Joe Hamlin, father of Katie Hamlin, said Monday that before he dies he hopes to see the county honor his daughter by renaming the southwest Cherokee bridge, where her body was found in July 2002, in her memory.
Hamlin, 56, said he has colon cancer and now feels a sense of urgency to take steps to keep his daughter’s memory alive while he still can.
“My life span is real short,” he said. “And I just wanted to do something to where Katie’s memory is going to carry on even after I’m gone. I want Katie’s memory to be always in somebody’s mind.”
Hamlin said the idea to rename the bridge off Kemp Road near Woodstock Road is not new.
“Katie’s mom tried once upon a time to get them to name the bridge but didn’t get any response,” he said. “They told her that the neighbors around there didn’t want it.”
But Hamlin said he’s talked to neighbors nearby and hasn’t met any resistance.
“They’re all for it,” he said.
Several members of the Board of Commissioners also appear to be open to the idea.
“I am quite confident that a majority, if not all, commissioners would vote in favor of naming a certain bridge in honor of she Miss Hamlin,” said Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens on Monday. “Generally speaking, we are quite receptive to a resident, group of residents, and others who bring forth certain naming requests.”
Commissioner Harry Johnston said Monday he’s in favor of the renaming.
“I’m totally supportive,” Johnston said. “It will be a great way to help us all remember Katie.”
Commissioner Raymond Gunnin said Monday he plans to support the gesture, especially since he has a special connection to the case.
Before joining the Board of Commissioners, Gunnin was Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services chief, and said he remembers the Katie Hamlin case well.
“I was with the Fire Department then and ran the call,” Gunnin said. “Very sad call that you don’t forget. Nobody deserves to be treated in that manner.”
Hamlin’s partially nude body was found in a shallow creek by the bridge off Kemp Road on July 2, 2002. Prior to her death, she was reportedly raped and set on fire.
Jamerson Douglas “Nash” Mangrum, who was 17 at the time of the death, was later convicted of felony murder, aggravated child molestation, abandoning a dead body and tampering with evidence. He was sentenced in 2005 to life in prison plus 80 years, reports show.