ATLANTA — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says investigators have extracted DNA evidence in the Atlanta Child Murders and they're hoping to have additional information on them in the next few months.
Bottoms announced the updates during a Friday morning press conference, detailing recommendations made by an anti-violence advisory she formed in May.
Since reopening the cases in March of 2019, investigators have reviewed 40% of evidence to determine items that can be submitted for additional processing to a private lab, Bottoms said.
According to Bottoms, investigators moved forward with processing that evidence on June 21, but they are not sharing the names of the identified victims that researchers were able to extract DNA from for further testing.
"We want to be mindful of the integrity of the investigation," she said.
Bottoms says the private lab has "extensive experience" with processing old or deteriorated evidence and DNA, and a successful history in providing evidence for nationwide high-profile murder cases. She did not specify the name of the agency assisting with the investigations.
The Atlanta Child Murders are considered to have occurred during a narrow window of time, the years of 1979 –1981, but the investigation team is now extending the possible timeline from 1970 to 1985, Bottoms revealed. She says they've broadened that window to consider any additional children or other victims that were possibly overlooked.
"Fiber evidence was reanalyzed in all 30 of the cases," Bottoms said.
The investigative team has already been able to send off DNA for additional analysis in two cases. Bottoms says they hope to have additional facts in those incidents within the next few months, before her tenure as mayor comes to a close.
Bottoms, who grew up in the area when 29 children were killed in a series of murders that led to terrify the city of Atlanta for decades, says she is hoping the next mayor continues in her efforts to further the investigations if more information isn't released during her mayoral run.
"If not, I trust that whomever the next mayor is will keep this as a priority," Bottoms said. "And it's truly my hope that, with the analysis of this additional DNA, that we can have some additional answers."
Wayne Williams has been named as the man behind the murders, but his guilt is still widely debated. Williams was only convicted of killing two adult men and sentenced to life in prison in 1982, but has always maintained his innocence.
In March of 2019, Bottoms made the decision to re-examine cases and DNA evidence as part of a message to Atlanta’s historic Black community.
"What, if anything, more could we take a look at to make sure that we have examined everything possible to make sure that the person person or people responsible being held accountable," Bottoms said.