Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mary Winkler (Warning: Strong Opinions)

This afternoon, I sat down to watch the Oprah Show. Ordinarily, I must admit, Oprah makes me gag but I was curious to see what Mary Winkler would have to say.

For those who were on another planet at the time, Mary Winkler is the pastor's wife who shot her husband in the back and left him on the floor to die.

I don't doubt he was an abuser. I simply don't think women lie about those things.

At the same time, I believe she is guilty of first-degree murder. The final conviction for manslaughter surprises me. It was also surprising to see the velvet gloves on the iron fist of the legal system where she was concerned. A poor Black woman from Watts would not have been treated similarly.

But looking at it strictly from a legal point of view, Mary had the foresight to wait for her husband to fall asleep, unplug the phone so that he could not call for help, get the shotgun, go back to the bedroom, shoot him in the back and escape.

That's first degree murder, in my opinion. She had the time to think about what she was doing.

Today she appeared on Oprah and tried to look sympathetic. It didn't work.

She wants her children back.

No matter what, it's all about her and what she wants.

Her children are not possessions. They're not laptops or stereo systems. They are actually little human beings and I don't think she gets that.

They have been living a stable life with their grandparents for over a year now. She is not thinking about what is best for them. She is concerned about what she wants.

I find it distasteful and disgusting.

If there was ever a time when she should put the interests of those children ahead of her own desires, it is now.

By taking custody of those children, she is not only asking them to live with the person who killed their father. She is also creating great difficulty for them to have a relationship with the paternal side of their family. The grandparents said that so far, Mary has never even uttered a simple "I'm sorry". How strained would that relationship be?

The very woman who appeared initially to be a timid, mousy victim looks more like a heartless sociopath. If she had any sense at all, she would know that she has to build a trust relationship with her children all over again. And she needs to be selfless enough to give them the space to have a secure and comfortable life with their grandparents.



Lex said...

I didn't see the show. I don't watch her as she makes me gag as well.

I didn't know the details of how the murder occurred until I read your post. Those details sound like 1st degree murder to me too. I have worked with women who have tried to escape and been tracked down time and time again. I have been around women so terrified that they could never get away for good, that he'd always find them. I can understand the desperation after protective order after protective order failed to protect and after police stopped responding to "domestics" from that address. In such cases I can come close to getting why women feel like killing the bastard is their only way to be free. I don't know if any of that is the case with this one though.

The battle for her children is disturbing.

g said...

What's wrong with Oprah? I want to be her. :D (Oh, right. Strong opinions.)

I would have to agree with you about Mary though. I just read about her interview with Oprah,

and I'm surprised at how contradictory some of her statements were.

"He was bleeding and it was just instinct to wipe his mouth, but it just kept coming. I didn't know how he was hurt. I couldn't see anything wrong with him," she said. "When you actually see somebody that's just died, they just change appearance in a matter of seconds. It was just terrible."


(Visiting from Mitzh's blog, btw.) :o)

flutter said...

She is guilty. And the justice system failed here.

liv said...

What flutter said, and I might add that I have (sadly) seen more than one woman make up stories of abuse to mitigate their own crimes. I can't say that's what happened with Winkler, but I've seen it. How perverse? Wiping his mouth after shooting him in the back? Unplugging the phone? There is nothing that is not premeditated in this.

Snoskred said...

I agree with Liv - sometimes people do make up these stories to suit their own purposes. There's an explosion of cases right now when in a divorce one parent coaches the children to say they were abused by the other parent - sexually most of the time but occasionally physically. It is usually mothers doing this to fathers because everyone seems to believe that men are simply unable to control themselves when it comes to sex, or something like that. Some fathers cannot hug their children or bath them or do the normal things a parent would do simply because they fear being accused of inappropriate things.

There are cases of legitimate abuse but what these non-legitimate cases do is make it a lot harder for the legitimate cases to get the help they need. They tie up the courts - and children are stolen from one of their parents with false claims of abuse.

We're going to have an entire stolen generation eventually because of these fake abuse claims, and it is usually just because one parent wants to be in charge of everything and wants the other parent to have no say, rights or control. It is sickening.

The parents who coach their children to do this? They are exactly what you describe Mary Winkler is. They treat their children like possessions, it's all about them and what they want - and often times lawyers and courts *enable* them to do that.

I believe when any child is born, arrangements should be put in place for the possibility of divorce. A parenting plan should be formally lodged in a court, and each partner should agree to it. While they're still in love with each other. They should then be held to that if anything goes wrong. Just like a pre-nup. Huge custody battles should become a thing of the past because they only make lawyers richer and take money away from the families. Some of these lawyers *encourage* the fights to go on.

This Mary Winkler case, she was a victim of 419 scams, if i recall correctly it was fake checks but I could be wrong on that. Most of us scambaiters believe she shot her husband because she was afraid of his reaction when he found out where all their money had gone - to Nigeria never to return. I personally do not think it has anything to do with abuse at all - that was just the story she made up after the fact to get out of being responsible.

Some of these scam victims, we are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many people lose their homes. Many people lose their life savings. They do not start shooting people because of it - if anything they usually take their own lives, which is terrible in itself.

I was watching Bill O Reilly on Oprah today and he was making an interesting point - that sometimes we need to judge in order to draw a line in the sand.

Anytime someone disconnects the phone, picks up a gun and shoots someone in the back? We should say no to that as a society. She could have done a million other things. There are shelters, there is counselling options available who would have helped her make a safe plan to leave. Clearly she had access to email and money or else the scammers could never have scammed her!

I think she should not ever be allowed to have those children back. That's just me, though.


blooming desertpea said...

I guess she should have stayed locked up for a while longer but ...

I can sympathize with her for two reasons (and that might make me an odd ball but the alternative would mean not commenting):

- some men really deserve to be shot (I cannot judge if her husband was one of them, though)!

- as insane as she might be, I could imagine that she loves and misses her daughters (with this I am not saying that it's wise of her to fight for their custody).

In summary, I agree with you but I wanted to shed some light on possible reasons for her behaviour.

Pam said...

I would call what she did murder, premeditated and deliberate.

Although, in theory, I think violently abusive men should be shot, in reality, unless it's self-defense, I think leaving is a better option.

And isn't it always the children who pay the highest price?

Anonymous said...

I simply don't think women lie about those things.

When they want custody of the kids, they do. When they're drunk and angry and want to to see their boyfriend put in jail for the night, they do. When they have committed murder and they want to get away with it, they do.

Bad people will lie about anything if it's in their best interest. Gender just doesn't figure into it.

Christine said...

man--this was SO premeditated!

the whole things from beginning to end makes me sad. most of all for those little children.

Anonymous said...

anyone who finds themselves contemplating murder as a form of escape is obviously not healthy.

MsLittlePea said...

I saw the interview too and I remember thinking as I was watching it how unfeeling she seemed. She said a few times how regretful she felt about certain things she wished she had done differently but it seemed so insincere. There was no emotion on her face at all. But it could be medication she may be on, who knows. I did believe that she was being abused but not that killing her husband was self defense. How very sad for the children and their families.

Even if everything she was saying were true, I don't think she should get custody of her children either. I totally agree with you about that.

Mary said...


Ooops. I missed the show. I'm uninformed but thanks for reminding me to read up on her.

Hel said...

I don't know the story but I don't trust Oprah as far as I can throw her.

I believe unless you know the people involved you will never know the truth. The media can make anything seem the way they want it to appear.

Reading about people I knew personally I have seen good people represented as criminals and criminals as heroes.

Amy York said...

Sounds like 1st Degree Murder to me... And I'm torn about the kids... I'm not sure what their ages are but I think if they are old enough (maybe 10-ish?) to make the decision, it should be left up to them. It might be hard that they lost one parent, but losing two might be unbearable... Their needs should definitely be put first in this situation, but while it may be unlikely, I think it's possible they could need/want to be with their mother.
And for the record, I love Oprah. :) But I know she is not for everyone...

Lucia said...

Why is this national news in the first place? Only because the media decided it was intriguing - a minister's wife, abuse, etc.

Many women who are abused don't kill their abuser. This is a woman who was not being threatened with death herself, and I'm shocked she got off with manslaughter. I think you're right. She must be a sociopath.

PeterAtLarge said...

I've hardly seen or heard the unhappy woman, but what little I've seen of her does suggest an eerie disconnect with reality. Something about the eyes, the face that seems barely capable of expression... But I realize that I'm in no position to judge, and feel uncomfortable with any judgment based on what's seen on television--especially my own.

seventh sister said...

we won't ever know enough about what was really going on in that family to make a reasonable judgement. However, if the husbans was abusive, I can see the why the mother would not want the parents who raised him to raise her children. Of course, you did not say which set of grandparents have the kids now.

QT said...

I would be down for this if she shot him as she was trying to escape a night of violence, or something. How do you walk up to a sleeping person and shoot them in the back??? That takes a "disconnect from reality" that a healthy person does not have.

Maybe they were two psychos living together and it was only a matter of time before one killed the other.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

It's murder.
There should be serious time served.

If she'd killed him in self defense... that's one thing. To shoot him in the back while he was sleeping is a whole other thing.

She could have just left him, you know, without committing murder.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Blog Antagonist said...

I didn't see the show either. But as horrible as domestic violence may be...either murder is wrong, or it isn't. I think saying it's right sometimes and wrong sometimes is a slippery slope. I can't judge Mary Winkler because I've never even laid eyes on the woman until your post. I can understand feeling that there's nowhere to turn, and it's a shame for any woman (or person, for that matter) to be in that position. But we can't sanction murder on the basis of empathy. It just won't work.

slouching mom said...

As Pam said, it's just so awful that the children always end up suffering the most.

Tabba said...

I don't think my comment is going to be a popular one here....
And this subject is so touchy for me because of the stories I hear time and again from my husband who is a law enforcement officer dealing with offenders of domestic violence. I've seen how the system fails these women time and again. And how desperate they must feel. (how desperate I would feel, especially if my children were involved).
I think she shows the signs of the typical battered woman in regards to the whole wiping of his mouth.
You see time and again a battered woman comfort and console and go to great lengths to care for the men who beat them. They are so torn between the two vastly different people these men are.

I guess I don't really feel all that comfortable getting into the rest of what I think...

Let me just say this post comes on the heals of a disturbing case my husband is dealing with regarding domestic violence and I don't think that the "other side" of this was represented well here in the comments.

crazymumma said...

Horrible. I wonder how bad it got for her to take it to murder.

I hope the universe find the right place for the children to live.

mitzh said...

I just feel really bad for her children...

Emily said...

Some people do lie about these things. I have not followed the case, so I don't know in this situation what to think. However, if he WAS abusive, there is no telling how trapped she may have felt, how afraid for herself and her girls. I can only feel enormous sympathy for everyone involved.

I love Snoskred's idea of lodging a formal plan for the kids at birth.

BroLo said...

Does anyone really believe that the American justice system is fair, now or in the past? It often seems to me that judges and juries care more about how a sentence will play in the media than with real justice.

meno said...

Late here, but whatever happened, she should not be allowed to have her kids back. She can see them, but they should not live with her. She is not stable.

Snoskred said...

Tabba - I truly do not believe he was an abusive man. I've had family who have lived with emotionally and financially abusive people - my sister stayed with him for 7 years while the rest of us hoped she would just get out. I've also been involved in a telephone counselling line re domestic violence, and I walked out on my own husband after he hit me - once was enough.

While a lot of people think this kind of violence is easily hidden and not noticeable, that is simply not the case. We choose not to see it, we pretend it is not happening.

However what happens with a victim of 419 scams is, they try to hide that they have been scammed. This woman had deposited fake checks to the tune of $17,000+ into her bank account. She had not told her husband about it. The banks called and arranged an appointment with him to attend the bank but *he did not know why*.

At the appointment he would have found out that his wife had been cashing fake checks, and that he was now in debt due to her actions. He was killed before he could attend that appointment.

Remember that their daughter testified in court and said that her father did not abuse her mother. If he had, she would have said so, considering he was dead and unable to do her any harm. She does not want to have a relationship with her mother.

I'm against domestic violence as much as any woman who has been through it herself and watched family members go through it, but I also can recognise when someone is saying things in order to get out of going to jail. Matthew Winkler is not here to defend himself against the allegations she made towards him. Because she shot him in the BACK.

If I could believe for a second it was anything other than a defense tactic, I would. I have tried to believe it. But I know how the minds of these scam victims work far too well. I also know how these lawyers put together things in order to get their client off.

As someone who has worked to warn victims of these scams I have often been inside scammer email accounts, scammers are often silly enough to give us their passwords on the forms we make them fill out. I have seen the writings back and forwards.

There was one victim who had been paying money to his scammer for five years and he refused to listen to us when we told him it was a scam. I called him and spoke to him on the phone, it was one of the most frustrating things I have ever done. His scammer had found out he was a Christian, and he latched onto that, saying all kinds of supposedly Godly things, while stealing literally thousands upon thousands from this guy. It was horrible to read through those emails, like a train wreck in front of my eyes.


heartinsanfrancisco said...

I think the definition of First Degree Murder requires both the elements of premeditaton and the lack of justification.

While we prefer to believe that murder is never justified, it seems clear that Mary was consistently abused by her husband, as were her children. On the night in question, he clamped his hand over the nose and mouth of their two-year old daughter because she was crying.

Statistics teach us that children who grow up in abusive homes often become abusers or abused adults. It should be remembered that the minister's parents, who presently have custody of the children, raised him to be an abusive husband.

How will those three little girls fare if they are raised by the same people?

Battered women often believe that they have no options. They are terrified all the time and convinced that they and their children are in imminent danger. They suffer from PTSD and lose the ability to consider the consequences of actions which they, themselves, would consider heinous.

I think that Mary should undergo psychiatric treatment and should then have a chance to get her children back if she can prove that she is a fit mother.

Cecilieaux said...

Must have been in outer space while this happened and didn't see the Oprah show, but ...

... in the Wikipedia Winkler is quoted as telling Oprah: "There's no amount of time I think you can put on something like this. I was just ready for them to lock the door and throw away the key."

This does not seem like someone who doesn't realize what she has done.

Tabba said...

I'm a bit confused. What does this scam have to do with the Winklers?

Tabba said...

I also wanted to touch on a few key points....

Their eldest daughter is 8 years old, the next is 6. I'm sure she is not privy to all the details of her parents' marriage - whatever they be.
I certainly wouldn't expect my 5 year old child to be able to speak on adult terms (admissable in court) as to some of the inner workings of my marriage.
Children that age will speak the truth, sure.
But a lot of times it is their truth - their perspective.
If the alleged spousal and sexual abuse happened behind closed doors and out of sight, how can she speak for it?
I also think it is faulty logic to paint each and every victim of spousal abuse with the same brush. There are some patterns that hold true most of the time.
What may seem convincing and believeable behavior to one person isn't necessarily the same for another.

Snoskred said...

Tabba - it has to do with this.

Mary Winkler was sent fake checks by the Nigerian scammers.

She banked them into her bank.

Note this - "Federal law requires banks to make the funds you deposit available quickly, but it's important for consumers to know that just because you can withdraw the money doesn't mean the check is good," said Edward Yingling, executive vice president for ABA." (from Consumer group warns of growing check scam)

She then sent the money back to the scammers.

The check then was found to be fake, and the bank does what the bank always does in these situations - took the money back out of their account.

Therefore they were -17,000 or so.

The bank called Mr Winkler to make a time to come in - they said they needed to speak to him but they did not say specifically why.

Mr Winkler asked Mrs Winkler why the bank was calling because he knew nothing about it.

Before Mr Winkler could attend the bank appointment, he was murdered.

He never knew what was going on - he never knew about the fake checks.

Mary Winkler was arrested, and then suddenly the whole "I was abused" story came about.

Friends who were not biased either way say they never saw any sign of it.

Mary's Family came out with some outrageous statements ie - “I saw bad bruises. The heaviest of makeup covering facial bruises,” Freeman said. “So one day, I confronted her. I said, ‘Mary Carol, you are coming off as a very abused wife, very battered.’”

Now if that were truly the case. why did they not try to assist her with some form of counselling or encourage her to leave - or even *make* her leave?

Ask yourself - would you have sat quietly by while a family member you loved was being beaten? Of course not. Neither would I have.

Why were there never any police reports?

Why did the neighbours never call the police due to arguments or noise related to domestic violence? I called the police just the other day when I heard my neighbours having a big fight.

My suggestion (and my personal belief) is that she was not being abused at all - this is simply what the defence told her to say. Otherwise how could she possibly get away with this? How could she go into a court and say "I got scammed, I was afraid of how my Husband would react and the financial hole we now found ourselves in I had no idea how we would get out of it, so I shot him in the back".

I believe she was not all there mentally when she did it, because she would have been under a great deal of stress due to being scammed. But still that does not excuse what happened.

Normally scam victims will kill themselves rather than hurt anyone else. I've known two cases where that has happened.

People lose a lot of money from these scams, that is what is never mentioned. If you've read my article about fake checks , you can see some of them arrive in huge amounts, 100,000-500,000 is not at all uncommon. When people suddenly find themselves in debt for that much? It's a terrible situation.

Mr Winkler did not earn a great deal of money. To pay back that debt would have been a huge financial hardship.

I certainly have sympathy for her, but what she did is terrible.

There are times when I have called someone who has received a fake check, it has been "cleared" and they were about to go and send the money back to Nigeria the next day. One woman had received a check for $45,000. She was supposed to keep 10% for herself and send the rest by Western Union. I called her and explained the scam and what would happen if she sent that money and she was so happy to get that phone call because it literally saved her $40,500. But there have also been times when I got the information too late, I called, and the money has been sent by the victim. Those calls are extremely upsetting.

Many of the people scammed with fake checks end up being arrested for check fraud as well as being responsible to pay the entire sum back to the bank.

I feel that if you want to blame anyone for this situation the banks should be up front and center. They tell people checks have "cleared" when they do not truly clear for a very long time, and there is always the chance the money can be taken back if the check is found to be stolen or counterfeit later down the track.

There is NO excuse for this. The only reason banks have not fixed it? It's not costing them any money. They are not responsible, the person banking the check is responsible.

They ARE responsible for credit card fraud and because that costs them money they spend millions on making those secure and safe.

They should fix it. But they won't, until someone jumps up and down enough to make them responsible.

Western Union also profit from this. They earn a commission for all money sent. They could make more of an effort to stop these scams. But that would take away a lot of money from them. We're talking hundreds of millions leaving US shores alone going to these scammers every year.

And get this - Western Union do not allow money to be transferred OUT of Nigeria at all. If they decided to stop it from being allowed in? It would seriously put a dent in these scammers incomes and make it very difficult for them to operate.

Like I said, I completely am against domestic violence, but I personally do not believe that is what happened. When you get charged with a crime like this your lawyer has to come up with a strategy, and people will flat out lie if they think it will get them out of jail time. It worked for her. :(

If you'd like to see some of the stuff I'm talking about, shoot me an email and I'll forward you some of the emails victims send to their scammers. It is not pretty.

painted maypole said...

the whole story just creeps me out

Parlancheq said...

Regardless of whatever else people might think about the case (the killing was justified, or her sentence was too light, or whatever), I think you got it right when you said it's on her to work at building a new relationship with her kids. This is probably best done in private, not on Oprah.

Tabba said...

Thanks for the insight as I had not seen this as a part of the story and had not seen this on any articles when I did a brief search for it.
Yes, This is alarming to me that this is going on - these scams. I would appreciate it if you would send me the links... I'll be emailing soon.

Snoskred said...

We were all keeping a close eye on this one as soon as we heard about the 419 so I am very familiar with it.

I'm trying to find the train wreck guy who was on the hook paying money for 5 years.. I have so many records, and they're all very disorganised. ;(


Carla said...

I didn't see the show...I don't watch Oprah, but I do agree with your opinions. It should always be about what's best for the child's well being. Those children are going to grow up with issues as it is.