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Katy Man Claims Self-Defense in Wife's Murder


April 11, 2019

By Natalie Cook Clark

Jay Hammersley confessed that he strangled his wife to death in their Katy home on the evening of February 16. Earlier this week, he appeared in court and his story remained the same, except Hammersley says he acted in self defense. After seeing pictures of his petite wife, many people were shocked by his statement.

Mara Vestal posted in April 2018. Photo Credit: Mara Vestal's Facebook Profile.

Killed Wife, Cremated Body

Jay Patrick Hammersley, 44, reported his wife, Mara Vestal, 29, missing on March 19. He told investigators she left their home in the 20200 block of Golden Mesa Drive a few weeks prior, and that she had taken some belongings with her. After a witness came forward, Hammersley admitted to murdering his wife and burning her body before disposing of her remains. Vestal's body has yet to be found.

Katy Mourns Mara Vestal

Mara Nicki Vestal's Facebook profile paints a picture of a hard-working wife and mother who loved her husband. According to comments on social media, she spent some time working at Katy's Wildcatter Saloon, where coworkers were stunned by her murder. She is from La Plata, Missouri and worked at Due Diligence Law Associates. Vestal and Hammersley were married in 2014.

"You will be missed i just think about all the good times we had," writes Judith Armstrong. She was one of many who took to social media to share their shock and grief.

Vestal professed her love for Hammersley in a 2017 Facebook post.

Bond with Numerous Conditions

Hammersley was given a $125,000 bond on Monday. The conditions of his bond state that he cannot communicate with any of Vestal's family members; he cannot go near her place of employment or any school, child care facility or home of Vestal's family; cannot communicate with any witness; cannot leave the county; cannot possess firearms or weapons; cannot use alcohol or drugs; has to wear a GPS monitoring device, and must remain at his house.

Claims Self Defense

On the evening of February 16, Hammersley and Vestal returned home from a local strip club. Hammersley now claims that his wife was violent toward him. He then strangled her to death. He partially cremated her body in a shed in their backyard, using over 100 pounds of charcoal. Hammersley then placed Vestal's remains in a trash bag and left it at the curb. He admits the bag was not taken away with trash pick-up, and he moved her remains to a dumpster near his work.

Investigators are still looking for Vestal's remains.

Hammersley described Vestal's brutal murder when he appeared in court. He gave further details to a reporter about the events that lead up to the murder. Hammersley claimed that when he and Vestal got into their car, to go home from the strip club, that his wife "violently, erratically and continuously" beat him. He claimed that he killed her in self defense. Hammersley's next court appearance is scheduled for May 23.


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