Background: Mary Winkler–who shot her husband in the back and then refused to aid him or call 911 as he slowly bled to death for 20 minutes–walked away a free woman last month after serving a farcically brief “sentence” for her crimes. She is currently in a custody battle with Matthew Winkler’s parents, who have been raising their three daughters for the last 18 months.
The Winklers seek to terminate Mary Winkler’s parental rights and adopt the girls. I support their position.
In the new article below, District Attorney Michael Dunavant asserts that Mary Winkler also intended to kill her three young children and herself. He says:
“I would suggest to you that the evidence was clear that not only did she make up her mind that she was going to kill him when she did, but she was going to end it for her children and herself, too.
“[When Winkler left the state after shooting her husband in the back in their bed, she had] less than $200 in cash, a pair of socks for her baby, a shotgun and a box of shells in a minivan. That”s it…She drove hundreds of miles to Jackson, Mississippi, spent one night, and then to Orange Beach, Alabama, and was in a hotel the next night. She was running out of money. How was she going to feed her children? How was she going to get back to Tennessee?
“You know what she was going to do. She was going to kill her children and herself, and she was just going to do it at the beach instead of in Selmer, Tennessee.”
The full article can be seen at DA says Winkler aimed to kill kids (Jackson Sun, 11/11/07). As critical as I am of Mary Winkler, I don’t find the DA’s assertion terribly convincing. If Winkler really wanted to kill her children and kill herself, she could have done it in the house after she killed her husband. It’s certainly possible that this is how things would have turned out in Alabama, but I hardly think we could be sure what she was going to do, as this DA implies.
This might be a good example to help explain one reason (of many) why men commit more murder-suicides than women do. While in Alabama, Winkler probably thought that even if she is caught, she still has a chance to bamboozle the legal system and get off, as in fact she was able to do.
By contrast, a man in her situation would know that he was doomed, that there was no chance for him to get off through the system, and would be more likely to end it all with a murder-suicide. This in no way excuses it for either gender, of course.