MOUNTAIN CITY — A 10-year missing person case may soon be solved if the statements given by a man who is already serving a life sentence in Virginia are proved to be true.
Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece said the statements given by Frederick “Freddie” Hammer contain details that connect with the facts of the missing person case of Julie Ann Lovett, who was 29 years old when she was last seen at a Johnson County tavern on March 21, 2001.
“I think the guy is credible,” Reece said Friday.
Reece said his investigators have not yet talked with Hammer. “We are getting our information from the sheriff in Grayson County, Va.”
According to that information, Hammer said Lovett called him from the tavern and asked him to pick her up there.
Reece said it is known that Lovett had a relationship with Hammer’s son.
The sheriff said the information he has received is that Hammer claimed he took her to neighboring Ashe County, N.C., where he disposed of Lovett’s body.
Reece said it appears the crime was committed in Ashe County. He said Ashe County will lead the search for Lovett’s body and the plans are to use cadaver dogs.
Reece is hopeful the case, which is the oldest missing person case in the department’s files, will soon be solved and help bring closure to Lovett’s family.
Hammer is serving a life sentence at Wallens Ridge State Prison in Virginia following his conviction in the Grayson County murders of tree farmers Ron Hudler, his son Frederick Hudler and employee John Miller.
According to reports by WSLS television in Roanoke, Hammer has also admitted to killing Jimmy Blevins in Ashe County in 2007.
Reece said Hammer has claimed he killed 17 people, beginning at the age of 16.