Missing Smyrna mom beaten to death with hammer, police believe

SMYRNA — A hammer may have been involved in an alleged homicide of a missing Smyrna woman on or about Jan. 9 or 10, authorities said.

Cortez A. Hamilton, 32, was indicted on a first-degree murder charge after his wife Keisha S. Hamilton, 35, went missing on Jan. 10, the Delaware Department of Justice said in a news release Wednesday.

She has not been located, police said, and a search continues.

The DOJ said indictment on a possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony count by a Kent County Grand Jury resulted from a hammer allegedly tied to the murder charge.

Mr. Hamilton is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Cortez A. Hamilton

Cortez A. Hamilton

The indictment was received and filed with the Kent County Prothonotary on Monday.

Mr. Hamilton was found by police with his children in a 2005 Chevrolet Suburban automobile in Indiana on Jan. 10, according to the Delaware State Police in an affidavit of probable cause. A person with a name redacted in court papers was noted as being not located in the vehicle, police said.

In the affidavit regarding charges (then including first-degree assault, not first-degree murder) against Mr. Hamilton, a member of the DSP Homicide Unit said a hammer containing suspected blood was allegedly found in a trash bag, among other items, after Indiana State Police obtained a search warrant of the Chevrolet Suburban that was executed on Jan. 13.

“The hammer head was bent where the head portion of the hammer was bent back towards the handle and the hammer head/claw portion was turned to where it was not centered and not aligned with the handle,” a state police trooper wrote in court papers.

According to police in the court papers, a trash bag inside the vehicle allegedly contained a pair of sweat pants with dirt on them, dirty tennis shoes, black rubber gloves with dirt on them, a roll of duct tape, a purse containing identification cards belonging to (names redacted in court papers), two rings, a braided piece of hair consistent with that of (name redacted), and white Samsung cellphone belong to a person whose name was redacted.

In court documents, police said a second trash bag allegedly included clothing with suspected blood, along with a zipper sweatshirt, (work) polo shirt, khaki pants, leggings, and bra.

Also located was a Blue Hawk plastic bag that contained 250 square feet of 4 ml. clear transparent heavy plastic duty sheeting, police alleged.

The two trash bags were allegedly located on the Chevrolet Suburban’s front passenger seat, police said in court documents.

On Jan. 9 at approximately 11 p.m., Ms. Hamilton was last seen at her residence by a family member in the Twin Willows Development, according to police in an affidavit.

Several attempts by a family member to contact Ms. Hamilton via telephone on Jan. 10 were unsuccessful, police said.

A family member contacted (name redacted) employer to see if she arrived for a 7 a.m. work shift on Jan. 10, according to court documents. She had not.

The manager told “the family member he was alarmed because this is abnormal behavior for (name redacted),” according to police in court papers.

Police said in court papers that a 911 call was made at approximately 10:05 a.m. on Jan. 10 to report Ms. Hamilton missing.

Three troopers went to a Smyrna residence for a well-being check, according to police in court documents.

Knocks on the door and ringing the doorbell multiple times were unsuccessful, according to authorities in documents. An exterior check of the residence yielded no results, police said.

Police: blood found

A key was provided by a family member to check on Ms. Hamilton and her children’s safety and troopers allegedly found “a large amount of blood in the common upstairs hallway,” according to court papers. A later test resulted in a positive finding for human blood, authorities said.

Papers indicated that two state police detectives determined “there was significant blood loss that would lead one to believe that an individual sustained a serious or life threatening injury.”

Numerous attempts to contact Keisha and Cortez Hamilton via cell phone on Jan. 10 were unsuccessful, police wrote in papers, and both children were unaccounted for.

On Jan. 10, a Delaware State Police detective located an abandoned silver Toyota Matrix with Delaware temporary registration in a parking lot behind Atlantis Homes, Village Square in Smyrna, police said in court documents.

Police said a Delaware Justice Information System inquiry found it registered to (name redacted). A pocket book was allegedly found resting on the front passenger floor board, police said in papers.

An Amber Alert was issued, police said, and Indiana authorities made a traffic stop of Mr. Hamilton’s vehicle at approximately 7:30 p.m. Police said the vehicle was towed to the Indiana State Police in Evansville where it was secured.

Mr. Hamilton was also indicted on two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child, according to court papers.

In court papers, Delaware State Police alleged that a Jan. 9 text from (name redacted) to a family member at approximately 10:13 p.m. stated verbatim, “Hey if anything every happened to me please have the police check Cortez I don’t trust him”.

At 10:14 p.m., police alleged in papers a second text to the family member stated, “We had a argument and he acting funny”.

In court papers, a DSP detective wrote, “Approximately ten minutes after receiving the text message, the family member contacted (name redacted) in regards to the received text messages.

“The family member spoke with (name redacted) on the telephone. (Name redacted) told the family member Cortez Hamilton was acting very strange and she was concerned for her safety.

“The family member advised the conversation lasted approximately five minutes. The family member had a missed call at approximately 2244 hours from (name redacted).”

Police said Mr. Hamilton was arraigned at JP Court 2 and held at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna after extradition from Indiana on Jan. 22. He was held on $402,000 secured bond, authorities said.

On Wednesday, the AG’s office said Mr. Hamilton is being represented in court by the Delaware Office of the Public Defender. An arraignment on the murder charge will come on an undetermined date, the AG’s office said at the time, with bail being set and a plea entered.

In a news release Wednesday, the attorney general’s office said “Hamilton’s wife Keisha Hamilton is still missing, but prosecutors believe there is sufficient evidence to bring the murder charge.”

According to police in court documents, “Affiant conducted a PFA inquiry through DELJIS and it revealed there were numerous PFAs where Cortez Hamilton was the respondent and (name redacted) was the petitioner. The most recent PFA Order expired on February 26, 2014.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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