NJ Correctional Police Officer Stabbed To Death By 18-Year-Old Neighbor
Vineland, NJ – A 51-year-old New Jersey Department of Corrections correctional police officer was stabbed to death off-duty on Monday night by an 18-year-old neighbor who had “terrorized” his family for weeks.
Police Benevolent Association (PBA) Local 105 Vice President Mike Gallagher said the trouble began between the neighbors when 51-year-old Correctional Police Officer William “Timmy” Durham Sr.’s wife, Catherine, told 18-year old Zachary Latham to slow down after she saw him speeding up the street a few weeks ago, NJ.com reported.
Gallagher said Latham cursed out Catherine Durham and then began harassing the Durham family online.
A friend told NJ.com that Latham had “terrorized” them for several weeks.
He said the fight on Monday started after Latham swerved towards one of the Durhams’ sons as he was driving down the street shortly before 8 p.m., NJ.com reported.
That’s when Catherine Durham yelled at Latham again and he punched her, which set off the series of confrontations on May 4 that led to the officer’s death.
Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said that Latham and his wife argued with Officer Durham and his wife in front of the Durham’s home, NJ.com reported.
“It was reported by witnesses that a confrontation had occurred moments earlier between Latham and his wife and Durham Sr. and his wife, Catherine T. Durham,” Webb-McRae said in a statement released Wednesday, the Daily Journal reported.
The prosecutor said that Latham left and went home and armed himself with a knife and a stun gun.
Latham told police that when he left the Durham’s house, he could see the off-duty officer and his sons – 21-year-old William Durham Jr. and a 17-year-old son – following him, according to NJ.com.
He confronted Officer Durham and his sons when they arrived at his residence.
The arrest affidavit said that Lathan told police one of the Durham’s took a “fighting stance” and the brawl began in the driveway, NJ.com reported
Two of Latham’s friend joined the fight against the three Durhams while Latham’s wife filmed the incident on her cell phone.
Police said the fight continued into Latham’s garage and that’s when the 18-year-old deployed the stun gun on Officer Durham, and then attacked him with two knives, NJ.com reported.
The complaint said Durham was stabbed in the back and the left arm.
One of the knives Latham used to stab his neighbor had a four-inch blade, NJ.com reported.
Court documents said Latham stabbed Officer Durham "multiple times with a four-inch fixed blade knife during a physical confrontation," and then also tried to stab his neighbor’s older son, the Daily Journal reported.
The complaint said “William T. Durham was fatally wounded by the defendant during a prolonged physical assault” and was pronounced dead at 9:19 p.m., NJ.com reported.
Latham was transported to Atlantic City Medical Center for treatment of a concussion, abrasions on his face and neck, and leg injuries, and was treated and released, the Daily Journal reported.
He was arrested and booked into the Cumberland County Jail.
Latham is facing charges of first-degree aggravated manslaughter, two second-degree counts of aggravated assault, and various weapons offenses, according to NJ.com.
Members of the Durham family were also facing charges.
Catherine Durham, who was married to Officer Durham for 32 years, has been charged with fourth-degree criminal trespass and simple assault, NJ.com reported.
The fallen officer’s sons were both charged with third-degree aggravated assault and fourth-degree criminal trespass.
The video filmed by Latham’s wife was taken by the police as evidence, according to the Daily Journal.
Gallagher, who previously worked with Officer Durham at South Woods State Prison, said his friend was “exceptional” and called his death a “senseless murder,” NJ.com reported.
“He was a family man and he died a hero defending his family,” he said.
Gallagher said Officer Durham had worked for the New Jersey Department of Corrections for 19 years, NJ.com reported.