Denise Vasseur was murdered by jilted lover Patrick Hamilton: The Killer Beside Me investigates

police tape
The Killer Beside Me looks at the murder of Denise Vasseur by jilted lover Patrick Hamilton, whose response to being spurned was to strangle the San Diego zookeeper and dump her body in the Californian desert.

On September 22, 2000, at 5 am, Denise Vasseur kissed her husband goodbye as she left their home in Oceanside for work. It was the day after she’d celebrated her fourth wedding anniversary with her husband, Marine Staff Sgt. Charles Vasseur. Tragically, Charles would never see her wife again.

The next day, her abandoned car was discovered near her home, with the keys still in the ignition. Unfortunately, there were no clues as to her whereabouts.

Denise had been a zookeeper at the San Diego Wild Animal Park, and the investigation into her disappearance revealed she’d been having an affair with one of her colleagues at the zoo, a Patrick Hamilton.

What’s more, detectives also learned that Denise had wished to end their romance and had already told Hamilton it was over. The police grew suspicious of Hamilton; however, the case was blown wide open when he admitted to murdering Denise while on the phone with a friend.

Patrick Hamilton led cops in police chase

When police attempted to arrest Hamilton, he tried to escape; however, he was eventually apprehended after a car chase. While being questioned, he admitted to killing Denise.

He told the police that he strangled her while arguing and dumped her body in the Anzo-Boregga desert to the east of San Diego.

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In November 2001, Hamilton’s trial had already begun when he agreed to a plea deal. Hamilton agreed to plea guilty to second-degree murder, and as part of the deal, he also agreed to help the authorities find Denise’s body.

He was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison, and the judge recommended that he not be considered for parole until he agreed to locate Denise’s remains.

Detectives took Hamilton out into the desert twice, but they could not locate Denise, and the case is now closed.

In 2013, California’s District Court of Appeal rejected Hamilton’s request to withdraw his guilty plea and upheld his conviction and sentence.

More from The Killer Beside Me

Follow the links to read about moe chilling murders profiled on the Killer Beside Me.

Justin Cornell invited his colleague Brianna Armstrong to dinner at his home in Virginia Beach; at some point during the night, he murdered and decapitated his guest. He then dumped her remains in Dismal Park Creek.

Gail Spencer was held hostage before being strangled to death in her own home as her colleague Tracy Jones stole over a million dollars from her employer.

The Killer Beside Me airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

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J Harper
J Harper
3 years ago

That ID show was the most poorly produced I’ve ever seen. They left out half of the facts of the case, and kept showing the same old 80s head shot of the defendant over and over and over and over until I wanted to scream!!! Would have been nice also to hear from the family of the victim, who were mentioned many times but never seen. I usually really like all of their shows, including “The Killer Beside Me,” but this one was awful

Jaclyn
Jaclyn
2 years ago
Reply to  J Harper

I agree with you. Where are this poor woman’s remains? Unbelievable!!

C Patten
C Patten
11 months ago
Reply to  J Harper

I totally agree. Especially leaving out the affair. I would think that would make a difference

Scott
Scott
2 years ago

In cases where the suspect won’t give up the remains, I think the police should be able to beat it out fo them. This murdering POS is right where he belongs.

Donna Jean Koby
Donna Jean Koby
2 years ago

Is he still in jail?

JoJo
JoJo
11 months ago

It’s really no surprise this went badly. Did she really think toying with someone’s feelings & then totally disregarding them was going to go well? In the desert…nobody will ever find her body. The family should be grateful he confessed or they would have never known what happened to her! Cheaters never win…sometimes they crash spectacularly!

C Patten
C Patten
11 months ago

Why didn’t they mention the affair on the show? I googled it to see if he was still in jail and was surprised there was an affair. Went back to the beginning and all they mention is they carpooled

Last edited 11 months ago by C Patten
ash
ash
8 months ago

theres no evidence other than what patrick has aid to even begin to think the affair was real when hes know to be a manipulator and a liar so i dont believe there was an affair at all. he wanted her and couldn’t have her. i beleive he tried to come on to her and she refused and that’s when he strangled her to death. theres no evidece to prove the affair was real and not in his head

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