2 men charged with 1978 murders due in court

Two men charged with killing five Newark boys in 1978 are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.

Lee Anthony Evans, 56, of Irvington, and Philander Hampton, 53, of Jersey City, are charged with five counts of murder and arson.

The boys, known as the "Clinton Avenue Five," went missing after a day at a park together. Randy Johnson, Michael McDowell, Melvin Pittman, Ernest Taylor and Alvin Turner were assumed dead after no traces of the boys were found.

The teens were allegedly supposed to help local contractor Lee Evans load and move boxes to a new home. Police say the boys were led into an abandoned house at 256 Camden St. in Newark. Cops say the boys were restrained at gunpoint and the suspects then set the house ablaze.

"With these arrests today we hope to bring closure to a 31-year-old mystery involving five teenage boys who vanished from Newark on Aug. 20, 1978,'' said Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert Laurino. "For years their families wondered what happened on that August day. Today, we believe, that question has been answered.''

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