Above: Darron circa, 1980
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: September 14, 1980
Missing From: Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: May 23, 1970
Age: 10 years old
Height and Weight: 4’9″ and 75 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: African American Male, Black hair, Brown eyes, Darron is mildly mentally disabled since he has an IQ of 65
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A yellow shirt, brown khaki pants, and a pair of white sneakers
Details of Disappearance
Darron was last seen in Atlanta, Georgia on September 14th 1980. During the day before he went missing, Darron got onto the church bus so he could attend an Atlanta Braves game in the downtown area. Darron got back onto the bus which drove him to the area his home was located in and he got dropped off at the corner of southeast Glenwood Avenue and Second Avenue.
Darron returned to his residence for a few minutes at 4:00 pm and the left again. His foster mother, Fannie Mae Smith, told police she assumed Darron was going out to play. He never returned home and was never seen again. A few hours after his disappearance, Fannie received an emergency call from “Darron Glass” but the caller hung up before Fannie could speak. There was never another call.
Darron has never been heard from since then. Investigators believe Darron was possibly murdered and was the victim of the infamous Atlanta Child Murderer who claimed over 28 victims from July 21st 1979 to May 21st 1981. The victims age ranged from seven to twenty eight and were mostly boys who came from poverty.
Some of the victims remained missing persons for over several months to a year before they would be found. The victims were usually found in rivers, under brush, or in an alley. Darron is the only possible victim of the killings who remains listed as missing. The murders shocked the entire city of Atlanta and over 100 federal agents were involved in the investigation into the deaths.
Curfews were imposed and parents even took their children out of school and forbid them to play outside. Investigators felt that the next victim of the killer would be dumped in a body of water to conceal evidence of the crime. Police staked out nearly a dozen bridges which included crossings of the Chattahoochee River.
A break in the case would come on May 22nd 1981 during a police stakeout of the bridges. One officer heard a splash underneath the bridge. Another officer saw a white 1970 Chevrolet station wagon turn around and drive across the bridge. Two police officers later stopped the suspected vehicle. Inside was Wayne Bertram Williams.
Williams was a music promoter and a freelance photographer at the time of the murders. The Chevrolet belonged to his parents at the time. He was brought in for questioning and he told investigators he was on his way to audition a woman, Cheryl Johnson, as a singer. Williams told authorities she lived in the nearby town of Smyrna. Police found no evidence of this woman which weakened William’s alibi for the time of the murder.
Two days later, the body of Nathaniel Cater was found floating down the river a few miles from the bridge where police heard the splash and saw the vehicle driving away. He was 27 years old at the time of his death. Based on this evidence, investigators suspected Williams threw Nathaniel’s body into the river while police were nearby.
Authorities who stopped Williams in his vehicle on the bridge noticed there were gloves and a 24-inch nylon cord sitting in the passenger seat. Investigators noted the cord looked similar to one used in Cater’s murder and some of the other victims of the killings. The cord was never taken for evidence analysis, however. Williams also apparently failed a FBI administered polygraph exam.
Investigators discovered that fibers which came from a carpet in Williams residence were found to match ones that were observed on two of the victims. Additional fibers from Williams home, vehicles, and his pet dog were observed on some of the other victims of the slayings. A witness also reportedly saw Williams holding hands with Nathaniel Cater on the night he is believed to have been killed.
On June 21st 1981, Williams was arrested and charged with Crater’s death and the murder of Jimmy Ray Payne who was twenty two when he died. The presiding judge at his trial in 1982 allowed for evidence to be brought in which allegedly linked him to several of the victims. He was eventually convicted of killing Cater and Payne and is suspected of killing four of the other victims based on evidence.
After Williams was convicted, police closed the cases of the twenty two other victims and concluded that Williams also killed them. Despite this, there is immense doubt regarding Williams guilt in the cases. Many suspect that the Atlanta Child Killer was actually several killers operating independently. The Ku Klux Klan has been considered a possibility but nothing has been proven.
One of the police officers on the task force who arrested Williams even said he didn’t believe Williams had killed anyone. Despite this, Williams remains in prison and all of his appeals have been denied. He continues to maintain his innocence. In 2004, investigators reopened the cases of some of the Atlanta Child killer victims but the investigation was closed once again in 2006 after nothing new was found.
Investigators believe that Williams was responsible for a few of the murders that occurred during this time period. However, there’s no evidence of his supposed involvement in some of the deaths. It has been suggested, however, that Williams had predatory urges towards young men.
In 2019, a man identified as Derwin Davis spoke with a local Atlanta news agency and stated he Williams had tried to molest him when he was fourteen years old in 1979. He stated he was walking near Campbellton Road so that he could catch a bus to get to his job at Greenbrier Skating Rink. A car being driven by a man matching Williams description approached Davis and the man asked for directions.
Davis gave him directions and said he was heading to work so the man offered him a ride to work. He accepted the ride and got into the car with the man. Davis recalls that Williams asked him a few simple questions like where he went to school and that he bet Davis had a lot of girlfriends. Williams then referenced Davis’s genitals and attempted to grab his but Davis elbowed him in the face and ran out of the car.
Davis did not report the attempted molestation when it occurred but he would tell a few people, including two friends and his wife. He stated that a few years later, he recognized Williams as his assailant on television when he was arrested for the murders. He stated he didn’t come forward at this point either because he figured the cops already had him and would put him in prison.
David believes the attempted molestation probably occurred on July 21st 1979, the same day that one of the victims, Edward “Teddy” Hope Smith, vanished without a trace. Teddy was fourteen years old and was last seen leaving the skating rink that Davis worked at. Davis recalls when people began looking for Teddy just hours after the ordeal he faced in Williams car.
Edward’s body was found a week later off Niskey Lake Road. Smith’s body was found near the body of Alfred Evans. He was just thirteen years old when he also vanished in July of 1979. He was last seen by a friend who gave him a ride to the bus stop at Glenwood. Alfred was on his way to the Coronet Theatre on Peachtree Street. Alfred’s body was discovered soon afterwards but it took over a year to identify him. It’s believed that Edward and Alfred’s murders sparked the start of the Atlanta Child Murders.
The murder cases were reopened again in March of 2019 and investigators hope to find out who killed the other victims or if Williams is truly innocent of the murders he has been accused of committing. It’s should be noted, however, that Darron is only listed as a possible victim of the killings due to his age and the time he went missing.
It’s possible, however, that Darrons remains were found years after his disappearance when someone tipped police that the remains of two victims could be found in a specific location. Investigators found one body and identified the remains afterwards. Another body was found much later but the identity could not be confirmed. It’s possible these are Darron’s remains but nothing has come about them.
Fannie Smith described Darron as a streetwise kid but also immature as well. She said he was very quiet and loved to watch TV. He used to bring his friends over to the house for kool-aide and fried chicken and he was known to love popcorn. Fannie even recalled how Darron would pretend to be a “ladies man”. He lived at 2289 Memorial Drive SE in 1980.
It’s possible Darron ran away from home but it’s unclear if he had a history of doing so. Some agencies claim Darron was habitual runaway who had runaway 3 to 4 times before his actual disappearance in 1980. Other agencies claim he didn’t have a history of doing so. Fannie also stated Darron liked to stay close to home. He lived with another foster family about a year before moving in with Fannie.
Darrons biological parents were both deceased at the time of his 1980 disappearance. This made him a ward of the state. He did have a sister who lived on East Lake Drive and a “Daddy-Uncle” who lived off Flat Shoals Rd. His sister was living out of state at the time of his disappearance.
According to Darron’s caseworker, Thomas Bailey, his foster placement with Fannie Smith was quite unsuitable. Bailey went on to state that there were adults of “questionable character” in the house along with suspicion of drug use and selling. Bailey stated he voiced his concerns about the placement with his supervisor but was ignored on the subject.
Bailey stated he found out about Darron’s disappearance the day after it occurred. This was on September 15th 1980. That same day, Bailey apparently got a phone call from a woman who claimed to be Darron’s sister. Darron apparently didn’t have contact with his sister at the time. Bailey stated the caller told him she wanted to adopt Darron. Bailey told her that Darron was missing and the caller hung up. She never contacted him again.
One of Darron’s foster brothers claimed to have known his whereabouts and that he had received phone calls from Darron until as late as November of 1980. This information was never verified, however. There were also various sightings of Darron after his reported disappearance. Based on this, Bailey believes Darron was not murdered and was possibly taken by someone he knew or that he went to live with his sister.
Bailey believes Darron possibly died later in life or that he may still be alive and living with a relative or in an assisted living facility. Darron remains missing and his case unsolved. Investigators have never closed his missing persons case and continue to seek his whereabouts. Foul play is suspected. In 2015, Bailey published a book about Darron’s disappearance, it’s called “Darron: The Disappearance of Darron Glass.
Image: Wayne Bertram Williams, circa 1981
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Federal Bureau of Investigation 404-679-9000