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A year later, few leads in fatal W.Va. shooting

July 21, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Monday was "a hard day" for Tracey Waybright. Getting out of bed was understandably a struggle on the one-year anniversary of her husband's fatal shooting.

"This time last year I was just in a daze," Waybright said Monday. "It was definitely a nightmare -- that doesn't end.

Kenneth E. Waybright Jr., 37, of Stephens City, Va., died on July 22, 2008, two days after receiving a gunshot wound to the head in the parking lot of the former Orioles Club at 214 Mid Atlantic Parkway.

An unintended target, Waybright was about to get in his car when he was wounded in a spray of gunfire just before 3 a.m., according to Berkeley County Sheriff's Department Deputy Lt. Gary Harmison.

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The key was in the door of Waybright's blue Ford Contour, according to Harmison and his wife.

The bullet and at least five more rounds were fired from a car, possibly a silver or gray Volkswagen Jetta, also parked at the club, according to Harmison. Two other men who were wounded have recovered from their injuries, Harmison said. He declined to say they also were unintended targets.

The shooter was described as a light-skinned black male and Harmison said the sheriff's department has a "tentative I.D.," of a suspect, but still needs someone who is willing to give a statement to police.

"We basically have lots of hearsay," Harmison said.

Waybright, 30, would like to see an arrest made in the case, but says her husband's death is something the man responsible for will have to live with for the rest of his life, regardless.

"I just want them to see what they took (from us)," Waybright said.

If an arrest is ever made, Waybright said she also wants to see some remorse.

"Holidays used to be fun, and now they're just bad ... they're empty," she said.

Two days before what would have been their 10th wedding anniversary, "Kenny" was gone. Their children, Travis, 15, and Ashlyn, 12, lost their dad.

Travis lost "his best friend," Waybright said of their close father-son relationship.

Waybright's daughter, Kaitlynn, 18, from another relationship was left without any parents. Her mother died of cancer when she was 2, Waybright said.

"I never dreamt that I would be a widow before I turned 30," Waybright said.

A stay-at-home mom, Waybright said her husband was the primary income provider, and since his death has struggled to get by, both emotionally and financially.

"You honestly don't realize what you have until it's gone," Waybright said.

Now a single parent, Waybright said she has found strength within herself that she never knew she had, but also has went through a crash course in paying bills and trying to fulfill both parenting roles.

Her husband was the "easy going" half of the equation. She was always more strict on their children.

"Kenny was the most giving person in the world," she said.

While she has struggled to come to grips with the death of her husband, Waybright said she recently received notice that a recipient of her husband's organ donation had written a letter to the family.

"Kenny's in heaven," Waybright said. "God had a reason for (his death), and it was Kenny's time."

Anyone with information about the shootings may contact Harmison at 304-267-7000 or Berkeley County Crime Solvers at 304-267-4999.

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