Top stories of 2017: 'Angel' helps close Hamlin cold case

Editor's note: This is one of southeastern Connecticut's Top 10 stories of 2017 as chosen by the staff of The Day.

After 11 years of waiting, the Hamlin family heard two men admit to a judge in July and August of 2017 that they were guilty of fatally beating 40-year-old Anthony "Ant" Hamlin and leaving his body in a Ledyard field on Jan. 28, 2006. Timothy P. Johnson and Christopher P. Vincenti had lived free for a decade after they befriended Hamlin, then killed him during a botched robbery. Both men pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and were sentenced to 19½ and 20 years in prison, respectively, in September.

The Hamlins thought the prison sentences were too lenient. In September, several generations and branches of the victim's family attended the sentencing hearings in New London Superior Court to express their grief and anger and their struggle for forgiveness and peace.

But something good came out of the ordeal. Hamlin's mother, Darlene Hamlin, and his sister, Cassandra Rookwood, met a cousin of one of the defendants who had come forward with the information that helped state police solve the case. The women began calling the informant, Justin Messervy, their "angel" and said they'd be inviting him to a family gathering. In October, a judge granted Messervy the $50,000 reward that had been offered to anyone providing information that led to the arrest and conviction of Hamlin's killers.

— Karen Florin

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