ATLANTA — 40 years ago the Atlanta Child Murders, a series of killings that targeted African American children, teens, and young adults during 1979 - 1981 took place. 40 years later, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms remembers those killed at the Atlanta Children's Eternal Flame memorial groundbreaking ceremony.
The memorial, designed by German American artist, Gordon Huether, will include an eternal flame and the names of the victims with a touchstone below each name for flowers or tokens to be placed. It will be built outside of Atlanta City Hall.
An emotional Bottoms remembered the 29 lives lost in the Atlanta Child Murders and listed all victims alongside their age during the ceremony Wednesday morning. In attendance were family members of those killed, police, and the city council.
“I’ve said on multiple occasions that the lives of these children and young people matter then, they matter now. This memorial will be a reminder to each of us that their lives matter forevermore,” said Mayor Bottoms.
The memorial comes three years after Mayor Bottoms created the “Mayor’s Advisory Committee: Atlanta’s Children’s Memorial Taskforce," a group of mayoral appointees from the community brought together to build a monument honoring the lives lost during the Child Murders.
Mayor Bottoms reopened the case in March of 2019. Since then, DNA evidence has been sent to a Utah Laboratory to be re-examined. The mayor has not identified the private lab or the names of the victims whose researchers were able to extract DNA for further testing.
“We don’t know if we will have any additional answers or if what we have will confirm what has already been investigated and tried in a court of law,” said Bottoms during the ceremony Wednesday morning.
One man, Wayne Williams has been named as the man behind the murders, but his guilt has been debated. Williams was only convicted of killing two adult men and sentenced to life in prison in 1982 but has always maintained his innocence.
No announcement has been given on when the memorial will be completed as of now.