Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

A "Perfect" Life: Mary Winkler Story


In the weeks after the shooting, friends and acquaintances used the word "perfect" to describe the relationship of Matthew and Mary Winkler.

They seemed to live and breathe the Bible. The Winklers, still a handsome young couple after 10 years of marriage, had three precious daughters.

Matthew was a beloved "pulpit preacher" at Fourth Street Church of Christ in Selmer. He was an athletic man who greeted friends and strangers alike with a toothy smile and a firm handshake.

Fourth Street Church of Christ, Selmer, Tenn.
Fourth Street Church of Christ, Selmer, Tenn.

Mary was a supportive and well-liked partner in Matthew's work. She was about to return to college to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a schoolteacher.

They lived with their pet spaniel dog in a brick parsonage on a shady lot not far from the church.

Even Selmer (pop. 4,500), in McNairy County, seemed just right for the Winklers. They had moved there in January 2005 when Matthew took the position at Fourth Street Church.

McNairy County, Tenn.
McNairy County, Tenn.

It is the sort of place where people wear their faith on their sleeves. One McNairy County telephone directory lists more than 100 churches, but just three taverns.

It was all perfect for the Winklers until that March morning in 2006.

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