three many years later, a Georgia man is charged with killing an 8-year-old boy

From JEFF MARTIN Associated Press

MARIETTA, Georgia (AP) – A convicted sex offender was arrested for more than 30 years after an 8-year-old boy was found dead in the woods of suburban Atlanta.

James Michael Coates, 56, faces multiple charges, including murder and aggravated child abuse in the 1988 murder of Joshua Harmon, Roswell police said on Friday. He was arrested on Wednesday after a traffic stop while driving in an Uber.

James Michael Coates, Roswell Police Dept.

Woodstock’s Coates was arrested after DNA evidence gathered at the scene linked him to the murder, police said.

Detectives, police officers, scientists and others who have worked on the case over the years “never gave up hope of bringing Josh’s murderer to justice,” Roswell Police Chief James Conroy said at a news conference Friday.

“It was a tragedy no family should endure,” said Conroy. “Josh’s death and the fact that his killer stayed free for so long is inconceivable.”

Joshua was reported missing by his parents on May 15, 1988 after failing to return home for dinner. After several hours of searching, his body was found in a wooded area near his home.

Police said the case had gotten cold, but they had re-examined the clues over the years and improved law enforcement technology.

With his family’s permission, police exhumed the boy’s body in February 2021 in hopes of finding more evidence. Additional DNA tests were done on evidence from the crime scene, and police say the tests linked Coates to the crime.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Coates was twice convicted of child molestation for crimes in 1990 and 1993. After the 1993 conviction, he was behind bars for nearly 20 years, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections.

Coates remained in jail Friday and it was unknown if he had an attorney available for him to comment.