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N.C. murder suspect arrested in N.Y.

Valerie Hamilton’s body was found Saturday. Valerie Hamilton’s body was found Saturday.
Associated Press / September 21, 2010

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Authorities in New York arrested a convicted sex offender yesterday in the slaying of a police chief’s daughter, hours after the lawman made an emotional plea for help tracking the suspect down.

FBI agents and US marshals took Michael Neal Harvey, 34, into custody without incident in Niagara Falls, N.Y. He was wanted on a murder warrant in the killing of Valerie Hamilton, a 23-year-old preschool teacher and swim instructor whose body was found in a Charlotte self-storage unit on Saturday.

Merl Hamilton, police chief in the Charlotte-area city of Concord, used an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America’’ to ask for help from law enforcement around the country, his voice breaking several times as he spoke. He later described Valerie Hamilton as a “perfect daughter’’ and said he felt kinship with the officers tracking Harvey.

“Law enforcement across this country is like a brotherhood and a sisterhood and I’m hoping that they’ll help me with this, and that they can get out there and find this guy,’’ Hamilton said before Harvey’s arrest.

Valerie Hamilton was last seen alive at a Charlotte tavern. Police have said they think Harvey is the man spotted on surveillance video leaving the tavern with her early Wednesday.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Rodney Monroe said at a news conference yesterday that it wasn’t clear whether the woman was abducted or may have chosen to go with Harvey.

Investigators believe she was killed shortly after, either at Harvey’s Charlotte home, a motel room where he stayed last week, or at the storage locker site.

“All three of those are prominent crime scenes,’’ Monroe said.

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