Mother arrested on murder charges 23 years after 6-year-old found dead in DeKalb cold case

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A cold case murder of a 6-year-old has been solved 23 years later — investigators have charged the child’s mother with murder.

In 1999, officials found the body of a 6-year-old boy in Decatur, but were never able to identify him.

“The remains were found in a wooded area at the corner of Clifton Springs Road and Clifton Spring Church Road. The child, whose body was significantly decomposed ... and was estimated to have been deceased for three to six months prior to his discovery. The victim was wearing a blue and white plaid shirt, red denim jeans, and brown Timberland boots,” the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office said.

There was finally a break in the case this year and officials identified the victim as William DaShawn Hamilton. The DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office has charged Teresa Black, Hamilton’s mother, with felony murder, among other charges.

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“For far too long, this precious little boy had no name and no story,” DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston said. “Through the tireless efforts of several individuals and organizations who were determined not to let this boy be forgotten, William has been identified, and justice will be served in his memory.”

The district attorney’s office said DNA collected from Black earlier this year “links her to the remains of the child found in February 1999.”

“Black (then Bailey) was living in Charlotte, North Carolina with her son and a family member when she abruptly withdrew William from school in December 1998 and moved with him to Atlanta. She returned to Charlotte in late 1999 without William and told differing stories about his whereabouts at the time,” the DA’s office said.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children said it assisted investigators on the case after it received a tip from someone who knew Hamilton and Black in the ‘90s.


The woman, who wished to not be identified, told the center that she used to take care of Hamilton when they lived in Charlotte, North Carolina. She had been searching for them ever since.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children said this case is why cold case investigators should never give up hope to solve them.

“For more than two decades, a woman in Charlotte followed her gut feeling that something wasn’t right. She made phone calls, scoured the internet and talked to anybody who would listen. We’re grateful she never stopped until she found that rendering of William online and gave investigators the missing piece to help solve this 23-year-old mystery,” said Angeline Hartmann, with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “A huge thank you to the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office, the DeKalb County Medical Examiner’s Office and DeKalb County police for their hard work that brought us here today.”

The district attorney’s office said Black was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona and will be brought back to Georgia.

Investigators said Black briefly worked at “Pleasers,” and may have been getting assistance from the Atlanta Day Shelter for Women and Children for a short time between1998 and 1999.

Anyone who may have known or interacted with her or William is asked to call the DeKalb County Cold Case Tip Line at 404-371-2444.