In 2008 three men were found dead on a Christmas tree farm on the Virginia- North Carolina border; they had all been shot in the head. The victims were the farm owner, 73-year-old Ron Hudler, his son Fred Hudler, 44, and a farm-employee 25-year-old John Miller.
Their murderer was Freddie Hammer, a man who already had a lengthy criminal record, which would be added to overtime. Hammer had gone to the farm with the intention of robbing Hudler’s safe.
He later claimed in court that he didn’t mean to kill them: “What happened that day should not have happened, and I’m sorry.” He continued, “I went there with the intention of doing a burglary…. It was going to be in and out.”
Police had arrested Hammer shortly after the murders but were forced to release him due to a lack of evidence. They got their break sometime later when Hammer was serving time in jail for another crime.
The killer, as part of a deal with another inmate, revealed to them where to find the booty he had stolen from the Hudler’s farm. That other inmate revealed the location of the stolen goods to investigators. Police found this booty along with the murder weapon, a .22-magnum rifle, which they were able to link to Hammer.
Hammer “I probably deserve to die”
Hammer pleaded guilty to the murders and said at the trial: “I probably deserve to die, whatever. If you read the Bible, to live is Christ and to die is for gain. Sometimes I wish I was dead for what I did, but I can’t change that. Mr. Hudler was very good to me.”
He had known the Hudler’s having worked for them years previously, and on occasion, he’d expressed warm feelings for Fred Hudler. He had no prior knowledge of John Miller, and he expressed sorrow towards his victim’s wife. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Freddie Hammer may have killed multiple times
In 2010 Hammer confessed to the murder of his nephew, Jimmy Blevins, who had been missing since 2007. He told investigators where to find the remains in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.
He is also the main suspect in the murder of Timothy Shatley, who was found shot dead near his vehicle in North Carolina. Police also believe he murdered Julie Lovette, who has been missing since 2001.
Police believe he may have been responsible for multiple murders spanning North Carolina, Virginia, and Tenessee. According to investigators, Hammer once told a jail inmate he murdered 17 people.
See the case on Stranger Among Us at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.