'He Was On A Mission': Man Recounts Childhood Encounter With Atlanta Child Murders Killer

Months after the body of Isaac Roger's brother was pulled from the Chattahoochee River, the man behind the Atlanta Child Murders came gunning for him too, he claims.

By Gina Tron
Digital Original
A Short History of the Atlanta Child Murders

A man whose brother was believed to have been killed by the Atlanta Child Murders killer is now reflecting on his own scary experience running into the killer. 

Isaac Rogers was just 7 in 1981 when he claims he ran into Wayne Williams, who is believed to be behind the numerous slayings dubbed the “Atlanta Child Murders.” Between 1979 and 1981, bodies of children, teens, and young adults, many as young as 9 and primarily African American and lower-income, were found murdered all over the city. Over the course of those two years, nearly 30 people were murdered, very possibly by the same serial killer.

Williams, an aspiring music producer who attempted to produce youth-based bands, was found guilty of murdering two adult victims in 1982, and was sentenced to life in prison. Williams was never charged in the other murders, let alone any child murders, but police still claimed they've linked him to at least 20 of the victims. It is widely believed that he is the serial killer behind most of the nearly 30 deaths, despite that belief being questioned as of late.

In a recent interview with PEOPLE, Rogers, now 46, recounted the scary 1981 encounter. He was walking into his Atlanta apartment complex with two of his cousins when an adult man in the hallway tried to block them in a stairwell.

Wayne Williams

Just months earlier, Rogers’ 16-year-old brother Patrick was murdered. His body was pulled out of the Chattahoochee River in December 1980. Rogers had been interviewed about his brother's death recently, and Rogers believes that’s why he thinks he saw Williams in his building.

“Once that magazine began circulating, that pretty much put a target on my back, and low and behold, that’s when Wayne came back,” Rogers told PEOPLE. “He came back to get me. To try to tie up loose ends.”

While Rogers’ cousins dispersed, he said he knocked on his neighbor’s door screaming for help. He was freaked out by the man, who he said was following him.

“I remember vividly how calm he was,” Rogers said. “Like, he was on a mission, which told me he’s done this before.”

He claimed the next time he saw him was in the news, when Williams was arrested. 

“I told my mother, that’s the guy!”

The second season of Netflix’s hit “Mindhunter” will focus on the Atlanta murders, which has been described as an “investigation steeped in bitter controversy," according to the book "Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit," which the show is based upon.

Earlier this year, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced at a press conference that evidence in the decades-old case will be retested using modern-day technology, as many victims' families "believe that they were never afforded justice," according to Atlanta police chief Erika Shields. 

Mayor Bottoms promised to try to make some form of amends for the way the city handled the case decades ago. Last week, she said officials will “make sure their [the victim’s] memories are not forgotten and, in the truest sense of the word, to let the world know that black lives do matter."

Williams has always maintained his innocence.

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