DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — A woman has been charged with murder in the death of her 6-year-old son outside Atlanta more than 23 years ago, her arrest brought about by a forensic artist’s rendering of the child that led to a tip, authorities said Wednesday.
A DeKalb County grand jury returned an indictment on June 28 against Teresa Ann Bailey Black, District Attorney Sherry Boston said in a news release.
Black, 45, is charged with felony murder, cruelty to children, aggravated assault and concealing the death of another in the death of William DaShawn Hamilton. She was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona, on June 29 and is awaiting extradition to Georgia.
No attorney was listed for Black in online court records.
When the boy’s body was found in a wooded area on Feb. 26, 1999, authorities estimated he had been dead for three to six months. His identity was unknown and the manner and cause of his death was undetermined.
He remained unidentified for decades, despite the efforts of DeKalb County police and the county medical examiner’s office, as well as news coverage of the case. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children got involved in 2000, providing renderings of the boy and featuring the story. A forensic artist with the center produced a new rendering in 2019 that was featured by news outlets.
A person who knew Black and her son in 1998 saw a rendering in May 2020 and contacted the center, according to the news release. DeKalb County police and prosecutors then followed that lead.
DNA collected from Black earlier this year linked her to the remains, authorities said.
“For far too long, this precious little boy had no name and no story,” Boston said in the news release. “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.”
Black and her son had been living in Charlotte, North Carolina, with a family member when she withdrew William from school in December 1998 and moved with him to Atlanta, the release says. She returned to Charlotte in late 1999 without the boy and told different stories about where he was.
Angeline Hartmann, spokesperson for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, said the case demonstrates “why we never give up hope.”
“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,” Hartmann said in the release. “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.”
Boston is asking anyone who may have known Black or William at the time of the boy’s death to call her office.