ATLANTA -- The reward for capture of Atlanta's child killers grew to a half-million dollars Saturday with a $400,000 donation from Muhammad Ali, who noted the old reward of $100,000 'won't even buy a Rolls-Royce.'
The former heavyweight boxing champion appeared at a news conference with Mayor Maynard Jackson and Public Safety Commissioner Lee P. Brown to announce the donation. Both officials expressed their gratitude.
Twenty-six young Atlanta blacks have been found slain during the past 21 months, and another, 10-year-old Darron Glass, is listed a missing.
The initial offer of a $100,000 reward brought no significant breaks in the case, although at one point Mayor Jackson appreared on television with the money heaped around him to demonstrate just how much a tipster could expect.
Ali's offer, like the other, is contingent on the tipster providing information that will lead to the arrest and conviction of the persons involved.
The flamboyant Ali sniffed at the $100,000 reward, noting 'that won't even buy a Rolls Royce. They cost $150,000.'
Disclosure of the increased reward coincided with the 30th volunteer weekend search for clues in the baffling case. Only about 50 turned out Saturday, in contrast to the thousands who helped with the earlier searches.
For the second consecutive weekend, volunteers in canoes drifted along the banks of the Chattahoochee River, where five bodies have been found in recent months. A second contingent poked through underbrushin the Redwine Road area of Southwest Atlanta, another area when bodies have turned up.
Volunteer searchers in canoes discovered a brown shoe along Camp Creek, a tributary of the Chattahoochee River. Five vicitms have been found in the Chattahoochee in recent months.
John Bascomb of the United Youth Adult Conference, which has sponsored the weekend searches, said the shoe matched the size and type worn by Timothy Hill, 13, whose body was found in the river March 30th.
Bascomb said the shoe had been turned over to the special police task force.
A police spokesman said if the shoe is found to be connected with the case, it will be turned over to the state crime lab.
A second contingent of searchers poked through underbrush in the Redwine Road area of Southwest Atlanta, another area when bodies have turned up. The canoeists were asked to pay particular attention to Deep Creek and Camp Creek, which empty into the Chattahoochee. Both these creeks are lined with distinctive types of sand.
Silt and sand have been found on the bodies of the victims found in the river and a source told UPI Friday it might be possible for authorities to establish where the bodies entered the water by identifying the types of sand.
Police have complained their investigation has been hampered by lack of a crime scene. If they could pinpoint where the bodies entered the water, it would open new avenues of investigation.
A bloody rope was found by the Redwine Road searchers Saturday, but it seemed unlikely it was related to the child slayings, since none of the recent vicitims have had any marks on their bodies. The rope was turned over to police.
Volunteer James Lawson said mostly only 'a lot of old shoes and garbage' were found Saturday.
But search organizer John Bascom said the volunteers were not discouraged. He said they would continue their efforts each week looking for anything 'that might bring this ordeal to an end.'