A New Jersey teenager is accused of killing his neighbor so he could gain TikTok fame. NJ.com reported that 18-year-old Zachary Latham stabbed William Durham Sr. during an argument in May, and Durham’s family believes Latham deliberately started the argument to record for the social media platform.
Latham, a private in the New Jersey National Guard, has been charged with “first-degree aggravated manslaughter, two second-degree counts of aggravated assault and weapons charges,” NJ.com reported. He claimed that he stabbed Durham, a correctional officer at South Woods State Prison, in self-defense.
Latham & the Durhams Had Been Feuding for 2 Years
The Durham family’s attorneys, Diane M. Ruberton and Robert R. Simons, wrote a letter to Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae in hopes of having Latham’s charges upgraded to first-degree murder. In the letter, they gave a timeline regarding the feud between Latham and the Durham family, NJ.com wrote.
The Durhams had been having conflicts with Latham for two years over what they said was Latham’s reckless driving on their block. They had continued having heated exchanges, which started when Latham was 16, and Latham had begun recording them for his TikTok channel, NJ.com reported. A video he posted of an argument with Durham’s wife, Catherine Durham, gained three million viewers. When her son, 21-year-old William Durham, found out about that video, he confronted Latham, which Latham recorded and posted as well.
The family also accused Latham of trying to hit their 17-year-old son with his car while he was riding his bike on May 4 and accused him of hitting Catherine Durham when she confronted him about it.
On the same day, the family said, Latham lured Durham over to his home and came out with a stun gun and two knives. A confrontation ensued involving Durham’s wife and sons, and Latham is accused of using his stun gun on Durham and stabbing him multiple times.
In the letter, the family and lawyers claimed that Latham’s wife, Sarah, recorded the violent encounter so her husband could go viral on TikTok.
“Sarah was recording because it was her and Latham’s intent to post these videos to TikTok and become ‘TikTok famous,’” the letter said according to NJ.com. “If Latham was in fear for his or Sarah’s safety, they both would have retreated inside, called police and stayed there. They did not because their intent was to lure the Durhams there, attack them and record it for TikTok.”
In the letter, they also claim that Latham had uploaded a now-deleted video to TikTok of him holding a gun with the caption “this is how you handle neighbors” in April.
The Durhams Felt Their Complaints About Latham Fell on Deaf Ears
The family had called the Vineland Police Department to complain about Latham but were told they couldn’t file a complaint because the courts were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This tragedy was completely avoidable had the Vineland Police Department and the (Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office) taken action against Latham to stop him from terrorizing the Durham family and other neighbors in the months prior to Tim’s murder,” the letter continued. “Compounding this tragedy is the manner in which the Durham family has been treated as criminals themselves, when they are victims.”
Catherine Durham has been charged with criminal trespass and simple assault, according to the New York Post. Her sons have been charged with criminal trespass and aggravated assault. They are hoping that those charges are dropped.
Latham is free, the Post reported, and isn’t due back in court until his pre-indictment hearing on August 20, according to NJ.com. As a condition of his pretrial release, Latham is banned from the New Jersey neighborhood, Oxygen reported.