The year was 2015, and on July 5th, a heartbreaking incident unfolded in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which would leave a former U.S. Marine, Craig Wingard, fatally shot. This tragic event was later featured in a 2018 episode of the popular true crime series, “The First 48,” aired by A&E.
A Soldier’s Quest Goes Awry
Craig Wingard, aged 33, found himself outside an apartment unit at East Woodrow, a local housing complex in the Tulsa area. His intention? To recover a reportedly stolen item from the occupants of the unit. Little did he know that this mission would take a devastating and irreversible turn.
As he approached the residence, a female friend waited in the car, unaware of the impending tragedy. Wingard was shot multiple times, with a total of five bullets piercing through his body. The suspects, responsible for this horrifying act, fled the scene, leaving him wounded in the parking lot. According to Fox News 23, despite her shock, his friend immediately contacted the police in a desperate attempt to save his life. Craig Wingard was swiftly transported to a local hospital, but three days later, he tragically succumbed to his injuries.
The Accused: A Teen’s Deadly Actions
Fox News 23 reported that police identified the main suspect in this heinous crime as William Dean Campbell, a 17-year-old teenager. Alongside Campbell, his girlfriend, Sarah Helton, became implicated as an accessory to the murder of Craig Wingard.
The harrowing incident revolved around a stolen set of car keys, which Wingard had intended to confront Campbell about. The confrontation escalated, eventually leading to a fatal shooting. Campbell, who was not present at his apartment when Wingard arrived, arrived in a vehicle along with Helton. An argument ensued, and it escalated to a terrifying level. Associated Press reported that eight or nine shots were fired from a .22-caliber rifle, several of which found their mark in Wingard, before the duo fled the scene.
In the aftermath, when questioned by police, Campbell admitted to firing the gun from his car’s window. However, he claimed that his intention was not to kill but to intimidate and scare Wingard away. Tragically, the bullets struck their unintended target, resulting in Wingard’s demise, as reported by Fox News 23.
A Legal Saga Unfolds
Following their arrest, William Campbell and Sarah Helton faced a lengthy legal process. In a taped interview, Campbell confessed to the act, providing the prosecution with significant evidence. However, his status as a minor raised complex legal questions that delayed the trial for almost two years.
The shooting transpired in July 2015, but the court proceedings for William Campbell did not commence until May 2017, as detailed by Fox News 23. A contentious issue was whether he should be tried as an adult. The decision eventually came to pass, with Oklahoma officials determining that he would be tried as an adult.
Justice Is Served
In the end, justice was served, and William Campbell was sentenced to life in prison for the first-degree murder of Craig Wingard, along with an additional five years for pointing a gun at Wingard’s girlfriend. In Oklahoma, a life sentence means serving a minimum of 45 years. Campbell was 20 years old when the conviction was handed down, according to News on 6.
Craig Wingard’s life story is a reminder of the deep roots he had, including his six years of service in the Marines and his love for outdoor activities like fishing, hunting, BMX, and downhill riding. He left behind cherished memories for a multitude of friends and family. As one friend noted, “He was one of my best friends growing up. Truly a great guy with a big heart. Sad he was taken so early in life. Rest in peace, brother.” Another friend shared fond memories of their time together, remembering him as someone who could always be counted on.