Saturday, March 25, 2006


Today's post isn't about music. Nothing in pop culture today excites me, because along with my family, I've been sitting and watching the news in shock and horror while the talking heads report on the unspeakable tragedy that is Matt Winkler's homicide.

I know it's not the first and certainly won't be the last murder of the year, but this one hits really close to home.

Matt was around my same age, and he went for a short while to the same college I went to before he transferred to Lipscomb. I remember seeing him around, though we never properly met, and I recall him as a friendly smiling face. I don't remember much about his wife, Mary, though she was there around the same time. It's a small Christian college, and there's just a different vibe there than in any other school, such that you feel sort of a bond with the other students, and when tragedy strikes, it feels very personal.

It also hits home because, as some of you may know, I spent a (very) brief time in the ministry, and the church that I worked with was in the same town and literally five minutes down the road from the Fourth Street Church of Christ where Matt was the minister. In fact, I baptized my now-ex-girlfriend in that very building. Matt wasn't there at the same time I was, but I knew his congregation, and I enjoyed the people there. I knew the members, and there's no finer group of people anywhere.

I also know the town of Selmer. There's no way that they were ready for this. Things like that just don't happen in that town or even in surrounding McNairy County. It's always so quiet, and about all the police have to do, usually, is to stop somebody from running the one or two red lights on the main street. It's sort of a Mayberry, with the barber shop, the video store, the Wal-Mart, and the mom and pop shops. The people there are simple God-fearing folk. It's no surprise that when the preacher didn't show up for Wednesday night that the church would go looking for him.

I don't know what happened between Matt and Mary. All I know is what you know: she shot him in the back and then hit the road until she ended up in Orange Beach, AL. I'm sure the sordid details will all come out, and there's already plenty of speculation in the court of public opinion over whether Matt abused her or if she just went nuts. I will say this: she wouldn't be the first girl I knew from that school who lost her mind and did something stupid. And if he did, in fact, abuse her, it still wouldn't have given her the right to cap him from behind. In my humble opinion, I sort of doubt that a battered woman would've left the scene, locked the doors, had the wherewithal to pick up the children from school unnoticed and gotten all the way to the Alabama coast. However, again, I don't know what happened, and all I can do is guess.

What I do know now is that three beautiful children are going to be for all intents and purposes orphaned, though thankfully the Winkler family has stepped up to take custody of them. They will have to live the rest of their lives with the events of the past two days haunting them forever, and they will know Mommy killed Daddy for whatever the reason might be. It will stick with them as they grow up and will forever be a hindrance to them in developing their own relationships.

With Mary's confession, it's all over but the court proceedings, and time will tell whether we'll hear any insanity pleas, post-partum depression, abuse allegations, or whatever the case may be. For now, though, a community that I care for very deeply is hurting, and I ask those of you who keep a personal relationship with God to pray for the town, the church there, and most especially the children. Faith, even in the dark hours, can heal.


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