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MURDERED: Donnah Winger


In 1995 a new mother is killed after being attacked by a man who'd been harassing her. Or at least, that's what everyone believed. But years later investigators learn there might be much more to the story.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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one of them in the last four weeks and the best part is for a limited time. When you sign up, you actually get the whole back catalogue all at once that won't last forever, but that three years of binge able true crime content that you can access right away, so take listen to today's little extra episode and if you like, what you hear head over to crime, junkie, podcast dot harm to sign up for the fan, club and we'll be back Monday, with our regularly scheduled programming, hope you guys enjoy high crime monkeys, I'm your host, Ashley flowers and I'm bread and the story I want to tell you today is one that almost never got told it's a story, of love and loss of operate. Kennedy intrigue and eventually of justice. This is the story of Donna
winner. Each on the afternoon of August. Twenty nine. Ninety, ninety five, when nine one one dispatchers in Springfield Illinois, get a frantic phone call.
Hey God, my wife breathing, I need everything he told me what's the problem, I just hope this man in my house inside you have, if it's easier right now, as you have done, are everywhere the man he's waiting on the floor. Is he dead? I don't know he's. Making weird sounds. I can't understand you slow down. Is the man still in your house she's laying off of a bullet in his head? Could you shoot him? He was killing my wife. I, the man
on the other end of that line is marked winger a married father of a three month old baby, and you can hear from the call he's absolutely Veryain tech, yadda Only when police arrive at the winger home the scene was total chaos, the front door is open and inside the dining room they find mark crouched over the body the of his thirty one year, old White Donna accords two thousand two story by Linda rocking the Chicago Tribune blood is seeing from seven wounds in the back of his head and she's lying face down about five feet. Way from dawn. Also on the floor is another man and he's lying on his back he's been shot in the head and next to his body, Policia, hammer that's covered in blood now Donna and the unknown man or still breathing when paramedics arrive and they are quickly rushed to the hospital
the wing or house, though it's now a crime scene, so police continue to try in calm, marked down and figure out what the heck happened here so the organs and tissues and drinks- and I may mark sitting there he's in total shock, he's covered in blood and he's literally just rocking back and forth on the bed asking if his wife is okay. So what exactly happened well marked tell. Police that he was downstairs on the treadmill when he heard this like thump sound upstairs. So he goes up to check. What's going on, and according to a two thousand eight series from CBS News, he found the b we all alone in their master bedroom- and he said that when he saw the baby alone, he knew immediately something wasn't right, so he tells police. You can hear more noise coming from the dining room, so he grabbed his gun and follows the noise this seems. Removing the kind of fast seems like its s leaning really quickly. Why would he jumped to I need to protect our home
like right away. You know, I don't know I kind of actually had the same thought to what I really think that, weird for three month old baby, to be alone, I don't be a he didn't say necessarily as far as I could have a baby crying or I mean babies, nap babies get put down, I don't know and then again the baby's alone, and that's your only indicator that using some he's weird, so you go immediately and grab your gun. I make us, though, knowing mark, I have no idea how normal that might be. But to me I would definitely not be my first reaction anyway so, he says that he gets this and he goes to the dining room, and that is where he Donna on her knees and a man that he says he's never seen before, leaning over her and beating her with a hammer, is he then instinctively took aim and fired his weapon and the attacker fell backwards, but Mark said the guy looked like he was trying to get back up, and so he shot him a second time in the forehead at that point. Mark tells police
He rushed to his wife side trying to give her cpr, but the strange man started like groaning again so marks one the hammer at his chest and he stopped, and that is at the point. He calls nine one one soul. Who is this? a guy as you just like some random person off the street least identified, the man as twenty seven year, old, Roger Harrington and police give his name like, say hey. This is who the guy is. Do you know him? Do you recognize him marked instantly recognizes the name and according to a foreign debt episode from two thousand three called a welcome intrusion mark tells police. That is the guy
who has been stalking. My white, like this guy, he's, been harassing my family had yet for some time now, and so then Mark goes on to tell police this story about Roger and he said Roger had been calling the house all week asking for Donna talking in, like we're voices and police What like? What is her connection to him? Why would he be doing this? Don't you have any idea marks as yet so almost a week ago, he tells them gonna and her three month old, Baby Bailey had taken a shuttle from the Saint Louis Airport to their home in Springfield, like she was visiting family in Saint Louis, they, coming back and raw your Harrington, had been the driver of that shuttle, bus and apparently Roger had been soup or inappropriate during The drive he was talking to dawn about wild sex parties, these violent fantasies telling Donna that sometimes when he drives these, like
your powers come to him and they pull him out of his body like very, very bizarre things, and not only is what he is saying making her uncomfortable, but the way he was driving was making her uncomfortable too. He was super erratic, going really fast and Donna fell really unsafe now he didn't make it home in one piece, but it left her super rattled yeah. I can imagine how creepy that situation we in general, but especially to have your baby with you. Oh totally, and so when Mark hears about this when she gets home, he's pissed and he tells police like when she told me this story. I called to them. Little company, where he worked and complained about the driver and even had Donna like right out the details kind of in a statement about what happened. While we still fresh in her mind and police actually end up finding this written statement by Donna on the fridge which spells out not only what happened that night, but also how afraid she had been of Roger Mark says that basically,
after he makes that complaint, that's when the harassment really started, because Roger had actually been suspended from his job. Because of that complaint, and in fact Just that morning, Mark said that he had to call Roger directly to warn him to leave Donna alone when they start looking at this guy Roger he wasn't. Actually a stranger to police. He wasn't like a hardened criminal or anything, but he did have some prior arrests, one of them tactics who responded to the scene at the Wingers House that day actually had a rusted Roger before for domestic violence incident at some time, but more Roger was just kind of known to police because of this history. He had with psychiatric issues which included him having delusions? Okay, so that maybe explains at least some of his behaviour while he was driving down and the baby back from the airport. But I guess my question is what brought raw during the warehouse. That day, will I mean
police are looking at the scene. I think the conclusion that they're coming to Somehow Roger became obsessed with Donna. Somehow after that ride- or at least he became obsessed with this idea of vengeance, maybe even after he lost his job again without Roger here to say anything I mean in the hospital at this point. They don't know for sure, but the theory is, but we will have a reason like next to grow, right, right, axe to grind you're gonna, whether he was just obsessed with her, whether using a delusion, whether it's because he was suspended, but he came so obsessed with the idea of getting to her that he eventually stalked and attempted to kill her and ultimately, she did end up dying. Despite the lifesaving measures mark said he tried to perform done. It did not survive. The vicious attack according to Linda Rockies piece in the Chicago Tribune, Donna suffered seven massive wounds to the back of her head from that claw hammer and, in fact, which interest is that it was the winners own hands
which marked hold investigators. Donna had left out for him like on the dining room as a reminder that he had to hang a picture and ask Roger. He was actually pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital, so All of this I mean was all a horrible tragedy. This young mother taken too soon adopting husband, whose now left to pick up the pieces of his life and reason. And baby on his own, yet somehow move on except raw just family cannot move on bacon calling up investigators, insisting Roger is innocent, but he's never been violent before he definitely wouldn't start now and their adamant that there has to be some kind of mistakes, something that someone is missing because something is right, but for police it was a tragedy. I mean absolutely yes, but from their per bacteria- and this was one that was shared by both the coroner and the states attorney the men responsible for down his death was also dead, so
really when they looked at this, that there was no further investigation require, it seems pretty straightforward, yeah, no charges we're gonna be late. The case was closed and a few weeks later, the coup foreigners jury agrees with the police and the prosecutor, and that is This story may have ended, except just like Rogers we can't move on from what happened. There is wine detective rookie investigator named Doug Williamson, who is also struck linked to- let this case go trees, observers brought you buy liquid so my son is convinced he doesn't need to drink water he'll come in from a bike grade or dog, walk and fuel like you, I have a really bad headache. Usually I ask him how much water he's had that day and he's like a thirteen year old boy and is like none? So I tried
get him to drink glass, water, but I felt a solution that he is, is a huge fan of, but also great for the environment. Liquid death its canned water. That looks like his favorite energy drinks, but is actually mountain spring water in a continually recycle aluminum. Can it looks? Cool, he's my family hydrated, what's not to love them also super excited to take them out to my parents house the summer when we do pull day tat these delicious waters incompletely, recycle all cans on hand to make sure all sitting hydrated or getting our float on right now. Death is available at seven eleven stories nationwide, including the one right around the corner for my son school. So go your way. For seven eleven to pick up some cans of liquid death few things about Donna's murder that you never quite sat right with detected Williamson like what well so
or small things about marks behaviour at the crime scene that to him just seemed a bit off like, for instance, the directive found it strange that mark hadn't mentioned or even asked about like going to the hospital to see his wife after the paramedics took her away immediately after the attack. So there's an ever vote on this case in the series murder by the book and detective Jameson says that he will. Driven mark himself if he asked for a ride, but he never did and again remember. She's a breathing when they take her away so he's like. Why who are you? What are you wanna. Be there. Why don't you know? Why don't you care, but even more than this, he wondered why Donna, who is this doting new mom, would leave
her newborn baby alone on the bed to go open the door for a man that she is supposed to be afraid of, she wrote a statement that she is afraid of this guy. Do we know for sure that she let him in like couldn't he have broken in? Well? No, so that's one of the things there was no sign of forced entry, so she either made the decision to let him in or the door potentially it could have been left unlocked. But anyone who knew Donna said that she never left that door unlocked even if she was home. So if we're became the assumption that she opened the door. Opening the door to a guy. She says she scared of leaving her baby alone. It's just not sitting right and Other thing that the detective finds super weird is that Rogers Car had been parked right outside their house and inside the car. There were two tension, murder weapons. He had a knife and a tire iron, but you didn't bring them in with him exactly detective and is wondering if he came here to hurt
Donna her husband, her baby. Anyone you have weapons you. Why didn't you bring those in what you end up using to hurt her is the hammer her own dining room table, but he it had no way of knowing that Hammer was their he'd never been to the house before it was just chance right, but that's not all the day of the murder, detective Williams and noted an insulated cup and a pack of cigarettes. On the dining room table next to marks Gun and when he about those items. Mark said that they belonged to Roger, and this was the thing that never could quite let go because he doesn't. Stand how those cigarettes in cop could have plea into that whole murder scene. That mark describes, because what a man so full of rage about being suspended from his job store, indeed on his house to kill her, but first like take a time out like
grab a drink set down his smokes yeah. It sounds like a casual interaction more than anything right, and on top of that, why was he bring his cigarettes and something to drink and not a murder weapon egg? Exactly it's not adding up and hop of that when you continue to pick this story apart, Donna's murder was only well to happen. The way it did because Mark had been in the basement when Roger came to the door according to mark this was like a surprise visit. They weren't expecting in they had no idea was gonna come by, but when police urged Rogers car. Not only did they find this potential murder weapons by the so found a note in the car, with marks. Name marks a dress and for thirty p M weight he's was supposed to show up at a certain time to meet with Mark yeah, so again marked claimed that Roger just showed up unannounced, but that no sure made it look like there was some kind of appointment that was made an accord
to the cold blood episode on this investigation. At least one person had confirmed that there was an it meant it was Rogers roommate who said that Mark had called Roger to set a time to meet. Now detectives ask Mark about the key. But he explained it away by saying, like I did- call Roger but ah he did was rave about this evil spirit guide. We didn't say we're going to meet like none of that is real, so Mark is trying to push it off on like a delusion. Exactly to be honest, I'm shocked that none of these discrepancies were followed up, especially if there is this one, detective and mix questioning marks tail the entire? yeah. I know it's weird right and even if it were just one of those things, I could see being like. No, this pretty open and shut pathetic. A lot of discrepancies, and I think one of the reasons. Maybe it wasn't I've noticed rise. Paid attention to early on was because of mark himself like every
when in Springfield new Mark, as these good guy and he was a nuclear engineer working for this state. He served Korea he's now in the army reserves he Indaba had tons of friends, they were active in their local jewish community and everyone's that their marriage was good, healthy. It was strong. They were this like happy picturesque. Couple too, see like there's anything else to look at and literally even the police report says that it literally said quote: it was very apparent that he and his wife were very much in love and that they should, never have happened, end quote, but whatever and before again they closed the case, Detective Williams and couldn't let it go and he wants to follow up on it now. He d in by Roger as the murderer, so he keeps urging everyone to reopen the case, but every will time he tries his superiors, keep saying no
like not gonna hurt this poor husband again, there's always loose ends in the case. Sometimes it doesn't just fit nice and tidy into a tiny box. You gotta walk away. Dude case closed. They just shot him down every time, but is interesting. Is that Williamson, isn't the only person who thinks that this should be open? Mark must be so too, because a few months after dawn is murder. He actually goes back to the police station and he says he wants his gun back, but he all stays awhile, and he asked the detective how the investigation is going and The detectives are like will widen, negation, but it has not yet this is closed and he kind of Russia's it off again. Nothing like big happens, but it's weird right, like it's very, open and shut the police are looking into this in its strange that he's asking these questions.
Eventually after he gets shut down so many times, detective Williamson steps back from his suspicions about mark because they're just isn't he lot more to go on and mark himself is moving on his life you see hires in any, to help care for his daughter and in an interesting twist, he actually ends up marrying this nanny just a year after Jonah's death and They go on to have three more children together and again he's like living a very normal life. It's a quiet life their raising their family together and truthful again. This is probably the story could have would have ended except the He'll show stopper was yet to come. Upstairs brought you by being over end brand after so many months, working from a friend,
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always come out with new colours and patterns for their designs, which I just love right now our listeners, get thirty percent off their first bitter brand or when you go to bed that calm, slash, Chrome, junkie, that's thirty percent off you, First order for a limited time at bay, the brand that Tom Sash pungency discover what it's like to be comparable and comfort in all of the time could have been abandoned com such contracts for a thirty percent off. In February nineteen- ninety nine- this is three and a half years after dawn is death. A woman comes for to police, saying she needs to clear. Her conscious about Donna's case this woman's name is D. In short, she is a friend of donors and shit says that she'd been having an affair with Mark yeah DM says that
mark had started their affair about a month before Donna was killed and they kept seeing one another until a few months later. Not only that, You also claims that Mark told her. He wanted out of his marriage, so that he could be with her, and things will just be so much better if Donna was just dead accord The CBS news peace I mentioned DM says Mark not only asked her to help him killed Donna at one point but within oh of the murder she says? Mark mentioned Roger Harrington, saying that he needed to think you're out a way to get him to the house. Now, when he's confronted me this story marked doesn't deny the affair with tee, and he just claims that the rough of the story is bogus any basically says, listen. Yes, I was a crappy husband that does not make me a murderer which, like to be fair,
the general Rule year. I cried junkie, crappy huh. And does not a murderer make but the affair specially because it was withdrawn. His best friend Drawing this image that mark had built up a basic, perfect hero, husband, defending his wife and remember that image is kind of what made police close this case so quickly in the first place. So with this now realizing that maybe they didn't have the full story, police decide to look at the case again, the thing they notice when they open the case file is three polaroids of the crimes. In its pictures. They didn't even really know existed until now. One of the police officers had
in these photos at the crime scene before the paramedics moved the bodies, but because the case closed so quickly. No one had like bother to look at that like open, shut, dont need to like analyze anything, but what they see when they looked closely at those photos actually tells a completely different story than the one mark had been telling all this time now remain by Mark, said that he came up the stairs from the basement and he found Roger. Harrington standing over his wife beating her in the back of the head with a hammer and Jonah kneeling, so what you did speck to see is Roger. On his back feet, pointing toward Donna, but that's not what was said at all it's actually completely the opposite. His feet were pointing in the opposite direction, so the
these actually hire a new crime scene analysed to look at all the evidence and his conclusions leave them dumbfounded. The expert tells police that John is death, was most likely a domestic homicide stage to look like a home invasion Roger was lured to the house by Mark and framed for Donna's murder, one of the most in seeing things the expert points out which I am shocked. Nobody pick Bon day. One is that Roger? How had no blood splatter on his shirt, which is something you would you something? You definitely expect to see on somebody who is bludgeoning another person with a hammer but remember when police came in mark was in fact the one covered in blood, and not only that Rogers own gunshot wounds were totally inconsistent with marked story. Okay, so correct me if I'm wrong but mark or the police, that he shot Roger twice once from
the hall when he first saw Roger attacking Ghana, and then that, like downed Roger Then he started getting back up. Shot him in the head right right, but here's a thing. So what police find is that the first? first shot actually hit Roger in the back of his head near the top, not the front. So what? when a piecing together is investigators now think that mark lured Roger to his house, with the hopes of raw you may be getting his job back like you, don't know what he said or how he got in there what he promised, but their thinking, maybe you know me because that listen I'll talk to your supervisor. It's not that big deal like let's come and have a discussion at settle this. Let's get this over with when I'm right right. So what Roger was in the house police suspect that Mark had him turn. Around a needle and then he shot him in the back of the head
In marks initial statement, he claimed that Roger had looked up at him and that's when he shot him the second type, but the new forensic analyse starts checking the ballistics and they say the placement of the shell teasing doesn't match mark story again, but everything does kind of fall into place if he shot him from behind. So what there Thinking is that Mark killed Raw, you're and then police figure that when Donna heard the noise she Russia's into the room and that's when her own husband hits her with the hammer before. Nine one one so, but remember the name on one call. I played for me right off the bat to begin the episode here. So I want you to listen to justice. Sliver of that call again.
Can't understand? He saw the man still in your house for a broader than that. You shoot out dated I'll call you back and let me just this one little part one more time, if they got him. He was killing my wife, my baby's crying my best trying I'll call you right back. What is that? Well, says that it's the baby crying. But what detectives here and You know if you're looking for what I can hear too is someone moaning police, assume that the groans are why Mark hung up not because the baby was crying they I believe that Rogers body was lame face down when Mark heard the moaning and that he took her Roger over and shot him
in the forehead. This also better explains in ear witness that police had earlier. But again they didn't think was relevant. This person said that they heard two gunshots, but the gunshots were a couple of minutes apart, like five minutes, which makes sense of again, he kills Roger first, a taxes It calls nine when one realizes Roger is still alive and has to shoot him a second time. Didn't you say that Mark hit Roger with the hammer to ask what was the point of that so, it's interesting because you know marks as he does it out of anger or whatever. He thinks that the guys still moving whatever but police agree that bathing. He did it only to explain why his own prince would be on the hammer so in police, as new version of the crime scene. Now the photo the ballistics. The blood all of it finally makes sense, but police can't afford to make
Other mistakes, so they spend wait for it to year putting a rock solid case together. Against mark and finally six years after dawn is death mark, was arrested and charged with two counts of first degree: murder, the defence their best to argue that the police's original investigation was right, but the evidence against Mark was under viable in two days to mark was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. But this where Mark story ends because in two thousand five and in May in the prison, where market serving a life sentence comes forward to Saint Mark tried to rope him into a murder for higher plot in prison. What's who is trying to kill now Dionne Shots done Donna's best friend his
own ex lover and the woman who pulled at the strings that made marks story unravel and they have in writing. Marks new murder for higher plan is literally nineteen handwritten pages long in it. He outlines his plan to Hadrian, kidnapped and then forced to write and record statements thing she made. The whole thing up in that mark is innocent and after she gave those statements, she was supposed to be killed but she wasn't even the only person he wanted to kill. There was another target: a guy named Jeffrey Gilman, whose he Jeffrey it was actually a childhood friend of marks he's this well the real estate developer living in Florida at the time and mark was apparently like pissed off at Jeffrey would post a million dollar bail for him and according to a story by Chris Death row in the Ohio timed reporter mark, wanted Jeffrey kidnapped, and then demand a ransom in exchange for not killing Jeffreys family, his
dean. Page note also said that if there were any money left over after Dan was dead and Geoffrey and his family were dead, they could go a and killed on his father to like just for the heck of it, so that Guy Chris Debtors He also wrote a piece for the Times telegram, which said that mark even plan to get the hit me unto hire him after prison because- and this is a direct quote quote- I know I can pull a trigger end quote so trying to hire this man and then like line a job when he not like you can not make this stuff on all this has sole bananas, wild and confusing and yeah baffling. I don't even know what to think anymore. Mark said that the the thing was just an elaborate fantasy, but of course the jury doesn't by it. They actually convict him on two counts of solicitation of murder, one
de on and one for Geoffrey, and he sent me to another five years on top of his license. That he's already serving you know, I I can't help but wonder how this case might have been different if a quick thinking He's officer had snapped those pictures in the beginning or if a guilt Indian hadn't, come forward to police all those years later or the whole house of cards that Mark had so carefully built this persona that he had so carefully crafted hadn't ball, and down around him, yeah and Roger, to mean historic, ll be the most heartbreaking of all. He was going this meeting at the winners, probably apologize, incursions up, maybe get a job back and he not ends up dead, but framed for murder four year, as I know coming, he is just as much a victim as Donna so marked winger plan. What could have been? What
almost was the perfect crying and, if not for a few polaroids and a guilty conscience, he might have gone away.
With it.
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Transcript generated on 2021-03-30.