Copyright 2007 by William A. Mays, Proprietor
And you could hear the chorus go up among preachers' wives everywhere: "One of us was bound to do it sooner or later!"
Mary Winkler, self-widowed mate to the late Matthew Winkler, pastor of the fundamentalist Fourth Street Church of Christ at 142 N. Fourth Street, Selmer, Tennessee, is today standing upright before the bar of justice as her trial for 1st-degree murder gets underway.
After replacing her husband's internal organs with 12-gauge shotgun pellets -- through the back, no less -- she told police she "just snapped." Church congregants came across the profoundly disturbing scene of their pastor lifeless and bloody at his parsonage on March 22, 2006. His wife and their three daughters could not be found. Instantly, it was thought some fiends unknown had killed the pastor and then abducted the four females with the object of doing the most unspeakable crimes to each one. But no, Mary Winkler was found the following day in Orange Beach, Alabama. Her and the pastor's three young daughters were recovered unharmed. At that point she confessed to doing the deed and was arrested. But, she said, she could explain....
It was battered-wife syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by years of abuse and the pressures of being a pastor's spouse that were the cause of the Meursault-like pulling of the trigger. It had nothing to do, she claimed, with Pastor Winkler's discovery of her felonious scheme involving bad checks. Nothing at all!
Being a minister's wife is a "fishbowl" existence, she claimed. Anything you say about your husband reflects on his standing in the community. Mary Winkler didn't make coffee for fellowship gatherings, didn't play the organ or the piano, didn't sing in the choir, didn't entertain elders, etc. She didn't have the same level of devotion as her husband. She felt lonely and isolated at the same time that she and her family were under constant scrutiny by the congregation -- like being a movie star except without the sacrilegious outlets in which movie stars are allowed to indulge. And like most other ministers' wives she suffered in silence. A majority of ministerial matriarchs are frustrated and discouraged; almost half suffer from depression. They routinely experience a "building up" of tension. And this time one of them took matters into her own hands.
Our Religious Editor is on the scene and will post dispatches as the news warrants.
|Pastor's Wife Finally Snaps
|Sends Him to Other Side Via Shotgun Express
|Had Been Suffering for Years
|Climax Comes When He Discovers Her
Committing Check Fraud
April 13, 2007