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Reports: Grandparents return Winkler children to their mother

Mary Winkler’s three daughters were returned to their mother on Friday, her attorney said, ending a bitter custody battle between her and the parents of her slain minister husband.
Rachael Putnam told The Associated Press that Winkler picked the girls up Friday from her former in-laws, Dan and Diane Winkler,  and that the children will remain with her permanently. Dan Winkler is the minister of the Huntingdon, Tenn., church.
Mary Winkler was married to Matthew Winkler, minister of the Fourth Street church in Selmer, Tenn., until his shooting death in March 2006 in the church-owned home where the family lived. She was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 2007, served five months in jail, two months in a mental health facility and now is free on probation.
The children — Patricia, 11; Allie, 9; and Brianna, 3; will live with her in a home in Smithville, Tenn., which is owned by the miniser of the congregation she now attends, according to published reports. Sources involved with the custody proceedings, which have been ongoing, say the two sides reached an agreement without a court order and that the older girls are enrolled in a neighborhood school, where classes begin this week.
Mary Winkler was awarded supervised visits with the children 11 months ago, after visitation was first granted, then denied on appeal by the Winklers, then reinstated by a circuit court judge. The girls’ grandparents will be allowed visitation under the new agreement, reports say.

  • Feedback
    I am thankful the children was returned to their mother. I pray she inudates them with God’s love so that they will spend eternity with Him. That’s all that really counts. I am somewhat (without judgement) surprised how far the Winklers went to keep the children away from their mother.
    September, 22 2008

    Christians should unite and pray long and hard for these children, pray for the heart-broken grandparents, pray for faith strong enough to get through this sadness.
    August, 12 2008

    I feel SO sorry for the children and the grandparents…I’m not sure I could abide by a court order that gave my son’s children back to my son’s murderer. How will the children view their mother, and how can she teach them right from wrong? Sad, sad,sad.
    August, 11 2008

    Well, we definitely cannot trust human judgment. The Lord knows exactly what happened and why and only His judgment on this is right and ultimately vindicated. What Mary needs to do, being she is left alive along with her children is make sure she is right with God, teaching her kids the love of Jesus. Otherwise there will be a judgment for her she won’t be able to avoid.
    August, 6 2008

    This result is bittersweet. All children should benefit from being with their parents – both parents if at all possible. Mary Winkler took that away from her children. I continue to be puzzled by her punishment. If she’s mentally ill enough to take the life of another then 2 months treatment does not result in a cure. If she’s guilty of murder then 5 months is not a sufficient punishment for murder. It simply sounds like the found a neat little crack in the system and avoided all responsibility, punishment, and treatment.
    I respect the decision of the grandparents and pray that they can remain a positive and consistent influence in the lives of these children. I also pray that children don’t do anything to make her snap like she did on their father.
    August, 5 2008

Filed under: Staff Reports Top Stories

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