Jamiah Ward's mother talks

Regina Washington talks about her son's death outside of the Lawrence County courthouse on Friday during the trial of his accused killer.

Regina Washington said a mother's instinct told her that when her son had been gone for a few days, he was dead.

Jamiah Ward had disappeared before, having gone to stay with different friends, she said, but when his girlfriend called her the morning of Oct. 2, 2014, saying he hadn't gone home, her heart wrenched.

"I knew something was wrong," she said.

Ward's body was found Sept. 8, 2014, in some brush in a wooded area behind the New Castle police station. His accused killer, Corey Brandon Phillips, was convicted by a jury yesterday of first-degree murder in his death.

Washington said she was living in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the time and she made it back to New Castle in 10 hours after learning her son was missing. She filed a missing person report. 

She first started searching around the Grant Street bridge area, knowing Jamiah loved to fish. She listened for the sounds of crows that might indicate something in the area was dead, she said.

On Oct. 3, she started calling her family and organized a search team around 11 a.m. that day to try to find him. She eventually learned that Phillips had been the last person he saw with him, she said.

She eventually saw Phillips on New Castle's East Side on Whippo Street.

"When I got out of the car to approach this man, I knew my son was dead," she said. "I was sweating."

She said again that it was a mother's instinct.

"I just wanted his body back," she said. "We offered a reward. We didn't find out (Phillips) was actually involved until Oct. 5."

Testimony at Phillips' trial this week indicated that Ward's family members had threatened him and his family.

"We were still looking for Jamiah then," she said. "A mother's child was missing and we would will do whatever it takes to protect that child."

Washington said she apologizes now to all of the families who felt threatened during that time. She just wanted her son.

She was staying at her aunt's house and was out one day when a cousin called her and told her to go to the police station, that there were a lot of police cars and a crime vehicle near the woods and that possibly Jamiah's body had been found.

She went to the scene and despite a request from the police and coroner that she shouldn't look at him, she went to see his remains at the ambulance, she said. "I didn't care. It was my son and I wanted to see him."

They had a memorial service for him that week, then buried him later on his birthday.

"I was at peace when I found him," Washington said near the end of Phillips' trial at lunchtime.

"That's the only peace I have to live with. I'm not getting justice today."

dwachter@ncnewsonline.com

Reporter

Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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