Law enforcement officials have a confession from a convicted murderer, but no proof he did it.
“My son, Timothy Shatley, was murdered on Nov. 19, 2005, and no one has been charged with his murder,” says Reeves in a letter to the Jefferson Post. “Although we were told by law enforcement that Freddie Hammer confessed to killing him, they couldn't charge him until the gun that was used was found. They didn't believe him because Freddie Hammer had lied so much about the other murders that he was charged with.”
Ashe County Sheriff James Williams agrees. He said he doesn’t have a case the district attorney will prosecute without proof.
“The D.A. can’t bring a case unless the confession matches the facts of the case that we know are factual,” Williams said. “And Hammer just can’t get across that line.”
Williams said Hammer has confessed to killing Shatley, who was found shot to death in his vehicle near the bridge on N.C. 16N in Crumpler. He said Hammer has told law enforcement where to find the gun, several times, but the weapon has never been found.
“We continue to keep that line of communication with Hammer,” said Detective William Sands who is investigating the case. “We follow up every lead he gives us, every lead we get from him.”
“The case is never closed,” added the sheriff. “We were back just a month or so ago to interview Freddie. And we will be going back again.”
Hammer, formerly of Crumpler, is serving multiple life sentences without chance of parole at Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap, Va. He was convicted of the 2008 shooting of Ronald Hudler, 74, his son Frederick Hudler, 45, and employee John Miller, 25, during a robbery on Hudler's Tree Farm just across the Ashe County line into Grayson County, Va. He was convicted in 2010 for the shooting murder of his nephew, Jimmy Blevins of Crumpler, who had been missing since 2007. Hammer confessed and told authorities where to find Blevins’ body in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.
As for any connection between Hammer and the shooting death of Tim Shatley, investigators do not have enough evidence at this point to support any charge against Hammer. But District Attorney Tom Horner said in 2010 that the case is not closed.
Hammer is also linked to the case of Julie Lovett, missing since March 2001. Lovett was 29 at the time she disappeared from neighboring Johnson County, Tenn. She has a connection to Hammer through his stepson, Laramie, said Williams.
Sheriff Williams has said that Hammer is a psychopathic killer who enjoyed killing and likes to play mind games with investigators. He said he seemed proud of what he had done. “I don’t think he’s ever had any remorse,” Williams said.
“He’s always said that he’s killed 17 people, but he’s not given us anything so far that we can go to the D.A. with,” said Williams. “He likes to play his mind games and stuff, but he’s truly given us nothing that says, yeah, Hammer is definitely the killer. From a law enforcement standpoint, dealing with facts, we really can’t do anything with what he’s told us. Either he didn’t do it, and he likes the notoriety, or he did, and just wants to jerk everybody around. If he did do it, eventually, maybe he’ll give us enough, but I can’t say if that will ever actually happen.”
In the meantime, Inez Reeves continues to grieve for her son and plea for a conviction in his murder.
“I have waited 6 years for nothing so I'm back on the case,” she said. “I owe it to my son and his son. I want the one who killed my son to be charged. That's all I'm asking, just that the one who did it be charged. You know who you are. This going on the 7th year of Tim's death and it's also God's number of completion. It just kills me cause he seems to have been forgotten.”
(more information in the Tuesday, Jan. 17 edition of the Post.)