22 Solved in '22 : William DaShawn Hamilton
Hello. I’m Rebekkah Rosewood, and this is Thrice Cursed.
Welcome back to another long-awaited episode. Today I’ll be continuing the 22 Solved in ‘22 series: a series where I talk about cold cases that finally received answers in 2022. Keep in mind that, unless the offender is deceased, all of the offenders mentioned should be considered innocent until proven guilty, as these cases are ongoing. Whether I believe their innocence or not, I will refrain from commenting as such. With that said, let’s dive in.
On February 26th, 1999, the decomposing remains of a young boy were discovered near a Decatur, Georgia church cemetery. A cemetery worker had been preparing for a funeral when he noticed the boy lying in a nearby field. Due to the advanced decomposition state, coroners could not determine what killed him. They were, however, able to estimate that the child was between the ages of 5 and 7, and had died three to six months prior to his discovery. He’d been wearing either a blue hooded shirt, or a blue and white plaid shirt (sources vary), red jeans, and dark brown Timberland boots tied with double knots.
The investigators concluded that, given the way his body had been carefully placed, he seemed to have been “well cared for” in life. This deduction, of course, couldn’t be backed up by the autopsy. Further examination revealed that the child still had some of their baby teeth, and was also likely from Georgia or the northern Florida area.
Despite his young age, no one came forward to claim the young boy. The authorities lovingly nicknamed him “Dennis,” refusing to call him by his given moniker, Clifton Doe. For 23 years, only one person knew who the boy was. And they weren’t coming forward. But the investigators weren’t about to give up, and neither were a news reporter and one woman from Charlotte, North Carolina.
In May of 2020, the North Carolina woman, Ava, came across the podcast of true crime news reporter Angeline Hartmann. Angeline had been first on the scene back in 1999 when the young boy’s body was discovered. Rather than trying to forget what she’d seen, Angeline did everything she could to keep his story, and eventually his face, in the media. She left her WAGA-TV job in 2005 for a job with America’s Most Wanted. She used the opportunity to tell his story before eventually moving on to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), where she again did everything she could to get his story out there.
In February 2019, on the anniversary of William’s discovery, NCMEC released a facial rendering. This rendering was shared by Angeline, who released a six-part series on her “Inside Crime” podcast. This is the rendering Ava found in 2020. She discovered the photo and immediately contacted the center. “I recognize that boy,” she said, telling the authorities that the body belonged to a young boy named William Dashawn Hamilton. She was absolutely certain of it.
Ava, who gave no last name, was friends with William’s mother, Teresa Ann Bailey Black. The two women lived only about three streets away from one another and spent a great deal of time together. During that time, Ava developed a strong bond with William. After all, she would babysit for Black. For nearly four years, she would watch him both before and after school, daily. That is, until December of 1998.
Without notice, Black withdrew William from school and moved to Atlanta. Ava recalled her tear-filled goodbye to the child. “We said each other’s name. William hugged me and I hugged him. We kept hugging,” she said. “[Black] had to practically pry us apart to get him back in the car. That was it. That’s the last time I saw him.”
It wouldn’t be the last time she saw Black, however. Less than a year later, Black returned, with William nowhere to be found. When met with Ava’s frantic questions about William’s whereabouts, she had several answers explaining away his absence. Eventually, Black moved on, and Ava lost track of her. But for 23 years, Ava refused to stop looking for William, checking every message board, and missing persons site, and calling anyone who might be able to help from hospitals and homeless shelters to social service agencies and bus stations. And before you say, “well why didn’t she call the police,” she did that, too. Even as she raised two children of her own, she continued to search, sometimes spending hours a day. Finally, her perseverance paid off.
Upon receiving Ava’s tip, the investigating authorities set to work, intent on unraveling the truth about Black’s time in Atlanta. As of yet, little has been made public about her time there. Whether that’s because it’s unknown or being reserved for trial is unclear. However, it’s believed by authorities that while in Atlanta, Black worked at the former Pleasers Gentleman’s Club on Cleveland Avenue. It’s also believed that she’d been staying at the Atlanta Day Shelter for Women.
In order to piece together a more substantial timeline, authorities have asked anyone that may have interacted with Black or William during their time in Atlanta to call the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Cold Case Tip Line at 404-371-2444.
In early 2022, William Dashawn Hamilton’s identity was confirmed through DNA linking to Black. On June 29th, Black was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona on charges of felony murder, aggravated assault, concealing the death of another, and cruelty to children. She was then extradited to Georgia where she entered a preliminary plea of not guilty. As of December 2022, Black was being held in Georgia’s DeKalb County jail.
According to the indictment, Black administered a strong dose of Diphenhydramine and Acetaminophen, an antihistamine and general pain reliever, before striking William in the head with an unknown blunt object. The indictment also alleges that following the blow to his head, Black failed to seek medical treatment, resulting in his death.
This is not Black’s first stint in prison for serious charges. In September of 1994, Black was convicted of manslaughter as a “youthful offender,” to be released a year later in November 1995. I could find no further information about this incident.
When speaking about William, Ava recalled that he was a “bright and artistic 6-year-old who possessed a keen sense of humor.” She remembered him as loving to crack jokes. He also loved to read, insisting on reading to you rather than being read to. And he loved to draw and color.
Today, Ava feels conflicted. “It’s a joy because I know he lives at peace now that he’s been found. But it’s always a sadness because seeing him as a child, seeing how happy and intelligent and smart he was… So many possibilities of what he could have done or who he could have been.” But William lives on in Ava’s memories and the memories of her two children, who grew up hearing stories of the young boy.
Thanks to one woman’s personal mission to find the young boy she babysat and loved, a news reporter with a dedication to finding his identity, and the efforts of the DeKalb county authorities, William Dashawn Hamilton can finally be called by his own name once more, and justice may ultimately prevail.
If anyone was in Atlanta in 1999 and recalls interacting with Teresa Ann Bailey Black, please call the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Cold Case Tip Line at 404-371-2444.
This has been the cursed tale of a young boy whose name was unknown for far too long. A boy who will continue to be dearly missed. William Dashawn Hamilton.
For more cursed content, you can find me at ThriceCursedPod.com, where I sell merch and post all of my episodes as blogs with corresponding images and sources, or on socials @ThriceCursedPod. You can also join the Facebook Group where I will post case updates as they arise. For anyone interested in listening to Angeline Hartmann’s six-part series on William Dashawn Hamilton, I will be linking her podcast, Inside Crime, in the blog post.
Until next time, keep your curses hexy and your hexes sexy.
The North Carolina woman’s name may be Eva. There were two spellings across multiple sources.
AETV. “William Hamilton: A Cold Case.” A&E Television Networks, 21 Feb. 2022, www.aetv.com/real-crime/william-hamilton-cold-case.
Arizona's Family. “Mother Accused of Killing Her Son 23 Years Ago Arrested in Phoenix.” KPHO/KTVK, 13 July 2022, www.azfamily.com/2022/07/13/mother-accused-killing-her-son-23-years-ago-arrested-phoenix/.
Fox 5 Atlanta. “Boy's Remains Found in Cemetery Still Not Identified 20 Years Later.” WAGA, 26 Feb. 2019, www.fox5atlanta.com/news/boys-remains-found-in-cemetery-still-not-identified-20-years-later.
Fox 5 Atlanta. “Boy's Body Found in DeKalb County Cemetery, Cold Case Identified.” WAGA, 21 Feb. 2022, www.fox5atlanta.com/news/boy-body-found-dekalb-county-cemetery-cold-case-identified.
Inside Crime. “William DaShawn Hamilton.” Inside Crime, 23 Mar. 2020, www.insidecrime.org/william-dashawn-hamilton.
Law & Crime. “Mother Charged with Felony Murder After Authorities Identify Dead Child Found Near Cemetery in 1999.” Law & Crime, 14 July 2022, www.lawandcrime.com/crime/mother-charged-with-felony-murder-after-authorities-identify-dead-child-found-near-cemetery-in-1999.
WCNC. “Mother Charged with Killing Her Son in 1999 Cold Case.” WCNC-TV, 14 July 2022, www.wcnc.com/article/news/crime/teresa-ann-bailey-black-william-dashawn-hamilton-crime-murder-death-investigation-news/275-1f8dd535-b1a8-47e7-9fd1-9083a5047dab.
11Alive. “Woman Charged in Son's Death Was Previously Charged in Death of Husband.” WXIA, 14 July 2022, www.11alive.com/article/news/crime/trials/teresa-ann-bailey-black-murder-charge-dekalb-county-cold-case-prior-manslaughter/85-88aa3d0f-ca21-4f8f-ac3a-e8302d3b210e.
11Alive. “Mother Charged with Murder in Connection to Her Son's 1999 Death in DeKalb County.” WXIA, 13 July 2022, www.11alive.com/article/news/crime/trials/teresa-ann-bailey-black-murder-charge-son-william-hamilton-cold-case/85-9970276f-e035-4e48-a113-4037b478bfc1.