Lee Anthony Evans, 56, of Irvington and Philander Hampton, 53, of Jersey City were arraigned today, March 24, 2010, before the Honorable Peter J. Vazquez on murder and arson charges in connection with the 31-year-old cold case involving five teenage boys who vanished from Newark.

Both men pleaded not guilty.

Randy Johnson, 16, Melvin Pittman, 17, Ernest Taylor, 17 and Alvin Turner, 16, all of Newark; and Michael McDowell, 16, of East Orange have been missing since Aug. 20, 1978.

Prior to the arraignment Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino met with the surviving family members.

"We hope this will bring the families a measure of solace,'' said Prosecutor Laurino.

Most of the family members asked for privacy as they attempt to digest the events of the last several days.

The next step in the process will be to present the case to a Grand Jury.

Editor's Note: These criminal charges are mere accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.