Long-delayed arrests bittersweet for mother of homicide victim Hamlin

For 10 years, I told the mother of homicide victim Anthony Hamlin I would see her in court one day.

This month, it finally happened.

Investigators had trouble solving the case after Hamlin's body was found in a Ledyard field in January 2006. I had met his mother, Darlene Hamlin, a few years earlier while covering her tribe, the Eastern Pequots, during their disappointing quest for federal recognition. She served on the tribal council.

A few days after her son was killed, Darlene told me she wanted answers, but was not seeking vengeance, since it wouldn't be a good example to all the young people in the family. Over the years, The Day wrote about the case several times as Hamlin and other family members grieved, held vigils and called on anyone who knew anything to come forward.

"I'll see you in court some day," I always predicted at the end of our conversations.

Investigators put Hamlin's image on playing cards circulated through the prison system, offered a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible and tried other techniques.

Some cases never get solved, but it appeared that Hamlin had been killed by more than one person, and it seemed plausible that sooner or later police would get the information they needed. Maybe someone with knowledge of the case would slip up, suffer a guilty conscience or be tempted by reward money.

When the state police made the first of two arrests this month, Darlene Hamlin, who describes herself as a Christian woman, said her prayers had been answered. But it was a bittersweet moment for Hamlin, who was thinking that the mother and family members of the suspect would now be losing a family member to prison.

During the first court appearance she attended, Darlene was so overwhelmed by emotion she had to leave. She said she won't be back in court until the cases are resolved.

Details of the case are sealed, temporarily, but soon the Hamlin family will have some of the answers they seek. 

Last week, while on assignment at the Groton Town Police Department, I noticed the wanted sign with Hamlin's picture was still hanging in the lobby.

"You can take that down now," I told detective Heather Beauchamp when she came through. Beauchamp had worked on the case while serving on the Southeastern Connecticut Cold Case Task Force.

I helped her pull out the thumbtacks that attached the sign to the wall.  

The case is not over yet, but it's moved on to another phase, and we will continue to follow it through the court system.

k.florin@theday.com

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