By Diana Champ Davis, vice president, capacity & CFO
My family moved to the Atlanta area in 1983. One of my earliest memories in our new home was watching the news and hearing about the missing and murdered children cases and Wayne Williams. Fast forward 30 years and I’m sitting in a new employee orientation and the Community Foundation’s CEO, Alicia Philipp, is talking about events in Atlanta’s history that are important for Foundation employees to know and understand. She shared some of the history of the missing and murdered children cases of the early 1980s. It pushed my perspective. Understanding the legacy of these events is critical to our ability to effectively work in this community and engage for good. It is important to recognize the indelible mark these events had on the community and realize how the souls of the mothers who lost their children (and often were blamed) were forever altered. It made me appreciate how the children who lived with the real possibility of a “boogeyman” impact Atlanta to this day.
That is why I was intrigued by Atlanta Monster, a podcast hosted by Payne Lindsey. Using an investigative journalism style, Lindsey walks listeners through the Atlanta child murders case. If you didn’t live in Atlanta in the late 1970s and early 1980s you will learn so much about life in Atlanta during this time. If you did live here during this period you will likely adjust what you believe to be true about the case. Did Wayne Williams murder all of these children? How were prosecutors able to link the 25 murders on “the list” to Wayne Williams? Did you know there were missing children who never made it to “the list?” Was Wayne Williams a scapegoat?
As you set your New Year resolutions, download Atlanta Monster. I love books, but podcasts are another way to expand my thinking as I go about my day. Atlanta Monster’s engaging storytelling and details of the case straight from many of the investigators and news reporters of the time may tempt you to extend your time on the treadmill. You will likely gain a new perspective of this pivotal time in Atlanta history.