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Former DeKalb police chief, who led during the child murders, dies

A funeral service is set Tuesday for Francis “Dick” Hand Jr., who served as DeKalb County’s police chief and public safety director for two decades.

Hand, 81, who had moved to Albany, died after a brief illness on Nov. 14, according to an obituary released Monday by the police department on Facebook

Hand, a Rome native, worked for the DeKalb police department while attending Emory Law School and was an assistant U.S. Attorney before becoming chief of police in 1969. He became county public safety director in 1981.

He served DeKalb in a time when the county was still largely rural but was coming to terms with realities of big city life. One of the defining cases of his career was the Atlanta Child Murders, when about 29 African-American children, teens, and young adults — mostly males — were kidnapped and murdered around the city. 

Wayne Williams, convicted in 1982 of killing two adults, has long been linked to the child murders.

After retiring from Dekalb in 1989, Hand moved to Albany to serve as the Chief Assistant District Attorney for Dougherty County. 

Services will be held at noon Tuesday at Holy Trinity Episcopal Parish, 515 East Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur, GA 30030 followed by a graveside ceremony in Decatur Cemetery.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, well-wishers consider a donation to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial fund or to the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation.

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