Will Packer and Venus Taylor on 'The Atlanta Child Murders'

The documentary producer and mother of 12-year-old victim Angel Lenair come together to discuss the 1970s Atlanta killing spree.
9:34 | 03/20/19

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Transcript for Will Packer and Venus Taylor on 'The Atlanta Child Murders'
. It's one of the deadliest mass murder sprees in American history. From 1979 to 1981, 29 black children were killed in Atlanta. There are still questions about who the murderer is, but 40 years later why have so many of us never even heard about it? Emmy-nominated producer will packer is hoping to change that with his three-part docuseries, "The Atlanta child murders." Take a look. From 1979 to 1981, the city of Atlanta dealt with the unthinkable. All the children are between 8 and 15 years of age. The bodies of black children keep turning up in the woods. And I walked over and it was a human skull. And the rivers. This latest death is apparently connected to the More than two dozen victims. The person who did this was a psychopath and a monster. I was saying, what did they do to you? Families are devastated. The one person you had was gone and they didn't say good-bye. And long simmering tensions reach the boiling point. Atlanta was on the borderline of exploding. Please welcome will packer and Venus Taylor, whose 12-year-old daughter angel was among the victims. Thank you. Thank you. Thanks for having us. Thank you. Now will, you're the producer of blockbuster films like "Ride along" and "Girls trip" where I had my film debut. Yes, yes. And your upcoming film "Little" with Regina hall, Issa ray looks fantastic. I can't wait to see it. Thank you. But this new project is really a departure. Yeah. Why did you want to take on a subject matter like this? You know what, I'm a filmmaker. I tell stories and I think I would be remiss if I didn't used power that I have within the industry to tell a story like this that is so important. I was born in the south, raised in the south. I live in Atlanta now. It's a story that I know but I'm always surprised at how many people don't know about one of the greatest American tragedies. Incredible. In your country's history. We remember it. I remember it. She remembers it. Yeah. It was very, very important story at the time and I recall it. What do you remember hearing about the case when you were growing up? Oh listen, as a young black boy in the south, that was the story that was told to -- that's why you understood why you needed to obey your parents. That's why you didn't stay outside past the streetlights coming on. That's why you come straight home and you don't go and make another stop because all those kids had been killed in Atlanta. That was like it was the ultimate boogie man story and cautionary tale, but sadly, it was true. So growing up I knew this story. I didn't know the details but I knew there was this fear of as a young black kid our lives are threatened and endangered throughout the south, not just in Atlanta. So will, paint a picture of race relations in the late '70s, early '80s. Atlanta had its first black mayor, right, it was coming out of the civil rights era and it was painting this picture as the city that's too busy to hate. And so in a weird way it didn't need this, right? And that's obviously a cavalier and absurd way to put it but a lot of the city leaders were saying, listen, this is bad for our image. We need this to go away. That is part of the reason why the victimization went on for so long, because people didn't take it seriously because primarily these were poor kids. These were poor black kids from a bad neighborhood who were disenfranchised, didn't have anybody speaking up for them. By the time it actually got real national attention, the killings were in the teens. Venus, I can't even imagine what you're still going through, the pain. It was March 4, 1980 and you had a beautiful 12-year-old daughter, angel. Yes. Tell us about her. Well, she was extremely intelligent. She had the iq of a college she was waiting for a transfer to come so that she could go to a school for the gifted. She would have never, never walked over to anybody and said, you know, give directions or anything. She was very withdraw. She would never. So what happened that day? If you take us back, when did you realize something was wrong? Well, she always -- she goes to a girlfriend's house and helped her with her homework and then she comes home. The next day was going to be the last day you could get tickets for -- I mean prince was going to be there. She loved prince. She had saved up her money, her birthday money, to go see prince. So at 5:00 she wasn't there. She knew we had to be there by 6:00 to get the tickets. I said, okay, we're not going to make it if she don't hurry up and get here. So I -- at the time I did not have a phone so I had just moved there. I had only been there seven weeks. So I went to the phone booth and I called Patricia and I said tell angel she's going to miss it and she said she didn't come. I got hysterical. I called the police. I called the TV station. I begged them to come get her picture. I said someone has grabbed her. Someone has snatched her. She would never go to anybody. She would never go to anybody. She's not a runaway, none of that. We just moved here and -- You knew your child. I knew her very well. And you never saw her again. I saw her a week later tied to a tree. I didn't see her -- they told me she was tied to a tree. I seen her at the morgue. I got down to the morgue. Her lip was cut off and her ear was cut off. I'm sorry. Will, let me ask you about who they say was the killer. Yeah. Wayne Williams, he was convicted and is serving back-to-back life sentences for the murder of two young black men in Atlanta during that same time frame. Williams was never tried though in any of the child murders. Correc And he maintains his innocence, so some people think he's guilty of the child murders but some people think he's just a scapegoat and that the actual murderer is still free. One of the main reasons I wanted to get involved with telling this story is because there is this misperception of people who even know about it, that someone was convicted for the Atlanta child murders and is in jail. And that's not the case. Wayne Williams is in jail. He's always maintained his innocence. He's up for parole this coming October but he was not tried and convicted for any of the murders of the children. Two adult males who were killed around that time and in the area and with some of the same methodology, he was convicted of that. But you have parents who never had an opportunity to have someone tried by the American criminal justice system for the deaths of their children. Do you think, Venus that -- you mentioned before that these were poor black children. Do you think it had something to do with the fact that it hasn't been solved yet? What do you think about that? Is there racism involved? That's exactly the reason. It's been shoved away, pushed I have to say, I did hear a lot about it at the time so what happened? Did the police -- A group of us got together, mothers, got together and we begged the mayor to form a task force. They did that but nothing was accomplished by it except for they arrested Wayne Williams but that is not the answer. There's still someone out there -- I guess they're still out there that has murdered these kids, murdered my child, you know. Once they arrested Wayne Williams, that was the end of no matter how we begged, they said what do you got? I said what is the connection to each child? The task force was shut down and that was the end of it. They decided to close all the cases. That's what happened. And by the time it actually got national prominence because you did have some people from Sammy Davis Jr. To Frank Sinatra, Muhammad Ali who came down to help raise money but by then the murders were in the teens. This happened over the course of about two years. They closed the cases all at once. They said we have one person in jail with evidence to show that they may have been involved. There was no DNA evidence in those days. Now there is. Hopefully this series will open the case again. That's one of the main reasons we did it. This is about the value of life, the most vulnerable among us, whether it's today black girls in D.C. Or immigrant children at the border, it doesn't matter. Every life is precious and we need to treat every life as such. So this takes an examination of a time in this country when we did not treat all lives the Thank you so much, Ven news, for telling the story of your daughter angel, and will, thank you for using your Hollywood power to tell the story. Thank you, guys. "The Atlanta child murders"

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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