In the late 1970s and early 1980s, fear gripped the city of Atlanta as children were literally kidnapped off the streets and later found murdered. Between the middle of 1979 until May 1981, at least 28 children, adolescents, and young adults (all hailing from the same approximate 11 block radius and all black) were killed- and almost 40 years later, the case is still open.
However, thanks to recent podcasts, the case has garnered renewed interest and Netflix recently announced that the case will serve as the thematic basis for their upcoming season of Mindhunter, which is set to premiere in 2020.
Mindhunter, according to Netflix, is a dramatization that “expands criminal science by delving into the psychology of murder and getting uneasily close to all-too-real monsters.”
“You could probably do three seasons on the Atlanta child murders,” David Fincher, series producer, said in an interview with IndieWire. “It’s a huge and sweeping and tragic story. We couldn’t do it justice in the background of our nine hours. We had to choose to dramatize.”
Fincher also noted that the Atlanta murders tie into the time period in which the series has been focused on- namely the late 1970’s with the Charles Manson and Son of Sam cases. “In the 70s, post-Manson, post-Son of Sam, post-Zodiac, there really was, I don’t think you can say it was an epidemic, but there was definitely the feeling that the notion of this has gotten away from us,” Fincher continued to Indiewire about the atmosphere of Season 2.
As the killings intensified around 1980, panic swept the city. The city of Atlanta imposed curfews and children were also often forbade them from playing outside. Despite the fact that over 100 law enforcement officers from Atlanta PD, Georgia State Police, and the FBI worked the investigation, the only arrest that was made was of Wayne Williams, who was convicted of the murders of two adults, Nathaniel Cater, and Jimmy Ray Payne.