Harriet Simmons left her place of work, in Raleigh, to visit friends in Nashville one night in 1979. She never made it to her friend’s place, and she was never seen alive again. Her family was immediately concerned, given it was not in Harriet’s nature to disappear without calling.
Her son said later, “I thought she was dead because I knew that she would have come back or called.”
It was almost a year before Harriet’s body was found, she had been raped and murdered.
Several months after Harriett was murdered, 21-year-old Betty Sue McConnell was also abducted and stabbed in the chest multiple times. A local couple found her still alive gasping for breath. Before she died, she said, “I was stabbed and thrown into the river,” and “I was picked up at work by two guys.”
Eight years later, in 1987, 19-year-old Jerri Ann Jones was abducted in Charlotte as she waited for a ride home from work. Her body was later found with her throat slit.
Nineteen years after Simmons’s murder, a man walked into a sheriff’s office and admitted to helping Hyatt abduct one of the women in 1979. This led directly to Hyatt’s arrest in 1999.
In 2000 Hyatt received two death sentences for the rape and murder of Harriet Simmons and Betty Sue McConnell.
In 2003 the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s homicide cold case squad was established, and it began looking closely at the Jerri Ann Jones murder. Police began to link Hyatt to this case as well.
Police now discovered that Hyatt’s DNA was on a cigarette butt found close to Jones’s body. They also matched the semen found on her body to Hyatt. These forensic techniques had been unavailable in 1987.
Hyatt eventually confessed to the murder, explained what had happened to the teenager, and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. During his trial in 2005, Jones’s daughter referred to him as a monster and said: “I’m just sorry he can’t be killed more than once.”
Watch the case tonight on Charlotte: Homicide City at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.
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