The Durhams and Zachary Latham, neighbors in South Jersey, had a rancorous relationship. According to the New York Times, the family claims they repeatedly confronted Latham, 18, over his reckless driving, but that Latham didn’t heed their warnings. Instead, they say, he taunted the family, and posted videos of their increasingly hostile encounters on TikTok. And then, in early May, one of the encounters turned fatal when the Durhams showed up on the Lathams’ property, where the situation quickly escalated, culminating in Latham fatally stabbing William Durham Sr., a corrections officer and the family’s father. Latham, a private in the New Jersey National Guard, claims he was acting in self-defense. The Durhams, meanwhile, charge otherwise: They are accusing Latham of killing Durham in an attempt to go viral on TikTok.
Here’s everything we know about the incident.
The neighbors had a bitter relationship.
According to a June letter from the Durhams’ lawyers to prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae, the interfamilial feud goes back two years, when Zachary moved nearby in Vineland, New Jersey, and started to drive around the area without caution. The Durhams confronted Latham, per the letter, and Latham apologized for his behavior behind the wheel. Soon after, the situation cooled off.
But this past April, the feud escalated over a series of aggressive encounters, which Latham filmed and uploaded to his TikTok account, c6_zaach, where they amassed millions of views. (Latham has a wife, Sarah, who helps him film.) In one incident, Latham referred to Durham’s wife, Catherine, as “Karen,” after she confronted him over his driving. In another recorded encounter, one of Durham’s sons tried to open Latham’s car door while he was driving by. Per the Daily Dot, Latham believes that the son was trying to pull him out of the car.
In early May, a dispute turned fatal.
On May 4, per the letter, the Durhams decided to go to the Lathams’ house to put an end to the feud after Zachary swerved dangerously close to the Durhams’ 17-year-old son. (Sarah filmed the ensuing encounter on her phone.)
According to a filing from Latham’s public defenders, Zachary and his wife can be heard repeatedly telling the Durhams to “get off the property.” In response, per the prosecution filing, the Durhams — whose hands were “visibly empty” — continued to get closer to the Lathams. It was at this point that Latham fired a stun gun and held a knife toward one of the Durham sons, compelling William Durham Sr. to lunge at Latham. The latter “slashed” Durham’s right arm, and then ran into his garage; Durham followed him. Per the filing, “a brief but violent melee then ensued,” during which Latham repeatedly fired the stun gun and Durham was “stabbed under the armpit, puncturing his lung.” (It is unclear from current reporting where or when Durham was pronounced dead.)
Latham says he acted in self-defense. Durham’s family claims Latham did it to become famous.
During a court hearing in May, Latham’s public defender called the incident a “horrific tragedy,” and asserted that his client had acted in self-defense. “The Durhams visited this great sadness upon themselves,” he continued.
But the Durhams say otherwise. In the June letter, the family’s lawyers argued that the Lathams were motivated by the desire to record the incident and “become ‘TikTok’ famous.” The letter continues: “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.”
Both Latham and the Durhams are facing charges.
Latham is currently facing one count of first-degree aggravated manslaughter, two counts of second-degree aggravated assault, and various weapons offenses. The prosecutor also charged Catherine Durham and her two sons with counts of assault and trespass.
According to the Daily Dot, Latham remains free until his next court date, which is scheduled to be in May of 2021. Meanwhile, he is still active on TikTok.