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Suspect In Murder of Chief's Daughter Apprehended

Suspect In Murder of Chief's Daughter Apprehended

Associated Press

September 20, 2010

RALEIGH, N.C. — Authorities in New York arrested a convicted rapist on Monday in the slaying of a North Carolina police chief’s daughter, hours after the lawman made an emotional plea for help tracking the suspect down.

FBI agents and U.S. Marshals took Michael Neal Harvey, 34, into custody without incident in Niagara Falls, N.Y. He was wanted on a murder warrant in the killing of Valerie Hamilton, a 23-year-old preschool worker and swim instructor whose body was found in a North Carolina self-storage unit on Saturday.

Merl Hamilton, police chief in the Charlotte-area city of Concord, used an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” to ask for help from law enforcement around the country, his voice breaking several times as he spoke. He later described Valerie as a “perfect daughter” in an interview with the Associated Press and said he felt kinship with the officers tracking Harvey.

“Law enforcement across this country is like a brotherhood and a sisterhood and I’m hoping that they’ll help me with this, and that they can get out there and find this guy,” Hamilton told The AP before Harvey’s arrest.

Valerie was last seen alive at a Charlotte tavern. Police have said they think Harvey is the man spotted on surveillance video leaving the tavern with her early Wednesday.

Hundreds of miles away in New York, the manhunt drew to a close on Monday at a house near where Harvey used to live.


Valerie Hamilton | Personal Photo

The suspect was asleep on a couch at a male friend’s house when 18 officers arrived, said Daniel Larish of the U.S. Marshals Service. The task force included state, local and federal officers.

Investigators believe Harvey had been at the friend’s house since about noon on Sunday.

“We made entry into the house and he was sleeping on the front couch. He was arrested without incident,” Larish said.

Larish said he showed no emotion and seemed “lethargic.”

Harvey was expected to be arraigned in Niagara County Court and is being held at the Niagara County jail. Charlotte detectives are traveling to New York to interview him.

Harvey’s criminal record includes a rape conviction in New York, as well as North Carolina convictions for failing to register as a sex offender and felony breaking-and-entering.

The slain woman’s father said young women should follow the same safety rules their parents teach them as children.

“Be careful around strangers. Don’t assume you know somebody when you don’t. Stay with your friends. that carries over into your 20s, and when 23 you should be listening to that,” Merl Hamilton said. “These young ladies need to demand respect and need to demand that they’re kept safe.”

Valerie Hamilton graduated from Concord High School in 2005 and studied nursing for a year at Queens University of Charlotte. She changed her mind about her future goals and decided she wanted to follow her mother into teaching, her father said. She’d worked at a preschool and taught swimming to children at summer camps and at a Charlotte swimming school, he said.

“I’d describe her as a perfect daughter and everybody who’s a father knows what that means,” Merl Hamilton said. “You just stay behind her, win or lose. To me, she was perfect.”

Police would not say what evidence led them to Harvey or to Hamilton’s body.

Detectives interviewed guests at an east Charlotte hotel Saturday evening and Harvey’s home in northern Mecklenburg County was searched Saturday, but he wasn’t home.

Harvey was raised in Niagara Falls. No one answered the phone at his former address Monday morning.

Associated Press Writer Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, N.Y., contributed to this report.

  • Car6_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    the scum of society, glad they caught him.

  • Tigerstripe_002_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    The Chiefs daughter can never be brought back. But in her name and loving memory, it can be assured that this individual cannot continue to bring harm to others. ~ Death Penalty

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago


    All I can say is great job by every Law Enforcement Agency involved on this task..The brotherhood and sisterhood of Law Enforcement Officers really pulled together.God bless the Hamilton Family, Your precious Daughter is now a Angel in Heaven and the p.o.s. perp who committed this tragic crime will be dealt with properly.

  • 70748_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    This guy needs the DEATH penalty!

  • Lion_cub__masai_mara__kenya_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Whalewatcher, NC does indeed have the death penalty, we aren't as free with it as Texas but we do have capital punishment.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago


    Good job by all involved in catching this POS now give him what he deserves.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago


    My thoughts and prayers go out to the Chief and his family during this horrible tragic time. May justice be swift and sure. Anyone that has dealt with sex offenders knows that there is no "cure" for these deranged individuals. The only sure way to determine that they don't re-offend is to stop them from breathing. Great job to those responsible for apprehending this animal.

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Don't know if N.C. has the death penalty, but if they do, the POS deserves nothing less. God bless Chief Hamilton, his family and the Concord P.D. Great work on capturing him by all i9nvolved.

  • Cuffs_badge_gun_1__max50


    almost 4 years ago


    10-4 to that bumperdog! Some idiots just like to say stupid crap in comment sections of a lot of websites just to piss people off. When one of these idiots does it here, on a subject like this it just makes me lose faith in people.

  • Academyrun_014_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    A very sad situation with a very positive arrest made. Excellent work by all the officers and support staff involved in his apprehension. They have probably saved another young life and another family from having to feel the unimaginable pain that the Hamiltons are. Chief Hamilton, my thoughts are with you, your family and your community. Brothers in arms, brothers in tears!

  • Stmaarten2_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    not all sex offenders are bad people? sounds like the words of a sex offender to me......being on a police site isnt going to make up for that you a**hole. this sex offender shouldnt be jailed....he should be taken out and shot. we have no room for people like that on this earth and no room for their sympathizers.

  • Radio2_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Chapman38.. I don't think you have any idea about how bad these offenders can be.. They are predators. They are dangerous and should be locked up tight.

    Also, check your inbox..

  • Radio2_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    I am really glad they caught this guy. May he rot in hell.. My prayers and thoughts are with Chief Hamilton and his family. May his daughter Valerie Hamilton Rest in Peace...

  • Thinker_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Great collaboration by all agencies involved...

  • In_remembrance_of_oakland_pd_max50_max50_max50_max50_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    An outstanding effort by all involved in capturing this preditor so that justice may be served on him. May the family of this young lady rest easier knowing that he is behind bars.

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