The courtroom was packed when the verdict was being read in the trial of Capital Gazette killer Jarrod Ramos, and the gallery seemed to exhale all at once when the foreman announced the decision they spent more than three years waiting for.
Those who made it out of the newsroom alive — some just barely — filled up several rows of seats alongside relatives, spouses and children of those who didn’t make it out.
Wendi Winters didn’t survive the shooting, but her youngest daughter made sure her mother was inside the courtroom too.
“I try and keep her incognito in a little makeup container,” said Summerleigh Geimer, holding up a little round container holding some of her mother’s ashes, that looks like a travel-size makeup container. “So I just keep her in a little container in my bag and no one would ever know it’s my mom.”
Her mother was already a such an influential and important part of the paper, and after stories that were recounted of her attempts to stop the killer from inflicting anymore damage have only bolstered her legacy there.
“She was the victim of this crime — I mean, our family was as well, but she was the victim, and she deserved to also be represented in court,” Geimer said.
“No one needed to know she was there, but I had her there, and I think if she had survived she’d wanted to have been here and witnessed it. And so in some ways, she did.”
In the three years since the killings, Geimer said, she’s used the container to bring some ashes to scatter when she travels. But she’ll always make sure she keeps some piece of her mom with her.
“People always say that they’re always with you in spirit, and I’m sure she is,” said Geimer. “But I would also like to have that extra physical token just to make sure she really is there with me.”