NC Police Chief Expresses Doubts About Murder Charge
Concord Police Chief Merl Hamilton, center, his wife Susan, left, and daughter Sarah, right, leave the church after a funeral service for his daughter Valerie Hamilton in Concord, N.C. , Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010.
Associated Press | WSOCTV.com.
September 24, 2010
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For the first time since Charlotte-Mecklenburg police confirmed there was evidence of drug use in his Valerie Hamilton’s death, her father, the Concord police chief, is speaking out.
“If I wasn’t in law enforcement I would probably say he killed my daughter. But because I know killed means murder, you know, first degree murder, I don’t know. I don’t know enough about it to say that,” Merl Hamilton said. “I think if he wasn’t with my daughter that night she would be alive.”
Eyewitness News has started piecing together the timeline of what happened to Hamilton after leaving the Thomas Street Tavern last week with Michael Harvey.
At 3:10 a.m. last Wednesday, Hamilton called her close friend Ashley Barton and invited her to come hang out with them at the hot tub at her South Charlotte apartment complex.
“I don’t know why she called. I don’t know if she really wanted me to come out to the hot tub or if that was her way of saying, ’I’m with this creep, and I don’t feel comfortable, and I need you here,’” Barton said.
Eyewitness News has learned Harvey didn’t check into the Econolodge until 4:22 a.m. Wednesday. But police still have not said where Hamilton actually died, only saying it was a short time after she left the bar.
“I wish, I wonder sometimes that if i had gone out with her, would she still be here?” Barton said.
Barton was likely the last person to hear Hamilton’s voice.
“She didn’t sound like she was on anything; she didn’t sound like she was drunk. She sounded completely sober. But I could tell there was an edge to her voice,” she said. “I didn’t think about it then, I was half asleep. I regret not paying attention closely.”
Hamilton says he’s not worried about the rumors surrounding Valerie’s death.
“I don’t want to defend anything. I know who my daughter was and her friends knew who she was,” he said.
Hamilton said even after decades in law enforcement, he still believes everyone deserves a second chance. However, because of Harvey’s lengthy criminal record, he said Harvey’s had more than enough chances.
For her part, Barton is choosing to remember Valerie as a bright, good-hearted woman who could light up a room.
“You could feel that energy about her, she was just so enlightening,” she said.
Related Story: Accused Killer of NC Chief’s Daughter Sick in Jail
RALEIGH, N.C. — Authorities say a man accused of killing a North Carolina police chief’s daughter is recovering from an undisclosed illness in a New York jail as he waits to be extradited.
Michael Neal Harvey is charged with murder in the death of 23-year-old Valerie Hamilton. She was the daughter of Merl Hamilton, police chief of the Charlotte-area city of Concord.
Harvey is being held in a Niagara County, N.Y., jail. Sheriff Jim Voutour says the 34-year-old suspect is receiving medical care in a special unit for a sickness he declined to describe.
Harvey has denied he killed Hamilton. He says she died from an drug overdose.
Charlotte police say witnesses said Harvey ignored pleas that Hamilton needed medical attention.