Office of the DeKalb County District Attorney

Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit

Sherry Boston, District Attorney


Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Victim’s Remains Discovered Near Church Cemetery in 1999 But Were Not Identified Until 2022

Decatur, Ga.- DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston announces a conviction by jury trial in the case of an Arizona woman accused in the death of her young son nearly 25 years ago. 

On Wednesday, a jury found Teresa Ann Bailey Black, 46, guilty of Concealing the Death of Another in connection with the death of her 6-year-old son, William DaShawn Hamilton.

The charges against Black date back to the February 26, 1999 discovery of the remains of a then-unidentified child found in a wooded area at the corner of Clifton Springs Road and Clifton Church Road. The child, whose body was significantly decomposed, was determined to be an African American male between the ages of 5 and 7. He was estimated to have been deceased for three to six months.

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, who became known as “John Clifton Doe,” 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 the life-like 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 linked 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 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.

When investigators interviewed Black in 2022 about the death of her son, she initially expressed surprise that he was deceased. She later conceded that she had been present when William died and left his body in the wooded location where it was found. Black shared that William had been sick for days prior to his death, but she did not seek medical attention. Autopsies and test results of muscle tissue collected during the investigation showed that Diphenhydramine and Acetaminophen were in his system at the time of his death.

In June 2022, a DeKalb County Grand Jury indicted Teresa Ann Bailey Black, and she was taken into custody near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She was extradited to Georgia in July 2022 has been held without bond in the DeKalb County Jail.

DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Stacey Hydrick, who presided over the trial, has scheduled a sentencing hearing for Defendant Black on Friday. 

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Shannon Hodder with assistance from Senior Assistant District Attorney Tyshawn Jackson, DA Supervising Investigator Matt McLendon, and Victim Advocate Christy Palmer. Former DKPD Investigator Chris Harvey led the initial investigation, and DKPD Lt. Adam Quigley worked on the investigation with the District Attorney’s team. 

Case Timeline

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. The remains of the boy are identified as 6-year-old William DaShawn Hamilton.

June 2022: Black is indicted in DeKalb County and subsequently arrested in Phoenix, Arizona.

July 2022: Black is extradited to Georgia and held in the DeKalb County Jail without bond. 

January 2024: A DeKalb County jury finds Black guilty of Concealing the Death of Another.