The Murders at Grassy Creek

Winston-Salem Journal graphic by Richard Boyd

When three people were murdered on a Grayson County, Va., Christmas tree farm, suspicion soon focused on Freddie Hammer, a man who earned his living chopping firewood and doing odd jobs in neighboring Ashe County, N.C.

In 2008, reporter Monte Mitchell of the Winston-Salem Journal spent several months unraveling Hammer’s complicated past, including his conviction on murder charges for killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1978.

Hammer confessed to the tree farm killings, and he is now serving a life sentence in a Virginia prison. He has also confessed to killing his nephew, Jimmy Blevins, whose body had been missing for more than two years before it was found in Ashe County on Aug. 4, 2009.

I served as multimedia editor on this series, working with a web designer, Mitchell and his editor.

Read the series, as well as letters between Mitchell and Freddie Hammer, and see photographs and video in this award-winning multimedia presentation.