One of the more puzzling cases on Charley was the disappearance of five teen boys from Newark, New Jersey on the night of August 20, 1978: Randy Johnson, Michael McDowell, Melvin Pittman, Ernest Taylor and Alvin Turner. All of them black, between 16 and 17 years old. All of them good kids; only McDowell had a record, and that was just one arrest for getting into a fight. They were hanging out that night, playing basketball, cramming a little bit more fun into the last days of summer…then they were gone.
It wasn’t for a long time that I was able to get photos of the boys to put them on Charley — and the photos are not very good quality. Their cases did not get anywhere near the attention they deserved. Their disappearances mystified me. Why would someone snatch five teenage boys? And how would they do it without there being a fierce, noisy struggle? No one saw anything. The kids just disappeared into thin air.
Well, there’s been a breakthrough: two men have been arrested and charged with murdering all five of the boys — and arson as well. One of the suspects, according to an unidentified law enforcement source, is Lee Evans. Evans is the last person known to have seen the boys alive, but previous reports stated he’d been ruled out as a suspect. There will be a news conference later this morning with details.
I think this just goes to show that, even if it’s not in the news, you shouldn’t assume the cops aren’t doing anything to find someone. There had not been anything about these boys in the news since the summer of 2008, but it seems the police were quietly plugging away, and now they have results. I just hope they can make a case after over thirty years.
Justice delayed is still justice.