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6-year-old boy found murdered in Georgia more than 20 years ago finally identified

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Herwin Bahar/Getty Images

Last month, law enforcement agencies took a giant step forward in getting justice for a young boy found murdered in Decatur, Georgia 23 years ago. Thanks to the tireless efforts of a female tipster and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, law enforcement has finally been able to establish his identity.

His name was William DaShawn Hamilton, and he was just 6 years old when he died. The exact cause of death has not yet been reported.

A district attorney from Dekalb County, Georgia announced on June 13 that William's remains had been identified and that his mother, Teresa Ann Bailey Black, had been arrested in the case.

According to investigators, Black and William had been living in Charlotte, North Carolina until some time between 1998 and 1999, when Black ventured to Georgia with her son in tow. She eventually returned to North Carolina, but William was not with her. Police say at the time, she gave conflicting explanations for his disappearance, but police didn't believe they had enough evidence to arrest her.

Meanwhile, a woman identified only as "Ava," who claims she knew both Black and used to take care of William back in Charlotte, always felt uneasy about the missing boy, and she conducted her own investigation to find him. She said she searched for him "every day."

"Every day, it was, like, my job to find him," she said.

Georgia Cold Case Solved After 23 Years www.youtube.com


Ava finally stumbled upon a rendering of a murdered boy in Georgia and called authorities to suggest he might be the boy she once knew, William DaShawn Hamilton.

NCMEC/screen shot

“This case is a perfect example of why we never give up hope,” said Angeline Hartmann, Director of Communications at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “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. 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.”

Investigators used DNA testing to confirm the boy's identity.

Ava described William as an animated, active child who loved to dance and read.

“He liked to crack jokes,” said Ava. “He did like to draw a lot, color, mainly read books. He didn’t want you to read to him . . . he wanted to read to you.”

Teresa Ann Bailey Black, 45, has been charged with two counts of felony murder, two counts of cruelty to children, aggravated assault and concealing the death of another. She was arrested outside her home in Phoenix, Arizona and is awaiting extradition back to Georgia.

Anyone with information about Black or William, especially regarding their time in Georgia in the late '90s, is asked to contact authorities at 404-371-2444.

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