Georgia authorities have identified a 6-year-old Georgia boy found dead in a cometary in 1999 as William DaShawn Hamilton and charged his mother with murder in connection to his killing, thanks to a tipster who wanted justice.
That tipster, whom the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) identified only as "Ava" upon her request to remain anonymous, knew the boy and his mother when they lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1998.
"This case is a perfect example of why we never give up hope," Angeline Hartmann, NCMEC director of communications, said in a Wednesday statement. "For more than two decades, a woman in Charlotte followed her gut feeling that something wasn’t right. 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."
Teresa Ann Bailey Black, 45, is charged with felony murder, two counts of cruelty to children, aggravated assault and concealing the death of another, according to the NCMEC and the Dekalb County Sheriff's Office.
Ava was close to Black in 1998 and would take care of William before he went missing, according to a press release.
"He liked to crack jokes," Ava said of the boy. "He did like to draw a lot, color, mainly read books. He didn't want you to read to him… he wanted to read to you!"
Investigators determined that Black had left Charlotte with William and returned without the 6-year-old. After more than 20 years, following Ava's tip, Bode Technology provided DNA work to NCMEC, which allowed investigators to confirm William’s identity.
Authorities arrested Black at her home in Phoenix, Arizona, and she is awaiting extradition to Georgia, according to the DeKalb County District Attorney's Office.
The DeKalb County DA's Office is asking anyone who knew Black or her son between 1998 and1999 in the metro Atlanta area to call their cold case tip line at 404-371-2444.