Man who stabbed NJ correctional police officer to death released from jail

Zachary Latham, 18, allegedly stabbed his neighbor, William T. Durham Sr., multiple times on May 4 after a verbal dispute turned violent


By Avalon Zoppo
NJ Advance Media Group

VINELAND, N.J. — An 18-year-old who stabbed a state corrections officer to death following an argument earlier this month has been released from jail while he awaits trial.

Zachary Latham, of Vineland, allegedly stabbed his neighbor, William T. Durham Sr., 51, multiple times on May 4 after a verbal dispute turned violent on Thornhill Road, according to Cumberland County prosecutors. He is charged with first-degree aggravated manslaughter, two second-degree counts of aggravated assault and various weapons offenses.

Durham worked at South Woods State Prison and had served with the New Jersey Department of Corrections for 19 years. (Photo/GoFundMe)
Durham worked at South Woods State Prison and had served with the New Jersey Department of Corrections for 19 years. (Photo/GoFundMe)

As part of his release, Latham cannot be in the vicinity Thornhill Road, where the crime occurred and where his grandparents live, according to the release order. He also cannot possess a firearm or dangerous weapon, use alcohol or narcotics and must maintain employment.

“The court does not find clear and convincing evidence that pre-trial detention is necessary to reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance in court when required, the protection of the safety of any other person or the community, and that the defendant will not obstruct of attempt to obstruct the criminal justice process,” Superior Court Judge William Ziegler ruled at Latham’s May 14 detention hearing.

The killing was sparked by an argument that began in front of the Durham home two weeks ago involving Latham, his wife, and Durham and his wife, Catherine T. Durham, according to authorities.

Latham told police he left that location, the Durhams following behind, and drove to his nearby house, where he retrieved a knife and stun gun and confronted the family when they arrived.

Latham said he fought with Durham Sr. and his two sons. Two of Latham’s friends also joined the battle, he said. During the fight, Latham used the stun gun on Durham Sr. and stabbed him in the back and left underarm, according to investigators.

Latham’s dispute with the Durham family started weeks ago, when Catherine Durham told Latham to slow down after he sped down their street one day, said family friend Mike Gallagher, who is also vice president of PBA Local 105. Latham allegedly cursed at the woman, then began harassing the family online.

On May 4, Latham was driving down the street when he swerved toward one of the Durhams’ sons, according to Gallagher. Catherine Durham yelled at Latham and he then punched her, Gallagher said.

Also charged in the fight was Catherine Durham, 49, who faces fourth-degree criminal trespass and simple assault charges for allegedly punching Latham’s wife, according to court documents. The Durhams’ sons were each charged with third-degree aggravated assault and fourth-degree criminal trespass.

PBA Local 105, which represented Durham, has provided them with a check for $10,000 and launched a GoFundMe drive that has raised more than $28,400 as of Sunday afternoon.

Latham’s next court appearance is on June 11.

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©2020 NJ Advance Media Group, Edison, N.J.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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