Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

A "Perfect" Life: Mary Winkler Story

Bailed Out

In August 2006, after five months behind bars, Mary Winkler posted $750,000 bail with help from her father, who mortgaged his property.

She moved to McMinnville, Tenn., to live with Kathy Thomsen, an old church friend.

Soon after Mary's release, her defense team began to press its abused-spouse narrative in the court of public opinion.

Mary Winkler
Mary Winkler

First came a profile of Mary Winkler in the November 2006 issue of Glamour magazine.

Her attorneys agreed to allow her to pose for photos, including one featuring her crucifix necklace. Her father and siblings offered testimony to the woman's saintly nature while castigating Winkler for obsessing on money and holding Mary under his thumb.

Clark Freeman, Mary's father, added elusive references indicating that his estrangement with his daughter was related to some unspeakable abuse at the hands of Matthew.

Attorney Farese picked up on that theme.

"Only Mary can talk about his temper and how controlling he was," he told the Glamour reporter. "God and Matthew Winkler: These were the two figures she served...Mary did not know up from down and was literally trapped."

Steve Farese
Steve Farese

At about the time the magazine article was published, Mary Winkler's support team appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America," where they again made accusations of Matthew's abuseverbal, mental, physical, sexual.

The television spot served as a dress-rehearsal for the defense argument at trial.

One friend said she saw Mary with a black eye, and another said the woman cowered before her husband. 

"I saw bad bruises," said Clark Freeman. "The heaviest of makeup covering facial bruises. So one day, I confronted her. I said, 'Mary Carol, you are coming off as a much abused wife, very battered'...(She) would hang her head and say, 'No, daddy, everything's all right.'"

"There are all kinds of abuse imaginable that will be talked about at the trial," added attorney Ballin. "What went on behind their closed doors is going to have to be told."

There was just one brief diversion from this storyline.

On New Year's Eve 2006, Mary Winkler was spotted smoking and drinking at a McMinnville bar. A customer captured her on a cell phone video, and the footage aired on local TV.  

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