Kim Williams first stepped into the real world of criminal investigations 15 years ago as a young intern.
As a criminal justice major at Georgia Southern University, she shadowed a senior agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as he visited death scenes, testified in court and interviewed witnesses.
“I was able to see what it’s really like, as opposed to what’s portrayed on television,” Williams said. “It was such an excellent experience that I really wanted to be a part of the GBI, and I was fortunate that I was able to do that out of college.”
Williams, a native of Tacoma, Wash., who grew up in southwest Georgia’s Seminole and Decatur counties, this month was named special agent in charge of the GBI’s Region 8 office in Cleveland. She is the first woman to head up the office, which covers Hall, White, Lumpkin, Dawson and 10 other northeast Georgia counties. She oversees six field agents who assist local law enforcement agencies by request.
A first-generation law enforcement officer, Williams said she took an interest in criminal justice growing up through friends and acquaintances working in the field.
She started her career out of college assigned to the State Drug Task Force, working undercover street-level narcotics stings and crossing paths with all manner of “interesting characters” along the way.
Later, in Savannah, she worked drug interdiction operations, looking for smugglers of narcotics via train, plane or sea vessel.
In a field office in Milledgeville, she worked general investigations, including homicides and sexual assaults.
Williams was directly involved in the investigations of two high-profile murder cases, one of which later became the source for a true crime paperback.
Alan and Terra Bates were shot to death near Birmingham, Ala., placed in a car trunk and driven to Morgan County, where the car was set afire. It took dogged investigative work by Williams and her colleagues to collect evidence against an Alabama police officer and his wife who were embroiled in a custody dispute with the couple. The case became the subject of the book “Death Trap.”
Later, Williams was the case agent who helped solve the disappearance of Sue Ann Ray, a 26-year-old who was murdered and buried in Cherokee County woods by her husband, Quinton Ray.
It took a little more than five months to make an arrest in the case. Williams still remembers the exact dates of the disappearance and the arrest.
“It did take us a while, because we had no idea where she was,” Williams said. “But it wasn’t necessary a tough case to determine the offender. We had a pretty good idea. Our goal was to have enough evidence to prove the crime against her husband.”
Investigators relied on techniques more typically used in drug investigations — surveillance, use of informants — to get the evidence they needed against Quinton Ray, who eventually pleaded guilty to murder.
Williams, who most recently was commander of the Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad, was given her new assignment after Michael Ayers, the Region 8 office’s last special agent in charge, was transferred to Thomson to fill the command slot in that office. Williams had previously worked in the Cleveland office as assistant special agent in charge.
In announcing Williams’ promotion, the GBI’s deputy director for investigations, Rusty Andrews, said of her, “Kim is a dedicated and proven leader.”
“She will be a tremendous asset in her new role as the special agent in charge of the Cleveland office,” Andrews said.
Williams said as a goal-oriented person, she always hoped to reach the position of special agent in charge “at some point, but I was very fortunate that it came as soon as it did.
“The opportunity arose, and I was very fortunate that the command staff thought enough of me to promote me.”