Christopher Hampton is behind bars for the murder of 24-year-old Tamika Huston, whose body was found in a wooded area more than a year after she went missing in Duncan, South Carolina.
On June 14, 2004, Huston was reported missing when her family hadn’t seen or heard from her in a month, according to The Greenville News.
Two days later, officers searched her home on Harvard Street and ascertained that her cell phone, three uncashed checks from Cracker Barrel, where she worked, and her driver’s license had been left behind, but there was no sign of a struggle.
Huston’s dog, a pit bull named Macy, was also found in the home, and according to a relative, “she treated that dog like her own kid. That’s when I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that something was wrong.”
On June 20, 2004, a resident at the Louvenia D. Barksdale Apartments learned about Huston’s disappearance and reported seeing a vehicle, a black, two-door 1991 Honda CRX, at the complex that had been parked outside the complex for three weeks.
The vehicle belonged to Huston.
Inside the vehicle were a set of keys and partial fingerprints.
Investigators stated that the fingerprints didn’t match anyone in the database, and the keys didn’t work; they did, however, find the code AA14 inscribed on one of the keys.
Upon taking it to every locksmith in the area, an employee at one of the stores informed officials that the key was made for an apartment unit at Fremont School Apartments.
The detectives tried the key in all 46 apartments, but none of them worked. It did, however, open a storage area door in the basement that led to an apartment, which had been offline at the time due to flooding issues.
Forensic technicians went to the apartment and searched for evidence, but it was ultimately a dead end.
Investigators got a break in the case when they spoke with the apartment manager, who apprised them that when a tenant is evicted, maintenance workers always remove the doorknob and replace it with another doorknob from another apartment.
The manager added that they didn’t keep any records of which door knobs were switched, meaning the doorknob in the basement could have come from any of the apartment units in the building, as reported by the television program, Forensic Files.
Investigators then asked for a list of tenants, including those who had been evicted. That’s when they discovered that Hampton, then 25 years old, who was an acquaintance of Huston’s, was on the list.
Hampton had been evicted from apartment 215, just one month after Huston went missing.
By the time Duncan police found out that Hampton was a former tenant at the Fremont School Apartments, he was incarcerated. He was serving a 30-day sentence for violating his parole, but records showed that he was free during the time Huston vanished.
When detectives questioned Hampton about her disappearance, he told them he didn’t know where she was. He said the last time he spoke with her, she told him that she was going to Bike Week.
Even though his fingerprints did not match the partial fingerprints found in her car, investigators still considered Hampton a suspect in the case.
Just as they thought they were about to hit another dead end, detectives said they received a call from Hampton’s former girlfriend, who is also the mother of his children.
She told officials that after Hampton went to jail, he mailed her his wallet. When she received it, she noticed there was a tiny speck of blood on it.
DNA testing confirmed that the blood on the wallet was Huston’s.
Detectives then received another call from another woman, who claimed to have witnessed something peculiar when she went to Hampton’s apartment—it was around the time Huston was missing.
She told officials that there was a large, brownish-red stain on the bedroom floor and that the dresser had been pulled in front of the closet door.
When they received that information, it had been a year since Hampton had been evicted, and another family was living in the apartment.
After obtaining a warrant to search apartment 215, police found evidence that the master bedroom had been cleaned.
When they pulled the carpet back, there was a stain on the back of the carpet as well as on the padding, which tested positive for human blood.
More blood was found in the closet and in every room of the apartment.
According to the Washington Times, DNA testing confirmed that the blood belonged to Huston.
Police officials believe that after Hampton killed Huston, he put her body in the closet, where they found a significant amount of blood.
Hampton then left the apartment to allegedly pick up a 15-year-old girl and later returned to have sex with her before heading out again to get something to eat—all while Huston’s body was in the closet.
When investigators informed Hampton that they had uncovered a large amount of Huston’s blood inside his former apartment, he confessed to the killing.
On Aug. 12, 2005, Huston was found dead. Hampton agreed to show police where he buried her body, which was located in a wooded area off State Road 290 in Duncan.
He marked the shallow grave with a cross made out of sticks.
Two weeks later, dental records confirmed that the skeletal remains were those of Huston, NBC News reported.
Hampton was then charged with murder.
Police officials believe Huston was killed on May 9, 2004.
He told investigators that on the day of the murder, he was at his apartment, ironing his clothes and getting ready to go out, when Huston stopped by.
While there, they got into an argument over money, and that’s when he threw a hot iron at Huston, which struck her in the head and killed her, according to WIS TV.
“I didn’t mean for it to hit her,” he told officials. “I couldn’t believe it. I just walked out of the room. I told her I’m sorry… The whole time, I was hoping she would wake up.
“I didn’t want to tell anybody because I didn’t want people to think I was a killer. I ain’t a killer… I don’t want people to think bad of me.”
The following day, Hampton said he used a friend’s car and drove to a wooded area near an industrial development off Tyger River Drive in Duncan, South Carolina, where he buried Huston’s body in a shallow grave.
He then rented a carpet cleaner to remove the blood from the carpet at his apartment. As he was abandoning her vehicle at an apartment complex, he inadvertently dropped his keys on the passenger side.
The following year, he said he returned to her gravesite and decapitated her.
In a jailhouse interview, Hampton said he felt better after confessing to Huston’s murder. He now hopes her family can forgive him.
He said, “They wanted closure; I gave it to them. It might not be what they wanted, but I gave it to them.”
“I deserve to go to jail, but I deserve a second chance.”
After Hampton pleaded guilty to murdering Huston, Circuit Judge John C. Few of Greenville sentenced him in April 2006 to life in prison without parole.