Suspect arrested in strangulation of woman

November 5, 2010 3:43:35 PM PDT
Houston police have arrested a man they say confessed to killing a homeless woman in September. Reita Long, 52, was strangled and they want to know if the suspect, Lucky Ward, is responsible for the deaths of two other women nearby.

Lucky Ward, who himself is homeless, is charged with capital murder in this one case. However, police told us Ward has not been ruled out in the murders of two other women who died downtown, as well.

As the bell rung at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart downtown today, there was new reason to give praise.

"I'm sure many people will feel a little bit more at ease," said Jenny Faber with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

More than a month after Reita Long's body was found on the steps behind Chancery of the Archdiocese, police announced the arrest of a suspect.

"Personally, yes, I do feel a sense of relief and gratitude and it was a significant concern obviously for many of us," Faber said.

It was DNA evidence, police say, that linked Ward, 46, to the murder. A homeless man, who was arrested just a few blocks from the murder scene, Ward reportedly confessed to strangling Long over what was described as a petty argument.

Police say during the crime, Ward stole the victim's METRO bus card, ID and other items.

"A lot of those homeless people, they carry everything they have in their bags, so even an ID that is worth nothing maybe, for them it is a lot," said Lt. Humberto Lopez of HPD Homicide.

Although Ward and Long were both homeless, it's unclear the extent of their relationship. We do know that Ward did seek refuge at a downtown homeless center - a place where another victim, Carol Flood, was known to frequent. Her body was found behind the old YMCA building at 1600 Louisiana on October 10.

Police say Ward is considered a suspect in Flood's murder as well as the murder of 24-year-old Raquel Mundy, who was last seen alive at a Greyhound Bus station downtown.

"I wouldn't consider him to be the prime suspect, but he's somebody that we're looking at," said Lt. Lopez.

While Ward's arrest has signaled a sense of relief for those touched by the crime, it won't change what happened.

"It is a memory that will stay with many people who work here every day and it will certainly be with us for some time," said Faber.

Police told us the suspect has yet to be questioned about those two other murders. DNA results is expected in at least two weeks.

Ward is being held on no bond. He is due in court on Monday.

Lucky Ward has a lengthy criminal history dating back to 1984 when he was convicted of stealing money. Some of the other charges include aggravated assault in 1985 and 2006, criminal mischief, drug possession and, most recently, a prostitution conviction in 2007 for which he spent two weeks in jail.

Ward has a lengthy criminal history dating back to 1984 when he was convicted of stealing money. Some of the other charges include aggravated assault in 1985 and 2006, criminal mischief, drug possession and, most recently, a prostitution conviction in 2007 for which he spent two weeks in jail.


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