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In 2008, there was a sudden development in the case. The New York Times reports that Philander Hampton, a man who was imprisoned at the time, confessed “to helping his cousin, Mr. [Lee] Evans, lure the boys to an abandoned house on Camden Street,” where they were subsequently murdered. Hampton claimed that he thought the whole thing was part of a prank “that would end at any minute.” But instead, he claimed that he ended up watching as Lee Evans forced the teenagers into a closet, nailed it shut, poured gasoline around the house, and asked Hampton for a match. Hampton later testified that he didn’t see Evans light the match, but he saw the house go up in flames and collapse.
Although police tried to corroborate this story, if the building burned down 30 years ago, it meant that much of the physical evidence that may have been there would have been lost. The Charley Project writes that the fire also reportedly spread to its neighboring houses as well. According to CNN, Newark firefighters in the 1970s often let abandoned buildings burn.
When initially questioned, Evans insisted that he had dropped the boys off near the ice cream parlor near Clinton Avenue, The Seattle Times reports. But Hampton now claimed that Evans had murdered the boys in retaliation for stealing his cannabis. Police ended up searching the area of the former Camden Street residence, but using “ground-penetrating radar,” they reportedly found no evidence of human remains.
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