Palmetto man to be sentenced in death; $30,000 reward offered for body

jdeleon@bradenton.comJuly 3, 2013 

PALMETTO -- The family of a Virginia man believed murdered will not give up the search for his body even as the Palmetto man convicted in his death will soon be sentenced for his killing.

Freddie Lee Hall Jr., 54, will be sentenced by a Portsmouth, Va., judge July 15 after a jury convicted him of the murder of James Britt. A jury unanimously recommended Hall serve life in prison.

The victim's brother, William Britt, is now offering $30,000 for anybody with any information on the whereabouts of Britt's remains.

"I know there is someone else involved and I want to bring justice to them," Britt said.

Virginia authorities continue efforts to find the body, according to Portsmouth Police spokeswoman Jan Clark.

"The investigators are still looking for the body of Mr. Britt, of course," Clark said. "We are still receiving tips that we are actively pursuing."

Clark said it's unfortunate they have been unsuccessful in recovering Britt's body but hope remains.

"The investigator is very tenacious; he is working very closely with the family," Clark said. "It is hard not finding a loved one. He is not going to stop."

Local media she said, have been helpful in covering their continued search.

Britt and Hall had been in the used car business.

"He knew the guy that murdered him. He knew him for 10 years," Britt said. "Jimmy and Freddie had had several arguments. Jimmy was trying to cut all ties with him."

Hall owed his brother money, William Britt said. Hall came to his brother's house twice the week before his brother disappeared.

Hall was indicted April 5, 2012, by a grand jury in Virginia for Britt's death. Authorities say Britt was killed in his home in the Sterling Pointe community some time between April 11 and April 15 in 2011.

The victim's brother met police at the home in April 2011 after suspicions arose of foul play.

"My mother called me up that she had not heard from Jimmy," Britt said. "I called Jimmy up and then I called and asked the city to do a security check."

A crime scene coverup became apparent when police and Britt's brother entered his brother's home. Areas of the carpet had been bleached and one section of carpet removed yet blood was still found splattered throughout the home.

Detectives were able to link Hall to the crime through his fingerprints and a recovered swatch of bloody carpet in his possession, among other evidence, yet never were able to figure out what he did with Britt's remains.

In April 2011, the family petitioned the court to declare James Britt dead to allow prosecution of his suspected killer.

Hall was arrested April 5, 2012, outside his Palmetto home on the 500 block of 30th Street East by Bradenton police with the assistance of Manatee Sheriff's Office deputies. Portsmouth police detectives had been in contact with Bradenton police for a year and arranged for his extradition once he was arrested following the indictment.

"We have not had a case like this in this jurisdiction, prosecuting a homicide when you have not actually located the body," Clark said. "It is a piece of evidence. It is helpful in prosecuting."

The victim's brother has offered rewards previously and he upped the ante now because he still believes someone else knows where James Britt's remains are located.

"This is one of those unusual cases where it is still not closed," Clark said. "As long as we keep getting leads we will continue the search."

Anyone with information on the incident or the whereabouts of body is asked to call the Portsmouth Police at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.

Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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