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Victim’s Family Angered By Decision In NJ Cold Case

Photo/CBS 2

Photo/CBS 2

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NEWARK, N.J. (CBS 2) –  Family members of Michael McDowell — one of 5 teenagers killed in Newark more than 30 years ago — are angry and devastated that bail was reduced for the man who is charged with the murders.

“We are very disappointed and we’re angry because we feel like we’ve been victimized once again by Lee Evans,” McDowell’s sister Terry Lawson said.

Lee Evans was transported between the Hudson and Essex county jails. In court, his attorney asked for a bail reduction and the judge granted it, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reports. Bail had been originally set at five million dollars.

McDowell’s cousin Gerald McDowell called the judge’s decision “a big disappointment.”

“We always knew that he was the man that took [our] boys away and that [he] was the prime suspect all along,” Lawson said.

McDowell, Randy Johnson, Melvin Pittman, Earnest Taylor, and Alvin Turner, vanished without a trace in the summer of 1978. Last month, a grand jury returned a five count indictment against Evans after a new witness came forward. Prosecutors say three men, one of whom is dead, drove the five to a home and set it on fire. The bodies were never found. During the initial investigation, Evans was given a lie detector test which he claims he passed.

Police say the murders were retaliation against the teens for allegedly stealing a pound of marijuana from one of the defendants.

Family members worry about Evans’ release.

“We are talking about 5 murders. Whether he had no criminal background or not, how can you give someone a second chance to go back out in the streets and say he won’t do this again,” Gerald McDowell said.