It didn’t take long for a Falls man wanted in connection with a North Carolina murder investigation to decide to return to face his accusers.
At the same time, Michael Neal Harvey said he wasn’t responsible for the death of Valerie Hamilton, the daughter of a North Carolina police chief.
“I didn’t do it,” Harvey said to a television news cameraman as he was led into the Niagara County Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon. “She didn’t wake up.”
Moments later, Harvey, looking gaunt in an orange Niagara County jail jumpsuit, told County Court Judge Matthew J. Murphy III that he would waive a hearing on his extradition to North Carolina. Assistant Niagara County District
Attorney Doreen Hoffmann told Murphy the Mecklenberg County, North Carolina Sheriff’s Department had sent her office a “fugitive murder warrant” for Harvey’s arrest and return.
When Harvey entered the courtroom, filled with reporters, cameramen and members of his family, he stared at members of the media and appeared a bit agitated with the proceedings.
When Murphy asked if he would hire an attorney or be represented by the public defender, Harvey sighed, rolled his eyes and replied, “Yes, yes.”
Harvey, again, said, “Yes, yes.” when Murphy asked if would waive an extradition hearing. As Harvey signed the waiver paperwork, a member of his family was overheard saying, “They’re railroading him. That’s why they wouldn’t let us speak to him.”
The entire proceeding last about five minutes. Afterward, members of Harvey’s family declined to speak with reporters.
The paperwork to transfer custody of Harvey to detectives from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department was taken to the county jail late Tuesday afternoon. Sources said the detectives had indicated they might “rent a car and drive (Harvey) back (Tuesday night).”
“Two detectives from the Charlotte Police arrived here (Monday night),” Niagara County District Attorney Michael Violante said. “I know they attempted to interview him.”
Violante said he did not know if Harvey had spoken to the North Carolina police detectives.
The murder suspect reportedly admitted to friends and acquaintances in Niagara Falls that he had met Hamilton at a bar in Charlotte last Wednesday and that they had left the Thomas Street Tavern together.
According to his friends, Harvey said he and Hamilton first went to an apartment he shared with a roommate and then to a hotel. At the hotel, Harvey claims he and Hamilton “did heroin” and that when he “woke up” she “didn’t wake up.”
Harvey told his friends he panicked and took Hamilton’s body to a storage unit, where it was discovered late Saturday night.
When he was taken into custody at a Stevenson Street home in the Falls on Monday, Harvey was driving a 1996 Chevy Blazer that was reported stolen from the Charlotte area. Local law enforcement said no charges against Harvey or others are expected to be filed here.
“We had no interest in charging him with possession of the stolen vehicle,” Violante said. “We’ll just let him be returned to Charlotte. We do not expect to charge anyone (Harvey) had contact with locally.”
Harvey had been the subject of a nationwide manhunt when he was captured in the Falls on Monday. U.S. Marshals and FBI agents quickly focused on the Falls after they learned that “all of (Harvey’s) known associates outside of North Carolina were his family and friends in Niagara Falls.”
Hamilton was the daughter of Concord, N.C., Police Chief Merl Hamilton. Her cause of death had not yet been released.
More than 500 mourners packed a Concord church on Tuesday as Hamilton was buried.
Harvey is a registered sex offender who is known to Fall Police. Records show Harvey was classified as a Level 3 sex offender after a 1996 conviction in Niagara County on a charge of first-degree sexual abuse, a class D felony. He was sentenced to three to six years in prison.
He also is reported to have a criminal history in North Carolina, with charges that include drug and weapons possession.
Contact reporter Rick Pfeiffer at 282-2311, ext. 2252.
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