The body of another black child was pulled from the Chatahoochee River tonight, another apparent victim of the elusive killer or killers who have murdered 21 black children here in less than two years.
Even though the body was badly decomposed and "unrecognizable," police identified the latest victim as a boy who appeared to be between 10 and 20 years old.
"We have located a black male who fits in the same category as the ones [male victims] previouslyu found," said a grim-faced Fulton County police sergeant, Denny Hendrix, shortly after 9 p.m., as state, federal and local police swarmed over the flood-lit river banks in a deserted area of unincorporated Fulton County, 16 miles from downtown Atlanta.
Two fishermen, floating down the river, discovered the body snagged on some underbrush about 3:30 p.m. today, said Hendrix. The child was clothed in "just underwear," like several other victims.
Police could not say how long the body had been in the water. Police sealed off the river bank, placed the body in a plastic bag and put it into an ambulance promptly got stuck in the mud.
The ambulance, pulled from the mud by a wrecker that also got stuck, took the body to the Fulton County Morgue where medical examiners attempted to identify the victim.
The latest victim swells the number of children found murdered here in the last 20 months to 21. Before tonight's discovery, two children remained officially missing.
One child, 10-year-old Darron Glass, has been missing since September; Joseph Bell, 13, dropped from sight earlier this month after playing basketball on an inner-city court. Police are still undecided whether another child, 13-year-old Timothy Hill is a runaway or yet another victim.
The Atlanta police special task force investigating the deaths and disappearances has not added Hill to its list, citing two phone calls his special education teacher received last week.
Theresa Swindall, Hill's teacher at Dean Rusk School, said she received two phone calls from a crying child who responded to the name Timothy. Swindall said she believes the caller was Hill.
All the victims have been black males, between the ages of 7 and 16, except for two girls. Most of the children were streetwise youngsters from single-parent families.
At least six other children have been found within about five miles of the river bank in south Fulton County where the latest body was discovered today.
The previous victim, Curtis Walker, 13, was also pulled from a river on the opposite side of town from tonight's discovery.
About a dozen reporters and cameramen shivered in the chill night air down a dirt road deep in the woods. The property, 530 acres of farmland and prime river frontage belongs to a real estate syndicate, said William R. Bedenfield, the caretaker.
He said police began pulling up outside his two-room wood shanty late in the afternoon "wanting to know how to get down to the river. I asked him, 'What's your business?' and all they said was, 'We found a body.'"