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Atlanta Monster: A Tale of Two Sides

Saron Bitew, Reporter

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If over 28 children died, with one major commonality, it’s easy to believe that characteristic is what led to their unfortunate demise.

However, the Atlanta Child Murders of 1978-81 split the country between biases of why these children were being murdered. Instead of putting the spotlight on the deceased, for a duration of the investigation the community focused on whether the mostly male and all black children were murdered by someone white or black.

Most of the white community presumed a black male committed the crimes, while the families of the victims and the African-American community presumed it was a hate crime committed by a hate group.                 

The time period itself and Atalanta were already embroiled in racial tensions and segregation. And people only became even more divided as the African-American and Caucasian community avoided one another. Black children learned to fear the night and it’s criminals even more as they wondered if they may be the next victim.

Atlanta Monster highlights the true story of the Atlanta Child Murders in a heartbreaking, gripping, and nostalgic fashion that twists and digs deeper into the story than the public knew.

A perpetrator has been convicted of the crimes, however there seems to be more to the story than the public initially thought. Payne Lindsey directs the eight-part saga that documents the conspiracies and events involved in the child murders. The music, dialogue, sequence, and perceptions are only a few of the intriguing elements of the documentary. They come together to give it a Stranger Things aura, apart from its plot.

From the title Atlanta Monster sounds like a Netflix Series or TV show, yet it is actually a podcast. Having never listened to podcasts before, the Atlanta Monster only made it more enjoyable for me. There may be no images, but the audio itself is well put together in a way that truly captivates anyone who listens.

Listening to the heartbreaking tale isn’t simply sad, the podcast goes beyond what the police claimed to discover and goes straight to the families of victims and locals at the time to hear their side of the story alongside the recountings of the FBI.

As you delve deeper into the story, you realize that the locals and police had very different views on what had truly happened to the children and who had killed them. It becomes more and more complicated as alleged witnesses to some of the crimes tell their side of the story and private investigations align with their stories and theories.

Although the man who was convicted may have committed crimes such as murder, whether or not he killed the boys was never really evident. The podcast itself seems to be trying to reopen the case and discover who the real perpetrators may have been.

After listening, I thought that the investigations may have been manipulated to calm the public down and simply give everyone a face for the crimes. Therefore, the man in prison now should stay in jail for his own crimes, if any, but should not be held accountable for the crimes of another perpetrator or perpetrators. After discussing the podcast with Tiana Register, a stranger to the story, she said, “It’s interesting that he was arrested when there may not have been sufficient evidence to put him in jail. If they have no solid evidence that he murdered the children, but there may be strong evidence with other individuals, then he doesn’t deserve to got to jail. It seems a bit ludacris. He should only be put in jail for his own crimes.”

Once I had summarized the story with the librarians,  they also had similar views with Tiana. Mrs. Coon stated, “The case should probably be reopened if there is a possibility that the actual murderer of the children was not found. It seems like there are some missing pieces.” Mrs. McKeown added, “If you believe in the justice system working as it should, they should have investigated the case more and gotten adequate evidence”

As interesting as the case seems, there is only so much that I know about it now because the podcast series has not yet ended. Every episode stops with an even greater cliffhanger than before which only makes the plot more complicated.

However, I would issue a trigger warning because it does discuss topics that may be sensitive for some people, as it mentions graphic details about the deaths and and abuse of some of these children. It may not be for the faint of heart because it is frightening and disturbing at times.

Atlanta Monster is free on itunes, soundcloud, and it is available on the website Atlanta Monster as well. It is currently on it’s fourth part and premiers every Friday.

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