Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder by the book: Murder by Deception

Winger Prepares

Winger hired a new attorney from Chicago, Tom Breen, who had experience with criminal defense. At the same time, Winger requested that a judge dismiss his suit against BART. No explanation for this change of heart was forthcoming.

It was not until August 23, 2001, that Winger was finally indicted and arrested. He faced a sentence of life in prison for the double homicide, because the state had decided against seeking the death penalty. Winger was held on a $10 million bail. He asked a childhood friend who was wealthy to post the bail for him, but the man refused.

Reporters had learned an additional detail about the statement given by the woman, still not named, who had been involved in an affair with Winger at the time of his wife's murder. She claimed he had wanted to leave Donnah and had allegedly said, "It would be easier of Donnah died." This woman apparently knew that the murder was staged and had been told that if she went to the authorities, she would wind up in jail. She had kept the secret because she feared for her life, but doing so had resulted in severe psychiatric problems.

Winger ended this affair in February 1996, and then took up with another woman who had started working for him as a nanny after Donnah was killed. He married her and they had two children together.

The Harringtons stated that they still mourned their son's untimely and violent death but were relieved that his name would be cleared. Their attorney pointed out that if Winger had not had the "chutzpah" to file a civil lawsuit against BART, there would never have been an investigation, despite the number of people who knew his description of the incident made no sense.

Sangamon County Jail
Sangamon County Jail

Winger pleaded innocent to all the charges. Despite his attorney's request to reduce his bond, the judge refused, so Winger remained incarcerated at the Sangamon County jail. His job at the state's Department of Nuclear Safety was now on hold. Breen averred that Bevel's report about the blood spatter patterns was merely speculative and would have no weight. He started the search for his own expert.

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