The eighth episode of Mindhunter season 2 introduces us to Wayne Williams and Charles Sanders. Both considered to have played a role in the Atlanta murders.
We are approaching the end of this series and in just doing the research I’m starting to feel the effects of studying these killers for too long. I can imagine mental health breaks are needed by the Mindhunter writers and likely the cast.
It is known that Mandy Patinkin left Criminal Minds because of the effect the show had on him and has had harsh words for the nature of these shows and what they do to people.
With that said, the penultimate episode of Mindhunter season 2 only had a few moments worth looking into for accuracy but they were big ones.
At the start of the episode, we check in on BTK, of course. We see him driving his ADT truck, and it appears he’s scouting for his next victim. He has followed a woman home and parks across the street, hidden in plain sight. However, he leaves moments later when a man comes out of the house to help her with the groceries. One of the key factors that allowed BTK to get away with his crimes for so long was his patience.
The story linked above has some details about his time with ADT (from 1974 to 1988) and his relationship with coworkers.
He was known for his detailed sketches of clients homes. Something that is portrayed in Mindhunter, though we see his sketches of crime scenes.
A coworker asked if she should get a system and he told her not to because BTK usually cut the phone lines.
It’s amazing how close you can be to a killer, see signs, and not even realize it.
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The Atlanta Case
When we come back to Atlanta, we first see commissioner Lee Brown sitting at a table with $100,000 in cash in front of him offering a reward for tips that lead to an arrest. This was a real moment that occurred during the case, according to AJC. One that had to be portrayed in some way. Muhammad Ali would later add $400,000 to the total which upset Brown because he had decided if $100,000 wasn’t enough to get a real lead then no amount would.
We then moved to the benefit concert. I’ve mentioned this in an earlier edition of this series but Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. did hold a benefit concert for the victims and their families, according to TheWrap. The Jackson 5 also performed.
Did the FBI think the killer would show up?
They did and they had a heavy presence at the concert. While it is not believed that the man considered for the murders was there, his father actually served as a photographer for the event.
After the concert we see Tench and an officer staking out Charles Sanders’ house. He’s the KKK member that was considered a suspect in the case. During the show, we happen to hear Sanders on a wiretap talk about Lubie Jeter’s body being found.
We also hear him mention a go-cart and having threatened to kill Jeter for messing up his truck. This leads to Sanders being brought in for questioning and voluntarily taking a lie detector test. He passes it multiple times before being picked up by his brother and taken home. The information being captured this way likely feels too convenient, but let’s assess the facts.
Was Sanders caught on a wiretap talking about Lubie Jeter and the go-cart?
No. In reality, it was a Klan informant who passed along the information about Sanders threatening Jeter. According to the informant, Jeter had hit Sanders’ truck with his go-cart and Charles had specifically threatened to strangle him. As for the wiretap, it was actually his brother Don who said the incriminating line on tape. The last part of the call where we hear one of the brothers mention getting another little boy was what was actually caught on the wiretap, according to a report from Spin. (Warning: The details in the link are much worse than what is portrayed in the show.)
Did Charles Sanders pass several lie detector tests.
Yes. Sanders likely had practiced passing lie detector tests which was why he was so willing to take them. There is a reason these tests are inadmissible in court.
The link above goes into full detail about the investigation into the Sanders family and offers some compelling evidence that seems to indicate they should have been investigated for at least a handful of the murders.
The investigation changes
After stating that they didn’t want information about the case to leak, Holden overhears a report mentioning that fibers were found on one of the children’s bodies. Holden thinks the killer will change his dump method and he does. Now he’s dumping bodies in the rivers to wash away evidence.
Did the killer start dumping bodies in the river after he realized he was leaving behind evidence?
Yes. After the report came out that police could start linking the killings based on fibers found on Patrick Baltazar’s body, the bodies began being dumped in the rivers. This is what led the police to start covering bridges.
Was Wayne Williams caught after a recruit heard a splash near a bridge?
Yes. His discovery is depicted incredibly accurately on-screen, down to the fact that he openly brought up the child murders when police approached him, according to PaleyFest.
At the end we see a report talking about baseball bats with barbed wire on them being confiscated from vigilantes. It is true that some citizens armed themselves with baseball bats for protection during the time period of the murders, according to AJC.
The final episode focuses almost solely on Wayne Williams, the man in jail for the murder of two men who had most of the child murders unofficially attributed to him, we’ll dive into this in the final installment.
Mindhunter is currently streaming on Netflix.