Man Says He Escaped Atlanta Child Murders Suspect Wayne Williams In 1976

Tim Thomas is speaking publicly for the first time about the day he accepted a ride home from Wayne Williams and fought him off.

April 01, 2019
Tim Thomas [WSBTV screenshot]

Photo by: Tim Thomas [WSBTV screenshot]

Tim Thomas [WSBTV screenshot]

By: Mike McPadden

ATLANTA, GA — An Atlanta man has come forward to say that, as a teenager in 1976, he fought off a man he now believes was Atlanta Child Murders prime suspect Wayne Williams.

Tim Thomas told WSB-TV that he was walking home from school one evening 43 years ago when Williams pulled up and offered him a ride. Thomas said he got in the car, whereupon Williams, after driving suspiciously and attempting to grope him, allegedly offered him money for sex and then tried to put a rag over his face.

Thomas said that after a struggle during which he punched Williams several times, he managed to escape the vehicle, and ran home.

During his interview, Thomas told a reporter that he has never talked about this incident with anyone until now. He hopes that by opening up his experience might help the police.

In recalling the encounter, Thomas told the WSB reporter, “I said, ‘You’re driving so slow,’ and I said, ‘Why don’t you just let me out? I can walk.’ And he said, ‘I can’t do that,’ so I said, ‘Oh, boy.’”

After that, Thomas said, “He started touching me in between the legs. I said, 'Whoa, man, whoa. I don't do nothing like that!'”

Williams then allegedly offered Thomas money to have sex with him. When Williams stopped for a red light, Thomas said he tried to bolt from the car, noting, “By the time I pretty much got out, he grabbed my belt to start pulling me back.”

Thomas added that the man allegedly kept trying to put a rag over his face as he struggled. In the ensuing melee, Thomas said he punched Williams several times and managed to break free, then immediately took off on foot.

Wayne Williams [Fulton County Police]

Photo by: Wayne Williams [Fulton County Police]

Wayne Williams [Fulton County Police]

For years, Thomas said he didn’t pay attention to coverage of the Atlanta Child Murders, but seeing Wayne Williams on TV in 2010 gave him a jolt.

He said, “I look up and I seen this dude, and it was just like the same day I ran across him…. I said, ‘Dang. That’s that guy that picked me up that night!’ I never forgot those glasses and that Afro.”

The recent announcement by Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms that authorities would reexamine evidence from the Atlanta Child Murders investigation prompted Thomas to finally share his story.

In regard to Williams’ continuing claims of innocence, Thomas said, “This guy’s saying that he didn’t do it, and I’m saying, ‘No, man, no.’ This guy, he’s dangerous.”

Former FBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Jones, who worked on the case, watched the 40-minute interview with Thomas and said, “He comes off credible. I think he was spot-on with how he articulated what he believes occurred back then.... I think having a sit-down with an investigator would be very much recommended.”

Thomas said he’s willing to do that, stating, “If they need me, if they think I got some information, I’ll tell them. I mean, this is true blue."

Wayne Williams, now 60, was convicted in 1982 of murdering adults Nathaniel Cater, 27, and Jimmy Ray Payne, 21. Still, authorities have long believed he is also responsible for the 29 deaths connected to the Atlanta Child Murders.

Williams is serving life in prison and has always maintained he never killed anyone.

Watch the Investigation Discovery special The Atlanta Child Murders on ID GO now!

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