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Published: Thursday, 3/23/2006

Tennessee minister is shot to death; wife, daughters found in Alabama after search


SELMER, Tenn. A popular and charismatic Tennessee minister was found shot to death in his parsonage, and a search was launched today for his missing wife and three young daughters.

The woman and the girls were found safe later in the day in southern Alabama when a police office spotted their van parked on the side of the road and pulled over to help.

All were in good physical condition, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said, and no one else was with them.

Church members went looking for 31-year-old Matthew Winkler when he did not show up for an evening service at the Fourth Street Church of Christ. They used a key to enter the parsonage and found him dead in a bedroom late Wednesday, Burks said. Winkler s family was gone, along with their minivan.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson said there were no signs of forced entry at the parsonage.

The bureau issued an Amber Alert early today for the couple s daughters, Breanna, 1; Mary Alice, 6; and Patricia, 8. The alert said the girls may be with their mother, Mary Winkler.

TBI spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson said investigators had learned about 1 hours before the family members were found that might have been in southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.

She hasn t been arrested, Johnson said. We want to talk to her and find out what she knows about the slaying of her husband.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.

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