A Simple Mistake
Julie Love was on her way to achieving her dreams: making a success of her children's aerobics program in schools all over Atlanta and being newly engaged to her longtime boyfriend. Julie was cute, petite and at under 5 feet barely stood taller than her young students who called her "Miss Julie." On the evening of July 11, 1988, Julie Love, 27, was heading home from a "career chat" networking meeting through the upscale Buckhead section of Atlanta when her red Mustang convertible ran out of gas. Being less than two miles from home, Julie set out on foot. Her car was found the next day but there was no sign of Julie. And then it began …
“Have You Seen Julie Love?” became the rallying cry for the entire city. Posters and flyers began showing up everywhere, even on billboards and on the sides of trucks. The entire city seemed to be looking for her and Buckhead residents were frightened.
Julie's disappearance was the top news story for weeks, then months. Local news turned into national news when the Democratic National Convention brought thousands of delegates and journalists to Atlanta all wondering is this Julie Love and what's the commotion all about; the story was picked up by some major news outlets. The pressure on law enforcement became intense; the GBI and FBI were brought in to help solve the case.
The daily reminder of her mysterious disappearance forced people to confront their own mortality for the first time. Julie’s case remained the top news story for more than a year.
Finally, in July 1989, almost a year after Julie’s disappearance, there was a break in the case when a very frightened and badly beaten woman, Janice Weldon, came forward saying she had information about Julie Love. She told police she was there the night her boyfriend Emmanuel Hammond (aka "Demon"), along with his cousin Maurice Porter, grabbed Julie as she walked home, hit her with a sawed-off shotgun and threw her into the car. The details of what Julie endured that night are horrific!
With the information provided by Weldon, Julie’s body was found and authorities arrested the two men. In the end…Hammond, the trigger man, received the death penalty and was put to death by lethal injection by the State of Georgia on January 25, 2011, 23 years after Julie's murder. Porter will spend the rest of his life in prison for the role he played. And Weldon was given complete immunity and not prosecuted in the case.
If it wasn't for Janice Weldon's courage in coming forward, we would have never known what happened to Julie after she ran out of gas that summer evening in 1988. She risked her own life the day she walked into the police station. You see, she was a victim too and I can only imagine the violence she endured at the hands of Hammond. I hope today Miss Weldon is happy and living a good life. One day I'd like the opportunity to say thank you.
Julie's mistake? Running out of gas. Even though she ran out of gas in one of Atlanta's wealthiest neighborhoods, it was a tragic mistake. Wrong place, wrong time. Julie's brother Russell and I have a message: when your gas gauge get to a half a tank or less, stop and fill up and say 'thank you Julie.'