Mary Winkler–who shot her husband in the back and then refused to aid him or call 911 as he slowly bled to death for 20 minutes–walked away a free woman last year after serving a farcically brief “sentence” for her crimes.

Mary Winkler’s claims of abuse were largely uncorroborated during the trial. According to the testimony from Matthew Winkler’s oldest daughter, Patricia, the dead father–who as he lay dying looked at his wife and asked “why?”–was a good man and did not abuse her mother.

Mary Winkler has been in a custody battle with Matthew Winkler’s parents, who have been raising the three girls since the murder. The Winklers sought to terminate Mary Winkler’s parental rights and adopt the girls, a position I’ve supported.

Mary Winkler was granted supervised visits with her daughters last year. Now, sadly, she has gained back custody of the three girls, which is clearly not in the girls’ best interests.

Last year Dan Winkler said, “These young ladies have not expressed any desire to be with their mother or her family,” but he and wife Diane have now ceded custody, knowing that continuing their legal battle to protect the girls would in the end be unsuccessful. A judge has approved the custody transfer. 

Ned Holstein, MD, Fathers & Families and I laid out the case against child custody for Winkler in our co-authored column No child custody for husband-killer Mary Winkler (World Net Daily, 9/14/07).

From Mary Winkler Gets Daughters Back (, 8/1/08):

FOX13 has learned that Mary Winkler has gotten her three daughters back. Winkler picked up her children Friday afternoon. The girls had been living with their paternal grandparents since Winkler killed her husband Matthew in 2006. Now it appears the bitter custody battle is coming to a close.

As soon as Winkler’s criminal trial ended, the custody battle began. But Friday, in an unexpected turn of events, she regained physical custody of her three children.

A source told FOX13 that Winkler picked the girls up Friday afternoon and brought them to her new home in McMinnville, Tennessee. She will soon enroll them in local schools…

Winkler lost custody in 2006 when she was charged with the murder of her preacher husband Matthew Winkler.

Winkler was convicted of manslaughter in 2007 and has been fighting for custody of her children since her release from a mental facility.

Matthew’s parents, Dan and Diane Winkler, have had custody of the girls since 2006 and have been trying to adopt them.

“These young ladies have not expressed any desire to be with their mother or her family,” said Dan Winkler in 2007.

The Winkler’s filed appeals in an effort to stop Mary Winkler from having supervised visits and phone calls with her daughter.

But now, a source said they have turned over custody to the girls’ mother.

This is being called the first step to full custody, although no official court order has been filed.

Glenn Sacks,

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