Joe Tracy loved to race motorcycles off-road and was a daredevil, always up for a challenge, according to his family.

In fact, the 33-year-old had had so many mishaps and car accidents during his short life that when his parents, Dan and Cindy Tracy of West Gardiner, got a phone call Saturday saying that he was injured, they were not surprised.

Joseph Tracy Provided by Jessica Poulin

But this time, their son did not survive.

Tracy was found shot between the lower neck and shoulder blades at Home Place Inn off College Avenue in Waterville and was taken to nearby Thayer Center for Health and then LifeFlighted to Maine Medical Center in Portland where a team of neurologists determined he would be a paraplegic, according to his father. The bullet was lodged inside his son’s spine, he said.

“They said it would do no good to remove the bullet — they didn’t know if they could,” he said Tuesday. “The first thing Joe told Cindy was ‘This is it for me. I’m done.’ There was no outcome that he was going to survive.”

As Waterville and Maine State Police worked to find his killer — no arrest has been made — Joe Tracy’s condition worsened. Only his mother was allowed to see him in the hospital because of the coronavirus pandemic, so his father and sisters waited anxiously on the ground outside his sixth-floor window, yearning to be with him.


“He was alone through all of this, on the sixth floor of that hospital, except for the short time my wife was with him,” Dan Tracy said.

Finally, he was taken by ambulance to Androscoggin Hospice House in Auburn where his family was allowed to see him. He died early Monday, surrounded by his parents and his sisters, Jessica Poulin and Jewell Arbo. His half-sister, Angela Horn, lives in Ohio.

The staff at the hospice were very caring and kind, his father said. But watching his son die was gut-wrenching.

“It was just ungodly horrible,” he said. “I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.”

Police remain tight-lipped about what they are learning in their investigation and search for Joe Tracy’s killer.

Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey referred questions Tuesday to Steve McCausland, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety.


“We continue to investigate the circumstances,” McCausland said late Tuesday afternoon. “There’s no new development today.”


Joe Tracy’s parents and sisters were in mourning Tuesday as they remembered the kid who was born in Waterville, grew up in the Shawmut area of Fairfield and attended Lawrence High School in the Class of 2006.

His father said he was active and outgoing as a child, loved being outdoors and was a natural athlete who won many trophies and track championships. He grew up loving dirt bikes and anything with a motor. Eventually, he got into motocross, racing motorcycles off-road all over the northeast.

“It was a big part of his life for a lot of years,” Dan Tracy said.

Joe was a generous, kind-hearted person who’d give the shirt off his back, even if it was the only one he owned, according to his father.


“He never had much; things never went well for him,” he said. “His life turned in some bad directions.”

Joe got into several bad car accidents, one of which happened after he fell asleep at the wheel and was struck by an 18-wheeler, Dan Tracy said. A week-and-a-half ago, he got into another accident — which wasn’t his fault — and totaled his car, he said. Even in school, he was unlucky, once suffering a double fracture to his arm and a dislocated elbow after he did a double backflip off a swing, his father said.

Lately, Joe had been staying in an apartment on his parents’ property in West Gardiner, he said.

Most recently, he worked as a flagger for a road project, but had done all sorts of jobs, including working for North Center Foods and UPS, his father said. He was dependable, and when he was working, was always up and out the door early.

Dan Tracy said he and the family do not know who shot him or why.

“Police aren’t even telling us much at this point — we understand that,” he said. “State police and Waterville detectives have been very kind to us and are treating us very good, but they just can’t give us much information, and it’s understandable.”


Dan Tracy is brother to Oakland police Chief Michael Tracy. They are no strangers to tragedy, having lost 29-year-old nephew Michael Muzerole to murder five years ago in Oakland. Muzerole lived with Amanda Bragg, 30, and their 3-year-old daughter, Arianna, in a duplex on Belgrade Road. Bragg’s sister, Amy DeRosby, 28, lived upstairs with Herman DeRico, 42, who police at the time said shot and killed Muzerole, DeRosby and Bragg before taking his own life.


At the Auburn hospice house, Joe Tracy’s parents and sisters were able to talk with him, but he offered no clue as to why someone would shoot him, according to his father.

“He wouldn’t even tell us, really, who did this,” he said.

Joe had a do not resuscitate order and was adamant that it be honored, according to his father.

“He said, ‘No, don’t do anything for me — absolutely,'” he recalled. “There was no chance of recovery.”


The hospice workers made a difficult time more comfortable for the family, he said.

“They were the best thing that ever happened to all of us. They were sweet and treated us with a lot of kindness.”

The Tracys and their daughters had time to say good-bye.

“We all talked to him,” Dan Tracy said. “All he kept saying was, ‘I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.’ He said he knew that everyone was praying for him.”

By mid-afternoon Tuesday, Dan Tracy had not yet heard if an autopsy on his son had been completed by the state medical examiner.

Once that is done, he said, the family can begin making plans for his celebration of life.

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