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Ex-husband charged in slaying

November 18, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

RANSON, W.Va. - A first-degree murder warrant has been issued charging the former husband of a Ranson woman who was gunned down in the living room of her East Sixth Avenue home Monday night, police said.

Police across the Eastern Panhandle continued to search Wednesday for William Trampas Widmyer, charged in a warrant with shooting his former wife and wounding a man who was with her in her home.

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One of two vehicles Widmyer was believed to have stolen after the shooting was found in Morgan County on Wednesday morning, police said.

Police alleged that William Widmyer had difficulty coping with the fact that his former wife, Tara Widmyer, 25, had started a new life.

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A criminal complaint filed against William Widmyer in Jefferson County Magistrate Court alleged that the shooting was a "sad conclusion of obsession the suspect had with his ex-wife and her attempts at a new life."

"I think there were a lot of incidents that triggered it," said Ranson Police Lt. Robbie Roberts.

The warrant also charges William Widmyer, 28, address unknown, with malicious assault in the shooting of Larry Miller, 32, of Charles Town, W.Va., who was wounded in the shooting, according to court records.

Tara Widmyer and Miller were in Widmyer's living room late Monday when at least five rounds from a .35-caliber rifle were fired through a front window, police said.

Tara Widmyer was struck twice in the stomach and once in the leg, police said.

Miller, who was shot in the upper torso and leg, crawled out of Widmyer's duplex at 107-B E. Sixth Ave. and called for help, police said.

Miller was flown to Inova Fairfax (Va.) Hospital, where he remained in serious condition Wednesday night, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Police believe the shooting was planned, according to court records.

About 25 minutes before the shooting, residents on Burns Street called police because they were suspicious about a yellow 1985 Pontiac Firebird that was parked on their street.

The car, parked several blocks north of the shooting scene, belonged to William Widmyer, police said.

Police believe the gunman left Tara Widmyer's house on foot after the shooting and headed toward the Firebird. When he saw police around his car, he may have become alarmed and continued on foot along nearby railroad tracks, police said.

The gunman "went to great measures to carry out this crime, such as parking so far away to sneak up undetected on the residence and shooting through the window," Roberts alleged in the criminal complaint.

Investigators believe the assailant walked along the railroad tracks to Earl Road, which turns off W.Va. 51.

Police said they believe the gunman stole a white 1987 Pontiac Sunbird from that area and drove it to Bunker Hill in Berkeley County, where he abandoned it and stole a blue 1989 Dodge Dakota pickup truck.

The pickup was found at about 10 a.m. Wednesday along Detour Road east of Paw Paw, off W.Va. 9, said West Virginia State Police Sgt. David Malcomb.

The truck was parked near one of several hunting cabins, Malcomb said. A police dog tracked a scent from the truck for a short distance before losing it, he said.

Members of the state police's Special Response Team searched about 10 cabins in the area but did not find anyone, said Malcomb.

"It's a pretty rural area. Lots of woods. He could still very well be there," Malcomb said.

Ranson Police Chief William Roper said police throughout the Eastern Panhandle were helping in the search for Widmyer.

Police periodically were checking the home of Tara Widmyer's parents in Summit Point, W.Va., and William Widmyer's parents' home in Bunker Hill in case he showed up at either place, said Roper.

Police also are checking the Child's Road Church of God, where Tara Widmyer's father is pastor.

Windows in the church west of Charles Town, at W.Va. 51 and Childs Road South, were smashed Monday night, and police said they believe the vandalism was linked to the shooting.

The vandalism could have been an "attack on the family," Roper said during a press conference at the police department.

Widmyer is described as about 5 feet, 11 inches tall with a medium build. He wears wire-rimmed glasses, has short brown hair and is balding on top.

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