Houston man sentenced to life in prison; Police say he confessed to shooting USPS mail carrier, setting her body on fire

Victim’s son heard his mother being shot over her phone, authorities said.

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HOUSTON – A 45-year-old Houston man has been sentenced to life in prison after admitting to murdering a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier in 2013, Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery announced Monday.

James Wayne Ham pleaded guilty to shooting the USPS mail carrier with a gun and then setting her on fire on May 17, 2013, according to court documents.

RELATED: Postal carrier missing, body found in burning car

“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 show our determination to stand firm with our partners to ensure no one escapes justice for such vicious crimes.”

Officials said on the day of the incident, Ham obtained a rifle, lighter fluid and extra ammunition before hiding in a tree line near his home. Once the mail carrier delivered his mail and began leaving the area, court documents say Ham shot her four times. Ham then allegedly got into the woman’s vehicle and drove a short distance away to a water supply station. There, officials say he doused the vehicle with lighter fluid and set it on fire with the woman’s body still inside.

The victim’s son alerted law enforcement about the murder because he was on the phone when the shooting occurred. Police said the man said he heard two loud noises before his mom said she thought she had been shot.

Investigators said 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. Investigators said Ham took law enforcement to the scene and showed them where he had hidden the gun, as well as the location of where he had shot the victim.

“USPS letter carriers are in our neighborhoods every day, delivering mail to homes and businesses across this country,” said Dana Carter, acting inspector in charge 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.”

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