This weekend, Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children will air it’s Series Finale on HBO (Sunday at 7:45pm EST). The 5-Part Docu-Series presents a compelling new examination of the Atlanta Child Murders, a series of unsolved murders in the late 1970’s that claimed the lives of at least 30 African-American children and young adults. Ultimately a single suspect, Wayne Williams, was arrested and convicted of two adult murders, but was Mr. Williams even involved in the Atlanta Child Murders?

Questions abound as “Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered” expertly paints a picture of Georgia’s capital city. A city “too busy to hate” and in the throws of becoming one of America’s most important centers of black culture. Old south groups like the Ku Klux Klan meet the Civil Rights era politics of Maynard Jackson in the heart of a documentary told by veteran story tellers Sam Pollard, Maro Chermayeff, Joshua Bennett, and Jeff Dupre.

The series mixes TV News footage from locals like WSB-TV, brand new interviews with parents and government officials like Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and archival photography including clippings from The Atlanta Voice’s newspaper archive to immerse the viewer in the sights and sounds of the times. Be warned, Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered does not turn away from gruesome images where other shows on the same subject kept things more tame. This show wants you to feel, hear, and see everything that the public experienced at the time.

The show also focuses on the parents of the victims, in particular Camille Bell. Mrs. Bell was instrumental in bringing national attention to the Atlanta Child Murders, as her son Yuself Bell, was one of the first children to go missing. After the discovery of her son’s body, she continued to go on TV, radio, and newspapers to ask the city when they would convene a special task force to investigate these crimes. In August 1980, Bell formed the Committee to Stop Children’s Murder. Her work and the work of countless others in the Atlanta community eventually led the city and then the FBI to take notice. 

When asked about the tone of the series, one of the series directors, Sam Pollard, told me that “HBO is a great partner. They are committed to telling strong stories.” According to Maro Chermayeff, another series director, they were able to put this project together in about one and a half years. A quick turnaround for such a deep and far reaching look into one of America’s most disturbing crimes. 

“Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children” already has a 93% Positive Rating on Rotten Tomatoes and other reviews agree, this series answers as many questions as it asks. It leaves the viewer with a satisfying taste of life in Atlanta, while leaving the door open to answer the ultimate question of the documentary. Who really killed over 30 black children in Atlanta, Georgia in the late 1970s?

Watch Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children now on HBO.

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