Office of the DeKalb County District Attorney

Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit

Sherry Boston, District Attorney


Friday, January 12, 2024

Sentencing Update: State v. Teresa Black

Decatur, Ga.- An Arizona woman has been sentenced to 10 years in prison following her conviction for hiding the death of her son for more than 20 years.

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.  Black was acquitted on charges of felony murder, cruelty to children and aggravated assault. 

Friday, DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Stacey Hydrick sentenced Black to 10 years in prison, the maximum allowed under Georgia law for that count. 

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. 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.

DNA collected from Teresa Ann Bailey Black linked her to the remains of the child found in February 1999.

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 William’s 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.

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.