Investigation Discovery’s ‘The Killer Beside Me: Carpool Predator’ chronicles the slaying of Denise Vasseur, a 31-year-old zookeeper from Oceanside, California, who disappeared in September 2000, never to be seen again. It was her husband, United States Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Charles Vasseur, who reported her missing after realizing that she hadn’t returned when she said she would.
In the search that followed, it came to light that her co-worker Patrick Hamilton had disappeared on that same day, so that’s where the investigators focused, only to find out that he was her lover and that he had brutally murdered her in his own home. Wondering where he is now? Here’s what we know.
Who Is Patrick Hamilton?
Patrick John Hamilton, a former zookeeper at Wild Animal Park in San Diego, California, was a Vista native when he met his co-worker Denise Vasseur and started an affair with her. She was married and about ten years younger than him, but he didn’t seem to care – all he wanted was her, her time, and all that she could give him. So, of course, when she showed up at his front door to end things with him, on September 22, 2000, just two days after her fourth wedding anniversary, Patrick was furious. In an almost obsessive state, he refused to let Denise leave his apartment.
And when she tried to escape on her own, they fought, during which he claims that he accidentally strangled her to death. Instead of confessing to what he did, though, he said that he buried her body in the Anza-Borrego Desert and tried to disappear himself. Unfortunately for Patrick, his other co-workers reported that he hadn’t been to work since Denise went missing, which led the investigators to figure out their affair and issue an arrest warrant against him. On September 27, after he tried to elude the officers, he was arrested in Northern California, just south of Gilroy.
He was then indicted on the charge of first-degree murder in connection with Denise’s disappearance and suspected death, to which he pleaded not guilty. Patrick was held in a local jail pending trial, where he tried to overdose on prescription medications. All this only showcased his guilty conscience, but even then, since the prosecutors and Denise’s family wanted to find her remains and get closure, they offered him a plea deal. He took it the week before his trial was to begin but changed his mind hours later.
Where Is Patrick Hamilton Now?
In November 2001, Patrick John Hamilton went to court for the murder charge against him. There, just hours after the prosecutors made their opening statements and revealed that Patrick had been offered the same plea deal once again, he confessed to his crimes. This, along with the testimony from one of his co-workers, who said that Patrick had called him on September 22, admitting to killing Denise and asking if he could borrow something to kill himself with, was more than enough to prove his guilt.
In the end, Patrick took the deal and pleaded guilty to the charge of second-degree murder while also agreeing to assist the authorities in locating Denise’s remains. Even after a month, the search for Denise resulted in nothing. So, Patrick was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison in March 2002. Therefore, today, at the age of 63, he is incarcerated at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo County, California.
Patrick did appeal his conviction initially, but it upheld, and in the two times that he has been in front of the parole board, he was denied release. On January 23, 2014, the board deemed him unsuitable for release for three years, and on June 27, 2017, he was denied parole for seven more, meaning that his next hearing is scheduled around June of 2024. Until then, Patrick Hamilton will stay behind bars.
Read More: What Happened to Denise Vasseur?