I can’t believe we’re living in a world where Mindhunter Season 3 may not actually happen, but David Fincher’s a busy guy and here we are. While we wait for that fickle project to maybe or maybe not come back, HBO is more than happy to fill the gap by creating a documentary series that will look at the Atlanta child murders that occurred more than 40 years ago.
True crime is always a popular genre, but the Atlanta child murders were harrowing because so many children in such a small area went missing in the late seventies and early 1980s. In addition, there are still questions around what happened with the resolution. For instance, 23-year-old Wayne Williams was indicted, prosecuted and is currently in jail for the murders of two adults: a 27-year-old man named Nathaniel Cater and 21-year-old Jimmy Ray Payne.
While the child killings stopped after Williams’ arrest, he never faced charges related to any of the child-based crimes. It’s a story stranger than fiction, as Wayne Williams has been tied to the child murders by members of the police, but was never prosecuted or indicted on any of those counts, leaving countless families without closer.
Why Is HBO Planning A Series On The Atlanta Child Murders Now?
The new HBO series will be called Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children. It will focus on the 30 kids and young adults who went missing in a very short period of time between 1979 and 1981. Back in March of 2019, Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that cases related to the Atlanta child murders were being reopened and that additional testing would be done to some of the evidence to try to get more specific answers related to what happened to those kids.
The docuseries will be told in five parts and will feature both archival material and new interviews hoping to explain the real feelings of unease, shock and tragedy surrounding the true crime event to a new generation of viewers.
The Atlanta child murders have been fresh on peoples’ minds in recent months thanks to being a focal point in Mindhunter Season 2. While that show followed a lot of the basic beats of the court case, a docuseries would ultimately give more detail and be more accurate for viewers who are wanting to know more about the topic.
True crime has often been fascinating for viewers, but Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children has an added component of built-in interest due to the topical nature of what’s been happening with the case. There’s the aforementioned Mindhunter and ID had its own series Atlanta Child Murders from producer Will Packer, which also aired last year.
When You Can Watch Atlanta’s Missing And Murdered
HBO’s take on the historical cases will air on HBO On Demand, HBO NOW, and HBO GO with the first episodes streaming on Sunday, April 5. The first episode, “Part 1” will air at 8 ET/9 PT, per the subscription cabler.
HBO programming typically still airs on a weekly basis and that’s true of Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children. Episodes will air on Sunday nights through May 5, when the finale “Part 5” will hit the schedule. The final episode will focus more on the aftermath and recent events than the initial case.
You can see what to expect in each part below:
Debut date: SUNDAY, APR. 5 (8:00-9:00 p.m. ET/PT) Known as “The City Too Busy To Hate,” in the 1970s Atlanta is on the rise, fueled by excitement over the election of the city’s first black mayor. Below the surface, however, long-held racial and economic divisions are percolating. When African American children begin disappearing and showing up dead, the city is on the verge of an unprecedented crisis. Outraged that their elected leaders seem more concerned with maintaining Atlanta’s image than with protecting the city’s children, members of the black community, led by Camille Bell, the mother of one of the slain boys, call for swift action. An explosion at a local daycare center leaves five dead, and their frustration reaches a fever pitch.
Debut date: SUNDAY, APR. 12 (8:00-9:00 p.m. ET/PT) By 1980, as distrust in the police and city officials deepens, citizens organize to protect their neighborhoods and take matters into their own hands. When a volunteer search party finds a slain child in an area local police canvassed a day earlier and more and more children continue to disappear, the FBI is called to step in. But even the Feds seem to make little headway, and conspiracy theories of who might be behind the murders take root, from the Klan to a cult to pedophilia. We learn more about Wayne Williams, a local talent scout, who might have been recruiting some of the victims.
Debut date: SUNDAY, APR. 19 (8:00-9:00 p.m. ET/PT) With the city’s reputation on the line, and the murder count rising, law enforcement faces immense pressure to make an arrest. On May 22, 1981, an FBI stakeout of the city’s bridges leads investigators to 23-year-old Wayne Williams, who becomes the main suspect in the killings and is promptly arrested in connection to the murders of two men in their 20s. As Williams’ trial gets underway in January 1982, victims’ family members, the press and the public descend on the courthouse to witness the trial of a case that has grabbed headlines across the country.
Debut date: SUNDAY, APR. 26 (7:45-9:00 p.m. ET/PT) In a move that stuns Wayne Williams’ defense attorney, Mary Welcome, prosecutors introduce pattern evidence mid-trial that they assert links him to ten of the child murders. Drawing predominantly on hair and carpet fibers found on the victims that allegedly match items in Williams’ car and home, the jury delivers a swift guilty verdict in February 1982. Just days later, the Atlanta police department shuts down the task force investigating the 30 murders, and attributes most of the cases to Wayne Williams. A year later, as the dissent of an unconvinced community grows louder, the Georgia Supreme Court makes the controversial decision to deny Williams’ plea for a retrial.
"Part 5 (Series finale)"
Debut date: SUNDAY, MAY 3 (7:45-9:00 p.m. ET/PT) In the mid-1980s, Wayne Williams’ appeals attorney Lynn Whatley anonymously receives shocking new evidence connecting members of the Klan to the murders. An undercover informant and several investigators take the stand as a judge evaluates Williams’ plea for a retrial. Forty years after the murders began, the victims’ family members gather to grieve, discuss Williams’ guilt or innocence, and assert their unwavering commitment to finding out what really happened to their children.
For more information on what is hitting the TV schedule before the end of the season, take a look at CinemaBlend’s full winter and spring schedule.