DEKALB DA ANNOUNCES BREAK IN DECADES-OLD COLD CASE DEATH OF UNIDENTIFED CHILD
Victim’s Remains Discovered Near Church Cemetery, Mother Now Indicted on Murder Charges
Decatur, Ga.- DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston announced a major development today in the case of a young boy whose remains were found near a church cemetery in Decatur more than 23 years ago. The child has now been positively identified and his mother has been charged in his death.
On June 28, 2022, a DeKalb County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Teresa Ann Bailey Black, 45, on two counts of Felony Murder, two counts of Cruelty to Children, Aggravated Assault, and Concealing the Death of Another in connection with the death of her 6-year-old son, William DaShawn Hamilton. Black was taken into custody in Phoenix, Arizona on June 29, 2022, and is currently awaiting extradition to Georgia.
“For far too long, this precious little boy had no name and no story,” said District Attorney Boston. “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 charges against Black date back to the February 26, 1999, discovery of the body of a then unidentified child whose 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, was determined to be an African American male between the ages of 5 and 7 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 manner and cause of his death was undetermined.
Despite continued efforts by the DeKalb County Police Department (DKPD) and Medical Examiner’s Office, as well as media coverage of the case, the young boy remained unidentified for decades. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) became involved in the case in 2000, providing renderings of the boy, featuring the story on their website and social media channels, and following a few leads. In 2019, a NCMEC Forensic Artist completed a new facial reconstruction rendering that received media coverage and drew public interest back to the case. In May of 2020, a tipster who knew defendant Black and her son in 1998 saw a rendering of the unidentified child and contacted NCMEC. DKPD and the DA’s Office picked the case back up and followed the lead.
DNA collected from Teresa Ann Bailey Black earlier this year links her to the remains of the child found in February 1999. According to the investigation, 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.
“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 who knew William and his mother followed her gut feeling that something wasn’t right and kept looking for him. We’re grateful she never stopped until she found a rendering of William online and gave investigators the missing piece to help solve this 23-year-old mystery.”
The DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office is seeking the public’s assistance. According to the investigation, Teresa Ann Bailey briefly worked at the establishment known as “Pleasers” and may have been obtaining assistance from the Atlanta Day Shelter for Women and Children for a short time. Anyone who may have known or interacted with Defendant Black (then Teresa Ann Bailey) and/or William during their time here in the metro area in 1998 and 1999 is encouraged to call the office’s Cold Case Tip Line at 404-371-2444. Callers may remain anonymous.
The case will be prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Major Case Unit led by Lance Cross, Director of Major Crimes, with assistance from Shannon Hodder, Deputy Chief ADA of the Trial Division, and DA Investigator Matt McLendon.
December 1998: Teresa Ann Bailey withdraws William DaShawn Hamilton from school in Charlotte, North Carolina, and takes him to Atlanta, Georgia.
February 1999: The body of an unidentified child is found in a wooded area in DeKalb County.
May 2020: NCMEC receives a tip regarding the unidentified remains.
February 2022: Teresa Ann Bailey Black is identified as a suspect.
February 2022: The remains of the boy are identified as 6-year-old William DaShawn Hamilton.
June 2022: Teresa Ann Bailey Black is indicted and subsequently arrested in Phoenix, Arizona.