Grand jury's indictment says slaying was premeditated

January 15, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

A Washington County grand jury that indicted Jack L. Hammersla Jr. on a murder charge in the Nov. 12, 2003, beating death of a Smithsburg-area woman alleged that the slaying was premeditated.

The grand jury, in the indictment handed up last Friday, alleged that Hammersla, 46, "feloniously, willfully and of deliberately premeditated malice aforethought did kill and murder" Shirley P. Finfrock.

Washington County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Doug Mullendore said at a Tuesday press conference that investigators did not believe the slaying was premeditated.


Mullendore said then that police believed robbery was the motive for the slaying.

Mullendore could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

Washington County State's Attorney Kenneth Long said the case was presented to the grand jury as if the slaying were a premeditated act. Long said he could not comment on specific information presented at Friday's grand jury proceedings.

Hammersla was charged in the indictment with first- and second-degree murder; first-degree felony murder-robbery; first-degree felony murder-first-degree burglary; first degree felony murder-third-degree burglary; robbery; theft under $500; first-degree assault; second-degree assault; malicious destruction of property; and first-, third- and fourth-degree burglary.

The indictment alleges Hammersla stole a purse, wallet, driver's license, pocket knife, ceramic electric lighthouse, several credit cards and three or four baseball hats from the Finfrock house.

Long said Hammersla's initial court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 29 in Washington County Circuit Court. He said Hammersla's formal arraignment and bond hearing is to be held on that date.

The body of Shirley Finfrock, 68, was found by her husband, Edwyn Finfrock, on Nov. 12, 2003, at 11:30 a.m. at her 22128 Holiday Drive home. She died of blunt force trauma to the head, Mullendore said.

Deputies said a man matching Hammersla's description was seen walking near the home that morning.

Hammersla, believed to be homeless, has been in custody since Nov. 15 on two unrelated second-degree assault charges, Mullendore said. Authorities allege in court records that Hammersla punched his father, Jack Hammersla Sr., of 116 W. Water St. in Smithsburg, on two occasions, the second time on Nov. 12.

Hammersla was being held Wednesday night at the Washington County Detention Center on $100,000 bond on the assault charges, a spokesman said.

Hammersla, convicted on a 1981 charge of assault with intent to murder, was released from the Maryland Correctional Training Center south of Hagerstown in March 2003, according to Department of Corrections officials.

According to published reports at the time, Hammersla stabbed a man three times with a paring knife outside The Maryland Theatre on South Potomac Street. The man sustained a collapsed lung.

The Herald-Mail Articles