclusive evidence.

On Wednesday, Slaton said some of the mothers of the victims may be demanding new charges in the Williams case because of an inaccurate television report that said there were five witnesses to the Jones killing.

Following the meeting with Napper on Tuesday, Louise Freeman, Stephens’ aunt, said she was angry: ″They won’t tell why, if Wayne Williams killed all our children, they won’t try him for each one of the cases.″

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