SARANAC LAKE — Rickey Morford last saw Ward Guy Wilbur two or three months ago at the local Price Chopper.
“He tapped me on the shoulder, we got out of line and talked for a while,” the Lake Placid man said.
Many years ago, he and Wilbur had attended Lake Placid Central School together and belonged to the Youth Fellowship of the Adirondack Community Church of Lake Placid.
“Ward was very quiet and a nice kid,” Morford remembered. “A very nice kid.”
He was stunned to learn his onetime classmate had been killed in a Saranac Lake apartment on Monday and that a former girlfriend was charged with murder.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
NO MOTIVE GIVEN
On Wednesday, questions remained about the specifics of the alleged homicide.
Authorities say Angela Ball, 29, killed Wilbur, 65, at her apartment with a baseball bat and a knife.
Ball, charged with second-degree murder, is in Franklin County Jail without bail awaiting her next court appearance, scheduled for Friday.
Police said Wilbur drove from his residence on Adirondack Loj Road in Lake Placid on Monday, arriving at Ball’s 19 Morris Way apartment at around 8:30 a.m.
He was found dead by Saranac Lake Village Police at about 11 a.m., said Police Chief Bruce Nason.
He said authorities believe Wilbur was killed not long after he arrived at the apartment.
Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne called the blunt-force trauma and stab wounds Wilbur suffered “catastrophic.”
Police did not provide a motive for Ball’s alleged attack on Wilbur.
The Saranac Lake Police Department said Wednesday no further information could be released on the investigation.
Champagne could not be reached Wednesday for any new details on the case.
He said on Tuesday that Ball is originally from the Philadelphia area.
Pennsylvania State Police are helping in the investigation, but authorities didn’t say whether Ball had a police record in that state. The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Inmate Locator database provides information only about those currently incarcerated there.
‘LOVED FISHING, READING’
Wilbur graduated from Lake Placid High School in 1965 and attended SUNY Plattsburgh before joining the U.S. Air Force, according to his obituary.
And he loved fishing, reading and watching ball games on television with his mother, Dorice Torrance.
“Ward was very good with his computer, and much of the time you could find him working on it,” the obituary said. “He was also an excellent horticulturist.”
Wilbur worked as a house painter, working on homes in the Tri-Lakes area.
Morford said Wilbur also did carpentry work.
“He was very good at it, too,” he said. “Very meticulous.”
Morford had read Wilbur’s obituary and agreed heartily with a reference to the man’s generosity.
“He’d do anything for anybody,” he said.
He said he didn’t see Wilbur much, but when their paths crossed, they’d have some good conversation.
“An hour sometimes,” he said.
FUNERAL SET FOR SATURDAY
That last visit, Wilbur had told Morford he was living with his mother.
“(But) I didn’t really get into his personal life,” he said. “I really haven’t known him (well) for a long time.”
The two had skied together as teens. And Wilbur “was into sports quite a bit,” Morford remembered.
Years ago, when Wilbur was about 15, he and Morford were among several Adirondack Community Church Youth Fellowship teens who embarked on a four-day trip New York City and Washington, D.C., visiting spots that included Gettysburg along the way.
Donations in Wilbur’s memory can be made to that same church or the Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department.
Calling hours will take place from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday at M.B. Clark Funeral Home in Lake Placid; the funeral will follow at 11 a.m.
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