Breaking News
More () »

Eternal flame memorial for Atlanta Child Murders unveiled

Those killed in the Atlanta Child Murders cases were remembered with the memorial.

ATLANTA — Four decades following the series of killings known as the Atlanta Child Murders, which targeted African American children, teens and young adults from 1979-81, a memorial was unveiled to honor those lives lost. 

Among those who spoke Tuesday at the ceremony were Mayor Andre Dickens and former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms - who helped initiate the building of the memorial while in office.

"Some will say it was a long time ago but to us, it seems like yesterday," Bottoms said.

The 30 names etched in stone represent the 28 children and two young adults who went missing during that time frame. 11Alive spoke with some of the families at the ceremony.

"It means so much to me that I can come and see him," said Valarie Mathis, the sister of Jeffery Mathis.

June Thompson said her 10-year-old brother, Darron Glass, was on his way to a Braves game when he went missing. He's never been found but is presumed dead.

"It means a lot to me because their memories are not in vain and I appreciate everything that everyone has did to make this happen and it is beautiful, a beautiful way to honor our loved ones," she said.

About the Memorial 

The Atlanta Children's Eternal Flame memorial, designed by German American artist Gordon Huether, includes an eternal flame and the names of the victims with a touchstone below each name for flowers or tokens to be placed. 

Former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms remembered the lives lost in the Atlanta Child Murders and listed all victims alongside their age during a groundbreaking ceremony in December 2021. 

It is nestled in the heart of Atlanta City Hall grounds.

RELATED: Utah lab examining evidence from Atlanta Child Murder specializes in generating DNA from degraded samples

The memorial was a product of the “Mayor’s Advisory Committee: Atlanta’s Children’s Memorial Taskforce," in 2019, a group of mayoral appointees from the community brought together to build a monument honoring the lives lost during the Child Murders. 

Bottoms, as mayor, reopened the case in March of 2019.

RELATED: Mayor gives update in effort to reexamine Atlanta Child Murders

The investigation

One man, Wayne Williams, has been named as the man behind the murders, but his guilt has been debated. Williams was only convicted of killing two adult men and sentenced to life in prison in 1982 but has always maintained his innocence.

11Alive asked the Atlanta Police Department for an update on the cases Tuesday. Officers said two veteran detectives have been assigned to them. The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office also is partnering with APD on the investigation. 

"Thousands of hours have been spent sorting through decades-old files and evidence as part of their efforts. Some evidence has been submitted for forensic analysis and there are plans to submit additional evidence as the investigation progresses," the statement reads. "We are confident in the work of our detectives, and we are grateful for the assistance from the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office."

APD said the investigation remains open and is still active. To read more articles from 11Alive about the Atlanta Child Murders, head here.


Before You Leave, Check This Out