For twenty-three years, the mother of a six-year-old boy remained beyond the reach of the law despite killing the boy in Georgia. Although the little child’s remains were found near the woods close to a Dekalb County church cemetery, the boy’s identity remained a mystery until Wednesday, when the Dekalb County District Attorney’s office publicly identified the murder victim as William DaShawn Hamilton.
Now, William’s mother has been charged with her son’s murder. Forty-five-year-old Teresa Ann Bailey Black, the boy’s mother, has been charged with two counts of felony murder, two counts of cruelty to children, one count of aggravated assault, and one count of concealing the death of another. Although it has been twenty-three years since Georgia authorities found the boy’s decomposing remains near the church cemetery, they were unable to identify him until recently – so his mother almost got away with murder until now.
A woman told the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that she knew Black and her son. The woman was able to identify the murderer thanks to a rendering of the child that was shared by the NCMEC online. Investigators obtained a DNA sample from Black and were able to use it to link her to her son, who was brutally killed and left for dead in the woods near a church.
Black was arrested on June 29, 2022, and taken into custody in Phoenix, Arizona. She is currently waiting for extradition to Georgia, where she will face numerous charges against her.
DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston said, “for far too long, this precious little boy had no name and no story… William has been identified, and justice will be served in his memory.”
Back in the 1990s, Black, who was living under the name Bailey, resided with her son and another family member in Charlotte, North Carolina. She abruptly withdrew her son from school in December 1998 and moved back to the Atlanta area. That was the last time William was seen alive.
About a year after William went missing, Black returned to Charlotte. People began to ask about her son, and Black told each person a different story.
On February 26, 1999, William’s remains were found badly decomposed in a wooded area. His remains were found at the corner of Clifton Springs Road and Clifton Spring Church Road. Authorities believed the boy had been dead and abandoned for three to six months before his body was found near the Georgia church cemetery.
Although the case attracted national attention, authorities did not know the boy’s name and were unable to link him to his mother. Shortly afterward, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children became involved. But it wasn’t until a forensic artist created an image of William in 2019 that there was a break in the case. The following May 2020, a woman was able to identify William and link Black to the boy.
“A woman in Charlotte followed her gut feeling that something wasn’t right,” said Angeline Hartmann, Director of Communications at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, in a statement issued by the DeKalb County District Attorney’s office. “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.”