Sasakwa woman shot to death in her home

The body of Jessie M. Ward, 83, was found in the living room of her rural home by a relative. She had been shot multiple times, and her purse and at least two guns were taken, authorities said.
BY ANN KELLEY akelley@opubco.com Published: December 29, 2011
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An 83-year-old Sasakwa woman was robbed and shot to death in her home.

The body of Jessie M. Ward was found Tuesday evening in the living room of her rural home by a relative. She had been shot multiple times, and her purse and at least two guns were taken, Seminole County Sheriff Shannon Smith said.

Smith said there are no signs that Ward struggled with her shooter, or that someone forced their way into the house. He said Ward lived alone, but a granddaughter had spoken to her Tuesday morning.

No arrests have been made.

Authorities Wednesday had identified and were searching for “a couple of people of interest” to question, Smith said.

Ward is a lifelong resident of Sasakwa, a town of about 150 people in rural southern Seminole County.

Ward's son, Rocky D. Ward, 53, is serving a life sentence in state prison for the 1995 murder of Kelly Jay Seaburg.

Rocky Ward's son, Stoney Gene Ward, 31, faces a first-degree murder charge in Seminole County District Court in the January 2009 shooting death of his estranged wife, Regina Sue Ward, 42. He is in state prison serving a 40-year prison sentence for violating the terms of his parole on unrelated drug convictions.

Smith said the family's checkered past with law enforcement will not influence the investigation.

“I don't care who it is; everyone is treated the same by my office,” Smith said. “This will be investigated to the fullest extent, and we will make every effort to get justice for Ms. Ward.”

He said investigators are considering ulterior motives aside from robbery for her shooting. Anyone with information that may aid the investigation can call the sheriff's department at 257-5445.


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