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Mindhunter Season 2 Episode 6 Has a Subtle Wayne Williams Clue That Supports Atlanta Child Murder Theories
Mindhunter’s second season ended in what should have been a victory—the arrest of Wayne Williams, the suspected perpetrator of the Atlanta Child Murders. But as in the real-life case, it didn’t feel like justice was served. Though the string of 24 murders of children stopped with Williams’ arrest, he was only convicted of killing two adults. Forty years after the first murders, no one has been charged for killing the children, and the case was just reopened in March.
Though physical evidence linked Williams to some of the murders, doubts have lingered for years as to whether or not he is responsible for all of the killings. And Mindhunter made a nod to this uncertainty in a moment spotted by an observant Redditor.
In episode six, Atlanta police comb the woods in response to a call from an anonymous racist, who took credit for the killings and said that a child’s body would be found off Sigman road. Journalists hover nearby, asking police if they’d found any bodies. Among the reporters is a face that becomes familiar in later episodes—that of Wayne Williams, who, on the show as in real life, worked as a freelance photographer.
That killers sometimes return to the scene of their crimes is one of the season’s themes. In an interview in Episode Five, serial killer Ed Kemper tells agents Ford and Tench that by returning to his murder sites he could “relive the experience, feel the same elation, the incredible release.”
So in showing Williams as part of a scrum of reporters, Mindhunter suggests that he, too, could have potentially returned to the scene of his killings. In the Kemper interview, Tench asked what he would do if there were “too many people around” for him to make a return visit to the scenes of his crime. Williams’ appearance offered an implied answer—what could be better cover for a visit to an active crime scene than a job as a press photographer?
Still, Mindhunter leaves things ambiguous. No body is found in the scene showing Williams photographing the search of Sigman Road—in fact, the whole sequence is used to show that the tip investigators had been following was a dead-end hoax. But in the series finale, Agent Jim Barney makes reference to the body of a child being found at Sigman Road on a different occasion. Mindhunter leaves it ambiguous—was Williams following the investigation as part of his job as a photographer? Or was he, like Kemper, returning to the scenes of his crimes?
Gabrielle Bruney is a writer and editor for Esquire, where she focuses on politics and culture.