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Murder victim had protective order

November 19, 1998|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG - In a protective order Tara Widmyer obtained against William Trampas Widmyer just days before she filed for divorce in 1996, she alleged he had physically and sexually assaulted her.

Police have charged William Widmyer in the shooting death of Tara Widmyer, 25, in her Sixth Avenue duplex in Ranson on Monday night.

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He also is charged with wounding Larry Miller, 32, of Charles Town, W. Va., who was with Tara Widmyer in her home that night.

Berkeley County Magistrate Court records show Tara Widmyer was granted a protective order on July 19, 1996, three days before she filed for divorce from William Widmyer.

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In a family violence petition filed by Tara Widmyer, she alleged her then-husband had forced her to perform sexual acts on July 10, 1996, then hit her when she said she did not want to participate.

"He got mad and hit me in the back, kicked me in my right buttock, hit me in the face (left side) and picked me up and threw me on the bed. Then he went out (and) yelled at our daughter and broke one of her videotapes," Tara Widmyer alleged in the written petition.

Court records show Tara Widmyer alleged William Widmyer also abused or made threats of abuse toward the couple's then 3-year-old daughter.

Berkeley County Sheriff's deputies serving the order were warned by Tara Widmyer that William Widmyer "may become angry at which time he is unpredictable," according to court records.

Tara Widmyer also alleged her husband had abused or made threats of abuse throughout the four years of their marriage. The two were married in 1992 and a divorce was granted in February 1998.

The divorce petition request filed by Tara Widmyer accused William Widmyer of treatment that destroyed her mental and physical well-being.

Under terms of the protective order, William Widmyer was ordered not to contact Tara Widmyer except when picking up or dropping off his daughter for his visitation rights.

Berkeley County Magistrate Court records do not indicate Tara Widmyer ever filed charges against her ex-husband for violation of the order.

Ranson Police Chief William Roper said he did not know if the protective order was still in effect when Tara Widmyer was killed.

Diane Reese, a member of the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said protective orders usually become part of the permanent divorce records unless the person who requested the order asks that it be removed.

Reese said the orders are not a guarantee against physical harm.

"If I choose to kill you, there's not a single piece of paper that will prevent that," Reese said.

Berkeley County Chief Magistrate Gene Darlington said protective orders are as effective as the people who request them want them to be.

Darlington said the courts and police can take action only when they are notified of a violation. Those found guilty of violating an order can spend anywhere from 24 hours to a year in jail and pay up to $2,000 in fines.

Berkeley County issued about 800 protective orders in 1997, said Darlington. He estimated that less than 10 percent are violated.

"I think they're effective," he said. "The majority of respondents know they don't want to spend time in jail."

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