Body found in burned out Jeep in San Jacinto Co. believed to be missing postal worker
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The body of a missing postal worker was discovered inside her burned out vehicle in San Jacinto County last night. And now deputies have launched a search for a person of interest.
Several agencies, including the sheriff's office, are looking for that person of interest, who they've identified as 37-year-old James Wayne Ham. He's listed at six feet tall and 145 pounds. The San Jacinto sheriff's department considers him armed and dangerous.
"There are warrants pending for his arrest on totally unrelated charges. There were two charges, one for aggravated sexual assault," said Vanessa Kimbrough with the US Postal Inspection Service.
Investigators last night finally removed Marie Youngblood's body and towed away her burned out vehicle, covered with a blue tarp. Youngblood, a US postal carrier, used her personal vehicle on her rural postal route.
Just after noon on Friday, the sheriff's office got a 911 call for a possible assault on a postal worker. When deputies got to the area of Harrell Road and Morris Creek, they found Youngblood's vehicle on fire. They later found her body inside.
The car was found in an area off the beaten path, certainly not on any mail route. The sheriff's department says it's looking into two crime scenes, suggesting that the victim may have been killed somewhere else.
Deputies, with help from several agencies, searched the woods around the area where they found Youngblood's vehicle, but didn't turn up anything.
"What you have here is a small, tight-knit community. This is a postal service family as well as a community family," said US Postal Inspector Dana Carter. "We are going to do our due diligence. We understand this is a very serious matter for my agency."
Right now we don't know how Youngblood and the man authorities are looking for are connected.
An autopsy was scheduled today for the body the sheriff's department is confident belongs to Youngblood. According to the sheriff's department, Youngblood's body was burned so bad it was hard to tell if it was a man or woman. Results are expected in the next couple days.
The postal service is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case. Meanwhile, the San Jacinto Sheriff's Office is asking anyone who sees Ham to give them a call.
local, simon gutierrez
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