News 12 at 6 o'clock, February 18, 2010
AUGUSTA---Hundreds of people are looking for answers after a News 12 investigation uncovered an alleged black market for babies in Augusta. It all centers around juvenile court judges and a court officer accused of selling children for a profit. Those children are now adults. A lot of them want to find their families. They want answers. They were too young to remember anything.
Others are trying to forget.
Bee Bee Ashley was an orphan the first time she saw "The Little Match Girl." She felt just like the girl she watched on television, only she wasn't selling anything. Bee Bee believes she was the one being sold. "When grown-ups came, they all sat in a circle and all us little kids were sitting on the floor like puppies," she remembers. "And they're sitting looking at you, if they want to take one of you home."
Black Market Babies?
Landon Terry and Barbara Seeger say they too are victims of Bee Hamilton. Landon believes he was taken from his mother when he was one day old. Barbara says Hamilton threatened her into giving up her baby. Read and watch their stories:
Bee Bee lived at a boarding house on Emmet Street in Augusta run by a woman named Elizabeth Hamilton, or Bee Hamilton as everyone called her. Bee Bee remembers her life there was all about impressing potential parents--Bee's customers.
Life was much different after business hours. "I remember black patent leather shoes and a red dress that had little rows of buttons that looked like apples up here. And they'd take that off and then all the toddlers would run around in their underwear. It was that bad," Bee Bee says.
Sleeping arrangements weren't any better, but at least Bee Bee got to be with her sister. "We slept at the head and there was two other ones that slept at the foot because they were small, and we were were small."
Bee Bee was also young. She was four or five at the time. Her sister was three or four. She doesn't have a lot of pictures, but she has a lot of memories even though she was so little. She remembers never having enough to eat and being forced to work. Bee Bee also says she and the other children "really only got a bath when grown-ups was coming to see us, and pick you out." One of those times, Bee Bee got noticed and Bee Hamilton struck a deal. "They got two for the price of one because they couldn't separate me and my sister."
So, Bee Bee and her sister left the boarding house for a life she hoped would be better: It wasn't. "I could have survived Bee Hamilton, but what the woman that raised me did to me was worse." Bee Bee says the girls weren't abused at the boarding house, but her adopted mother beat them until "blood run down your back. Then afterward, she'd take alcohol and rub the stuff all over your back and you'd be in a lot of pain. I don't know which was worse. The beating or the stinging."
This allegedly went on for years, but those scars have healed. Her emotional wounds, however, have not. Bee Bee says she never felt wanted. "The most important thing in this world is a family and feeling like you belong. And to feel loved. And if you don't have that," she says, crying, "you don't have nothing. No matter what. You just don't have nothing."
Justice is something else Bee Bee feels she's missing. Bee Hamilton and the judges she says were involved in her adoption, or sale, are all dead. Bee Bee thinks what happened to her and maybe hundreds others was a crime, and she says they should have paid. "She got money. Judge Hardin got money. Judge Woodward and all the lawyers and investigators. All of them should have went to jail. I don't mean some posh jail. I mean hard core jail. And I think they should have served their time there until they died of natural causes."
Bee Bee believes they all killed something in her. And like the "Little Match Girl," she will never get it back.
But Bee Bee says she wants to try to move forward. She hasn't spoken with her sister in a long time, but she wants to speak to others who also went through the same experience. She says meeting other people who remember life in a Bee Hamilton boarding house will help her. Maybe, she won't feel so alone.
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