Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Atlanta Child Murders

The Jo-Jo Connection

Joseph (Jo-Jo) Bell
Joseph (Jo-Jo) Bell

Joseph (Jo-Jo) Bell was fifteen when he disappeared on March 2, 1981. Two days after he had gone missing a co-worker of his, who worked at a popular seafood restaurant named Cap'n Peg's, told his manager that Jo-Jo had called him and told him he was "almost dead." The boy said Jo-Jo had pleaded for his co-worker to help him, before hanging up the phone. The manager reported the call to police. Several days later, Jo-Jo's mother received a call from a woman who said she had Jo-Jo. The same woman had called back and spoke with Mrs. Bell's two other children. Mrs. Bell immediately called the Task Force, who never contacted her back. Frustrated, she contacted the F.B.I., but it was too late. Jo-Jo was found on April 19, 1981 in the South River. His cause of death was "probable asphyxia."

Jo-Jo was linked to several victims on and off the List. His mother had befriended a fellow inmate while serving time for murdering her husband. That woman happened to be the sister of Alfred Evans. Jo-Jo had gone to summer camp with Cynthia Montgomery, a murdered victim who had not made the List, but could be connected to many victims who had made the List. Jo-Jo was also good friends with Timothy Hill, a very troubled young man with violent tendencies, who disappeared eleven days after Jo-Jo. He and Timothy Hill were known to frequent a house on Gray Street known as Uncle Tom's. A sixty-three year-old homosexual man named Thomas Terrell, who was known to have a particular interest in young boys, owned the house.

Timothy Hill
Timothy Hill

Timothy Hill, Jo-Jo's friend, disappeared that same month. Tom Terrell's next-door neighbor saw Timothy the day before he disappeared on March 12, 1981. A young man who had also known Timothy and Tom told police that the two frequently engaged in sex together. Tom would usually pay thirteen-year-old Timothy for sexual favors. Terrell himself admitted to police that he had engaged in sexual acts with the boy. Another witness reported to police that Timothy spent the night at Terrell's after missing his bus the day before he was reported missing. That same witness was the last to see Timothy. He claimed that the night before he disappeared, he saw from his window Timothy talking with a teenage girl.

Timothy was found on March 30, 1981 in the Chattahoochee River. He was the last child victim to be added to the List. His cause of death was also listed as asphyxia. Terrell was never suspected in the disappearance or murder of Timothy or Jo-Jo. Timothy was later linked with Alfred Evans, Jefferey Mathis, Patrick Baltazar and Anthony Carter.

Throughout the horrible series of murders, the children began to get older. Also, rivers fast became the favored dumping ground for victims. Suddenly, there were no more child victims. Were the safety education programs and curfew finally working? Or had the murderer's taste simply matured?

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