2 men charged with killing 5 Newark teens in 1978

Police have charged two men with killing five Newark teens more than 30 years ago.

Lee Anthony Evans, 56, of Irvington, and Philander Hampton, 53, of Jersey City, were each charged with five counts of murder and arson. An individual also believed to be involved in the killings, Maurice Woody-Olds, 48, of Newark died in March of 2008.

The kids, known as the "Clinton Avenue Five," went missing after a day at a park together. In 1978, 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. The boys were allegedly restrained at gunpoint. The suspects then allegedly 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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