Sept. 19, 2010— -- Police in Charlotte, N.C., were searching today for a registered sex offender they called a suspect in the killing of a police chief's daughter.
The body of Valerie Hamilton, the 23-year-old daughter of Concord, N.C., Police Chief Merl Hamilton, was found early today in a storage unit in East Charlotte, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
Valerie Hamilton had last been seen on Wednesday, police said.
"Our expectation when we began this investigation on Thursday night was that we would return this young lady to her family safe and sound, as is our expectation for every missing person's case, and unfortunately it didn't... it didn't result in that for us tonight," Deputy Chief Harold Medlock said at a news conference early today.
He described Hamilton's death as a murder and said police were looking for Harvey.
Medlock did not say what the relationship was between Hamilton and Harvey, but said police hope someone will come forward with information about him, according to ABC Charlotte affiliate WSOC-TV.
"We're actively and very earnestly seeking the public's help in locating Mr. Harvey or the Chevrolet Blazer he is driving," he said.
Harvey, 34, was believed to still be in the Charlotte area, he said.
It was thought that he was driving a stolen white 1996 Chevrolet Blazer with North Carolina tag ZXE-1756.
Harvey is a registered sex offender, who was convicted of rape in upstate New York in 1996, WSOC-TV reported. He also was arrested for breaking and entering, possession of a firearm by a felon, and several probation violations, according to the TV station.
The Associated Press reported that police believe Harvey is the man seen in surveillance videos leaving a restaurant with Valerie Hamilton last week.
The video shows the two of them leaving the Thomas Street Tavern early Wednesday morning, the AP reported. Hamilton had not been seen since she left the restaurant and her car was found parked nearby.
Even before Hamilton's body was found, police had searched Harvey's last known address in north Charlotte on Saturday night, and also interviewed staff and guests at an east Charlotte Econolodge motel.
People staying at the motel told WSOC-TV that police showed pictures of a man who had stayed there and asked if they had seen him. Police said the man was Harvey.
After police announced the discovery of Hamilton's body on Sunday, the City of Concord released a statement expressing condolences for the Hamilton family.
"Everyone in the City organization is hurting because of what has happened to our friend and coworker Merl Hamilton and his family," City Manager Brian Hiatt said.
"We are devastated over this tragic event and want to do everything possible to support this family that has been so important to Concord," Mayor Scott Padgett added.