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Katy man sentenced to 40 years for killing wife, reportedly dumping her remains

The Harris County District Attorney's Office says Mara Vestal's death is a highlight of common domestic violence cases.

KATY, Texas — A man in Katy has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for his wife’s murder in 2019.

Jay Hammersley pleaded guilty for strangling Mara Vestal, burning her body and leaving her remains in a dumpster where he worked. Her remains were never found.

Hammersley killed Vestal in February 2019, but he reported her missing in March. The district attorney's office said a close friend of the suspect reported him to authorities. Hammersley later confessed to killing his wife.

Mara Vestal was a mother to two kids, who are now being raised by family members. Her sisters gave their victim-impact statements about her in open court.

“She was taken from us at the age of 29,” said her older sister, Kelly Goering. “She didn’t make this choice. God didn’t make this choice. Jay did. Jay took her from us.”

RELATED: 'Off the charts' disturbing: Katy-area man tried to burn wife's body with 150 pounds of charcoal

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office says Hammersley killed Vestal during an argument after coming home from a strip club. They say it highlights how quickly domestic violence can turn deadly.

“This is a situation where they got into an argument one night and he strangled her,” said Assistant District Attorney Stephany Abner. “Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon situation, domestic violence is rampant, and we hope that by holding offenders accountable, we can prevent this from happening to other victims.”

Victims of domestic violence can call the Houston Area Women’s Center at 713-528-2121. The hotline is available 24/7. 

They can also reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or text "START" to 88788.

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