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Mary Winkler’s Family Speaks out about Mary’s tumultuous marriage & abuse with Matthew Winkler

32 year old Mary Winkler has been charged in the shooting death of her husband Matthew Winkler. She is presently awaiting trial. Now her family is coming out and discussing the tumultuous marriage of Mary and Mathew Winkler. According to her alleged confession, “she snapped”. The family claims that Mary Winkler was abused, physically, emotionally and sexually.


Mary Winkler’s father, Clark Freeman, says Matthew Winkler abused her physically and mentally. He says the abuse became more apparent during the last three years of their marriage.

Freeman says, “I saw bad bruises, the heaviest of makeup covering facial bruises. So one day, I confronted her.”

Friends also say even though Winkler didn’t talk about the abuse, her growing fear of her husband was obvious.

Rudie Thomsen says, “One Sunday, Mary came into the church and I looked at her and she had a black eye.” (ABC 24 My Eye Witness News)

Mary Winkler’s Family Talks for the First Time About Why She Shot Her Husband

In an exclusive interview with “Good Morning America,” Winkler’s family said she killed her husband because she was abused.

“Physical, mental, verbal,” said Clark Freeman, Winkler’s father. “I don’t know how she took it. She’s a stronger individual than I am.”

Freeman says the abuse became more apparent the last three years of Winkler and Matt’s marriage.

“I saw bad bruises. The heaviest of makeup covering facial bruises,” Freeman said. “So one day, I confronted her. I said, ‘Mary Carol, you are coming off as a very abused wife, very battered.’” (ABC News)

UPDATE I: Winkler’s Sisters Speak Out

Mary Winkler’s family wants everyone to know she’s a loving mother who was trapped in an abusive relationship. Her sisters Tabitha Freeman and Amanda Miller appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America to speak about Mary.

“We had seen evidence that she was unhappy and abused,” Freeman said.

Mary’s sisters said Mary is doing as well as can be expected while she awaits trial. Winkler is free on bond living with friends in McMinnville, working at a local dry cleaner. Her sisters said Mary misses her daughters. (News Channel 5)

November 20th, 2006 at 08:17pm Posted by | abused, Crime/Murder, Mary Winkler | 17 comments

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    Pingback by Scared Monkeys | November 21, 2006

  2. Ok…all battered women…you may shoot your man.


    Comment by Brenda T. | November 21, 2006

  3. OK, if the family knew of the abuse why did they not take her and the children out of the situation? Why did they not go the church board? Finally, why did they not kick the crap out of him?

    Comment by John Staton | November 21, 2006

  4. I want to ask if he hit her on numerous occassions why did she not have physical abuse marks when they found her in Alabama or at least why didn’t the house look like there had been a fight. It seems that if he was abusive then the things he found out about the money problems would have made him loose control. Most men would have been angry. If he was prone to loose control then this would have been a time. Why did EVERYONE say they were the perfect family?

    Comment by Joe Carbonara | November 21, 2006

  5. I knew this family. I refuse to believe Matt abused her – that he even hit her ONE time, until I see some hard evidence. Mary obviously made a mistake – you can be forgiven of that. Matt would forgive her. What can’t be forgiven is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which is ignoring that you have done wrong when the Spirit convicts you. Mary is obviously being tortured by her conscience right now as she continues to lie at her attorney’s beck and call. She knows better.

    I can not fault her family. They are her family and desparate for a reason – any reason – why she would have done this. They are willing to accept any possibility. However, when this first happened, they were as shocked as everyone else. I remember her father saying he had no idea why this would have happened, and now he is making up a story about how she had been abused for so long. If she had been, and he had seen what he now “remembers” seeing, he would not have reacted like he did then.

    I DO find fault with the many people now wanting to support this lie. The reporter stated that it was the forgiving nature and the fact that they usually give the benefit of the doubt. Sorry – where is the benefit of the doubt for Matthew, whom they are making out to be a monster and who can NOT speak for himself from beyond the grave? I guess it is easier not to have to give him any benefit of the doubt, since he is gone and buried and no one has to look him in the eyes anymore.

    Will I forgive Mary Winkler? Sure – when she asks for it. At the moment, she is slipping further and further away.


    M&E: Not sure if I follow you stated:

    “I can not fault her family. They are her family and desperate for a reason – any reason – why she would have done this.”

    “I DO find fault with the many people now wanting to support this lie.”

    Aren’t the people putting this out there and looking to gain support for the abuse theory the family? Do we know that it is a lie? Although the one question I do have is if the abuse was as bad as claimed how come no one did anything before it got to this tragic point.


    Comment by Vincent Eagan | November 24, 2006

  6. I also knew Mary and the Winkler family long before all this occured. I believe that Mathew did in fact rule with authority however I dont recall seeing any bruises or black eyes or anything and I saw them at least twice a week at various times…

    Even if the abuse was occuring I think it is imperative that everyone answer the question as to whether or not that gives Mary the right to kill in cold blood…. I dont think it does. Unfortunately if this goes to trial and doesnt end up with a plea bargain which I think will be offered a lot of bad laundry will be set out in the air to dray and Matt wont be here to defend himself all because of a selfish act one March day.

    Comment by Jared Gray | December 5, 2006

  7. I feel very sorry for Mary Winkler. She seems like a kind, loving mother and wife and there surely is an explanation as to why she shot her husband. I have been in an abuse relationship (mind control, physical abuse) and I can completely understand how someone could snap, if this is in fact what really happened. I am not accusing Mary’s husband of abuse just simply staing that if it was, I understand. I was raised in the Church of Christ and I know first hand how dominating the men are in that religion.

    Comment by Lisa | December 8, 2006

  8. I’m not real sure about this whole situation. I was married ten years to a man who abused me, he was kind and gentle one minute and then like someone flipping a light switch he was a monster. I was too afraid of him to leave, I know now that when I see Mary Winkler, I was that same, timid, scared person. I stayed 10 years too long, that was 20 years ago, but it seems like yesterday. I could have snapped, I can see it happening. No one knew of my abuse, I hid it well for my own safety.

    Comment by Sandy | January 11, 2007

  9. No one deserves to be shot but the point this makes is what nonsense religion is, A man who put his faith in superstition shot by his own Christian wife when are these Christians going to wake up to what nonsense they believe in. There is no divine intervention we are all responsible for our own lives and should take the blame for ourselves and stop the fairytale childish belive in a supernatural being controlling everything when it so obviously is not. Unfortunately apart from pointles wars that religion initiates, situations like the Winkler murder show clearly there is no Jesus! just an idealistical fantasy.

    Comment by Marcus | January 27, 2007

  10. I saw am update on Mary WInkler tonight having drinks and smoking cigs (supposedly) however these pictures were with a phone camera. The owner said she does come in from time to time. Everyone wants to judge her. Is what she did wrong? YES! Do we understand it? NO! What would you have done in her shoes? You don’t know. I lived in an abusive relationship for years. He was nice looking and a real charmer. He sat in church every Sunday and acted like he was the next thing to God. I couldn’t leave or didn’t think I could. What would I do for money? Would he try to get the kids? The questions went on and on. Once I FINALLY left I went through a spell of wild some would say. REBEL? Maybe. FREEDOM? Maybe. Though her actions are not thr brightest right now she still follows the outline of an abused woman. Abuse can mentally impair you and maybe she will have trouble forever but I hope she has great christian doctors to help her with her thrapy. My ex still sits in church and some think he is God. I got my head back on and remarried a wonderful man who my children love and I do too. We sit in church as true christians and I hope she will get to that point one day too. God bless her, her family, his family, and above all her children but before you judge…make sure you have walked in her shoes.

    Comment by janet | February 1, 2007

  11. Poor Mary, I lived in an abusive relationship for 22 years. He was never physically but very verbal and sexual abusive. I didnt know where to go or who to talk to.. but when he began making a good income I left his butt.. its been 35 yrs and I havent looked back. If there is a forgiving God ? Im sure he would not want Mary to live in that relationship, either. I really had evil thoughts of this man I was married to but glad now I never killed him altho I felt it many times. May God Bless you Mary..

    Comment by kathy S | February 12, 2007

  12. I would like to speak as the wife of a preacher in the Church of Christ. I have followed the reports of this tragic incident for over a year and have been saddened by the pain that has been caused and by the hateful things that have been said about the church. The church that I have known all of my life (in many areas of the country) is loving and kind, and most try to be as faithful as they can to God’s Word. No church members that we have ever worked with, including my husband, have ever put unreasonable demands on me, made me feel that I had to be perfect, or was being held up to a higher standard than anyone else in God’s kingdom. My husband follows scripture in “loving me as Christ loves the church” and it is a joy to allow him to lead our home. He always considers how I feel and what I think, and I am fairly independent and make a lot of decisions with his prior delegation. Our marriage is not perfect, no one’s is, but I think because we try to put God’s wisdom into practice, it’s about as close as you can get, by anyone’s standard of happiness. I don’t pretend to know the Winklers’ situation, but I have known of the good reputation of the family for a long time. Even though I know from experience that anyone can fall, and many people I thought were strong Christians turned out to weak, I think anyone who is forming an opinion about this situation needs to look at the facts logically and see that a lot of what Mary Winkler and her family are now saying to be facts don’t add up to what they all stated earlier last year. And there has been no documented proof of any of it, except for her friends and family that have reversed their statements from earlier in the investigation. As I said, the whole situation is very sad, and my utmost concern is that the world will see this as a twisted picture of what I know the church to be. Before you decide that the Church of Christ is hateful, narrow-minded or reppresive of women, I encourage you (if you believe that the Bible is God’s Word)to get to know some members of the Church of Christ personally and see how they live, what they believe, and why they believe it. I can’t vouch for everyone, because Satan can get to us all if we let him, and no one is perfect, but I have never wanted any other life, and am content and live a joyful life.

    Comment by preacher's wife | April 13, 2007

  13. No one really knows what happens behind the closed door of a preachers house. One moment they are infront of a commity of judges from a Church with a loving smile and the next behind closed doors to be their true self. When you are in an preachers family every one thinks that the preach is a true man of God and does nothing wrong. They are forget they are humman too. In the preaches family you can not tell any one what is really go on. You can not say my father is a abussive to my mother or to me. You can not say he is a alcholic or a drug adic. Mainly you have to hold every thing in side and figure it out on your own and hope that some one is out there and cares enough to say hey what is really going on behind the clossed doors of my preachers house.
    I wish Mary Winkler the best of look either way and will pray for her. I hope that some day she can find happness and understand what has happened in her life that went so badly….

    Comment by Tanya Graves | April 18, 2007

  14. As many here have told of their having had to live with a sick, perverted spouse in a relationship of physical and emotional abuse, and thinking back to 20 years and four children of the same treatment I fully understand Mary Winkler’s plight and what caused her to “snap”. Unless you have lived this you cannot understand what the horrors of this kind of life can be. I am saddened that she and her three little girls couldnot have escaped before this situation ‘blew up’. I hope she will, in time, find the peace of mind she obviously lost. I pray that Mary will look deep inside herself and find the strength to tell her ‘whole’ story to the Jurors so they will understand what brought her to today. I would tell Mary to be strong for her daughers, who I am sure are suffering and yearn for their Mother to be with them again.
    May God Blee you, Mary.

    Comment by Faye | April 18, 2007

  15. What is really sad is when I hear people say as one on here said: “I will forgive her when she asks for it”
    What an arrogant prideful statement !!!
    God told us to forgive others. He never once ever said only forgive when they ask for it.

    He simply said forgive or you will not be forgiven.

    Comment by Anna | April 18, 2007

  16. I grew up in an extremely abusive situation. My father beat my mother, tried to kill her, etc… However, he NEVER once left marks where they could be seen. Many men are smart about their abuse, they know just where to squeeze and punch so that it won’t show and they won’t be punished or caught.

    My mother has been married to my father for over 50 years, and has finally learned to run away when he gives in to his abusive rages. She still won’t leave him, and her worst nightmare is that someone will find out. After he tried to choke her to death a few years back, she told me that there are worse things than your husband killing you (meaning the humiliation of the public finding out).

    A huge percentage of women in this situation WILL NOT leave!!! They have no self-esteem, and they are terrified of anyone finding out about the abuse. Somehow, they consider their spouse’s problems to be their fault and their shame. Maybe they carry the responsibility because women are caretakers, and when something is wrong in the family they assume the burden upon themselves in order to fix it.

    I have lived through abuse in my own marriage, and my son has the same violent rages as my father (he was finally diagnosed with a form of autism). I have learned that many men will abuse if given the opportunity, even if they are considered to be respectable men in the community.

    I have forgiven my father, and I have established boundaries in my marriage to prevent further abuse. At one point, I had reached the same situation as Mary in my marriage. I would never have pulled a gun on my husband, but then again, he had never pulled one on me. Family dynamics are an extremely complicated matter, and the escalating violence can transmit from one family member to another.

    I feel for Mary, and the kids, and Mr. Winkler’s family. Such a shame, such a shame. I am also a member of the Church of Christ, and it’s a situation where divorce is only acceptable in the event of adultery. Abuse is not grounds for divorce, and the only recourse for an abused wife is to seek help. Given that, logically, the only safe option from an abusive marriage is to separate until the situation cools down and the abuser is educated… well, that’s not going to happen when the people closest to the victim discourage the separation/divorce.

    I hope this brings to light more understanding and compassion for victims of domestic violence and abuse.

    Comment by Lorraine W | April 19, 2007

  17. Having come from a home with a wonderful father who was a Pastor, I will absolutely verify that people have no idea what happens in your home. And, having married a very abusive man, the mental is far more agonizing than the physical. And the physical is only done in places on your body where no one would see it. Christians are the largest group of people who are unwilling to see or even know about any problems. They would rather say (as some have stated in their comments above) that it never happened. That is why people like Mary would rather live with the lie in silence. Turned over or broken household items are quickly fixed or thrown away, the facade and mask are always on – and the fear instilled in children is all in the name of being “righteous.” It is to bad that people like Mary have no safe space within their church group to open up – but it just does not happen.

    Comment by ruth | April 20, 2007

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