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Peace order application paints McPeak as a stalker

June 13, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Heather W. Harris
Submitted photo

Randy Houston McPeak harassed and stalked Heather W. Harris in the weeks before he shot her, following her to and from work, entering her home and calling or texting several times a day, according to allegations in her handwritten application for a peace order.

On Friday, days after the peace order was issued, McPeak phoned a friend.

“I did it. I did it. She’s dead,” McPeak allegedly told a friend by phone hours before Harris, with two gunshot wounds to her head, was rescued from her home at 1606 Dual Highway, according to the statement of probable cause filed by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Harris, who might have been shot before noon Friday, was listed in critical condition Monday at Meritus Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman said.

“Heather’s life is declining daily while presently on life support,” her mother Brenda Cole wrote in a statement given to the press after McPeak’s bond hearing Monday. “Her life will be remembered. She is funny, happy and excited about life.”

“Heather’s life will live on in the hearts and minds of others. Heather’s wishes as an organ donor will be met by giving life to seven others,” Cole wrote.

McPeak, 43, of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., appeared via closed-circuit television from the Washington County Detention Center in District Court, where his attorney, D. Benson Thompson III, told Judge Dana Moylan Wright that he was, for the present, withdrawing a request that bond be set.

A preliminary hearing was tentatively scheduled for July 7 and McPeak was being held without bond.

Cole and about a dozen other people left the courtroom after the bond request was withdrawn.

McPeak was being held on charges that include attempted first-degree murder, burglary and false imprisonment in the shooting of Harris inside her home.

On May 25, Harris applied to district court for a peace order, writing in her application that her former boyfriend entered her house without permission on May 7, where he confronted her boyfriend and pushed her.

“Every day since then he called my cellphone to the point my battery would die,” Harris wrote. “He has followed me to work from Hagerstown to Frederick. He has showed up at my work and been asked to leave,” she wrote.

McPeak showed up at her house two or three times a day and left cards or letters, Harris wrote. On May 25, he left a cat in a cat carrier, she wrote.

On May 19, he showed up at her home and Harris repeatedly told him to leave, threatening to call police, she wrote in the application.

“He will not stop and doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” Harris alleged in her application. “This is my last hope to keep him away from me and my mother. I am in fear for my life and he scares me,” she wrote.

The application form asks about court cases involving her and McPeak, and she wrote that he had an assault case in Morgan County in 2010. The application requested that he be prohibited from contacting her, going to her house or to the salon where she worked in Frederick, Md.

A District Court judge granted Harris a temporary peace order on May 25, and on June 3 the peace order was extended for not more than 30 days, according to court documents. A hearing on a final peace order was scheduled for June 24 in District Court.

Among other things, the peace order prohibited McPeak from contacting Harris in person, by telephone or by any other means, and ordered him not to enter her residence.

On Friday at 2:48 p.m., a friend of McPeak called 911 and told a dispatcher that McPeak had shot his ex-girlfriend, according to the charging document. The woman had spoken by phone with McPeak shortly before noon Friday, three hours before the standoff began and more than seven hours before the county’s Special Response Team entered the back of the house and pulled Harris to safety.

McPeak, who was armed with a handgun and standing in the house’s front entrance at the time of Harris’ rescue, surrendered to police at about 10 p.m.

The woman said McPeak told her previously he planned to harm Harris and that he was upset over finding her with another man. After he ended the call Friday, the woman tried to call him back on his cellphone, found he was not at work and was able track down Harris’ home address, thinking he might be there, the charging document said.

The woman rang the doorbell and got no answer, but saw what she thought was a person’s arm, the charging document said. She went to the rear of the house and saw McPeak through the kitchen blinds, the document said.

“You don’t want to come in here. I don’t want you to see this. I can’t let you in. I’m going to jail,” McPeak is alleged to have told the woman. After he told her to go away and not to call the police, she called police, the charging document said.

Harris was shot in the left temple and the bullet severed the left optic nerve before exiting her right cheek, the charging document said. Harris also was shot in the back of the head and that bullet lodged in her brain, the document said.

Evidence seized in a search of the house included a .25-caliber Beretta, the charging document said. The search also showed the door leading from the garage into the house had been forced open, the document alleges.

“We believe there are some important changes that need to be made, so this could possibly prevent other families from suffering such a loss,” Cole wrote in the family statement. “These would include restrictions of the release of personal information of the petitioner by the courts.”

Cole also asked for “stricter laws regarding accountability for employers that have received complaints about the ... misconduct of an employee during scheduled work hours.”

McPeak worked as a utilities construction inspector for Washington County.

A staff member at the Washington County Government’s Human Resources Department said she could not answer any questions about McPeak.

Dave Whisner of State Line, Pa., worked on a West Virginia road crew for three summers in the 1990s when he was a college student. McPeak was a full-time employee with whom he rode to work and had dinner.

“When he walked into a room or at work, he was the center of attention,” Whisner said. He described McPeak as very social and always laughing.

Whisner said that when he knew him, McPeak was married with children. Whisner said he last saw McPeak, who was by then no longer with his wife, a few years ago at Valley Mall.

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