Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder by the book: Murder by Deception

Key Witness

There was great anticipation as DeAnn Schultz, 39, took the stand to testify against her former lover. There had already been rumors of her psychiatric issues, and she readily admitted to them. In fact, she stated, it was the strain of keeping the murders secret that had so badly affected her. She had been Donnah Winger's best friend, and the incident shamed her.

Donna Winger
Donna Winger

DeAnn had met Donnah in 1990 after moving to Springfield and being employed as a surgical nurse at Memorial Medical Center, where Donnah worked. It wasn't long before the Schultzes became friends with the Wingers and began to socialize on a regular basis. But then on July 18, 1995, her affair with Mark began. Her own marriage was ailing and she had told Donnah she was considering moving. Mark called to tell her he did not want her to leave. He admitted that he, too, was unhappy and that he was attracted to her. He persuaded her to join him at a Comfort Inn in another town, telling Donnah he was on a business trip. Commencing an adulterous affair that night, they began to talk regularly on the phone. Winger told Schultz he did not love his wife.

On August 5, she testified, he had made the statement, "It would be easier if Donnah just died." He told Schultz that he could take care of it, and all she had to do was come over and find the body. She said she believed he was joking and told him he was crazy. Yet when he repeated it again, she knew he was serious. They rendezvoused again at a motel on August 19, while Donnah was in Florida. On her return trip, Donnah rode the fateful BART shuttle, telling Schultz about it the next day. She mentioned how the driver talked with a spirit named Dahm and thought he sometimes flew over trees.

Schultz accompanied Donnah to a baby shower on August 26, and when they came home, Mark asked to speak with her alone. Within the next couple of days, he said to her, "I've got to get that guy in the house." She understood that he meant Harrington, the shuttle driver. Apparently, he'd spotted an opportunity. Early on the afternoon of August 29, he asked Schultz if she would love him "no matter what." Later that day, the double murder occurred.

That night, Winger and Schultz both stayed at the home of a rabbi, and during the night, Winger told her it would be best to stay away from the police. He urged her to keep their relationship under wraps. He said he felt certain the Springfield police officer who had questioned him after the incident had believed the story he had told.

Despite what she knew, Schultz continued her affair with Winger. He gave her a ring and talked about marrying her. But then he would say odd things like, "Dead men don't talk," as if he were growing paranoid. He refused to give any detail about what had happened in the house.

Early in 1996, he took a trip to Africa, and when he returned, he called Schultz to tell her their affair was over. Schultz became deeply depressed and began to drink. "I was devastated by Donnah's death," she said. "I ceased to be a vital person." She attempted suicide with a bottle of pills, but failed. She tried three more times that year. Knowing what she did about the murders, she said, disturbed her, and suicide seemed her only recourse. She ended up in counseling and even submitted to electroshock therapy to try to ease her depression.

At the end of 1998, Schultz had occasion to talk with Winger again, and he told her he had become a Christian and had been forgiven. Shortly thereafter, Schultz finally voiced her suspicions to her psychiatrist. In March 1999, she had a lawyer and was talking to the police. She was granted immunity in exchange for her testimony.

But her story did not wrap things up. The defense attorneys had their own witnesses.

Categories
Advertisement