True crime network Investigation Discovery has commissioned Will Packer Media and Jupiter Entertainment to produce a documentary special about the murder of 29 African-American children in 1979.
The Atlanta Child Murders will revisit the state of Georgia in the late 1970s when the remains of two 14-year-old boys are found, with one boy fatally shot and the other strangled. The incident begins a 23-month ordeal in which 29 African-American children, aged 9 to 14, are abducted from their families and murdered, and found discarded near rivers, woods, and back alleyways. Following mounting pressure and dead-end leads, Atlanta police rush to arrest 23-year-old Wayne Williams, a black man who was suspected of killing two adults in the Atlanta area.
In 1981 police narrow their sights on 23-year-old Wayne Williams, a black man who was suspected of killing two adults in the Atlanta area. After an exhaustive investigation, Wayne Williams was finally arrested. While he was initially charged with the murder of two adults, the judge allowed the prosecution to attribute ten additional victims to him, essentially putting Williams on trial for the entire Atlanta Child Murders case. After the longest trial in Georgia’s history,. Although he was never tried for the murders of the children, the public jumped to place him as the culprit. But was he a scapegoat? Because he was never brought to trial, many mothers of victims do not believe Williams is the killer.
Never tried for the murders of the children, Williams was convicted of the adult murders and sentenced to two consecutive life terms in Georgia Hancock State Prison. Many mothers of victims, however, do not believe that Williams is their children’s killer after facts surrounding his conviction in the early 2000′s were revisited.
The three-part special will focus in on whether Williams is truly responsible for these crimes or if something far more sinister was at play in the heart of the South.
“Having lived in Atlanta for over 20 years, the story of this senseless tragedy is personally important to me, and the echoes of what happened 40 years ago still resonate in the city,” said Packer in a statement. “I am proud to give a voice to the victims’ families, many of whom still seek closure to this day, and analyze how this story is more relevant than ever in today’s environment.”
The Atlanta Child Murders premieres on Investigation Discovery on March 23 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Jupiter’s Harrison Land, Mike Sheridan and Allison Wallach serve as executive producers alongside Will Packer Media’s Will Packer and Kelly Smith. For Investigation Discovery Pamela Deutsch is executive producer, Sara Kozak is SVP of production, Kevin Bennett is GM, and Henry S. Schleiff is group president of ID, Travel Channel, American Heroes Channel and Destination America.
The commission served as part of Investigation Discovery’s TCA presentation on Tuesday (Feb. 12), alongside further unscripted series greenlights, including a six-part series that follows a detective and his photographic memory.
Deadly Recall (pictured) explores how Nashville homicide detective Pat Postiglione uses his photographic memory to help him solve crimes.
Deadly Recall premieres March 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Investigation Discovery.
“There are very few men like Det. Pat Postiglione, and that’s not just due to his exceptional memory,” said Schleiff in a statement. “He encapsulates what it means to be dedicated to justice, using every ounce of his energy, determination – and, his unique gift – to bring closure, finally, to the families of the victims of these tragic, yet enigmatic cases.”
In other news, U.S. Marshals have captured wanted fugitive Luis Frias after a tip from a viewer of ID’s In Pursuit with John Walsh, which had profiled Frias in its premiere episode on Jan. 16.
Frias has been on John Walsh’s personal most wanted list since 2013 for allegedly stabbing his ex-wife, Janett Reyna, to death in front of their children. He was returned to the U.S. from Mexico and handed over to the U.S. Marshalls this morning (Feb 12).
The series airs in Canada, Mexico and the rest of Latin America based on the suspicion that some fugitives like Frias have fled the U.S. and could be identified by viewers elsewhere.
“The first fugitive on the very first episode of In Pursuit has been captured and will be brought to justice,” said host and executive producer John Walsh in a statement. “A victim’s family doesn’t have to look over their shoulders anymore. Luis Frias, wanted for the murder of his ex-wife Janett Reyna, has been apprehended in Mexico from a direct tip from one of our brave ID viewers and thanks to our great partners, the U.S. Marshals. Keep looking out for each other out there, and I promise, we will keep listening.”
In Pursuit airs in the U.S. on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ID.
(With files from Frederick Blichert)