News 12 at 6 o'clock; November 19, 2009

AUGUSTA---Landon Terry has dedicated his life to solving crimes, but he can't seem to solve the mystery he believes started his life. He was just one day old when he thinks he was sold.

"I've tried the attorney's offices, the hospital. It's almost like, you don't exist," says Terry.

But he has proof that he does in his adoption records. He was born at a local hospital on October 16, 1963. His name was Baby Boy Cooper.

"And if your mother felt, had you in her arms, believe me. She would not want to give you up," says Barbara Seeger.

Seeger would know. She drove three hours from her North Carolina home to meet Landon after News 12 tracked her down on an adoption website. She is looking for her daughter, a little girl born the same year as Landon. A little girl, she says the juvenile court system took from her.

"I had agreed to give her up, and I said, that was before I had her. And she told me that if I did not give her up, then when I walked out that door, I would be arrested for vagrancy," remembers Seeger.

The "she" Barbara is referring to is Juvenile Court Officer Bee Hamilton, who died in 1988. Barbara has never been able to prove this threat, a threat she believes Hamilton used on many others.

But, look what we found in a 1955 court hearing in Miami. A congressional subcommittee was investigating juvenile issues and Bee Hamilton's alleged threats. An attorney, under oath, says this about Hamilton:

"One fact that I learned in going through the sections of Augusta and interviewing perhaps hundreds of people in areas where the mothers had their children taken from them, was that the juvenile court was identified with police power."
- Ernest A. Mitler, Special Counsel

Later, a mother describes how Hamilton showed up at her home with that power to take away her baby and 3 other children.

"She brought a policeman with her to get the children. The children cried, and she took them on out. I have never seen and never knowed where 1 of the 4 is at."
- Callie Mae Parrish

Again, all this came out in 1955. Seeger says Hamilton used that same threat against her 8 years later in 1963.

"I don't know what I could have done to fight back. Because I was 19 years old and scared to death, absolutely horrified of Bee Hamilton."

As were other mothers who said Hamilton would say anything to get her hands on babies and children.

"Babies had died, or you couldn't keep the baby. Or like in your case, I'll have you arrested, thrown in jail. Take the baby anyway. Barbara; oh believe me, that was not a lie!" said Terry.

It's the truth, according to that 1955 court transcript. Look at this exchange from a woman who ran a boarding house in Augusta where a lot of these mothers stayed before having their baby:

"Mrs. Epps: I heard her say with some particular girls that wanted their babies at birth - she said that before she would let them see them, she would tell them they were dead, died at birth.
Mr. Mitler: In other words, if the girl asked for the child, Miss Hamilton told you that she would say that the child was dead to get the girl out of the picture ?
Mrs. Epps: Before she would let the girl see the child, yes. She would just make them under the impression that the child died at birth.
Mrs. Epps. I heard her say with some particular girls that wanted their babies at birth - she said that before she would let them see them, she would tell them they were dead, died at birth.
Mr. Mitler: In other words, if the girl asked for the child, Miss Hamilton told you that she would say that the child was dead to get the girl out of the picture ?
Mrs. Epps. Before she would let the girl see the child, yes. She would just make them under the impression that the child died at birth."

But Mrs. Epps wasn't the only one to run a half-way house in Augusta where pregnant women stayed. News 12 has learned there was also a house run by a Mrs. Cooper where Bee Hamilton allegedly visited to trap young mothers.

Remember Landon's birth name? Baby Cooper?

Could his mother have stayed at the Cooper house?

Is that how he got the name, Baby Cooper? Bee Hamilton's name is all over Landon's paperwork.

Did she take him from that house?

"Somebody knows something about it, but nobody wants to talk about it." says Terry. "And nobody will talk about it." adds Seeger. But Landon and Barbara are talking about it, and they know this is a start.

Terry says, "I never actually met one of the mothers from this whole sordid tale." Barbara's never met a child from it either, but meeting Landon gives her hope that she may one day find her own daughter.

Seeger says, "You would fight heaven and Earth. You will fight hell. You will walk on fire for them. Believe me, because it's a part of you."

But now, it looks like Landon and Barbara are part of each other too.

Landon and Barbara believe there are others out there, hundreds, possibly thousands, looking for their family. They believe they aren't the only ones who were victims of forced adoptions. Maybe by breaking their silence, they can get others to come forward, and maybe some of these wounds can heal. It's a start.

Stay tuned to News 12 for more of our exclusive investigation into these black market babies, including how much money Bee Hamilton and a judge may have pocketed from all this.


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