Wayne Bertram Williams is a 23-year-old freelance photographer and would-be talent scout who was remembered by boyhood friends and teachers as a 'genius' and 'an ideal kid.' He had talents for electronics and big talk.
A Fulton County grand jury Friday charged Williams was the killer of Nathaniel Cater and Jimmy Ray Payne -- two of the 28 young Atlanta blacks who have been slain in the past two years.
As an adult, the bespectacled Williams posed as a talent scout and was seen papering Atlanta's black neighborhoods with leaflets offering 'private auditions' to youngsters who 'would like to become a professional entertainer.'
At one point, Williams was seen recruiting members for a singing group he called 'Gemini,' which was his astrological sign.
Earlier this week, Williams asked a judge to release him from jail on bond because he stood to loose a $150,000 record deal with Motown and Capitol records. Officials of both companies denied knowledge of Williams.
More than a dozen acquaintances called Williams an able and enterprising young man with a promising future. He was known as a big spender and a big talker, but he had no obvious source of income and no known business successes.
His parents indicated at the hearing they had $80,000 of their own money -- some of it the result of mortgaging their home -- tied up in his recording pursuits.
It was a boyhood classmate who called Williams 'a genius' and said he had exceptional ability in science and math.
One of Williams' seventh grade teachers said he was 'probably the best student I ever taught ... brilliant ... an ideal kid.'
Williams had a reputation as an electronics expert who at age 13 built and operated WRAZ, a low-power neighborhood radio station financed by his retired schoolteacher parents.
'He was very bright in the area of broadcasting,' said Scotty Andrews, a former program director at WIGO where Williams often helped out while seeking advice.
Friends and former teachers stopped short of calling Williams a loner, but they said he was an independent person and sometimes 'secretive.'
'He didn't socialize much,' said L. W. Butts, the principal of the Atlanta high school Williams attended. 'It wasn't that he didn't talk to people. He was usually just very busy.'
Born May 27, 1958, Williams was an only child. He never moved from the modest brick house in a black middle class neighborhood in northwest Atlanta where he was raised by his parents.
In a resume Williams recently circulated, he claimed to be the first student government president at his elementary school and listed activities such as band, the ROTC rifle team and baseball as high school activities.
After graduating from high school in 1976, Williams began classes at Georgia State University but dropped out at the end of the 1977-78 academic year, much to the surprise of Butts.
'He would not have any trouble getting through college,' Butts said. 'It would have been a breeze. The only explanation I can think of is it wasn't enough of a challenge.'
Williams was also described as 'a media groupie,' who roamed the city late at night monitoring police calls on a sophisticated radio and beating most news crews to fires and crime scenes. He sold the resulting pictures -- which editors said were generally poor -- to the highest bidder.
Prior to his June 21 murder arrest, the only arrest on his record was a 5-year-old charge of impersonating a police officer by speeding to a crime scene in a car complete with flashing red lights. The charge was reduced to unauthorized use of emergency lights and it was handled in trffic court.