Woman sentenced to life for murder

A Mississippi woman, Stephanie Ward, 47, was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for her role in a brutal murder that took place in 2017. Ward was convicted of first-degree murder and hindering prosecution in the death of Roger Lee Scruggs, Jr. by a Yazoo County Circuit Court jury.

On the night of November 22, 2017, Ward, along with John Henry May, lured Scruggs to a secluded location on Wildwood Road. May testified that the pair killed Scruggs by beating him to death and then transported his body in May’s truck.

Prosecutors revealed that Scruggs’ body was kept in the truck for over a week before being returned to Wildwood Road on December 1, 2017. The pair staged the scene to make it appear as though Scruggs had died in an ATV accident. Ward then contacted the Yazoo County Coroner, claiming that her “brother,” Scruggs, had been discovered by an unknown individual.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation (MBI) led an inquiry into Scruggs’ death and found that the motive behind the murder was likely financial gain. Ward, posing as Scruggs’ wife, contacted Veterans Affairs two days after reporting the discovery of Scruggs’ body, seeking spousal benefits. Upon receiving the first benefits check, she used it as a down payment for a new Ford SUV, which was registered in May’s name. May had already pleaded guilty to Scruggs’ murder.

In addition to her life sentence for first-degree murder, Ward received a five-year sentence for hindering prosecution. Both sentences will be served consecutively.