Who Were Serial Killer Terry Hyatt’s Victims? Where is He Now? – It takes investigators more than 20 years to identify their common killer after bar manager Harriet Simmons vanishes on a trip to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1979, and Jerri Ann Jones disappears after leaving work in 1987.
The authorities had to depend on the confessions of his two buddies and DNA testing to finally accuse him of the murder of all the victims. Before Terry was prosecuted, the episode walks viewers through the lengthy investigations and trials that lasted decades. Investigation Discovery’s episode ‘Homicide City: Charlotte: Trail of Evil’ follows the crimes and trial of the serial killer, Terry Hyatt. If you want to learn more about Terry Hyatt and his victims, keep reading below.
Who Is Terry Hyatt?
American serial killer Terry Alvin Hyatt (born March 28, 1957) killed at least three women in North Carolina between 1979 and 1987. He was found guilty of two of them, given death sentences for them, and in 2005, after DNA testing connected him to the third, he pleaded guilty and was given a life sentence. He is currently being held at Raleigh’s Central Prison while awaiting death.
Jerry Alvin Hyatt was born on March 28, 1957, the second of five children in Asheville, North Carolina. Despite being raised in what was perceived as a typical home, Hyatt suffered in school due to an apparent learning problem and an inability to connect emotionally with others.
His family and neighbors considered him pleasant and helpful, and they reported that he fixed used automobiles and later resold them, despite his odd conduct. He was also renowned for being a regular item thief and a minor offender. He was convicted of robbery on November 9, 1975, as a result of an incident in which he stole a woman’s purse and violated the terms of his parole from a prior conviction. He was given a 4-year jail sentence. He broke out of jail in May 1976 but was found a day later.
Who Were the Victims of Terry Hyatt?
Harriet Delaney Simmons
Harriet Delaney Simmons, 40, a mother of seven and the night manager of Johnny’s Supper Club in Raleigh, departed in her blue 1978 Toyota on April 15 to visit her partner in Nashville, Tennessee. But she didn’t show up, so her son-in-law Ronald Dement went looking for her. He recovered her automobile at an I-40 rest area near Statesville after taking the same route she had taken, and most of her items were still inside the car, with the exception of her pocketbook and car keys. The local police were called because they found this disturbing because she had pledged to tell her kids if anything had happened. Simmons remained missing for more than a year despite the efforts of both local officials and the SBI.
On March 23, 1980, a guy exploring the Pisgah National Forest near Candler discovered what seemed to be the skeletal remains of a corpse. Although preliminary studies revealed that the bones belonged to a woman, degradation prevented sheriffs from determining the woman’s age, race, or manner of death. The victim’s remains were then delivered to the Chapel Hill office of medical examiner Dr. Larry R. Tate, who concluded that four stab wounds had murdered her to the left side of her chest. By this time, it had been hypothesized that the remains might indeed be those of Harriet Simmons based on the jewelry and car keys discovered next to the body. Later that day, Dr. Page Hudson, the state medical examiner, told the media in a statement that the deceased had been provisionally identified as Simmons.
Since Simmons vanished on the last day of the Old Time Fiddler’s Convention in Union Grove Township, which attracted attendees from around the nation, investigators temporarily considered a possible connection to the event after finding her death. When vagrant Henry Lee Lucas falsely confessed to Simmons’ murder and nine other murders he had committed in the Carolinas in 1984, it appeared that the case had finally progressed. However, like most of Lucas’ claims, this one was later disproved.
Betty Sue McConnell
On August 25, 1979, Betty Sue McConnell, a 21-year-old single mother who worked as a Dunkin’ Donuts employee in Asheville, vanished while traveling to meet a friend at a bowling alley. Her mother and older sister alerted the police after she didn’t arrive home on time, and they started looking for her immediately. The gravely injured McConnell was discovered three hours later off a French Broad River bank close to Alexander. She had sustained many stab wounds to the chest. Her life was saved by calling an ambulance, but on the way to the hospital, she passed away from her injuries. Her partially submerged car was discovered five miles from where McConnell had been discovered two hours earlier.
On October 19, 1979, Carolyn Brigman, 40, was seen walking home from her job at a Krispy Kreme by Hyatt as he was driving through Asheville. He parked his truck next to her and ordered her to enter while brandishing a knife. He stole $44 from her and repeatedly threatened to slit Brigman’s neck while they were driving aimlessly, but when she persuaded him that she did not like the police and would not call them, he eventually freed Brigman. Brigman then went to the police station and described her kidnapper and his truck, which helped them find and apprehend Hyatt. He was found guilty and given a 25-year prison term for armed robbery and kidnapping a few months later.
Jerri Ann Jones, then 19 years old and a cashier at a Harris Teeter in Derita, was reported missing on July 9, 1987, after her boyfriend visited her there. Her throat had been cut, and she was completely naked. Authorities discovered her dead in a Derita wooded area a day later. According to police captain Larry Snider, an unidentified attacker may have been abducted from a Graham Street parking lot. After she was killed, Harris Teeter stores offered a $10,000 reward for any information that led to her death, and Crime Stoppers offered a $1,000 reward.
A few days later, Charlotte police said that Jones’ death might have been related to the most recent rape of a 24-year-old woman. Both times, the ladies were reportedly approached by a white male driver of a white pickup truck, and in the Charlotte rape, the victim claimed that her attacker drove her to a remote section of Mount Holly-Huntersville Road, where she was raped. After making this declaration, several tips about both cases flooded the police. Despite their attempts, her murder remained unsolved for several more years, turning into a cold case. When asked about the unresolved cases in 1994, the Charlotte Police Department’s Cold Case Squad voiced their hope that they would eventually be solved utilizing developing DNA technology.
Where is Terry Hyatt Today?
Hyatt was taken into custody on November 19, 1998, and was kept in the Buncombe County Jail without being released on bond for the murders of Simmons and McConnell. Both his parents and family were shocked by the arrest because they all believed he was incapable of committing such heinous deeds.
Jerry Leon Harmon, an alcoholic buddy of his who staggered into the sheriff’s office and claimed to be overcome with guilt over committing something dreadful, was the one who brought about his arrest. On the night of Betty McConnell’s death, he claimed to have helped Hyatt ram her car off the road in an apparent attempt to steal money for drugs and alcohol, but Hyatt instead pulled Betty McConnell into the woods. He came back wearing bloodied clothes and claimed to have slain the girl.
Lester Dean Helms, a different friend of Hyatt’s who subsequently confessed to being involved in Simmons’ murder, claimed that he and Hyatt met Simmons at a rest area because her car had broken down and offered to drive her to acquire car parts. Instead, they drove to the mountains, where they each had sex with her under duress until Hyatt pulled her into the woods and returned without her, having shed blood. Later, Hyatt attempted to have his confession excluded from the evidence allowed in court, but Justice James U. Downs rejected this. He reasoned that the prisoner had freely relinquished his rights and had not asked for an attorney after his detention.
Hyatt’s defenders argued during the trial that the prosecution’s two main witnesses, Harmon and Helms, were less than trustworthy and that there was no solid physical evidence against their client. The prosecution acknowledged some of these accusations, but they also noted that Harmon had no compelling motivation to confess because doing so would potentially include him in a potential death penalty case. He was found guilty of both murders and was given a conviction on February 1st, 2000. The family of the victims later rejoiced over the decision. He received six consecutive life sentences for the rape, kidnapping, and robbery offenses, along with two death sentences for the murder accusations in four days.
Hyatt’s DNA, which had been put into CODIS, was connected to Jones’ slaying on January 15, 2005. The match was formed using Hyatt’s semen, which was discovered in her mouth, and a cigarette butt that was discovered next to Jones’ body. Hyatt was handed another life sentence to run concurrently with his earlier sentences after entering into a plea agreement with the prosecutors, who agreed not to seek the death penalty.
After this information came to light and the case received new attention due to an old Cold Case Files show that chronicled Hyatt’s initial convictions, it was claimed that he might be guilty of even more homicides. Hyatt has not yet been connected to any other violent crimes.
The 65-year-old serial killer is currently jailed in a cell at the Central Prison in Raleigh, North Carolina, awaiting his execution, according to official court records.