The victim had been at the bar for just over an hour, according to Foster, because Hamilton had worked until 10 p.m. before going home to finish editing a paper for school over the phone with her father, whom she spoke to "several times a day."
Robin Varner had eaten lunch with the victim just hours before her last night. She recalls that Valerie Hamilton had been speaking enthusiastically about her various jobs, including being an instructor at the Little Otter Swim School and a special education internship. She was looking forward to getting her teaching degree.
"She was so excited about where her life was going," said Varner.
Varner remembers her friend as a music fanatic who always had a different CD playing in her car and who would, no matter what, return home at the end of the night to dote on her puppy, Ruby.
"One of the hardest things that a lot of us are having a hard time with is that we've never seen Valerie cry or be sad," said Varner. "She was always the rallier of the group, she'd always get behind you and push you to get through it and think of the positive things. It's really hard to know that she had to go through something like this."
Hours before Harvey's capture, Hamilton's father made an emotional plea with his colleagues to find and arrest the suspect.
"I want to ask my law enforcement brothers and sisters in the country to help me with this," Hamilton said on "GMA." "They took my daughter guys. Play it right, play it by the rules. You all get out there and find this guy for me. When it gets back my way, I'll pay you back."
Hamilton's body was found Sunday, stuffed into a storage locker.
Authorities say she was last seen at the bar with Harvey, a registered sex offender with a lengthy criminal record.
"She was a good kid. She was a wonderful kid," Hamilton said of his daughter, his voice cracking with grief. "She lived her life to take care of children."
Harvey was known to Charlotte authorities. He'd been arrested multiple times for crimes that included breaking and entering, heroin possession and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, authorities said.
"This is a very close-knit community," Padgett said. "The Hamiltons are very well-respected in their community. There has been a tremendous outpouring of support for the chief and his family."
Hamilton was reported missing after disappearing from the Charlotte bar Wednesday. Friends began to worry when she didn't come to work.
"It's not like her not to show up and let us know," her boss, James Kirk, said of the swim school instructor.
Hamilton said he wanted his daughter's death to serve as a reminder to all young women to be aware of their surroundings and stay safe.
"I hope that the other young ladies out there, that they'll remember the lessons they were taught as youngsters about being safe," he said. "It carries into when you're in the 20s, ladies.
"Make sure the men treat you with respect and be safe."
ABC News' Sarah Netter contributed to this report.