Crime & Courts

Niece of longtime Northwestern coach shot, killed in Rock Hill

After decades of reaching out to help other people’s families avoid the crime of the streets, murder came to Q-Rock Wednesday night.

Latoya Cureton, 27, niece of William “Q-Rock” Cureton, a longtime football coach and teaching assistant at Northwestern High School, was found shot to death in the back yard of a vacant Rock Hill home Wednesday night in a crime police have yet to solve.

“This has just broken us down, hurt us all,” said William Cureton, who has taught and coached hundreds of Northwestern students and has received several awards over the decades for his commitment to Rock Hill’s youth. “I have spent my whole life trying to help these kids, these young people, find a life that is better than what the streets have to offer.

“And now hers is gone.”

Cureton’s body was found on Greene Street, about three blocks south of downtown Rock Hill and across the street from East Moore Street Park – a city park where dozens of neighborhood children gather each weekday for York County’s summer lunch program. On Thursday afternoon, the children were in the park as a few people stopped to look at the crime scene.

The motive for the killing is unknown. Police do not yet have a firm grasp on how she was killed, where the crime happened, or how long she was in the yard, Police Capt. Brent Allmon said.

A person who lives in the neighborhood who was walking Wednesday night after 7 p.m. spotted the body and called police, Allmon said. Cureton’s body was found just south of the intersection of State Street and Green Street.

The Green Street Superette is next door to the house where Cureton was found. The home’s backyard would have been visible as people left the small store and walked along a short foot path to the rear, Allmon said.

A group of men and women on the porch of an adjacent house at the corner of Greene and State streets – just yards from the backyard crime scene – said Thursday they did not know anything about the incident or the identity of the victim.

Don Thompson, who lives in a home across Green Street from where Cureton’s body was found, said he has spoken to Rock Hill officials about the vacant home, and it is common knowledge about the path behind the house often used as a cut-through.

Thompson said there were police and onlookers around the crime scene until late Wednesday night but he had not heard anything about who the victim was or what happened just across the street from his home.

“I wish they would do something about that lot over there,” Thompson said.

Police acknowledged the area has had trouble with crime, drugs and other problems over the years. Just a block south of the crime scene, Elonia Ware, 41, was murdered in 2012 in a drive-by shooting, her home peppered with bullets. Alexander “Boot” Hardin, 64, who also lived in the neighborhood, was beaten to death inside his Orr Street home nearby in 2012. Both killings remain unsolved.

Cureton’s family spoke about how she had some troubles but was trying to improve her life. At the time of her death, she was on probation following a 2014 grand larceny conviction.

“We hope and pray that anyone who knows anything about what happened will do the right thing and let law enforcement know,” said Randy Cureton, another uncle.

Herald reporter Anna Douglas contributed.

Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065