Medical Examiners find no signs of physical trauma in the death of Valerie Hamilton.Medical examiners found no signs of physical trauma in the death of the Concord police chief’s daughter, but investigators said they found evidence of drug use in the case and that Valerie Hamilton didn’t get the medical attention she needed.
Hamilton, 23, was found dead in a storage unit Saturday, four days after she was last seen leaving a Plaza Midwood tavern with a man police later identified as Michael Neal Harvey.
Harvey, 34, is charged with murder, but after the autopsy, police said Tuesday they are investigating to “ensure that appropriate charges are filed.”
Police said Harvey didn’t seek medical attention for Hamilton even though other people urged him to do so.
They also said in a statement that Harvey tried to “conceal her death and made great efforts to clean up any potential crime scenes before he disposed of her body.”
Harvey appeared in court in New York on Tuesday, an hour before hundreds attended a memorial service to honor Hamilton in Concord.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police wouldn’t say Tuesday night whether the drug use might have involved Hamilton, Harvey or both.
The drug evidence was found in at least one of several places police searched for Hamilton, but police wouldn’t say where it was discovered or what kind of drugs were involved.
The Mecklenburg medical examiner’s office refused to comment on its findings Tuesday, but police said the autopsy did not indicate any sign of physical trauma typically associated with homicide, such as gunshot or stab wounds.
Harvey, a convicted sex offender, was arrested in Niagara Falls, N.Y., on Monday. On Tuesday he waived an extradition hearing and agreed to return to Charlotte, where he has lived for several years.
After his hearing, as Harvey was led from a Niagara County courtroom in handcuffs, he yelled to TV cameras.
“This is not a murder. There’s no murder at all. … She OD’d in her sleep. She overdosed in her sleep.”
Police say medical examiners are awaiting the results of toxicology and sexual assault tests.
Hamilton, a swim instructor and Central Piedmont Community College student, was the daughter of Concord Police Chief Merl Hamilton.
Reached Tuesday night at his home, Hamilton said he hopes people won’t judge his daughter.
“What really happened has to unfold,” he said. “Maybe it will someday or maybe it won’t. Even though the indications are that drugs are involved, there are all kinds of possibilities.”
Hamilton said he hopes people pay attention: “Young people need to be cautious of who they’re with and ensure they’re not taken advantage of.”
Valerie Hamilton went to a friend’s birthday party Sept. 14 at Thomas Street Tavern in Plaza Midwood, and was seen leaving with a man between 12:30 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. Police say they believe the man was Harvey and that Hamilton went with him voluntarily.
About 3 a.m., Hamilton called her friend Ashley Barton to invite her over to join her and a friend in the hot tub at her apartment complex, Barton told the Observer.
Police said Tuesday they had interviewed “many witnesses” who saw Hamilton with Harvey, and “found evidence of drug usage.”
“Witnesses indicate although alive, she appeared to need immediate medical attention,” police said in a statement. “The suspect did not seek professional medical attention for Ms. Hamilton after being prompted by several independent witnesses to do so.”
Police last week searched Hamilton’s apartment near the Arboretum, Harvey’s home in north Charlotte, and a hotel on Independence Boulevard.
On Sunday, they alerted the public to be on the lookout for Harvey, who was believed to be driving a 1996 white Chevy Blazer.
Hamilton’s father on Monday appeared on “Good Morning America” appealing for help finding his daughter’s suspected killer. Later that day, FBI agents in Buffalo, N.Y. got a tip that Harvey was in the area.
Harvey was arrested at a childhood friend’s house where he’d previously lived.
The friend, Paul Maikranz, told WIVB-TV in Buffalo that Harvey was scared and told him what had happened.
“He was out with the girl Wednesday night,” Maikranz said. “They went to his house and … his roommate walked in, so they went and got a hotel room. … He said he woke up the next morning next to a dead girl.”
An acquaintance who later spoke to Harvey says he told her he and Hamilton partied together after leaving the bar.
Kim Steele told the Observer’s news partner, NewsChannel 36, that she had no idea Harvey had done anything wrong when she spoke to him – just that he seemed panicked.
“I don’t think he murdered her. I think he made a really bad choice putting her in the storage building if he was by himself, and he done that,” Steele said. “All I know is he left the house to take her to the hospital. I don’t know why she never got there unless she died along the way and he panicked.”
Harvey is a registered sex offender on probation. He was out on bond in Mecklenburg County, facing a gun charge and accusations of possessing counterfeit heroin with the intent to sell.
He has a long criminal past with a history of substance abuse from an early age, according to court records. He was convicted of sex abuse in 1996 in Niagara Falls.
After moving to Charlotte, Harvey was convicted in 2006 of failing to register as a sex offender, breaking and entering, larceny and other crimes.
He appeared in court Tuesday handcuffed and in an orange jail uniform. Four family members were in court, where his mother broke into tears. Neither his family nor his attorney, Michael White, spoke to reporters.
It’s unclear when he will be returned to Charlotte, but local authorities are already in New York.
Article courtesy of Charlotte Observer
Staff writers Ely Portillo and Meghan Cooke, staff researchers Maria David and Marion Paynter and WCNC-TV contributed.
Monroe Scoop News Partner
Update, Sept. 21, 2010. The man accused of killing a North Carolina police chief’s daughter and dumping her body in a self-storage unit has waived extradition from New York.
In a five-minute hearing Tuesday, Michael Neal Harvey said he would not fight extradition and would return to the Charlotte, N.C., area.
The 34-year-old Harvey was sent to the Niagara County Jail to await transfer. It was not immediately known when he would be extradited, but North Carolina authorities are already in New York.
Police say Harvey killed 23-year-old Valerie Hamilton last week and dumped her body before fleeing to Niagara Falls, where he grew up.
Four family members were with Harvey in court, where his mother broke into tears.
WBT Radio Reports that Michael Neal Harvey has been arrested.
The chief suspect in the murder of the daughter of Concord Police Chief Merl Hamilton has been arrested.
The FBI and U.S. Marshals arrested Michael Neal Harvey this morning in Niagara Falls, New York without incident for the murder of Valerie Hamilton.
Detectives with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department are en route to New York to interview the suspect and work on the extradition process.
In a statement late Monday morning, CMPD says it wanted to thank the media and all law enforcement partners including: the FBI, U.S. Marshals, Secret Service and the DEA for their assistance with this case.
Detectives are still looking for the White Chevy Blazer involved with the case. Police say if anyone has seen or knows the whereabouts of this vehicle please call 911 immediately, VCAT at 704- 336-VCAT or Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.
Hamilton’s body was found at the Mini-Storage Center on Monroe Rd., CMPD Spokesperson Roz Harrington said in a news release. Police would not say how Hamilton died.
Detectives have issued a murder warrant for Michael Neal Harvey, 34, the man Hamilton was last seen with.
Harvey was seen in a 1996 white Chevy Blazer, similar to the picture provided by CMPD, with a North Carolina license plate ZXE – 1756. Harvey’s vehicle is either 2-door or 4-door, police said.
Hamilton, 23, is the daughter of Concord Police Chief Merl Hamilton.
A manager at Thomas Street Tavern Friday morning told WBTV Hamilton’s car was still in the parking lot after she vanished. The manager said her purse and identification were left in the vehicle.
“Just a regular guy, no one knew who he was, so I’m assuming that he’s not from the neighborhood,” Thomas Tavern manager Katie Cannon said of the man she saw Hamilton with.
Witness told police the man was clean shaven, about 5’10″ tall and approximately 165 pounds. Harrington’s description said Harvey was seen wearing jeans and a T-shirt, and had no visible tattoos or jewelry.
Police have not said what relation Harvey has to Hamilton, if any. Harvey is a convicted sex offender, having served time in the New York Station prison system for 1st degree sex abuse, records show.
Harvey may still be in the Charlotte region, Harrington said in the email.
A security camera is pointed at the lot where Hamilton’s car was found. Video from the camera had been turned over to police, another Thomas Street Tavern manager said. Police had also obtained purchase receipts from the bar at the time Hamilton was there.
Hamilton worked part-time as a swimming instructor at the Little Otter Swim School. Owner John Kirk says she didn’t show up for work Wednesday morning.
“If she wasn’t going to be here, we always got a phone call, you know she made arrangements beforehand, so for her not to show up for her shift, it was just troubling,” said Kirk.
Hamilton was a student at Central Piedmont Community College, her social networking sites said.
Anyone who sees Harvey is asked to call Crimestoppers at 704-334-1600 to speak directly to lead Detective Martin or the Violent Criminal Apprehension Team at 704-336-VCAT (8228).
Story & video courtesy of WBTV.com.
2010 Monroe Scoop