Tuesday, April 13, 1993




SALUTE: West Virginia state troopers pay homage to slain Trooper Larry Hacker during funeral services Monday.



Police Say Goodbye to Slain Comrade

HARRISVILLE - On a gray, cloudy day in this small Ritchie County town, hundreds of police bid farewell to one of their own. More than 1,000 people, including more than 500 law enforcement officers from at least five states, honored Trooper Larry G. Hacker on Monday as a proud family man and a fallen comrade.
"I could stand up here all day and ask why," said Trooper Ronald Blevins, a pastor who trained Hacker when he joined the force in 1989. "I've always heard that God takes the best."

Hacker, 34, was shot Thursday night when answering a call to mediate a dispute between two neighbors in rural Ritchie County. He died early Friday at a Parkersburg hospital.

One of the neighbors, 67-year-old Dennis Ferguson of Pullman, was arrested for the shooting and charged with first-degree murder. Authorities say he shot Hacker in the left side as the trooper approached Ferguson's home.

The shooting shook Ritchie County and members of the law enforcement community, who considered Hacker a friendly, outgoing man who loved his work, his church and his family.

Monday's funeral services at Ritchie County High School drew a standing-room-only crowd.
As Hacker's open casket lay surrounded by more than a dozen flower arrangements, most of the crowd found seats at least 30 minutes before the funeral.

Although the dimly lit gymnasium was full of people, the room was uncommonly quiet. Aside from occasional sniffles, the hum of electricity from ceiling lights were the only sounds to be heard.

"I could stand up here all day and ask why.
I've always heard that God takes the best."
Ronald Blevins


RESPECTS: Public Safety Secretary Joseph Skaff and Gov. Gaston Caperton attended Hacker's funeral at Ritchie County High School.

 Gov. Gaston Caperton and Public Safety Secretary Joseph Skaff attended the funeral and sat in front-row seats. Col. Thorn Kirk, superintendent of the state police, also attended and served as one of six pallbearers. The Rev. Mark Minney said Hacker's job was dangerous, but it was an occupation of his own choosing.

"He was a man," Minney said.

"It seems like today that people see a uniform and a badge and that's all that they see, but this was a man. He had a wife and children and a church ... We need to remember those things

Hacker was survived by his wife, Diane, and daughters Erica and Julia. Erica is a sophomore at Ritchie County High School and Julia is a fourth-grader at Harrisville Elementary.

Blevins said Hacker was "spit-shined from the top of his head to the bottom of his boots."
"One of the proudest days of his life is when he graduated from the academy," Blevins said. "He exemplified what a trooper is."

Blevins drew some smiles by recalling Hacker's love of storytelling and jokes. But he brought tears to many eyes, including his own, when he read a poem beginning, "Someone killed a policeman today, and a part of our country died."

After the service, hundreds of police - including some from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana and Virginia - filed out single file and formed ranks extending to a waiting hearse. The troopers snapped to attention as the pallbearers carried the flag-draped casket from the gymnasium and into the vehicle.

Burial was in Gilmer County.



Craig Cunningham Daily Mail

TEARFUL GOODBYE: Trooper Larry Hacker's daughter, Julia, and family friend Patty Deak watch as Troopers place Hacker's flag- draped casket into a hearse.