Donnah Winger was bludgeoned to death on August 29, 1995, and her husband Mark Winger called 911 to report that he’d shot and killed the intruder responsible, Roger Harrington. He told authorities that Harrington had driven his wife home from the airport six days earlier and she had complained about his odd behavior, CBS News reported.
The case was closed for years after the murders but a series of discoveries eventually led authorities to charge Winger with the murder of both his wife and the driver, the outlet reported. They said he actually lured Harrington to his home and shot and killed him before taking up a hammer and beating his wife to death.
Winger, who had in the meantime remarried and grown his family, was arrested in 2001 and pleaded not guilty to the charges. He has since faced a jury trial and been found guilty of both counts of first-degree murder.
Detectives Initially Believed Winger’s Story That He Shot Harrington as He Was Killing His Wife
During the course of the brief investigation, authorities discovered that Harrington, a shuttle driver, had driven Donnah Winger and her three-year-old daughter from the airport to her home almost a week earlier.
After the shuttle ride, she told her husband that Harrington had freaked her out, was speeding and told her “sometimes when he drives, this God-like character would come to him and pull him out of his body,” Mark Winger reported to authorities, CBS News reported. He filed a complaint with the shuttle company.
On August 29, 1995, Winger told authorities that Harrington had come into their house and beat Donnah Winger to death with a hammer. He said he was in the basement running on the treadmill and went upstairs after hearing a noise. Upon discovering Harrington beating his wife, he shot and killed the intruder, Winger said, according to Jacksonville.
Within a day, prosecutors determined that Winger had shot and killed Harrington in self-defense and would not be facing charges. They closed the case, and it would remain closed for years until new information came to light.
Six Years After Her Murder, Authorities Arrested Winger for Both Murders After Discovering New Information
Detectives started questioning Winger’s story when he showed up regularly at the police station to ask for his gun to be returned. Detective Charlie Cox told CBS News, “I released the gun back to Mark and we sat and talked for about a half hour. He was wanting to know how the case was going. As far as I was concerned, he should have just accepted it was closed.”
Cox said Winger returned again and told them he was marrying his daughter’s nanny, who had been hired just months after Donnah Winger’s death. Cox said he got the impression that Winger was trying to see if police were still investigating the case. However, despite Cox and his partner wanting to reopen the case, they were unable to for three years, until Donnah Winger’s best friend DeAnn Schultz approached them.
CBS News reported that Schultz confessed she’d been having an affair with Winger before Donnah’s death and he had told her he wanted Donnah to die so he could get out of the marriage. She said he also mentioned Harrington’s name. “He’s the perfect guy to seize on, to make it look like an intruder had come in and killed his wife,” authorities told the outlet. The new information allowed authorities to reopen the case and investigate Winger, which ultimately led to his murder trial and conviction.