A teenager in New Jersey is accused of escalating a family feud with a neighbor, which ended violently, in order to become “TikTok famous,” attorneys for the victim’s family said.
Zachary T. Latham, 18, is accused of stabbing William T. "Timmy" Durham to death following a months-long dispute that proliferated on social media, according to NJ.com.
On May 4, Latham allegedly swerved his vehicle at the Durhams’ 17-year-old son, who was riding his bicycle in the neighborhood, the outlet said. Latham was later confronted by Durham and his wife, who filmed the encounter, as there had been several tense confrontations between the two families in past months.
Initially, the 18-year-old denied steering his vehicle at the family’s son.
“I promise you, you better back up, ‘cause you’re not gonna like what’s coming out,” Latham’s wife, Sarah, warned the Durhams in the recording.
Latham then allegedly entered his home and returned armed with knives and a taser. Durham was shot with the stun gun and was later stabbed several times. Latham called emergency responders following the melee, claiming he was assaulted by people with guns.
“There’s blood all over the place,” he said in a 911 call to authorities. “I just got assaulted and jumped. … I got beat up really bad and I have blood all over me. … They came with trucks, came on my property with guns and then when I … I fought them off they drove away.”
However, the Durhams’ lawyers are pushing for those charges to be upgraded to murder, NJ.com reported.
Durham's wife, Catherine, faces criminal trespass and simple assault charges in the incident. Her sons were also charged with aggravated assault and criminal trespass. The family’s lawyers are also working to dismiss those charges.
The Durhams’ legal team insist Durham, a 51-year-old correctional officer, was chronically targeted and harassed for months by Latham, who ultimately lured him into a final and deadly confrontation, according to NJ.com. Latham — who was obsessed with social media fame, the family’s attorneys insist — had previously filmed and posted a number of the tense exchanges with the family to TikTok.
One of the videos had gained upward of 3 million views, according to the New Jersey newspaper.
In one of those videos, posted on April 23, Latham posed with a gun, telling the camera, “That is how you handle neighbors,” NJ.com. reported. Footage of the encounter has since been taken down, counsel for the Durhams alleged.
In other videos, Latham threatened to dox the family and reveal their home address. Commenters allegedly encouraged Latham’s activities, including one user who suggested the 18-year-old “go after” Durham’s wife, Catherine.
“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,” Durhams’ legal team wrote. “Compounding this tragedy is the manner in which the Durham family has been treated as criminals themselves, when they are victims.”
The Durhams were unarmed, according to officials. Latham is banned from the neighborhood as part of his pretrial release but some of those acquainted with him are suspected of continuing to drive by — and filming the family’s home, counsel for the Durhams stated.
The 18-year-old’s feud with the Durhams supposedly began two years earlier after they saw him driving erratically on their street. The teen then apologized, according to the outlet, but continued to drive irresponsibly, Durhams’ legal team said.
Latham, who turned 18 only weeks before the alleged murder, lived with his grandparents and was previously emancipated. He served as a New Jersey National Guard private.
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