ATLANTA -- Police contended Wednesday there was 'no breakdown' in their investigation into the slayings of 28 young Atlanta blacks despite claims by two residents that they told investigators about Wayne B. Williams months before he was indicted in two of the murders.
Two Atlanta residents said this week they telephoned the special police task force investigating the slayings several months ago about Williams but got no response.
Although police have said that each call coming into task force headquarters is taped and stored in a computer, Public Safety Commissioner Lee P. Brown refused Wednesday to comment directly on any calls involving Williams.
But he told a new conference that 'there has been no breakdown in our system in reference to capturing information.'
'There has been no problem associated with anyone coming into our system that is significant and our not knowing about it and doing what's appropriate,' he added.
One resident, Eunice Kimbro, said she called the task force in January and told them about a Dixie Hills resident named Wayne who was attempting to recruit her 15-year-old son as a recording artist. She said she thought the offer was suspicious because her son could not sing.
Williams, who lived with his parents in the Dixie Hills neighborhood, distributed thousands of leaflets last fall advertising private singing auditions for youngsters 11 to 21 who 'want to become a professional entertainer.' At least one of the 28 victims, Patrick Rogers, 16, wanted to become a recording star and his mother said he 'was going with a man to record records' on the last day she saw him.
Another resident, ambulance driver Bobby Toland, says he called the task force in March to suggest that it check out Williams. Toland says, however, that he had been involved in a 1977 legal battle with Williams over a car and police might have been suspicious of his motive in making the call.
Williams was indicted last Friday in the slayings of Jimmy Ray Payne, 21, the 26th victim, and Nathaniel Cater, 27, the last and oldest of the victims. He was at first charged only in Cater's death, having been questioned near a Chattahoochee River bridge two days before Cater's body was found about a mile downstream.
The same 23-member grand jury that indicted Williams last week meets again Friday and prosecutors have refused to rule out the possibility that he may be indicted in more of the slayings.
Brown told the news conference Wednesday that despite Williams arrest, there had been no 'substantive' reduction in the number of officers assigned to the task force.
'There has no cutting back of the task force in terms of strength,' Brown said, adding that more than 100 officers are still assigned to the case. 'We have 26 cases of homicide which we have not charged anyone with.'
Brown said there would be no reduction in officers assigned to the task force until 'we have charged people with a substantial number of cases.'