COPY-Drug withdrawal delays extradition in death of chief's daughter

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The extradition of the man wanted in connection with the death of the daughter of Concord's police chief has been delayed because he is reportedly experiencing severe drug withdrawal.

According to WGRZ-TV in Buffalo, New York, Michael Harvey's withdrawal symptoms will cause his extradition to Charlotte to be delayed until possibly this weekend.

As of Friday at 2 p.m., he was still being held at the Niagara County Jail.

The Executive Director at Dilworth Center for Chemical Dependency, Charles Odell, says coming off a drug like heroine can be brutal.

"You talk to the addicts," Odell said.  "They tell you their bones hurt, hair hurts, everything about them hurts. They can't sleep. They tend to be very nauseated, very irritable. They can't get comfortable."

The director says the detoxification period could last about a week, depending on the level of usage.

"If it's severe enough, they experience additional complications, generally speaking, heroine withdrawal is not life threatening," Odell said.

Harvey told a New York reporter on Tuesday that Valerie Hamilton overdosed on drugs and that he didn't kill her.

As he was being escorted into court on Tuesday, Harvey made the comments about Hamilton's death -- the same day he waived extradition, a process that will bring him back to Charlotte.

Late Tuesday afternoon, police said in a statement that Hamilton did not seem to die of any apparent physical trauma and that medical examiners "found evidence of drug usage." Police also revealed witnesses said that as she was last seen, Hamilton "appeared to need immediate medical attention" -- but that Harvey ignored calls from witnesses for him to get her help.

According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Harvey is wanted in connection with the death of  Hamilton, 23, and leaving her body in a mini-storage facility in east Charlotte.

She went missing on Wednesday after leaving a bar with Harvey and was found dead at 1 a.m. on Sunday. Police revealed Tuesday that "Harvey did not seek professional medical attention for Hamilton" -- even after being prompted to do so by several independent witnesses, who told police she needed medical help.

On Monday, Harvey was arrested at a home in New York state.  The stolen Chevy Blazer in which he was driving was also recovered in Niagara Falls, New York.

WBTV has learned the home where Harvey was arrested belongs to his childhood friend, Paul Maikranz, who was also taken into custody on Monday.

Maikranz told a reporter with WIVB-TV that Harvey said he met Valerie Hamilton at a bar and left with her.  Maikranz told police that Harvey said he and Hamilton were doing "stuff" and when Harvey woke up, she was dead.

Maikranz said Harvey panicked, dumped Hamilton's body, and then called Maikranz. Maikranz told WIVB he was released because he cooperated with authorities.  He claims that Harvey did not kill Hamilton.

Charlotte police revealed on Tuesday that Harvey "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."

On Tuesday, Harvey made his first appearance in court.  As he was being escorted into the courthouse, Harvey told WIVB Reporter George Richert that he is innocent and that Hamilton overdosed on heroin.

"She OD'ed in her sleep. This is not a murder. I did not kill her," Harvey said.

Richert told WBTV that Harvey claims he and Hamilton did some black tar heroin the night they left the bar, and when he woke up, he claims she was dead.

Police on Tuesday said that preliminary results from the Medical Examiner "do not indicate any sign of traditional physical trauma to Hamilton's body, i.e. gunshot wounds, stab wounds, strangulation, bludgeoning. "

Police are still awaiting toxicology results and the results of the sexual assault examination kit.

Harvey appeared before Niagara County Court judge Matthew Murphy Tuesday afternoon and waved his right to an extradition hearing.

The hearing only took about five minutes.  Harvey said he would not fight extradition and would return to Charlotte.

* * *

According to court records, Michael Harvey, 34, has had a troubled past.  He grew up near Niagara Falls, New York.

Harvey's grandmother, Rose Harvey, adopted him from his biological mother because she claims Harvey's mother had substance abuse issues.

Records show he experimented with alcohol as early as 7, and was later busted for marijuana use at the age of 12, and heroin use at the age of 18.

In 1993, he earned his GED and graduated from Moriah Shock Boot Camp in Niagara.

"He was a typical teenager growing up," Rose Harvey said.  She claims her grandson was very smart and advanced in his classes.

In 1996, when Harvey was 20 years old, he was charged with rape in Niagara Falls.  He pled down to a sexual abuse charge and was sentenced to four years in prison.

Records show he failed to register as a sex offender in 2006 and that he violated probation for a break-in conviction in 2009.

Since moving to Charlotte, NC, Harvey has been arrested numerous times.  Court records show he failed to show up for an court appointment, lied about his address, left the state, was arrested for shoplifting and used alcohol among other things.

* * *

Hundreds of people gathered at First Presbyterian Church in Concord Tuesday afternoon for a memorial service for the victim, Valerie Hamilton.

"We love their family, they are a wonderful family and I think that Merl and Suzanne are shining examples of wonderful parents who love their daughters, both daughters very much, and it's just heartbreaking for our community," said Becky Overcash, a friend of the family.

Police officers from all over the state attended the service out of respect to the victim's father, Merl Hamilton, who is the Chief of Police in Concord.  Prior to the Hamilton's move to Concord, he worked at the Hickory Police Department.

There were dozens of officers from Hickory and Concord Police Departments present as well as officers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department who are investigating the case.

There were also lots of young people in the crowd who were close friends of the victim.

"She was always one of those people that always had a smile on her face, I just, it's terrible that she had to be the one in this situation," said LaRaine Lentz, a friend of Valerie Hamilton.

In fact, so many people turned out on Tuesday, chairs were put on the front lawn of the church because there weren't enough seats inside the church.

Many of them had good things to say about Valerie Hamilton.

"Vibrant, charismatic, always willing to put a smile on your face if she's in a bad mood or not, very outgoing, willing to help anyone," Lentz added.

According to her obituary, Valerie Hamilton was born on July 3, 1987 in Hickory.  She was a member of First Presbyterian Church in Concord, and a 2005 graduate of Concord High School.

She was currently attending Central Piedmont Community College and was hoping to become a teacher.  She was also working part-time as a swimming instructor at the Little Otter Swim club in Charlotte.

She enjoyed spending time with her dog "Ruby", bicycling, running and creating activities for children, the obituary said.

Her parents live in Concord along with Valerie's sister, Sarah Beth.

The family requests that all memorials be sent to the Cabarrus County Pets Society, P.O. Box 5042, Concord, NC, 28027.

More than 500 people attended a candlelight vigil Monday night in downtown Concord.

While many who attended the vigil didn't actually know the victim personally or her family, the solidarity touched her father who struggled to keep his emotions in check as he addressed the crowd.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you," Merl Hamilton said.

As candlelight filled the crowd, the song "Time after Time" played over loud speakers. Chief Hamilton broke down as he addressed the crowd about the special meaning of the song.

"That was our song," he said. "I look to my daughter in heaven time after time, baby. Time after time."

Hamilton said he wanted his daughter's memory to be clear.

"This is a trying time, the case will go how the case goes, and whatever happens, whatever happens," and he added, "I want you to know what a wonderful, beautiful girl my daughter was."

* * *

For many who live in Concord, the last week has been emotionally draining with first the news last Wednesday about Hamilton's disappearance and then learning this weekend about the discovery of her body.

"The entire community joins me and the City Council in offering condolences to Chief Hamilton, his wife, Susan, and their daughter," Concord Mayor Scott Padgett said in a statement released over the weekend.  "None of us understand how something like this can happen. The only thing we can do is express our concern for this wonderful family."

At First Presbyterian Church in Concord where the Hamilton family are members, the mood on Sunday was quite somber.

"I've just been feeling like jumping up and running in circles since she went missing," said Lina Gibson.  "I'm devastated for her mother and father mostly because I can't imagine what that must feel like for them."

* * *

On Monday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe spoke about the early stages of the investigation into Hamilton's death.

Hamilton was reported missing on Wednesday, Sept. 15, after visiting the Thomas Street Tavern at 1228 Thomas Avenue which is located in east Charlotte.

Last weekend, CMPD detectives issued a murder warrant for Michael Harvey who they believed was with Hamilton early Wednesday morning when she disappeared.

"[He was] just a regular guy, no one knew who he was, so I'm assuming that he's not from the neighborhood," Thomas Street Tavern manager Katie Cannon said of the man she saw Hamilton with.

Cannon said Hamilton's car was still in the parking lot after she was reported missing, and that her purse and identification were also left in the vehicle.

Police said Harvey stayed at the Econo Lodge on East Independence Boulevard in Charlotte after Hamilton disappeared and that he checked out on Friday.

CMPD detectives are primarily focusing their investigation where Harvey lived off East 15th Street in Charlotte's NoDa area, the mini-storage facility where Hamilton was found, and the Econo-Lodge where he stayed prior to fleeing to New York.

Monroe said only a short amount of time lapsed between the time Hamilton disappeared and when she was found at the Mini-Storage Center on Monroe Road.

Monroe said it is unclear if there was an actual abduction, or if Hamilton freely left the bar with Harvey.

"The body was wrapped when we recovered it," Monroe said, but he would not comment further.

Monroe said Hamilton's body and the materials she was wrapped in were turned over to the medical examiner's office.

The CMPD has not commented on the relationship Harvey had with Hamilton, if any.

If you know anything about this murder, call Crimestoppers at 704-334-1600 or the Violent Criminal Apprehension Team at 704-336-VCAT (8228).

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