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Matthew and Mary Winkler Marriage Profile


Convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Matthew Winkler, his wife of 10 years, Mary Freeman Winkler, claimed she had been abused by Matthew and that the shooting was an accident. Here's more information about the marriage of Matthew and Mary Winkler.

What Can You Learn From the Marriage of Matthew and Mary Winkler:

The marriage of Matthew and Mary Winkler points out that picture-perfect marriages aren't always so perfect. Marriages made in heaven can have problems. Ministerial marriages that are lived in isolation and with stress are often not healthy marriages.

News Updates:

11/05/2011: The Pastor's Wife is a made-for-TV movie based on the Mary Winkler case.

2008: Mary Winkler regained custody of her three daughters.

8/14/07: Mary Winkler was released on 8/14/07 from the mental health facility where she received treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression after being sentenced t0 67 days for the shooting death of her husband, Matthew.

7/9/07: Mary Winkler has more legal battles ahead of her. The parents of Matthew Winkler "have filed a $2 million wrongful death suit against her. They are also fighting for custody of her three young daughters."
Source: Keith Morrison, MSNBC.msn.com, "Dateline: The Preacher's Wife", July 9, 2007.

6/8/07: Although sentenced to three years for killing her husband, Mary Winkler received credit for the five months already spent in prison and consequently will serve an additional week in jail and 60 days in a mental health facility.

4/19/07: Mary Winkler was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of her husband, Matthew. She could be sentenced to serve between three and six years in prison. She remained free on bond.

4/16/07: Testimony revealed that Matthew Winkler lived for several minutes after he was shot. The defense claimed the shooting was an accident.

2/07/07: Mary Winkler's pre-trial supervision order prevented her from entering "an establishment that primarily sells alcoholic beverages" yet residents of McMinnville, Tennessee, took cell phone pictures of her drinking at a bar in a restaurant.
Source: WAFF.com

8/10/06: Mary Winkler was released from custody after her attorneys posted bail.


Matthew Brian Winkler: November 21, 1974 in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Mary Carol Freeman: December 10, 1973 in Knoxville, Tennessee.


Matthew: March 22, 2006 in Selmer, Tennessee. Matthew was shot in the back while he was in bed. He was 31 years old at the time of his death.

His funeral was held on March 28, 2006 at the Fourth Street Church of Christ in Selmer, Tennessee. He was buried at Carroll County Memorial Gardens in Huntingdon, Tennessee.

"Mary Winkler was escorted to the funeral home at approximately 5:00 a.m. for a private moment with her husband. According to sources at the scene, Mrs. Winkler was quiet but emotional."
Source: Independent Appeal

How Matthew and Mary Met:

Matthew and Mary met in the mid-1990s at the college she was attending, Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee.

Wedding Date:

April 20, 1996 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Their wedding ceremony was held in her parents' backyard.

Family Life:

Billy R. Smith, dean of the School of Biblical Studies at Freed-Hardeman University: "I never saw Matthew when he was not happy and excited about his life, but especially about his wife and family."
Source: Jackson Sun

The family of Matthew and Mary Winkler was described as a "good Christian family" with both Mary and Matthew committed to their church ministry.

"Mary Winkler appeared to be a loving wife, bringing lunch to her husband and eating it with him in his office at the church and supporting him in his ministry, church members said. The two were planning a trip April 20-24 for their wedding anniversary."
Source: Jackson Sun


  • Patricia Winkler: Born in 1997 in Nashville, Tennessee. She was 8 years old at the time of her father's murder.
  • Mary (Allie) Alice Winkler: Born abt. 1999 in Nashville, Tennessee. She was 6 years old at the time of her father's murder.
  • Miscarriage: Abt. 2003.
  • Brianna Winkler: Born abt. 2005 in McMinnville, Tennessee. She was about 1 year old about the time of her father's murder.


In August 2006, Mary Winkler was living in McMinnville, Tennessee, which is about four hours from Selmer, Tennessee. Mary reportedly was living in Smithville in DeKalb County in 2011.


Matthew: Minister at the Fourth Street Church of Christ in Selmer, Tennessee.

Mary: Substitute teacher. The day before the shooting was her first day as a substitute teacher.

Mary worked at Cleaners Express, a dry cleaning business, in McMinnville, Tennessee, in August 2006.

Being a Minister's Wife and Coping With a Submissive Role:

According to Lois Evans, a former president of the Global Pastors Wives Network, "This family needed help. It seems like there was no place to turn to and no place to talk and it became an explosive situation."

The role of a minister's wife can be a difficult role. With their lives being under a microscope, many wives of ministers have feelings of being over worked, isolation, loneliness, and depression. These wives may also think that they have to keep their own needs and struggles confidential.

Gayle Haggard, author of A Life Embraced: A Hopeful Guide for the Pastor's Wife, was quoted by ABC News that wives of ministers "can feel trapped by unrealistic expectations to live a certain way, to dress a certain way, for their children to behave a certain way."

About The Churches of Christ: "The Churches of Christ use a literal reading of the Bible for its creed. Nearly all leadership positions are held by men. Women are subservient-said to be decreed in the Apostle Paul's epistle that wives must submit to their husbands. (These churches are not related to the United Church of Christ, a mainline Protestant denomination.)"
Source: Crime Library

The Winkler Shooting and Motives on March 22, 2006

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