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Ham charged with murder of postal worker
COLDSPRING – A 36-year-old Coldspring man has been charged with Friday's murder of a postal worker delivering mail in the Stephen's Creek area of San Jacinto County. James Wayne Ham was arrested Sunday and charged Monday with the murder of Shepherd resident Marie Youngblood, a 52-year-old United States Postal Service employee. "The safety of our workforce and, ultimately, the surrounding communities is of paramount concern to me and this office," said United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson in a press release issued by the San Jacinto County Sheriff's Department. "The killing of a Postal Service worker in the course of his/her official duties is a crime that affects us all. Anyone who is believed to have committed a crime against any employee of the United States will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law." Ham made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson Tuesday morning of this week, at which time the government is expected to request he be held without bond pending further criminal proceedings. "The United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) takes very seriously any threats or violent acts committed against Postal Service employees," said Robert Wemyss, USPIS inspector in charge. "We will work vigorously in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies to ensure responsible individuals are brought to justice and held accountable." The investigation began shortly following the receipt of a 911 call from the victim's son on Friday, May 17. He indicated she had been speaking with his mother via cell phone and heard two loud noises. His mother allegedly told him she had been shot. Shortly thereafter, the phone was disconnected, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Houston Monday. The complaint, or formal accusation of criminal conduct, alleges that Youngblood was shot on Friday shortly after delivering mail at Ham's residence while on her normal rural delivery route in her personal vehicle. Ham allegedly shot her multiple times at close range with a .30/30 caliber rifle. Ham then allegedly drove the vehicle to a nearby secluded area and set it on fire. According to the complaint, the victim's body was discovered Friday in her burning vehicle. The vehicle was found in the area of Harrell Road at Morris Creek near a rural water pumping station by the Point Blank Volunteer Fire Department responding to extinguish the blaze. Inside the vehicle Youngblood's body was found. The United States Postal Inspectors were notified and responded to the scene to assist the San Jacinto County Sheriff's Department, Texas Rangers and Texas Department of Public Safety and Pct. 4 Constable Alvin Wyatt in the investigation. Justice of the Peace Greg Magee ordered an autopsy on the victim and ordered Pace Stancil Funeral Directors of Cleveland to transport the body to the Harris County Medical Examiners in Houston. Around 2a.m. a wrecker transported Youngblood's vehicle to a secure storage facility where officials from Washington D.C. are expected to sift through it for evidence. The investigation eventually led to Ham after it was discovered he had allegedly complained previously about not getting his mail delivered properly, according to the complaint. Following an extensive manhunt with dogs, horses and helicopters, Ham was located and arrested without incident Sunday near his home in the area of Harrell Road in the Stephens Creek Community. If convicted, he could potentially face the death penalty. The case is being investigated by the USPIS, San Jacinto County Sheriff's Office, Texas Rangers, San Jacinto Constable Precinct 4, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Montgomery County Sheriff's Department, Texas Parks and Wildlife, San Jacinto County Fire Marshal and the San Jacinto County District Attorney's Office. Also providing assistance was the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the volunteer fire departments in Point Blank and Cape Royale. Assistant United States Attorneys Ed Gallagher and Joe Magliolo are prosecuting.