Friends, coworkers of Zachary Stanford stunned by murder allegat - - The News for South Mississippi

Friends, coworkers of Zachary Stanford stunned by murder allegations

Zachary Stanford (Photo source: Rankin County Sheriff’s Department) Zachary Stanford (Photo source: Rankin County Sheriff’s Department)

Shock and disbelief. That is the reaction from those who know the 22-year-old Jackson County man accused of murdering his grandparents.

"He seemed as an all-around happy kid. He was always joking around," Keegan Westover said.

Westover worked with Zach Stanford at a gym several years ago.

"We had fun," Westover said. "He was always in a good mood, always one of those kids who always had a smile on his face."

Now, that joyful young man Westover once knew is charged with the shooting and stabbing death of his grandparents.

Thursday, Stanford appeared emotionless as he pleaded not guilty to the murders in a Rankin County courtroom. Investigators said when Stanford was arrested, there was blood on his clothes and in his car.

"I'm still processing what's going on, you know. You jump on the internet and apparently somebody, a friend you had a while back, is accused of something like this," Westover said. "It's definitely something to wrap your head around. Not something I would have pegged him to do."

"I was shocked," Zack Ortgies said. "There was a moment where I kind of thought it was a hoax thing. You click on it and it takes you somewhere else. The moment I clicked on it and it went, I'm still in shock."

Ortgies also worked with Stanford. He said he has not seen him in about 10 months since Stanford left for another job.

"No real bad feel from him," Ortgies said. "You got the feeling he's mad but nothing out of the ordinary. Just work stuff to be honest."

"Never mean or violent in any way," Jerry LeBeau said.

LeBeau used to work out with Stanford.

"He was a young, cool, fun, nice kid," LeBeau said.

Investigators claim Stanford went to burglarize his grandparents' home and murdered them sometime between Monday night and Tuesday.

"I'm very interested to see how it all turns out just because when you meet Zach, you interact with him. He doesn't strike you as one of those kids that would do something like that," Westover said.

Stanford is being held behind bars without bond. His attorney said he needs to have a mental evaluation and alcohol and drug testing.

Stanford is expected back in court on July 14.

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