DeKalb County

Mother on trial for murder 23 years after 6-year-old son found dead in DeKalb woods

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A mother is on trial accused of killing her 6-year-old son in DeKalb County nearly 25 years ago.

Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes was at the DeKalb County courthouse on Wednesday, where Teresa Black is finally telling her side of the story. She’s been charged with two counts of felony murder, two counts of cruelty to children, aggravated assault and concealing the death of another.

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The skeletal remains of Black’s son, William Hamilton, were found in the woods off Clifton Church Road in 1999. For years, he was known only as Child Clifton Doe. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children kept putting out artistic renderings and clay molds of what the child looked like.


Twenty-three years later, in 2022, a family friend recognized the boy, who was finally identified.

“When I see that picture, I was like, ‘Ahhh!’ The tears just started. Because I know that was him,” Ava McNeill told Channel 2 Action News.

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McNeil told the NCMEC that she was very close to Black and her son when they lived in Charlotte, North Carolina and often took care of him. Investigators said Black left North Carolina with William but retured without him. She gave friends various stories about where her son was.

Based on McNeill’s description, investigators were able to track Black down.

McNeill took the stand on the first day of the trial on Wednesday. She could barely speak when the senior district attorney asked her to identify her former friend.

Former friends testified that Hamilton had been neglected in several different ways before his death.

“I remember some things about his hygiene,” former friend Miles Boyce said on the stand. “Sometimes, he was a little dirty.”

Black says that she is innocent. She claimed that her son was sick so she gave him some medicine and he never woke up. Her defense attorney argued that she made a huge mistake.

“At that point, Theresa had a huge decision to make, and she will tell you herself that it was the wrong decision,” Sam Welty said.

Black claimed she left her son’s body in the woods and went on about her life in a different state until police extradited her back to Georgia.

Welty argued that Black had a tough life and was homeless off and on and never meant to hurt her child. Welty said Black had the child at 15 and was just 21 at the time of his death.

Prosecutors are arguing that it is a case of felony murder.

Black is expected to take the stand on Thursday.