I-TEAM INVESTIGATES: Have we found the answers to a 10-year-old Black Market Baby mystery?

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Bee Hamilton took the secrets of many children to her grave when she died in 1988. Today, men and women across the country are still dealing with actions she allegedly took as a Juvenile Court Officer. (Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- If a cemetery is haunted by secrets taken to the grave, Augusta's Westover Memorial Park is harboring a fugitive.

For decades, the pine trees surrounding the cemetery have acted almost like prison bars, standing guard over Elizabeth B. Hamilton's untold stories. They, too, were buried in 1988 when the Juvenile Court Officer died, leaving families she ripped apart with nothing but ghost stories.

"I've tried the attorneys offices, the hospital," Landon Terry said in 2009. "It's almost like, you don't exist."

That first interview wasn't long after Terry knocked on the newsroom door for the first time, armed with whispers he'd always believed about Bee Hamilton.

For the next 10 years, I chased her ghost, uncovering evidence she worked with local judges and law enforcement to steal and sell babies.

Our investigation reunited not one, but two families. We've helped countless others all over the country, but it always bothered me I could never help the one who started it all by getting him the answers he so desperately wanted.

"Might be getting them now," Terry said to me during an interview. "You might be about to blow it wide open."

After a Black Market Baby recently found his mom through Ancestry.com, I sat down with two sisters who found each other the same way.

A decade after we started our search, I took Terry a DNA test. When his results were ready, we wrote an email to a possible match.

That email went to a cousin in North Dakota. She called her cousin in North Carolina. He called his cousin, Annette Thomason, in Evans.

"And I said, 'Are you talking about Landon Terry?' And he said, 'How did you know," Thomason said.

She just so happened to be watching our story when she saw a ghost.

"I saw the story, and I heard 'Baby Boy Cooper,' and I stopped for a minute and looked, and my first thought was 'Wow, looks like my dad.'"

Her dad passed away in July 2002. Mom followed in July 2013.

Landon Terry: "It was 10 years ago we did the first story, so we might have been able to meet Mom," Terry said. "And maybe Dad, depending on when it was, when he passed."

"This is the first time I ever saw the story, though," Thomason said. "You know, just recently."

She also just recently took a DNA test. It gave them the answers they already knew --they were listed as immediate family. Siblings.

"There was no moments of awkwardness or anything between us. I mean, we just talked just like we've known each other forever," Thomason said.

"I think we text just about everyday," Terry said.

"Every day," Thomason said.

Every day, Terry gets more answers. He loves to fish at Clark's Hill. Turns out his Dad loved it so much, his ashes were spread there.

"I would have loved him," Terry said. "That would have just been wonderful."

"I'm sorry that didn't happen," I said.

"That's okay," Terry said. "I still came out way ahead."

His daughter came out ahead, too. She was the whole reason Terry started searching all those years ago.

"And you talk about the top of the bucket list fulfilled? This is it," Terry said.

Now it's time for a new list as they get to make up for a lot of lost time.

"So now she's stuck with me," Terry said to Thomason.

"Yeah, and he's stuck with me," Thomason said. "Poor thing."

"I don't know who's getting the worst end," Terry said.

Terry does know he's getting the last laugh. Bee Hamilton might have taken his secret to her grave, but he was able to get it back. Now that his secret is out, he hopes other Black Market Babies will be able to uncover theirs, too.