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True Crime Update 3/28/06

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Sensational and heinous crimes across the nation, notable for the type of crime, the celebrity of the criminal, or both.

The Minister’s Wife

A woman shooting her husband isn’t all that odd. Add the component that the husband was a minister beloved by his congregation and the disappearance of the wife and three children after the deed and there’s the makings of a true crime that doesn’t end with just the facts.

Mary Alice Winkler was a substitute teacher at a local school, Matthew Winkler was a minister, and the three daughters are adorable. By all accounts, the family participated in normal social events and always seemed companionable and happy.

It’s always that way, isn’t it?

The good news is that Mary Winkler and the three daughters were found safe. It had initially been feared that the disappearance of Matthew Winkler’s family after his death could indicate a forced abduction, although that bit about the family van also missing seemed to point to a wife taking off after shooting her husband.

Once Mary Winkler was found, speculation abounded. Why did she kill her husband, the handsome cable anchors asked. Where are the children? Why did she run? Where was she going?

The latest is that Mary Winkler has been charged with first-degree murder of her husband. That first-degree thing is ominous as it implicates pre-meditation.

When reporters queried the police on the whereabouts of the children, the police were oddly mum. “They are at the police station and being questioned gently by authorities,” I paraphrase the response. The public was assured that the children did not witness the murder.

Now one would suppose that questioning the children was required in this circumstance but it seemed that as a response to every query, the police responded that the children were still being questioned. This went on, as the handsome cable news anchors kept reporting, for over eight hours by my count.

Also, the handsome cable news anchors kept reassuring us that the motive for the murder was not infidelity. Now it is softly whispered that Mary Winkler might have killed her husband for abusing the daughters.

The crime was not done in the passion of a marital moment of discord else that first-degree thing would not be in effect. Also, the lengthy questioning of the children seemed odd. The children have now been released to their grandparents, the handsome cable anchors report.

If speculation proves correct, this could be an interesting case. Will a woman who murdered her husband for abusing their children get a pass? Are the prosecutors fairly certain that this first-degree charge will stick? Will this be a death penalty case?

For now it’s all naught but speculation, although I’d argue the handsome cable news anchors are fueling the flames. Soon enough Mary Winkler will get an attorney and soon after that the attorney will be all over the airwaves telling of the awful predicament his client was in and there you’ll have it. If speculation proves correct, then this is a case that will be tried before the public.

From the Jackson Sun:

Jackson Sun
Originally published March 24, 2006

SELMER – The wife of a Selmer minister found slain in his parsonage was being questioned Thursday night as a suspect in his death after she and her three young daughters were found unharmed almost 400 miles from home.

Mary Winkler, 32, was spotted by police parked along the side of a road in Orange Beach, Ala., in the couple’s minivan about 7:30 p.m. The couple’s three daughters, Breanna Winkler, 1, Mary Alice Winkler, 6, and Patricia Winkler, 8, “appear to be in good physical condition,” and their mother was cooperative with police, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson said. There was no one else with the Winkler family at the time they were found, Johnson said.

Since Mary Winkler was found with no evidence of trauma and with no extra passenger, authorities said it begs questions about why she was found in Alabama almost 24 hours after her husband was found dead.

Aruban Cop Theory on Natalee Holloway-Duh

The Aruban Keystone Kops have a theory on what happened to Natalee Holloway and it isn’t that she was murdered. According to the head Keystone Kop, Gerold Dompig, Natalee likely died from a lethal combination of drugs and alcohol. Dompig claims that Joran and that other duo of lies and deceit are still suspects as they likely had something to do with it.

According to Dompig, Natalee was seen “in possession” of drugs. No mention on what drugs Natalee had or who the witness is that reported this. Also the Aruban police say they’ve received reliable information on where Natalee’s body is buried and, just as soon as the Aruban police are done with all their press interviews, they damn well intend to go look.

It’s been speculated for about forever that Natalee might have been slipped a date-rape drug. This is nothing new. I’d buy that the Kalpoe boys and lovely, lying Joran didn’t intend to murder Natalee, that a date-rape drug combined with the alcohol may have caused Natalee to unexpectedly die to the boys’ lustful horror.

I doubt very seriously those “drugs” Natalee was alleged to have in her possession were date-rape drugs. Go on. This is not something a female would keep on hand. I’d guess Natalee had a dime bag of pot or some such and if so, it’s a great leap to this fact being affirmation of death by drugs and alcohol; the implication being that Natalee administered the drugs to herself.

From CBS news:

Cop’s Theory: Natalee Wasn’t Murdered

(CBS) Gerold Dompig, deputy chief of police in Aruba and the man leading the investigation into the disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway, tells 48 Hours correspondent Troy Roberts he feels strongly that Holloway was not murdered, but probably died from complications involving alcohol and, possibly, drugs as well.

Dompig makes his remarks in an exclusive interview this Saturday, March 25 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

The chief investigator tells Roberts that he has credible witnesses who say the young woman had drugs in her possession. Dompig also says police have witnesses who claim Holloway was drinking “excessively” on the day she disappeared.

Update on Missing Family in Motor Home

As reported in this column last week, the Stiver family embarked on a trip to the coast in their motor home only to end up missing for over two weeks.

The first new information since last week and as a commenter pointed out, the entire family has been found. All were well having gotten stranded on a snowy road but with plenty of supplies to keep them warm and well-fed.

But there’s another intriguing tidbit about this odd journey. Seems Peter Stivers’ mother and step-father were wanted in Arizona for drug charges. From what I’ve read about the charges, they’re not benign, involving the discovery of bags of crack on their property. Mr. And Mrs. Higginbotham have suddenly disappeared from the public stage. Later articles have the couple vowing to clear their name and restore their reputation.

From the source of the quote below Peter also declared that he only sees his parents once every eight years or so and this seems odd. He also affirms his parents’ “shady past”. Yet they all went on this jaunt and under the circumstances should have renewed their acquaintance over the many days they were stranded.

It’s been asserted that this “disappearance” was planned to keep authorities away from the Higginbothams, although I don’t know how this would work because they had to return home someday.

From Dailytidings.com:

Currently, no one knows the whereabouts of Elbert Higginbotham and Rebecca Ann Bess (aka Becky Higginbotham), according to the family. The pair are wanted in Arizona on drug charges. Higginbotham last met with a Daily Tidings reporter at 2 p.m. Thursday.
“He went to the hospital to pick up his medicine,” Ed Hill, grandfather of the children who were stranded for 17 days, said at the 3 p.m. press conference. Higginbotham was informed of the warrant earlier in the day.

Later, at their home, the Hills said they did not know where Higginbotham and Bess might have gone. “They may have checked into a hotel,” said their daughter-in-law Marlo Hill-Stivers, who was stranded in an RV with them. “We haven’t heard from them all day.”

Peter Stivers, son of Bess and step-son of Higginbotham, said he suspected that his parents’ shady past would come up as media attention grew.

Missing for Ten Years, Now Home Again

Tanya Kach was 14 years old when she went missing. She is now 24 and by befriending a deli owner, the “Sparico” referred to in the quote below, she was discovered and re-united with her family.

If ever a story had way more to it than currently in the public knowledge, it has to be this one. Her “abductor” is a school security guard, Thomas Hose. Tanya was kept against her will, so she alleges, by Hose, who also lives with his elderly parents.

Now for ten years this guy kept Kach captive right under his parents’ nose and they didn’t notice? Indeed, Tanya was out and about, witness her deli-owner friend. And she couldn’t plea for safe release? Further, Hose’s attorney is currently all over the airwaves declaring his client completely innocent and this is in “no way” a kidnap case.

Getting away from “blaming the victim” mentality, Tanya was only 14-years old at the time of her “abduction.” Hose was considerably older and even if he and Tanya were in love or some such, this is still a crime. Yet Tanya is now 24 and if it can’t be proven that she was held against her will, do any charges of statutory rape still stand?

From ABCnews.com

Image hosted by Photobucket.comSparico told “Good Morning America” the alleged captor is a security guard at a school, and that he brainwashed her into thinking that her family didn’t want her anymore.

He and Kach had allegedly concocted a cover story, telling people that she’d met him when he was 18 and he was working as a security guard at a mall.

Sparico said Kach told him she was kept in a bedroom in the house of her captor’s parents. She said the parents were unaware she was there, because he locked her in when he went to work.

Interesting Littlejohn Update

Besides having the earmarks of a fledgling serial murder, lies by bar owners, and possible other connected crimes, all reported here on a recent true crime article, the murder of Imette St. Guillen takes another twist. And it’s not good.

For Darryl Littlejohn, the ex-con bar bouncer and alleged murderer of St. Guillen, is prone to nosebleeds. Which could explain the presence of Littlejohn’s blood on those cable ties used to bind St. Guillen’s hands.

It would seem, as I speculate, that Littlejohn’s defense will be that his blood on the cable ties, even the cat hairs on the blanket, are all because he worked at The Falls bar and these items are allegedly from the basement of that bar.

So as an employee, and prone to nose bleeds, it’s possible that Littlejohn had a nosebleed at some point while rooting around The Falls bar’s cellar.

From the Boston Herald.com:

Source: Bloody nose likely DNA source
By Michele McPhee
Boston Herald
Thursday, March 23, 2006 – Updated: 01:26 PM EST

NEW YORK – A history of nose bleeds could explain why Darryl Littlejohn’s blood was found smeared on the plastic bindings used to tie up murder victim Imette St. Guillen, a law enforcement said last night, hours after the career criminal was indicted and charged in her macabre murder.

The career criminal accused of killing the Boston native claimed in a TV report aired last night that the absence of wounds on his body should raise questions about the blood allegedly containing his DNA found on plastic straps that bound St. Guillen’s wrists.

But a law enforcement source said jailed suspect Darryl Littlejohn is prone to nose bleeds, easily accounting for the evidence. He is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, and unlawful imprisonment.

In a jail interview with WCBS-TV, Littlejohn, 41, denied killing St. Guillen and said police “have the wrong person.”

Bi-polar Debra LaFave Goes Free

And she’s damn mad about the media attention.

Her press conference chastised us idiots out here in la-la land who don’t get it that bi-polar disorder could cause such odd actions as teachers having sex with a young teen student in the back seat of a car.

She’s working on her public image, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see this young woman as a Playboy centerfold sometime in the near future.

The prosecutors settled on a plea deal in this case because LaFave’s young victim would not testify. Simple as that. This decision has nothing at all to do with any bi-polar disorder, as LaFave would have us believe.

The picture above is from LaFave’s wedding day.
If You Can’t Be Drunk In a Bar, Then Where?

Public drinking to the point of intoxication is a problem in that drunks tend to do bad things like drive or engage in any manner of behavior that is not to the public’s greater good.

So Texas plans on arresting drunk people right at the source.

Well it might work.

From Yahoo.com:

Texas arresting people in bars for being drunk.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) – Texas has begun sending undercover agents into bars to arrest drinkers for being drunk, a spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said on Wednesday.

The first sting operation was conducted recently in a Dallas suburb where agents infiltrated 36 bars and arrested 30 people for public intoxication, said the commission’s Carolyn Beck.

Being in a bar does not exempt one from the state laws against public drunkenness, Beck said.

The goal, she said, was to detain drunks before they leave a bar and go do something dangerous like drive a car.

“We feel that the only way we’re going to get at the drunk driving problem and the problem of people hurting each other while drunk is by crackdowns like this,” she said.

With tongue-in-cheek and for leaving with a smile, we humbly offer the following warnings be placed on alcohol containers. Thanks to Granpa Russ email group.


    The consumption of alcohol may make you think you are:

    Whispering when you are not.


    The consumption of alcohol is a major factor in dancing like a retard.


    The consumption of alcohol may cause you to tell your friends over and over again that you love them.


    The consumption of alcohol may cause you to think you can sing.


    The consumption of alcohol may lead you to believe that ex-lovers are really dying for you to telephone them at four in the morning.


    The consumption of alcohol may make you think you can logically converse with members of the opposite sex without spitting.


    The consumption of alcohol may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster and better looking than most people.


    The consumption of alcohol may lead you to think people are laughing WITH you.


    The consumption of alcohol may be a major factor in getting your ass kicked.


    The consumption of alcohol may leave you wondering what the hell happened to your bra and panties.


    The crumsumpten of alcohol may Mack you tink you kan tpye reel gode

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    About pat fish

    • Interesting and disturbing stuff, Pat, though I don’t know about those “handsome cable news anchors.” Something about them is quite unsettling, almost as creepy as some of the perps you’ve written about here.

    • Thanks, Elvira.

      We understand the Winkler woman has an attorney now so look for this guy to be leaking his client’s story real soon.

    • Fascinating stuff, Pat–and I loved those alcohol warnings too.