Thursday, December 11, 2014

CBS48 HOURS TO TELL RACHEL'S STORY



THOSE WISHING TO DONATE TO RACHEL'S CHILDREN'S FUND MAY DO SO AT:


http://www.gofundme.com/g4bew


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.

Don Hatfield

HERE  IS THE LINK TO THE ENTIRE CBS SHOW;     this is the entire CBS48Hours show plus text

48 Hours aired the one hour presentation at 10:00 pm ET-PT/ 9:00 pm CT on CBS Saturday Dec. 13


GRAND FATHER'S LOVE AND SORROW    Here is the video that the Sacramento Bee did in seeking the Pulitzer Prize for Renee Byer's photo-journalistic work on Rachel's children and Grandpa's love.
Grandpa Don, Rachel, and Baby Alex 





Monday, December 8, 2014

Don Hatfield Delivers Victim's Impact Statement At Winkler Sentencing 12/8/2014

Hatfield Confronts Killer.  Read complete news account at: http://www.sacbee.com/search/?q=todd+winkler+trial

  1. My name is Don Hatfield and I am the father of Rachel Winkler, the victim of this cruel murder.
  2. On February 27, 2012 Rachel was viciously and brutally murdered by the defendant,  Todd Winkler.
  3. 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.
  4. The 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.
  5. The psychological, spiritual, and financial impact of this act of murder has been devastating.
  6. I 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.
  7. Rachel 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.
  8. This 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.
  9. In 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.
  10. Grief 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!”
  11. Baby Alex to this day cannot tolerate sudden movements or loud noises.  Alex was in the room while his mother was being attacked and killed.
  12. Rachel’s children are exceptional, and they are her legacy.
  13. Through 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?”
  14. Throughout 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.”
  15. In 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.”
  16. I 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.”
  17. I 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.
  18. Her 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.”
  19. The 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.
  20. I 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 soul.
  21. http://www.sacbee.com/search/?q=todd+winkler+trial

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Hatfield Comments On Daughter's Murder Trial

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

Love you, Don

Hi Dad, it's all about love!





Saturday, October 4, 2014

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014