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In mental-health crises, police often fill in gaps

In mental-health crises, police often fill in gapsArizona RepublicIn the days and weeks following the fatal Phoenix police shooting of a mentally ill woman, much of the discussion and outrage was directed at how officers handled the mental-health call …

Drug bust snares Lacakwanna County prison guard

Drug bust snares Lacakwanna County prison guard
Scranton Times-Tribune
A Lackawanna County prison guard is among 14 people, including several others with ties to law enforcement, charged Wednesday in connection with a major anabolic steroid ring, the state attorney general’s office announced. Nick Baloga, 44, 2223 …

Cameron Park man flashed anger prior to killing wife, victim’s brother says

Years before Rachel Winkler was fatally stabbed with scissors in her Cameron Park home, husband Todd Winkler violently flashed his anger by throttling her by the neck while at a bar in San Diego, Rachel Winkler’s younger brother testified Wednesday.

David Hayfield recounted his shock when, over casual drinks in 2006, Todd Winkler inexplicably, physically unleashed his anger upon Rachel Winkler.

“He mentioned something about a bad deal and something that frustrated him and he felt that his life had been put in danger,” Hayfield testified. “Then he (Todd Winkler) demonstrated what he would do to the guy” in the airplane deal. He used Rachel’s neck as a demonstration. He grabbed her by the larynx and shook her.

“She was his wife. I was taken aback. Rachel started crying, probably due to humiliation and pain.”

Todd Winkler, 47, a former Air Force fighter pilot and pharmaceutical marketing representative, is on trial in a Placerville courtroom for killing his wife, the mother of their three children and the manager of the Cameron Park Airpark on Feb. 27, 2012.

Winkler, who has pleaded not guilty of murder, admitted to his wife’s killing but says he acted in fear for his life during a struggle after Rachel Winkler, 37, came at him with a pair of scissors during an argument over terms of their pending divorce.

His lawyer, David Weiner, has asserted that Todd Winkler also suffered from a psychiatric condition, dissociative identity disorder, and was hospitalized for mental illness while on a business trip in Amsterdam and with the Air Force in Japan. He says his client killed Rachel Winkler as their confrontation provoked a psychotic episode.

The case is drawing national media attention, fueled by prosecutors introducing evidence of a fiery car accident off a Georgia forest road that killed Winkler’s previous wife, Catherine Winkler, 32, in 1999.

Todd Winkler collected nearly $1.2 million in life insurance settlements after the accident, in which he claimed he was thrown from the pickup truck.

Deputy District Attorney Lisette Suder argued that Winkler threatened Rachel Winkler by saying she could die in a similar accident – and he would collect another settlement – if she didn’t go along with his wishes in the divorce.

El Dorado County prosecutors have focused on other alleged violent or erratic behaviors.

A witness last week testified that Rachel Winkler told her that Todd had once beaten a man “to a bloody pulp” after the man flirted with Rachel while they were on vacation in Bali.

In nearly two hours of police interviews played in court, Winkler also admitted that he had punched his wife in the face before a “protracted” struggle ensued over the scissors.

A graduate of the Air Force Academy who flew F-16 fighter jets, Winkler told a detective he knowingly killed his wife, plunging the scissors into her neck as “she was, uh, begging for, uh, her life.”

At the time of the killing, Todd Winkler was working for Abbott Diabetes Care, earning $250,000 a year in salary, bonuses and stock. His family lived in an upscale pilots’ community near the airpark with a combo garage and aircraft hangar.

Eric Davis, Winkler’s supervisor at Abbott, testified Wednesday of an episode in Amsterdam when Winkler became paralyzed and unresponsive in his room before a 2011 business presentation and had to be hospitalized for a week.

In the weeks before Rachel Winkler’s death, Davis said Todd Winkler told him that Rachel was the one with mental health problems.

Davis said Winkler complained about the emotional state of a wife “who was very, very depressed.” He said Winkler told him he needed time off to tend to Rachel’s needs and those of their children.

Davis said he followed up with Todd Winkler and got a text message on Feb. 10, 2012. It read: “Trying to get Rachel stabilized. Hard. Outcome unknown.”

A little more than two weeks later, the Abbott supervisor said he got two more texts from Winkler:

“Very serious home situation. Out all week.”


A day later, Davis testified, he learned that Rachel Winkler was dead.

Call The Bee’s Peter Hecht, (916) 326-5539.

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‘Roaming rapist’ trial gets underway in Sacramento

Sixteen years after her midnight rape, the woman told a Sacramento Superior Court jury Wednesday about the night she rode her bike home across a dirt field in North Highlands and how “I heard something behind me, and I saw somebody walking behind me.”

“I started riding my bike faster,” she said, “and they started running after me.”

The burly man running in the field caught up with her, the woman said, “and they grabbed the handlebars of my bike, and I stopped my bike, and they came up behind me and put their arm around my neck. They told me to be quiet because they had a gun.”

“I was scared to death,” she testified.

She obeyed when the man told her to lay down on her stomach, before “he started punching me in the back of the head, and the last punch was with a concrete rock to the back of the head.”

The rape came next, and more than a decade and a half later, none of it has faded from her memory.

“I could picture it right now,” she said.

The woman, whose name is being withheld because she is a sexual assault victim, was the first of 10 who were raped by the man whomSacramento law enforcement authorities would later nickname “the roaming rapist.”

Sheriff’s detectives identified the rapist as Dereck Jermaine Sanders, who is now 41. Two years ago, prosecutors filed a 28-count complaint against him related to nine attacks that ranged from North Highlands to Carmichael to south Sacramento. The 10 victims included teenage girls, a young wife and two Stockton Boulevard prostitutes.

According to authorities, the assaults started with the April 20, 1998, attack on the woman who was 18 when her assailant ran her down in the field at the intersection of Roseville Road and Watt Avenue.

The last one took place March 21, 2003, when a man detectives identified as Sanders duped a woman who walked out of The Raven, a neighborhood bar in East Sacramento, into believing he was a cabbie.

Once she got inside his van, he handcuffed her, authorities said.

“She told him, ‘Please don’t do this to me. My husband and I are trying to have a child,’” Deputy District Attorney Rob Gold told the jury in his opening statement. Still, “He raped her, and said, ‘I wonder if the child might be mine,’ ” Gold told the jury.

The rapes were reported all over town. Three months after the rape of the bicyclist in the North Highlands field, two teenage girls were abducted at Madison Avenue and Dewey Drive in Carmichael. Two more attacks followed on women in Arcade Creek Park in December 1998 and Howe Avenue Park in November 2000.

A woman who had been drinking in a bar near California State University, Sacramento, in February 2001 was abducted and raped when she got into a traffic accident not too far away. Two Stockton Boulevard prostitutes were raped in March and May 2002, followed by an attack on a woman at La Mancha Way and Tangerine Avenue in the south area in March 2003. The last assault linked to “the roaming rapist” was the one on the wife who was coming out of The Raven on J Street.

During his opening statement, Gold stacked nine smallish cartons on a table and told the jury, “The defendant is in every one of these boxes.”

The transference, Gold said, came in the form of Sanders’ DNA that the prosecutor said matched the genetic material extracted from the sperm found in nine of the victims.

In his opening statement, defense attorney David Bonilla warned the jury to guard against “the type of emotion” the rape cases against Sanders might bring out. He said each of the nine incidents “is its own investigation, its own occurrence.” The victims, Bonilla said, varied case by case in their descriptions of their attacker.

He told the jury he will question the experts about the DNA contents in the rape-kit boxes the DA stacked in front of the panel.

“How did it get there?” Bonilla said. “Did it get there through proper methods and procedures?”

Investigators arrested Sanders on Nov. 9, 2012 – more than nine years after the last rape. Prosecutors ultimately charged him based on what they called a “familial” DNA hit.

The defendant’s brother, Ladell Lamont Sanders, 44, had been arrested and charged with rape in 2011. He has since been convicted and sentenced to prison for 25 years to life.

Officials said at the time of Dereck Sanders’ arrest the next year that it was Ladell’s DNA that led them to their man in the case.

Gold did not mention the brother to the jury on Wednesday, but he said detectives somehow “developed an investigative lead” that directed them to Dereck Sanders. They put him under surveillance, Gold said, and followed the suspect to a McDonald’s fast-food restaurant near CSUS and later to White Rock Park in Rancho Cordova where Sanders threw trash in a garbage can when he was finished eating.

Detectives retrieved the trash, and the crime lab snagged some DNA off the cup and straw, Gold said. Overwhelming statistical probability, the prosecutor said, established that Sanders’ DNA was the same as the serial rapist.

Call The Bee’s Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.

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Two intruders pistol-whipped, robbed man in Akron home invasion

Two intruders pistol-whipped, robbed man in Akron home invasionThe Plain Dealer – cleveland.comThe two men about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday knocked on the door to the home in the 700 block of Wing Street. The 27-year-old man answered the door and the two men i…

Ask Sacto 911 crime Q&A: Has former school principal accused of child molestation gone to trial?

Did Robert Adams’ trial begin, or was it again delayed?

–Still Waiting, Orangevale

The trial date for Robert Benson Adams, former principal of Creative Frontiers school in Citrus Heights, has been reset a half-dozen times.

According to Sacramento Superior Court online records, it is now scheduled Jan. 7. A trial readiness conference is set for Dec. 12.

Adams, 63, was arrested in September 2011. In March 2013, Superior Court Judge Kevin J. McCormick ordered him to face trial on charges that he methodically and routinely molested young girls at the private school dating back to 1996.

He is charged with six felony counts of lewd and lascivious behavior with a child younger than 14 and a misdemeanor count of annoying or molesting a child younger than 18.

Adams has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

Read more articles by Cathy Locke