Mara Nikki Vestal

Vestal, circa 2019; Vestal's tattoo; Jay Hammersley

  • Missing Since 03/06/2019
  • Missing From Katy, Texas
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Female
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 06/18/1989 (34)
  • Age 29 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'7, 140 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Brown hair, gray eyes. Vestal's ears are pierced. She has a tattoo of a butterfly on her breast, a tattoo on her left ankle and a tattoo on her left shoulder. A photo of the butterfly tattoo is posted with this case summary.

Details of Disappearance

Vestal was last seen in Katy, Texas. Her husband, Jay Patrick Hammersley, reported her missing on March 19, 2019; he stated that on or around March 6, she had taken her belongings and left their residence in the 20200 block of Golden Mesa in the Sun Down Glen subdivision, and never returned.

A photo of Hammersley is posted with this case summary. On April 3, he was charged with murder and tampering with a corpse in Vestal's case. He confessed that he struck her with an object and strangled her to death on or around February 16, over two weeks prior to the date he initially claimed he last saw her.

Hammersley and Vestal had been married several years and had a two-year-old daughter together, who was with relatives out of state at the time of the killing. Hammersley also has an adult daughter and two other young children, and Vestal has one son.

On the night of Vestal's death, she and Hammersley went to a strip club. He stated they got into an argument there because Vestal thought he was interested in a woman there. After they got into their car to go home, Vestal "violently, erratically and continuously" beat him, and he ultimately killed her in self-defense. The next day he told a friend what happened and asked his friend to help him dispose of her body. The friend said no and advised Hammersley to go to the police.

Instead, Hammersley purchased 100 pounds of charcoal and cremated Vestal's body in their backyard shed. He put what was left in a trash bag and left it at the curb, and when the bag was not picked up by the garbage truck he put it in a dumpster near his workplace. Hammersley's adult daughter supported her father's story, stating the couple's relationship was toxic and Vestal was often violent towards her husband when she was drunk. However, the police stated there was no history of domestic violence in the home.

Hammersley is awaiting trial in Vestal's murder. Her body has never been found, but foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.

Investigating Agency

  • Harris County Sheriff's Office 713-755-6044

Updated 1 time since October 12, 2004. Last updated November 30, 2020; casefile added.