Local News

Ex-husband of slain woman: 'The law didn't protect Tracy'

Posted July 29, 2015 10:14 a.m. EDT
Updated August 4, 2015 10:22 a.m. EDT

— The former husband of a Franklin County woman killed in a domestic-related shooting over the weekend criticized authorities on Wednesday for not doing more to ensure her safety.

Tracy Williams was killed Sunday evening while she was at an ATM in the parking lot of a Food Lion on U.S. Highway 1 in Franklinton. Her former boyfriend, Garry A. Yarborough, 35, of 306 Yellowbell Court in Zebulon, is charged with first-degree murder.

Williams had filed numerous complaints with law enforcement about Yarborough after they split up early this year, according to police and her family and friends. In April, she sought a restraining order against him, alleging that he held a knife to her throat and repeatedly threatened to kill her, but a judge denied the protective order, despite the fact that Yarborough has a lengthy criminal record, including ties to two murders.

She also bought a handgun and obtained a concealed carry permit to protect herself, family and friends said.

"She lived in fear," said Tommy Branch, who was married to Williams from 1993 to 1997 and has remained friends with her. "She was crying, a nervous wreck, couldn't sleep."

On July 5, Yarborough was charged with second-degree kidnapping "for the purpose of terrorizing" Williams, according to an arrest warrant. Although he was on probation for a federal drug conviction at the time, he was released on a $75,000 bond.

Johnston County deputies tried to serve warrants on him six times since then, including the night before Williams was killed, but were unable to track him down.

On Sunday, witnesses said, Williams tried to defend herself when Yarborough approached her, getting off one shot before he chased her down and shot her in the face.

Branch asked Wednesday why Yarborough wasn't in custody.

"Why did she have to lose her life for them to put in a massive search for Garry?" he asked. "Tracy did everything in her power to protect herself. She reported every incident with Garry every time, but the law didn't protect Tracy."

Franklinton Police Chief John Green said the case is an example of a system in desperate need of repair.

"It just seemed like he fell through the cracks," Green said of Yarborough. "The system is not perfect. We play within the system, and unfortunately, if he made bond every time he was charged, that's why he was out on the street."

Yarborough, who Green said is still under investigation in the theft of $11,000 from Williams' bank account this month and in connection with the hacking of her phone, is now being held in Central Prison without bond.

Branch said locking up Yarborough doesn't mean a thing to other domestic violence victims.

"Going downtown and filling out a sheet of paper is not enough. There needs to be stiffer laws," he said.

Also Wednesday, police arrested a Raleigh woman in connection with Williams' death.

Jasmine Alexandria Murphy, 26, of 4125 Standing Rock Way, was charged as an accessory after the fact of murder. Police said she helped Yarborough hide at a Raleigh motel after the shooting.

Josiah Michael Oakley, of 2301 Catfish Creek in Raleigh, was charged Monday as an accessory after the fact. Police said Oakley is Murphy's boyfriend and that he, likewise, helped Yarborough hide.

A vigil for Williams is scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday outside Franklinton Middle School.

Branch has started a GoFundMe account to raise money to help victims of domestic violence.