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Charlotte Cold Case Squad Gets First Conviction

The squad was established in 2003 to rework unsolved homicide cases.

Charlotte, NC -- Terry Alvin Hyatt, who is on death row for the murders of two women, pleaded guilty Tuesday to killing another woman 18 years ago and was sentenced to life in prison in the first conviction for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's homicide cold case squad. Hyatt pleaded guilty to the 1987 murder of 19-year-old Jerri Ann Jones, who was abducted in Charlotte as she waited for a ride after work. Her throat was slit when her body was found. The squad was established in 2003. Thirteen other murder suspects charged in cold cases are awaiting trial. "We've had an opportunity to work some important cases that have brought closure to several families that's been long overdue," said homicide detective David Phillips. Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty against Hyatt if he confessed to Jones' murder, told what happened to the teenager and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. Hyatt, 48, is on death row for the 1979 robberies, rapes and murders in Buncombe County of 21-year-old Betty Sue McConnell and 40-year-old Harriet Delaney Simmons. During Tuesday's hearing, Julia Tharrington, Simmons' daughter, called her mother's killer a monster. "I'm just sorry he can't be killed more than once," Tharrington told Mecklenburg Superior Court Judge David Cayer. Mecklenburg Assistant District Attorney Marsha Goodenow told the judge during Tuesday's hearing that Jones' murder was solved after DNA on a cigarette butt found next to the victim and semen inside her mouth were linked to Hyatt.