The Atlanta child murders (the name for the crimes even though not all the victims were children) spanned from 1979 to 1981. At least 28 Black children, teens, and adults were killed. It's this case that fictional FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) will examine over the course of season 2, as they once again cross paths with serial killers like Ed Kemper (Cameron Britton) and Charles Manson (Damon Herriman, who also portrayed the cult leader in Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood.)
In real life, there are still many questions about the murders. In 1982, Wayne Williams was convicted of killing two adults, and police have speculated that he is behind the other killings as well. He is the only person the police have convicted in connection with the 1979 to 1981 crimes. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called for a new investigation into the crimes to be opened.
Ford and Tench will be in for a difficult journey this season. The Atlanta murders still puzzle many crime enthusiasts, in addition to law enforcement. There are many theories about who is really to blame for the murders. Many consider the handling of the killings to be indicative of the ways American fails its Black citizens.
The interest in the case has led to books, podcasts, and films on the subject. In preparation for season 2 of Mindhunter, here are just a few to check out.
The Podcast: Atlanta Monster
"This is the story of fear, a grieving city, and a search for justice: 40 years ago, and today," reads the official Atlanta Monster site. Investigative journalist Payne Lindsey dissects the Atlanta murders in this podcast from Tenderfoot TV and iHeart Media. It examines the pressure put on law enforcement to catch the "Atlanta Monster," believed by many to be Williams. Lindsey comes at the podcast from the perspective of someone who grew up in Atlanta learning nothing about the murders.
The Book: The Evidence Of Things Not Seen, James Baldwin
In 1985, If Beale Street Could Talk author Baldwin published a nonfiction book about the Atlanta murders. The book explored not only the crime aspect but how the investigation into the case reflected race relations in America.
The Interview: David Fincher On The Treatment
Executive producer and director Fincher talked to The Treatment about diving into the mind of serial killers with his series, as well as the current nature of true crime obsession.
The TV Doc: The Atlanta Child Murders: Six Theories
This video from ID breaks down the theories on the Atlanta child murders that were never corroborated by the police, featuring interviews with family members of victims. One theory suggested in the video is that a member of the Ku Klux Klan orchestrated the killings, while another says that a person convicted of a sex crime who died in prison could have been the one behind the murders.
The 2019 Story: "Who Killed Atlanta's Children?"
In April, Audra D. S. Burch published a piece in The New York Times about the murders and how, after over three decades, justice may finally be served thanks to the help of new technology and a mayor who won't let the case close.
Mindhunter season 2 hits Netflix August 16.