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STAR, N.C. (WGHP) — A man is in custody after a woman working at a gas station in Star was killed during a robbery.

James William Ward
James William Ward

On Sunday, the State Bureau of Investigation arrested James William Ward, 57, on charges of first-degree murder in the death of 53-year-old Laura Whitman and robbery. He received no bond.

Star police say investigators believe Ward was the driver. They are still looking for the shooter.

On June 25, Whitman was working her first shift at Quick Chek in Star. She previously worked at a Quick Chek in Candor but was transferred to the Star location recently. That night Whitman never made it home from her shift.

Whitman’s daughter Courtney Rodriguez had just gotten off work and was sitting down to relax when she got the news.

“My manager calls me and she’s like ‘Are you okay?’ And I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?'” said Rodriguez.

Her manager told her a man tried to rob the store just after 10 p.m. Whitman willingly opened the cash drawer, but the robber then jumped across the counter, shot her, took more money and left. He got away with $96.

Rodriguez says her mom had no limit to her love.

“Momma was the kind of person that would give you the shirt off her back,” said Rodriguez. “She was sweet, everybody loved her, anybody that came in and knew her. She was always, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ and would pick around with customers.”

Rodriguez says her mom did everything right in this situation, gave the person the money they asked for and they took her life anyway.

“I don’t want him out, he doesn’t deserve to be out, he doesn’t deserve to be free,” said Rodriguez.

If you have any information on the incident you’re asked to call the Star Police Department.