Lucky Ward: Houston serial killer who targeted homeless and transgender women sentenced to death

Lucky Ward: Houston serial killer who targeted homeless and transgender women sentenced to death
Lucky Ward (Houston Police Department)

HOUSTON, TEXAS: 54-year-old Lucky Ward's name may not be included with the likes of the Green River Killer or Ted Bundy, but that doesn't make him any less dangerous. A local, the dreaded serial killer prowled the streets of Houston, Texas as late as 2010. 

A Harris County jury deliberated for less than five hours on Tuesday, March 10, before deciding that Lucky Ward should be handed a death penalty, not life in prison without parole, for strangling a transgender woman, Charlie Rodriguez, and a homeless woman, Reita Long, in September 2010.

Ward, also known by his alias Lawayne Jackson was a homeless man who had lived his life on the edge. He had a lengthy rap sheet had been arrested multiple times for various crimes. As someone who had lived a life of crime from early on, he knew that targeting the vulnerable would arouse very little suspicion - so he targeted victims who were homeless or in shelters or were transgenders. Between the late 1970s to 2010 - his criminal history included rape and murder to name a few - and it would be his earlier brushes with the law that would eventually get him in prison.

Both Long and Rodriguez's bodies were found within weeks of each other. Prosecutors said one victim was found dead on the steps of a Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart building and the other was covered in a blanket her own home. Charlie, also known as "Gypsy" was a hairdresser. She was strangled as well. Long was a mother and a former school teacher. She had also been homeless after being diagnosed with mental illness and losing her job. She was found strangled with her bra still wrapped around her neck. 

Prosecutors also suspect Ward strangled at least three other women that year. Ward was also convicted in the deaths of 51-year-old Myra Chanel Ical, another transwoman and Carol E Flood, 62, in 2010. They said he was also tied to the strangulation of Birdell Louis in 1985.

Ical was found dead near a trash can - her body had grave defensive wounds and an autopsy determined she died from ligature strangulation. Her jewelry and cash had been missing. It was a brutal murder where it was quite clear that she had fought her attacker hard. Flood died in a dark alley where she slept and called home. She had been living on the streets of Houston for years. Her body was found naked from the waist down and she had been beaten. Her neck was swollen with streak marks.

He is convicted of killing four but is suspected to have been involved in more. No one really knows why he did it though some venture a guess - it was about power. He would get a kick out of being in control, investigators who probed his cases have said although Ward's attorneys claimed that he had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of his uncle and had an abusive father, which had led him to be ill with a schizoaffective disorder. His victims, although nude, were never sexually assaulted.

He was implicated because of a DNA profile that was already in the system because of his incarcerated past on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, assault causing bodily injury, theft, drug possession and prostitution that date back to the 1980s. He was arrested in February 2010 and spent two weeks in jail after pleading guilty to offering to perform a sex act for a fee. He was also a suspect in the murder of Raquel A Mundy, 24, who was found in a field in the East End in 2010.

When presented with the DNA match, Ward confessed to killing Long. After that, it was only a matter of comparing notes and DNA - all of whom led to his name popping up in different places. A violent criminal with a penchant for stealing from his victims, Ward was sentenced to death on March 11, 2020.  

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