Trial date set for mother of boy found dead in DeKalb County cemetery 24 years ago

A trial date has been set for a mother accused of murdering her son and leaving his body in a South DeKalb County cemetery in 1999.

On Feb. 26, 1999, a cemetery worker preparing for a funeral found the boy lying in a field. 

Investigators discovered someone had apparently laid out his body with care. He had been there for months and his remains had weathered the elements. There were no signs of foul play.

For decades, no one knew how he died. Investigators nicknamed the child "Dennis" or "John Clifton Doe." No family members or loved ones came forward to claim the remains or provide crucial details about how he died. 

After two decades, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children shared a new facial reconstruction that may depict what the boy looked like in life. That rendering ended up being the clue that led investigators to a breakthrough. Less than a year later, a North Carolina woman reached out to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children saying that they recognized the sketch as  6-year-old William Dashawn Hamilton, a boy who had recently moved to the Atlanta area from Charlotte with his mother.

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A facial reconstruction of what the boy may have looked like. (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

"At every turn, this case ran cold, until now," DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston said at a press conference announcing the breakthrough in 2022.

Investigators identified Hamilton's mother, 46-year-old Teresa Ann Black, as a suspect in his death. On June 28, 2022, a DeKalb County grand jury indicted Black for multiple charges including felony murder, aggravated assault, concealing the death of another, and cruelty to children. Officials say Black never reported Hamilton missing and left Atlanta shortly after his death.

Teresa Ann Black

After her indictment, Black was taken into custody in Phoenix, Arizona and extradited to Georgia. She has remained in the DeKalb County Jail without bond.

Jury selection for the trial will begin on Jan. 2, 2024.