DNA evidence from the Atlanta Child Murders is headed to a specialized lab in Salt Lake City, Utah, according to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

“It is my sincere hope that there will be concrete answers for the families,” Bottoms said on Twitter.

The Atlanta Police Department in a statement Monday night confirmed its investigators are taking evidence to Salt Lake City.

“Considering the emergence of new science and technology related to DNA testing, the Atlanta Police Department realized an opportunity to re-evaluate evidence from the Atlanta Child Murders case,” APD said in a separate statement on Tuesday. “We identified a private lab in Salt Lake City, Utah, that specializes in analyzing deteriorated DNA.  Our investigators are hand-delivering evidence to the lab, this week.”

The police department added: “As with all murder cases, our investigators dedicate countless hours of time and energy to successfully solve cases and bring some sense of closure to victims’ relatives.”

The Atlanta Child Murders occurred between 1979 and 1981, according to the FBI. More than 25 African American children, teens and young adults went missing and were found dead in areas including Brookhaven and Buckhead.

The investigation was closed following the conviction of Wayne Bertram Williams in the murders of two adults. He was suspected by authorities of committing most of the other killings, but he was never charged.

Bottoms had announced the new DNA testing effort in March 2019, along with former Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields and former Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard. It followed the airing of a TV documentary by Will Packer.

Bottoms has also committed to building a permanent memorial on the grounds of City Hall, called the Atlanta Children’s Eternal Flame Project.

“It is my hope that this memorial will honor the lives of each victim and bring some comfort to the families impacted by this dark time in our city’s history,” Bottoms said in a statement earlier this month. “We must continue to call the victims’ names and remember their lives to ensure they are never forgotten. These innocent young people mattered then and they matter today.” 

Update: This story was updated with additional comments from the Atlanta Police Department.

Amy Wenk

Amy Wenk was editor of Reporter Newspapers in 2021-22.