Debbie's niece Tracy was also living with the family at the time of the murders. Then 19, Tracy says she was sleeping on the couch when Eric broke into the house. "Gunfire was coming from the bedroom," she says. "The last thing I know is Natalie's running over to the couch telling me to get up. I couldn't get up off the couch. I was in shock. She said, 'You have to get up.'"

Tracy says she didn't want to leave the house without Natalie. As they heard Eric coming closer, Tracy says Natalie pushed her out the door. "She was protecting me from him because she said: 'There he is. Go, get help,'" she says. "Natalie took the bullet that was meant for me. Natalie saved my life and gave hers up."

Though her life was spared, Tracy says a part of her died that night. "I think about Tony and Natalie, Debbie and that night every day."

In an effort to start healing, Tracy says she recently wrote Eric a letter. "I forgave Eric Wrinkles for killing my family," she says. "It was time to start healing, and that's where I wanted to start from. ... I don't want him to be out of prison, but I don't want him on death row."

FROM: Death Row Exclusive: Confronting the Killer
Published on November 10, 2009


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