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Slain RCI officer's daughters to take part in memorial walk

Event is a fundraiser for organization that offers support services for families of slain police officers

Event is a fundraiser for organization that offers support services for families of slain police officers

October 01, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

WILLIAMSPORT -- The four girls remember how their father made them laugh when he imitated television and movie characters, how he encouraged reading and how he always was willing to lend support.

Kelsie Wroten recalls how her father, while shaving off his hair in the bathroom, would leave a tuft on his head in an imitation of cartoon character Marvin The Martian.

She said her mother would rush to get a camera, but her father would slam the bathroom door and shave off the hair.

"They talk about their dad everyday," said Tracey Wroten, the former wife of Jeffery A. Wroten, a Roxbury Correctional Institution officer who was shot to death in January 2006 by an inmate he was guarding at Washington County Hospital.

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"They're always going to miss their dad," she said.

Tracey Wroten said her daughters had difficulty dealing with the trial of Brandon T. Morris -- the man convicted of killing Jeffery Wroten -- because they felt they could not do anything for their father.

"Now they can," she said.

Tracey Wroten's two oldest daughters -- 14-year-old Katherine and 12-year-old Kelsie -- have decided to participate in a two-day, 25-mile walk along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park in memory of their father.

The walk begins Oct. 10 and will raise money for Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), an organization that offers support services for families of slain police officers. The route takes walkers from Virginia through Maryland and into West Virginia. 

More than 100 people are expected to walk in the event. Joining Katherine and Kelsie will be Glenn Macher, a Martinsburg Police Department officer who has been a close friend to Tracey Wroten.

Tracey Wroten said she and her two youngest daughters -- 11-year-old Chloe and 9-year-old Kaylee -- will provide support to walkers.

The Wrotens and Macher, who live near Inwood, W.Va., talked about the walk and Jeffery Wroten during an interview this week at the entrance to the C&O Canal in Williamsport.

The four girls sat on a picnic table while their mother talked about Wroten's death.

"The first couple of years were the worst," Tracey Wroten said.

At the time of the trial and in the time leading up to it, the girls had constant reminders of the shooting, Tracey Wroten said.

"They couldn't go to school without hearing about it," she said.

Tracey Wroten said the interview was the first time the girls have talked publicly about their father's death and the walk is the first time they have participated in an event in his memory.

Jeffery Wroten was described as having an engaging smile but an intimidating scowl. He was a big guy, with huge fists, and his hands were like "ham hocks," a friend of Wroten's said previously.

Kaylee Wroten remembered when her father would mimic the cartoon character Shrek.

"He was like a perfect imitation. He was really funny," Kaylee said.

Chloe recalled how her father had an old copy of "The Last of the Mohicans" novel and how he would joke about characters in the book.

Tracey Wroten said the programs offered by C.O.P.S have helped her family deal with grief, and she and her daughters have attended two summer camps hosted by the organization.

Tracey Wroten said Macher has helped the family deal with the tragedy. Although Macher has been around crime for many years and knows how the court system works, he said dealing with Wroten's death has been "extremely traumatic" and exhausting.

"It's different when it's personal," Macher said.

Tracey Wroten said she cannot participate in the walk because of injury to her foot from a car accident in October 2006. Her ankle was shattered in the crash on W.Va. 9 in Hedgesville. Macher, who also was in the vehicle, had minor injuries.

Money is raised for C.O.P.S through pledges made to walkers. Katherine, Kelsie and Macher said they hope to raise $2,500 each.

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