Murder of preacher Samuel Booth by James Wood examined on A Shattered Christmas on ID

Police tape

A Shattered Christmas on ID is investigating the murder of Rev. Samuel Nathaniel Booth, who was stabbed to death on Christmas Eve by James Thomas Wood in a trailer behind his church in Essex, Maryland.

Parishioners of the Christian Faith Tabernacle Church became concerned on December 24, 1994, when Booth failed to turn up for service. A search of his residence found the 55-year-old had been stabbed a shocking 14 times with a kitchen knife. His killer had also stomped on his head and chest and robbed him.

On Christmas Day, James Thomas Wood turned himself in at a police station, admitting he was the killer. The young man allegedly killed the preacher in a dispute over crack cocaine.

Rev. Booth was known for assisting those suffering from drug abuse, and he had previously helped Wood.

The police found drug paraphernalia in Booth’s trailer, and the killer had stolen $40 worth of crack and $80 in cash from his victim.

An autopsy suggested Booth may have had crack cocaine in his system, and Wood claimed the pair had smoked drugs together.

Samuel Nathanial Booth defended by friends following murder by James Thomas Wood

Booth’s parishioners spoke of their spiritual leader as a kind-hearted man whose “only interest was doing what God wanted him to do.”

Watch the Latest on our YouTube Channel

A friend of Booth, Larry Hodges, told reporters, “He’s no dope dealer, I’ll tell you that. That kid who killed him was a junkie. Mr. Booth would have given him his last dollar.”

The 24-year-old killer was engaged to be married but had suffered from addiction since he was 11 years old. He was charged with first-degree murder but blamed his drug habit for the heinous crime.

At Wood’s sentencing, the killer’s family pleaded with the judge for leniency, asking that he be allowed the option of parole. His mother, Joyce Wood, told the judge, “I feel like I brought a lamb to the slaughter.”

James Wood given maximum sentence for killing Samuel Booth

However, the prosecution argued that it was Wood’s capacity for violence and not his drug addiction that killed Booth. They also pointed to Wood’s lengthy criminal record and his failed attempts at drug rehabilitation to argue that he should be locked up for as long as possible.

Judge Kahl sided with the prosecutors and sentenced Wood to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Kahl stated that the cocaine may have explained the murder but was not a justification for it.

This case was previously highlighted on ID’s Shattered five years ago.

A Shattered Christmas airs Friday at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x