A 23-year-old cold case in New Jersey still has no resolution after Lee Anthony Evans was acquitted Nov. 23 of locking five teenagers in a home and burning them to death.

“It’s a situation where I heard him say: ‘Not guilty,’ but the fact is, they put this horrible thing on you, and you still feel guilty,” Evans told reporters outside the Superior Court in Newark. Evans’ cousin, Philander Hampton, pleaded guilty to the crime in 2008 when he told police—after 13 hours of interrogation–that the boys were lured to an empty house in Newark in August 1978 and locked in a closet before he and Evans doused the house with gasoline and set it ablaze.

The boys’ disappearance was not linked to the fire when the two events occurred in 1978. The two men were charged with the murders by Essex County officials in March 2008 after investigation of the case was revived by two Newark detectives who were nearing retirement.

Hampton pleaded guilty to the deaths and received a 10-year prison term after admitting his role in the deaths and agreeing to testify against Evans. He is also to receive $15,000 in relocation money upon his release from prison.

Hampton said the teens, who Evans hired for his handyman business, had stolen some of Evans’ marijuana and that Evans sought revenge.

The case was initially classified as a case of missing persons, but according to the Associated Press, the families of the victims insisted over the years that Evans should have been a person of interest in the boys’ disappearance.

The families remain upset after the verdict, saying that after all these years, they still don’t have justice.

“Not guilty does not mean innocent. Mr. Evans may escape the law, but never the Lord,” Terry Lawson said, who saw her older son climb into Evan’s truck on the night he disappeared, according to Newark Star-Ledger accounts. “We know in our hearts what happened to the boys, and we know that Mr. Evans is a guilty man walking free today.”

The bodies of the youths who disappeared— Melvin Pittman and Ernest Taylor, both 17 years old, and Alvin Turner, Randy Johnson and Michael McDowell , all 16 years old– have yet to be found.