Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

A "Perfect" Life: Mary Winkler Story

Withering Words

There are lingering legal issues surrounding the slaying.

Fights lie ahead between Mary Winkler and her in-laws. Diane and Dan Winkler filed a $2 million wrongful death civil suit against her, and they are seeking permanent custody of their three grandchildren.

The Winklers are trying to terminate Mary's parental rights, and she responded with a petition to seek immediate custody. The case is pending in Chancery Court in Jackson, Tenn.

Mary Winkler
Mary Winkler

The most riveting moments in the sentencing hearing came during victim impact statements given by the Matthew Winkler's brother and mother. After initially expressing love and support for their daughter-in-law, Winkler family has had an increasingly contentious relationship with her.

"I've watched as the life of my brother has been turned into a circus," testified Dan Winkler Jr. While starting icily at his sister-in-law, he added, "I don't see any remorse."

Most withering was the testimony of the victim's mother, Diane Winkler.

"You broke your girls' hearts," Mrs. Winkler said during a stern 30-minute monologue in which she stared intently at Mary Winkler, who sat wearing a print dress and white sweater. "Mary, you have destroyed your husband's character. You have destroyed his good name...You have accused him of being a monster who abused and belittled you."

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