Local News

Man indicted in 22-year-old Person County homicide

Posted March 9, 2009 5:22 p.m. EDT

— A Person County grand jury indicted a Virginia man Monday for a 22-year-old slaying of migrant worker.

Michael Hammock, 43, faces murder charges in the 1987 death of Francisco Maldonado. Hammock was set to make his first appearance in Superior Court on April 13.

The Person County Sheriff's Office developed information pointing to Hammock as a suspect while assisting deputies in Virginia's Halifax County with a murder investigation there.

Maldonado was a native of Mexico who worked at a farm off Guess Road in southern Person County to send money home to his family. He was found dead after a fire in his home, but deputies could never prove the case was a homicide, so it was treated solely as a fire investigation.

When Virginia investigators started looking at Hammock as a suspect, they came to Person County for information. Witnesses told investigators about a slaying in the late 1980s that involved a fire, and Sheriff Dewey Jones said he remembered working as a volunteer firefighter on the fire that killed Maldonado.

After Dewey provided investigators with the location of the fire, evidence linking Hammock to Maldonado's death, such as injuries Maldonado suffered, began matching up, he said.

"All the pieces of the puzzle started to fall together very quickly," he said.

Hammock also served less than five years of a 12-year sentence on a second-degree murder conviction in the September 1988 death of Thomas Jackson in Roxboro.

Hammock hasn't been charged in the Virginia case, authorities said.