Clarence “Tariq” Hammond III lived for his children. Now, more than four years after this murder, detectives believe they know who’s responsible, but they need some help to bring the killer to justice.
“It’s time to do the right thing,” said Clarence Hammond Jr.
He wants to know why his son’s killer is walking free, while Clarence and his wife Algene are trapped in a prison of sorrow.
“[I] have some rough days,” said Algene Hammond.
Clarence Hammond III was a devoted father to his two young sons. He worked hard as a Corrections Officer in a state prison.
“He loved his job. And the people loved him,” said Hammond Jr.
Just after midnight on January 14, 2012, the 33-year-old returned home to his Madison Heights apartment with his girlfriend. He was still in his MDOC uniform.
As Hammond and his girlfriend got out of the car, police say the girlfriend saw a man coming towards them.
“He wanted them to empty their pockets, he tried to make it look as though it was a robbery. But it wasn’t a robbery,” said Hammond Jr.
The suspect then fired one shot, hitting Hammond in the head, killing him instantly.
“There were demands made, yes. However, there was nothing taken,” said Madison Heights Det. Sgt. Marc Zupic.
“Is that significant to you,” asked 7 Investigator Heather Catallo.
“Yes,” said Sgt. Zupic.
“He had a pretty nice Lexus there. He had some other items inside the vehicle and on him. I don’t believe that this was the intent of the gunman, that it was an intent to rob him. I believe the intent was to kill him,” said Sgt. Zupic.
Sgt. Zupic says at first, they investigated whether someone wanted Hammond killed because of his job.
“He got along very well with coworkers, he got along very well with inmates. He was well respected,” said Sgt. Zupic.
But after chasing down every lead, Sgt. Zupic says it always comes back to this: “An assassination. And for the purposes of something very personal, for the benefit of getting Clarence Hammond out of their life.”
So who would want Hammond dead?
“The very first thing that went through my mind is that his ex-wife had set him up,” said Hammond Jr. “It was a custody battle for the kids, and she knew that she was about to lose the kids.”
“Is the ex-wife a suspect,” asked Catallo.
“Yes,” said Sgt. Zupic.
“Is she the only suspect,” asked Catallo.
“No,” said Sgt. Zupic. “I believe that Tabitha Moore had an active part in this, or the planning of it.”
It was no secret Hammond was trying to get full custody of their sons. In court records, he alleged Tabitha Moore was violent with them – and with him.
They were less than two weeks from a key court date when Hammond was killed.
The 7 Investigators have learned, the 34-year-old has a long history of contact with police. Back in 2005, police in Moraine, Ohio arrested Moore for “aggravated menacing” after she was accused of nearly running over a co-worker with her car. She later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.
About a month before the murder, records show Hammond had to call the police. He alleged Moore had assaulted him during a visit at their sons’ doctor’s office.
“She punched him, she hit him,” said Clarence Hammond Jr.
“And the doctor was going to testify against her,” said Algene Hammond.
Moore was later charged with Domestic Assault and Battery, but prosecutors had to drop the case after Hammond was murdered.
Police reports also show, Moore had been making false allegations against Hammond, accusing him of sexually abusing their sons. Child Protective Services determined that Moore was coaching the boys.
Hammond volunteered to take a polygraph, which he passed. Hammond was cleared.
Police say they asked Moore several times to take a lie detector test after Hammond’s murder. Detectives say she refused each time, even though it could have eliminated her as a suspect.
Police say now they need the people who were involved in this murder to come forward, and they need physical evidence, like the murder weapon. As in many investigations, cooperators may get leniency from prosecutors if they can deliver the killer.
“Allow this family to get some closure,” said Sgt. Zupic.
Meanwhile, Moore has moved out of state, taking Algene and Clarence Jr.’s grandsons with her.
“It’s been 4 years already, we haven’t seen them, haven’t talked to them, absolutely no communication at all,” said Algene Hammond.
“It’s like they got 3-for-1. It’s like the murder got 3-for-1,” said Clarence Hammond Jr.
We have reached out several times to Tabitha Moore to hear her side of this story. So far she has not called us back.
If you have any information about this, please contact Madison Heights Police at 248-837-2737 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP. They are offering a $2,500 reward.
The Michigan Department of Corrections sent us this statement:
We will continue to do everything we can to aid law enforcement as they hunt for officer Hammond’s killer and to bring them to justice. His family and his colleagues at the facility need and deserve closure on this tragic incident.
A spokeswoman for the Michigan Corrections Organization also told us, they donated $10,000 to Clarence Hammond’s children’s college fund.
She also told us, “We at MCO still have hope that his tragic murder is solved, and we’d like to thank all the police who are still working diligently on his case after all these years.”
If you have a story for Heather Catallo, please email her at email@example.com or call 248-827-4473.