I just did a three hour interview with Keith Morrison, the talking head with Dateline. They will air it in the Spring. I don't quite get what they are up to after CBS did their 48Hour thing. Also 20/20 will do a one hour TV presentation as well--that covers all three major networks. I think they are going to focus more on Rachel instead of her killer's slapping head "...you are no bushito.." caper in the courtroom. This media coverage is bringing attention to my art and has brought in money for Rachel's Children's Fund using the GOFUNDME app. The money goes directly to St. John's Lutheran School, a prestigious private school that has become Holy Ground for the kids. The tuition is substantial, but so worth it--the support they get there is incredible! Eva is in first grade, Ariel in kindergarten, and Alex in pre-school. About 5 families have "adopted" the kids as their own and seem to follow in Rachel's mothering path--a miracle really.
Did this 35 years ago--probably the best piece I ever did. Lost track of it--a dirty old slide representation is all that is left. Would love to know where it is today. If anybody out there knows--please let me know--I want to take a digital picture of the original for my upcoming 200 page 11by14 coffee table book to be published in 2064.
ALL PROCEEDS GO DIRECTLY TO RACHEL'S CHILDREN'S FUND WHERE THEY WILL BE USED TO COVER EDUCATION COSTS:
Eva (2nd grade), Ariel (kindergarten), and Alex (pre-school) are all attending the prestigious St. John's Lutheran School in Napa, CA. The cost is considerable, but they are loved and supported there beyond measure. I have full time paid assistance at home and the kids are prospering. They are experiencing the full range of kid culture here in Napa minus their natural parents. I am completely embedded in their lives, and I love it! I want to provide them with every benefit I can.
My name is
Don Hatfield and I am the father of Rachel Winkler, the victim of this cruel
February 27, 2012 Rachel was viciously and brutally murdered by the
pain and anguish my family and Rachel’s friends have endured since this vile
act is unimaginable.Todd Winkler
took the life of my daughter without any regard for its effects on me, on
Rachel’s three small children, on her three brothers, on her mother, on her
friends, on extended family or on the world.
loss of Rachel will be forever painful.There will be no more birthday parties, backyard gatherings, holiday
celebrations or any family activities to share.The laughter, hugs, guidance, sense of security and those
opportunities to say “I love you” are forever gone.My family is forever broken.
psychological, spiritual, and financial impact of this act of murder has been
am raising Rachel’s three beautiful children and get to watch them daily
navigate life without their mommy, without her great energy, her skills, her
instincts, her humor, her affection, her wisdom.
was a tremendous mother and my best friend.She was the spiritual, psychological, and social core of the
Hatfield family.She often shared
her dream of creating a family center where we could all meet on holidays and
birthdays and love one another and share the bounty of family.
murder trial for me was a nightmare.I had to listen while Rachel was portrayed by the defense as a sick,
incompetent, wayward drunk who cared little for her children and was impossible
to please.Nothing could be
further from the truth.I fell
into deep despair and depression thinking only of the one juror who would
believe this stuff.In the end,
none of them did.
truth, Rachel was exceptional in many ways.She graduated at the top of her class from Sonoma State, and
was heavily recruited by every major accounting firm in San Francisco.She was loved by all of her employers for
her hard work and sparkling personality.She ran the Cameron Park Airpark single handedly and was praised for
setting the place right.Flight
engineers who met there praised Rachel for her amazing intelligence and her
grace in hosting their meetings.
in children finds different expressions as time passes.I have not discussed Rachel’s death
with her children.I let them
initiate questions and then decide what to say.About one year after the murder, Eva offered “I hope he
(daddy) does not do that to any little boys or girls.”She later reflected “how could he do
such a thing.”A few weeks after
these words, I heard Eva screaming in her bedroom at night “mommy don’t leave
me, mommy don’t leave me, mommy don’t leave me!”
Alex to this day cannot tolerate sudden movements or loud noises.Alex was in the room while his mother
was being attacked and killed.
children are exceptional, and they are her legacy.
therapy, love, constant care, and Christian oversight, Rachel’s children will
prevail in this life.But they
will never see their mother again……gone forever is the tender breast, the
loving stroke, the encouragement, the compassion, the wisdom, the constant care
of their natural mother.These beautiful children were orphaned in one cruel deed.How will I ever explain, or even comment
on the question “why did daddy kill mommy?”
all of this ordeal, I did not hear one word of regret from Todd Winkler.I see no compassion for his
children,no remorse.But the mountain of grief that
engulfed me smothered any rage I had against Rachel’s killer.As a father I always thought I could
protect my children. But when the hour of Rachel’s death was upon me, I had
only one thought – that I will never hear her say again on the earth, “Hi Dad.”
the end I have no rage, no thoughts of revenge – only sorrow.Rachel’s ashes are with me in my studio
where I work every day.Where
Rachel would often peer in and say “wow Dad, I really love that painting!”Rachel was a gifted oil painter, and we
used to paint on the mountainside together.She used to twirl on the grass as a little girl, chanting
“God loves me so much.”
still hear her voice from time to time.I still feel the press of her sweet hand in mine, every time I walk one
of her children to school.Her
little Ariel, now 5, is an exact replica of her mother.They even share the same birthday,
January 31st.Rachel was so
thrilled when Ariel was born. She said
“now Eva will have a little sister – I always wanted a little sister.”
look every day at the young mothers at the kids’ school and think “I wish they
had known Rachel.”Strangely
enough, a number of them feel they do know Rachel, and have charged themselves
with loving her children.
body is gone, but her spirit is moving around with her Heavenly Father, and I
will at some point hear her say again, face to face, “Hi Dad.”
magnificent promises of my Faith, along with the hope and anticipation they
generate, do not obviate the need for swift and sure judgment for wrong on this
Earth.I am grateful to Judge Melikian,
Lisette Suder, the members of the jury and the law enforcement people that
worked so hard on this case, to bring justice for Rachel.I felt a great weight lift from my
heart when the guilty verdict was delivered.
will always believe that no restitution, no apologies, no words can undo the
murder for which Todd Winkler was convicted.I have only one request:that the maximum penalty allowed for this crime be imposed.I would hope that he will live out his
days in prison confinement, and never walk among the innocent and unsuspecting
again.May God have mercy on his
Now that I know that what I say on my blog will not be introduced into evidence at my daughter, Rachel's, murder trial, I am free to comment. I shut down most of my blogging three years ago fearing the defense would use anything I said against Rachel in their self-defense case on behalf of the killer.
This case, along with my protracted custody battle for my three grandchildren, was thoroughly covered by the Sacramento Bee from February 27, 2012, to the present day. All of the newspaper coverage may be found at >Sacbee.com< then put Winkler Murder Trial in the search field.
My wife, Janey, finished her fight against cancer on Jan 27, 2012, and Rachel was murdered one month later. One day after Rachel's death I was granted temporary custody of her three small children, ages 9 months, 2, and 4 years. I became permanent guardian three months later after a big court fight.
Now, about three years later, the verdict was handed down by a 12 man jury of "guilty in the first degree"--giving Todd Winkler, Rachel's husband and killer , 26 years to life.
I have been swarmed by news media, well wishers, and strangers from all over the world--"…how do you feel about the verdict ?", "…"how can you raise small children at your age (67)?", "...where do you find the strength?" etc.
A book has been suggested, women's advocacy groups have inquired, 48Hours Murder Mystery is doing a show to be aired soon, articles have appeared at home and abroad.
Then there is the avalanche of inapplicable advise, phony condolences, and half ass comments. Not to mention those whose questions reflect nothing more than a desire to be entertained.
I have always been a sitting target for such crap since I have a big mouth and volunteer way to much intensity at the verbal level--the aggravation that this style creates is beginning to carve me into a humanoid who can "…shut the fuck up once in awhile."
I have learned to wave the white flag at times and have received incredible support financially , psychologically, and spiritually. About $70,000 came in the first year after Rachel's death from her friends and my art collectors. At least 4 families in the Napa area have "adopted" my three grandchildren and provide continuous love. St. John's Lutheran School has become Holy Ground for me and my kids who attend school there.
How DO I feel?--none of your damed business! See I am learning!
I will say that since this verdict came down I have felt some kind of quiet strength, mojo, juice, interest in life, or something start to flow back into my body and soul. I no longer fear an acquittal of the killer or the possibility of meeting him face to face, or of having to give his children back to him--these nightmares are abating.
The victims of Todd Winkler's crime will be giving "victims impact statements" at the sentencing on Dec 8. I am planning a statement for the ages. I am fully aware of the danger of providing irrational rants or non-applicable verbal garbage at the sentencing. There is a ton of scholarship offered online about VIS (victim impact statements)--these academic studies provide arguments pro and con centering on the social, political, and psychological effects of VIS. Some of it is ivory tower BS, and most of the scholarship is offered by those who have never lost a love one in a heinous crime.
VIS show up in future parole hearings and also seem to have some bearing on the sentence itself--so forethought is in play.
I had a couple of "visitations" from Rachel at the trial that were poignant. I was allowed to attend the trial after I was put on the witness stand to be grilled by the defense. For three days I listened to the defense spin out drivel about Rachel's character. For three days I listened to the defense spin out drivel about the killer's character. I was depressed beyond description--it only takes one juror who would buy this stuff to create a hung jury, or to reduce the sentence.
We , those who love Rachel, were constantly analyzing the demeanor of every juror throughout the proceedings. We even had names for them--"Cue Ball, Fat Lady, Barney Business Man, The Hippey, The Three Housewives, Yoda etc. They would slouch, doze off, look at the floor, nod, shift in their seats, the whole bit. By the closing statements I was mentally depleted beyond words--scared shitless and mad may be better descriptives.
My first "visitation" occurred in the middle of the Defense's statements--in a state of deep depression I saw out of the corner of my eye a little girl seated to my right that I knew Rachel loved profoundly--I turned and looked at her and thought I heard Rachel say. "Hi Dad, you know that my life was all about love--don't be angry- everything will be alright, love will have the final word." Well, that changed me on the spot and peace carried me for the rest of that day.
I needed some grace again after the jury was finally retired. None of us knew how long the jury would take to come in with a verdict. It was nerve wracking--all of my cynicism, doubt, and fear were present. While staring out the window of the men's room in the Placerville courthouse I felt Rachel's love again, and all was peace and comfort again--thanks be to God.
In the Prosecution's closing argument pictures of Rachel's mangled body were flashed on the big screen over and over again to refresh the jury. The Prosecutor would signal me to look away when the pictures came up. I turned my back to the screen and watched the faces of those who were looking at the pictures of Rachel's body at the crime scene. People winced, cried, looked away, bowed their heads, groaned. I would not look--I remembered that Rachel was perfect where she was in glory, and was no longer inhabiting that broken body, and I was delivered instantly from despair. The jury was dismissed at 10:45 after receiving instructions, and the trial was finally over after three long years.
So, the jury was working on the verdict. Court was adjourned until is was time to deliver the word. The news agencies lingered around town along with friends and family. My sons left for home in San Diego because of work schedules. I went to lunch with some news people and my old friend, Attorney Wendy Coghlan, who so successfully represented me in the custody trial. We all ordered lunch, Wendy excused herself to make some calls, and we waited--speculating whether we would get a verdict in a day, a week, or what.
Before I could finish my taco salad Renee Byer the Pulitzer Prize photo-journalist received a text message from Peter Hecht, the Sac Bee reporter assigned to the case--"…JURY HAS DECISION, RETURN TO THE COURTHOUSE!"
We all jumped up sprinted to the court room. I left Wendy's purse at the table, but she gathered it and followed.
Twenty minutes later the jury filed in to a packed court room along with three muscular, armed detectives joining the four bailiffs already present.
For the first time every juror sat erect--their faces set like flint in the direction of the judge. The judge asked, "do you have a verdict?" "Yes, we do" came the reply from the foreman. A bailiff gathered the written verdict and handed it to the judge. The judge looked at it and gave it to the court secretary sitting at his immediate right.
At this point I grabbed Wendy's hand and squeezed, and before I could take a breath--the court secretary said, "We, the jury find Todd Winkler guilty in the first degree." I raised Wendy's hand and kissed it.
The judge then asked for a verbal confirmation of the sentence from each juror. I looked to my right and saw 12 people lined up in two rows of six looking like the Praetorian Guard at attention. "Cue Ball, how do you find the defendant?"--"Guilty of murder in the first degree" came the reply. "Fat Lady, how do you find the defendant?"--"Guilty of murder in the first degree" came the reply. "Barney Businessman, how do you find the defendant?" -- "Guilty of murder in the first degree…." and so on until all twelve had delivered their finding. Their faces stern, their bodies erect, their voices penetrating the courtroom--judgement day had arrived and the waters of justice flowed down Mt. Zion like a mighty torrent!
At this point I wept. I saw the heavens open and the heads of the twelve tribes of Isreal sound a common summons: "… Justice will prevail on the earth!"
A bit overstated, I know, but you had to be sitting where I was to get it.
Talk to ya down the road, Don Hatfield
The following are news photos covering trial in Placerville, California:
Prosecutor Suder points to Winkler in final arguement
Suder strengthens case
Hatfield responds to jury as they declare individually the guilty verdict