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Widmyer surrenders in Va.

November 19, 1998

William Widmeyer surrenders in VABy DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




WOODSTOCK, Va. - A search for a man wanted in the Monday night shooting death of his former wife and the wounding of her boyfriend ended Thursday morning when he turned himself in to police in Woodstock, Va.

William Trampas Widmyer, driving a Geo Tracker, pulled up to the police station in the Virginia town about 50 miles south of Jefferson County, W.Va., and surrendered, Ranson (W.Va.) Police Chief William Roper said.

Widmyer decided to turn himself in at Woodstock because he felt it would be safer, said Roper.

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Roper, who interviewed Widmyer in the Shenandoah County Jail shortly after his arrest, said Widmyer did not want to face a lot of police officers when he turned himself in.

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"He knew he was getting closed in," said Ranson Police Lt. Robbie Roberts.

Woodstock Police Chief Jerry Miller said Widmyer was "very subdued" when he turned himself in at his station at about 10 a.m.

After being questioned by police at the jail, Widmyer was led across the street to the Shenandoah County Juvenile Domestic Relations District Court, where he waived extradition to West Virginia.

As he was being taken to court, a reporter asked Widmyer if he had any comment.

"Why do you make murderers heroes?," said Widmyer, who was dressed in jeans and a blue hooded sweatshirt.

Widmyer, 28, of Route 2, Bunker Hill, was returned to Charles Town, W.Va., at about 5 p.m. He was taken before Magistrate Mary Paul Rissler and arraigned on charges of first-degree murder and malicious assault, according to court records.

Widmyer was taken to the Eastern Regional Jail near Martinsburg, where he was being held without bond.

The search for Widmyer began after his former wife Tara Widmyer, 25, and Larry Miller, 32, of Charles Town, were shot Monday night as they were watching television in Tara Widmyer's house at 107-B East Sixth Avenue in Ranson.

When police arrived, they found Tara Widmyer dead in the living room. Miller was crawling out the front door and yelling for help, police said.

Miller was flown to Inova Fairfax Hospital where he had been listed in serious condition. A hospital spokeswoman would provide no information about Miller on Thursday night, but Roper said he was in stable condition.

Police said Tara Widmyer and Miller were each shot at least twice when an assailant fired at least five shots from a .35-caliber rifle through a living room window of the house.

Police said they found a rifle they believe was the one used in the shooting in a cabin in Paw Paw, W.Va., on Thursday night. Widmyer may have stayed in that cabin for a short time, Roper said.

Two guns - a .22-caliber Colt revolver and a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol - were found in the Geo Tracker that Widmyer drove to the police station, Roper said.

On Wednesday, Ranson Police said a first-degree murder warrant had been issued for William Widmyer.

Police allege that Widmyer had problems coping with the fact that his former wife had started a new life, and the shooting was a "sad conclusion" to those problems.

Police believe the gunman left Tara Widmyer's house on foot after the shooting and headed toward a 1985 Pontiac Firebird that was parked several blocks away on Burns Street.

Police were checking the car, which had been reported by neighbors who became suspicions, and their presence might have alarmed him, police theorized.

Police believe that instead of going to his car, Widmyer may have walked along railroad tracks toward Earle Road. He subsequently stole a Pontiac Sunbird and drove it to Bunker Hill in Berkeley County, where he abandoned it and stole a blue 1989 Dodge Dakota pickup truck, police alleged.

The truck was found at about 10 a.m. Wednesday along Detour Road east of Paw Paw, said West Virginia State Police. Troopers checked the area around the truck and about 10 cabins in the area.

A Geo Tracker was stolen at about 3 a.m. Thursday in Morgan County, police said. At one point, Widmyer bought a paper and read about the shootings, said police.

Then he drove to Woodstock on Interstate 81, police said.

The night of the shootings, windows were smashed at the Child's Road Church of God, where Tara Widmyer's father is pastor. Police believe the vandalism to the church, at the intersection of W.Va. 51 and Childs Road South, was connected to the shooting.

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