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Press Release

Coldspring man gets life in postal carrier death case

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

HOUSTON – A 45-year-old rural Houston resident has admitted he murdered a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) mail carrier while she was in the performance of her official duties, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

James Wayne Ham pleaded guilty today. Immediately thereafter, U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes handed down a life sentence.

“Any murder against our citizens is egregious and intolerable,” said Lowery. “Even worse is someone who attacks our workforce while they are simply doing their job. This plea and sentence shows our determination to stand firm with our partners to ensure no one escapes justice for such vicious crimes.”

At the hearing, Ham admitted he murdered a USPS employee May 17, 2013, by shooting her with a firearm and then setting her on fire.

“USPS letter carriers are in our neighborhoods every day, delivering mail to homes and businesses across this country,” said Acting Inspector in Charge Dana Carter of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). “The investigation and arrest of Ham for his shocking and heinous crimes against a USPS letter carrier was the highest priority for the USPIS. Our thoughts continue to be with the victim’s family and all affected by this senseless crime.”

On May 17, 2013, Ham obtained a rifle, lighter fluid and extra ammunition. He then hid in the tree line near his home. Once the mail carrier delivered his mail and began leaving the area, Ham shot her approximately four times. He soon got into her vehicle and drove a short distance away to a water supply station. There, he doused the vehicle with lighter fluid and set it on fire. The victim’s body was still inside.

The victim’s son alerted law enforcement to the murder. He had been on the phone with the victim when Ham shot her. He advised that he had heard two loud noises, and upon questioning, she stated she thought she had been shot.

The son also heard an unintelligible male's voice over the telephone. During the call, he heard his mother say “Please don't kill me, please don't kill me.” The call was disconnected, after which he called 911.

Authorities later found Ham hiding in a vacant residence near the scene of the murder. They arrested him where he ultimately confessed. After the interview, Ham took law enforcement to the scene of the murder and showed them where he had hidden the gun as well as the location where he had shot the victim.

Ham has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

USPIS conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jill Stotts and Erin Epley prosecuted the case along with Trial Attorney Barry Disney of the Justice Department's Capital Case Section.

Updated December 6, 2021

Violent Crime