Debbie Love

Debbie Love did not come to be a self-defense instructor out of sheer interest. It was out of necessity; she was compelled to learn everything she could about the subject. Her close cousin Julie Love, near identical in age and appearance, was the victim of a violent crime in Atlanta many years ago which was the subject of headline news. It took a year for Julie’s remains to be found after her disappearance. Once the facts came out of what happened to Julie, it was clear she lost her life because of one mistake, she ran out of gas, and even though she ran out of gas in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Atlanta, it was a fatal mistake. You can read more about Julie’s story below.

her self defense credentials

At Julie’s funeral, Debbie was pregnant with her son and made a promise to him that she would keep him safe. Once he was old enough, she entered him into a karate class. Seeing his confidence grow along with his skills, she signed up too. Being the only woman in a room full of men didn’t stop her, it empowered her. She earned her 1st Black Belt in 2007 and her progression to 4th Degree Black Belt and Certified Instructor has been steady and impressive.

  • 2007 – 1st Degree Black Belt
  • 2009 – 2nd Degree Black Belt
  • 2012 – 3rd Degree Black Belt
  • 2014 – Certified Instructor – Karate
  • 2015 – Certified Instructor – Weapons
  • 2016 – 4th Degree Black Belt

She is devoted to her practice and another Degree is just over the horizon.

Her Instruction credentials

After earning her Black Belt, Debbie began sharing basic self-defense and escape techniques to friends, family members and quite frankly, “to anyone who would listen.” As her experience and skills increased so did her audience. In 2009, while working in downtown San Diego, Debbie convinced management to put on a series of six 1-one hour lunch and learn classes for the female employees working in the building. Since then, Debbie has continued to find innovative ways to provide valuable self-defense instruction to people of all ages, including young boys and girls, junior high and high school students, college bound girls and women in corporate environments. Each class is distinctively tailored to the audience. Debbie continues to preach her message by offering self-defense advice and tips “to anyone who will listen.” In December 2015, Debbie returned to Atlanta and the “scene of the crime” to teach a special class to family and friends of her cousin Julie.

Julie Love Missing Person Poster

the story of Julie Love

Julie Love, at 27 years old, was on the verge of 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 5 feet barely stood taller than her young students who called her “Miss Julie.”  On the evening of July 11, 1988, after attending a regular “career chat” meeting, Julie was driving home 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, on billboards, car windshields, shop windows and even on the sides of trucks. There was a rally at Piedmont Park, the first one of its kind for a missing person. The entire city seemed to be looking for her and Buckhead residents were frightened. The Democratic National Convention brought thousands of delegates and journalists to Atlanta all wondering who she was and what the commotion was all about; the case became national news. 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 almost a year.

Finally, in July 1989, just over 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, along with his cousin Maurice Porter, grabbed Julie, hit her with a sawed-off shotgun and threw her into the car. The details of that night are horrific!

With the information provided to authorities by Weldon and corroborated by Porter, Julie’s body was found and authorities arrested the two men. In the end … Weldon was given immunity and not prosecuted in Julie’s case.

Porter avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty to murder, rape and armed robbery. He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in prison, where he remains to this day.

Emmanuel Hammond, the trigger man, after an 11 day trial, was convicted of murder, rape, armed robbery and kidnapping and was given the death penalty. After all state and federal appeals were exhausted, Hammond was put to death by lethal injection on January 25, 2011, 23 years after Julie’s murder.