Local News

Story published: 01-17-2012 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Missing Local Woman could be linked to possible Serial Killer


By Angie Gambill
Editor

According to Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece and Ashe County, NC Sheriff James Williams, convicted murderer Frederick Hammer has confessed to killing Julie Lovett, a local woman who has been missing since 2001.

Lovett, then 29 years old, was last seen on March 21, 2001 when she disappeared. Little was known about the circumstances surrounding her disappearance but family and law officials have been actively searching for the missing woman since that time.

According to Sheriff Reece, Hammer says Lovett was in a relationship with his son and called him (Hammer) the night of April 21, 2001 from The Tavern on Highway 421 between Mountain City and Boone, NC to come get her. Allegedly, he came and picked her up, took her to Ashe County, and killed her there.

Frederick Phillip Hammer, previously of neighboring Ashe County, NC, is currently serving three consecutive life sentences in Wallens Ridge State Prison in Virgina for the 2008 triple murders of Grayson County, VA tree farmer Ron Hudler, his son, Frederick Hudler and an employee, John Miller. All three were found shot to death on Ron Hudler’s farm. Just weeks before his trial, Hammer confessed to all three murders, saying it was a robbery gone wrong.

According to Sheriff Williams, since his imprisonment Hammer also confessed to the murder of his own nephew, Jimmy Blevins, but refused to disclose the location of the body until a reward offered by the family had been deposited into a trust fund for Hammer’s step-granddaughter. The family agreed to the terms and he gave them the information needed to recover Blevins’ body. A judge later revoked the agreement and the reward money was returned to the family.

Hammer has also said he shot and killed another man from Ashe County, Tim Shatley. As in the case with Lovett, he has given nothing tangible to prove the truth of his claims, Williams says. According to Williams, he misled officials twice by telling them where he hid the murder weapon, but neither instance turned up any evidence.

Sheriff Williams says his dealings with Hammer in the past have caused him to doubt most of what he says. Hammer has said that he has committed 17 murders, starting when he was 16 years old. Although he has certainly proven himself capable of the killings, Williams says he “likes to play mind games” and often gives erroneous information to lead the law on a wild goose chase. “I don’t expect anything to turn up right now,” says Williams.

When asked why he thinks Hammer confessed to Lovett’s murder, Williams says he has no idea. “He just likes to see his name in the paper.” The sheriff says while his department always follows up on all information they receive in a case, past experience with Hammer has taught him that this will be a long process ultimately causing more pain to the victims’ families with no promise of closure any time soon.