Uncovering The Mystery Of The ‘Clinton Avenue Five’ is not an easy task. Police have cracked a major cold case that’s gone unsolved for more than 30 years. Five teenagers vanished on a summer day in 1978. But now, the family members of those missing have new reason for hope. For justice, because the boys are gone forever.
Suddenly gone were Randy Johnson, Michael McDowell, Melvin Pittman, Ernest Taylor and Alvin Turner. That day in August, the five had played basketball at a local park. Some of them then went to their homes to change their clothes before meeting up again at Clinton Avenue and Fabyan Place. They were to help a local contractor, Lee Evans, who was moving. Evans claims they helped him load up his truck with boxes and deliver them at his new house. Evans said he then brought the five back here where he’d picked them up. But police say no one ever saw them return. They vanished.
“There’s never been any evidence, no remains recovered, and at this point, this case is still being carried as five missing kids,” Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy said. Evans said he was given a polygraph test, which he passed.
None of the five had fingerprint records. Their social security numbers were never used. “Thirty years later, we’re still working on that case. Our cold case unit is working on that case as we speak,” McCarthy said. Not only are they working on it, but Newark Mayor Cory Booker said this cold case is heating up. “We’ve made a lot of strides. We found a lot of solid evidence and we’re engaged in it right now,” Booker said.
Now, two men are charged with the murders of the five teenage boys. Almost 32 years ago, Lee Evans was the prime suspect when the five teenagers vanished in 1978. Evans and the other man arrested, Philander Hampton, were also charged with arson. Officials say they put the boys in a home and burned it to the ground. The Essex County prosecutor’s office said Tuesday a tip from a witness 18 months ago led to the arrests.
The suspects are being held on $5 million bail each. A third man believed to have been involved died two years ago. Police believe the boys had broken into one of the suspects’ apartments and stole marijuana. Further details will follow!
UPDATE: Evans was acquitted. Hampton was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the alleged killings and remains in custody.