Valerie Hamilton, Police Chief's Daughter, 'Left Willingly' With Murder Suspect

Friends Remember Police Chiefs Daughters Last Night Alive

The police chief's daughter whose body was found stuffed in a locker left a bar willingly with the man suspected of killing her and there was "evidence of drug use," homicide investigators said today.

Witnesses also told detectives that they saw Valerie Hamilton in apparent distress the night she died and had urged murder suspect Michael Neal Harvey to call a doctor.

"Witnesses indicate although alive, she appeared to need immediate medical attention. The suspect did not seek professional medical attention for Ms. Hamilton after being prompted by several independent witnesses to do so," a statement by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said.

Harvey, 34, was arrested Monday in a Niagara Falls, N.Y., house that was littered with needles and evidence of heroin, and police said Harvey was high on heroin at the time of his arrest. He appeared in court briefly today to waive extradition and was sent back to North Carolina to face charges.

Hamilton, the 23-year-old daughter of Concord Police Chief Merl Hamilton, was buried today.

The father's grief was compounded by details of her last hours after her friends left her in the Thomas Street Tavern where she had helped a girlfriend celebrate her 21st birthday Sept. 14. Her body was found on Sept. 19.

The statement released by police said Hamilton departed the bar with a man believed to Harvey. "It is believed that Ms. Hamilton left with the suspect voluntarily," police said.

"Homicide Detectives interviewed many witnesses that observed Ms. Hamilton in the presence of the suspect. Homicide Detectives found evidence of drug usage," it says.

The statement leaves much unexplained, however.

"The preliminary results do not indicate any sign of traditional physical trauma to Ms. Hamilton's body, i.e. gunshot wounds, stab wounds, strangulation, bludgeoning," it said. "Detectives are still awaiting results from the [medical examiner] regarding toxicology and the results of the sexual assault examination kit."

The police release also did not state whether the witnesses and evidence of drug use was at the bar or later at Harvey's apartment. It does not detail what drugs may have been used, and it does not indicate who the witnesses are.

The Charlotte Observer reported that Hamilton called a friend at 3 a.m. Wednesday asking if she wanted to come over to Hamilton's apartment complex to swim in a hot tub with her and a friend, according to the Charlotte Observer.

Hamilton's friend now assumes the other friend was Harvey.

The police release, however, said, "Detectives believe the suspect moved Ms. Hamilton in an effort to conceal her death and made great efforts to clean up any potential crime scenes before he disposed of her body."

Police report of Hamilton leaving with Harvey and being part of a drug scene conflicted with remarks her friends made to Monday, describing her someone who was not a party girl into drugs, who worked with children and was training for a triathlon.

On Monday night Police Chief Merl Hamilton sat doubled over in grief, sobbing by candlelight as he and hundreds of others gathered to remember his daughter.

"Time After Time," an ode to loving dedication, played in the background before the chief rose to speak about his daughter at the Concord, N.C., vigil.

"That was our song," he said through tears before addressing "Val" directly. "And I look to you in heaven. Time after time, baby."

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