Local News

Grudge Over Past Crimes May Have Led to Slayings

Posted December 20, 2006 5:16 p.m. EST
Updated December 20, 2006 7:30 p.m. EST

— A 14-year grudge might be behind a double murder last week, authorities said Wednesday.

Steve Allen Ward, 37, of 400 Courtland Drive in Rocky Mount, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of Danny Richardson, 30, and Lathosa West, 23.

The couple was shot to death on Dec. 13, but their bodies weren't found until Sunday afternoon, when a relative concerned that Richardson had been out of touch for several days stopped by his Wilson home.

Richardson invited Ward, an old friend, to move in on Dec. 12, authorities said. Less than a day later, the two men argued and shots were fired, authorities said.

Investigators wouldn't say Wednesday what the argument was about, but they were looking at the criminal history the men shared.

Ward spent seven years in prison for burning down a day-care center at Northern Nash High School in 1992.

Richardson was an accomplice in the crime, but he was sentenced to five years in juvenile detention because he was a month short of his 16th birthday at the time.

The pair was also charged with assault in a shooting that took place the same night as the arson.

Wilson County Sheriff's Office detectives handling the murder case are meeting with Nash County Sheriff's Office detectives who handled the arson case in 1992. They declined to say if they thought Ward shot Richardson because he got a lighter sentence 14 years ago, however.