South Knoxville native Mary Carroll Winkler confessed Friday to shooting her husband before fleeing to Alabama where she was found with her three children.
“It’s a shock,” said a Winkler life-long friend who asked not to be identified. “I’ve known her since she was a little girl and it’s so out of character for her.”
Matthew Winkler—the 31-year-old minister at Fourth Street Church of Christ in Selmer, Tenn., where the family lived—was found dead Wednesday night by church members after the family failed to show for church.
The next day an AMBER Alert was issued by the Selmer Police Department for the Winklers’ three children: Breanna, 1, Mary Alice, 6, and Patricia, 8.
Winkler and all three of her children were found in Orange County, Alabama on Friday when she told Selmer police investigators that she had committed the shooting.
Matthew Winkler’s parents Dan and Diane currently have custody of their grandchildren. The couple lives in Henderson, about 20 miles from Selmer.
Winkler was charged with first degree murder, indicating a premeditated murder.
Winkler has waived extradition and was back in Tennessee on Saturday in the custody of McNairy County sheriff’s deputies in Selmer.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to Mary Carroll and her family—they’re very good people and very family oriented. There is no domestic violence in this family. They keep trying to say that but they won’t find it,” stated Winkler’s friend.
“They adopted a family of five abused children all related, because they wanted to keep that family together. That’s the kind of people they were.”
Mary Winkler was a graduate of South Doyle High School in South Knoxville. The couple’s 10th wedding anniversary would have been April 20. Mary Winkler’s father, Clark Freeman, has declined comment.
The mystery as to “why” is still in many people’s mind.
Dan Winkler spoke with the press and stated, “Thank you for your love, support and prayers. Now we want to turn our attention to remembering our son and to the care of three young children.” He also asked for privacy during this difficult time.