Slaying victims’ relatives ‘sickened’ by vandalism

August 21, 2018

Submitted photo Families are shocked by vandalism at a memorial for three fatal shooting victims in Martin County, Kentucky, off Goff Hollow, and near the Nolan railroad bridge. Someone stole a wooden cross and left behind two toilets.

WILLIAMASON, W.Va. - Relatives said they are devastated by recent vandalism at a memorial site for three fatal shooting victims in Martin County, Kentucky.

Sometime before last Tuesday, someone vandalized three wooden crosses that relatives set up along Goff Hollow, off Kentucky Route 292, close to the Nolan railroad bridge.

The crosses are meant to memorialize the victims of the March 23 shootings there, Amber Bates Lockard, Micah Joseph Sammons and Dereck Lee James.

Someone stole the cross with James’ name on it, said Karen Maynard, his mother. Someone also left two old toilets beside crosses for Lockard and Sammons.

Whoever would disturb a memorial is a “low-life scum ball,” Maynard said.

“As if we aren’t already living in hell over our babies being murdered,” she said. “Now this.”

Relatives set up the memorial in June on the three-month anniversary of the slayings. They held a candlelight vigil at the site where the three victims had been discovered, on the border of Pike and Martin counties. Sammons, 20, and James, 26, were pronounced dead at the scene. Lockard, 31, was taken to a nearby hospital before later succumbing to her injuries.

Maynard said she hopes whoever stole her son’s cross would return it or whoever has information about its whereabouts would contact her. She asked people to provide information by looking her up on Facebook and sending her a message. She just wants to find the cross, she said.

Maynard said she fears whoever vandalized the memorial was trying to intimidate her into being quiet. Vandalizing her son’s memorial will not stop her from speaking out and seeking justice, she said.

“They are dead wrong because I will continue,” she said.

Angel Sammons Ward, Sammons’ aunt and adoptive mother, said she was “sickened” by the vandalism. She asked for anyone with information to look her up on Facebook. Maynard said people may also contact Angel Bates, mother of Lockard, who lives in Tennessee.

Lance J. Ward, 28, of Williamson, is facing three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree robbery. Police said Ward fatally shot all three victims. He then took items from Sammons’ pockets before taking the keys to Lockard’s Chevrolet SUV, police said. The SUV was later recovered along Oak Street in Williamson.

Ward pleaded not guilty during an arraignment hearing in June and is currently in Big Sandy Detention Center in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, awaiting trial.

Travis Crum is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He may be reached by phone at 304-236-3539.

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