Families torn apart by killer dad reflect on the years they believed he was a hero
After the brutal murder of his first wife, Mark Winger moved on. After all, he was seen as the hero who tried to save her and shortly thereafter killed her supposed killer with his gun.
Police quickly concluded that the 1995 murder of Donnah Winger was a tragic incident committed by what appeared to be a mentally ill driver who once drove her home from the airport.
It was a world-shattering tragedy for Donnah's family, and Winger married the beautiful young nanny he had hired to care for the newly adopted newborn of his and his late wife. In the following years he had three other children with him.
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It wasn't until 1999, more than three years after Donnah's murder, that her best friend DeAnn Schultz spoke up that she had had an affair with Winger before her friend was killed, and that police began investigating the case further. At the time, Schultz told police that Winger had made several incriminating comments, including, "It would be easier for us to be together if Donnah had just died" and "All you had to do is come in and close the body." Find." . "Schultz said at the time she felt that the comments were just" crazy talk ".
Donnah's family and Winger's ex-wife Rebecca Simic spoke to "20/20" about the terrible realization that Mark Winger was a manipulative murderer hiding under the guise of a brilliant engineer and a kind, loving husband and father.
Donnah and Mark Winger fall in love
"He was smart, Jewish. He was attractive and was fun," said Jenny Levin, Donnah Winger's sister, to "20/20". "[Donnah] just felt like they had found her person."
Donnah was the oldest of three sisters in an incredibly close family. The threshers also loved wingers.
PHOTO: After Mark and Donnah Winger were married in 1989, he was offered a job and the newlyweds settled in Springfield, Illinois. (Family Drescher)
"We used to joke that when a sister got married, that husband married three sisters," Levin said. "We shared our life with Mark."
After Mark and Donnah Winger were married in 1989, he was offered a job and the newlyweds settled in Springfield, Illinois. Donnah worked as an operating room technician and was a nuclear engineer.
"Donnah couldn't have been happier. The only thing was that she would have loved to have a child," said her stepfather, Ira Drescher.
PHOTO: "We used to joke that when a sister got married, that husband married three sisters," said Jenny Levin. "We shared our life with Mark." (ABC)
Donnah's mother, Sara Jane Drescher, said her daughter was overwhelmed when she learned she couldn't get pregnant.
But one day while he was working in the hospital, a doctor told Donnah that a teenager was about to put her baby up for adoption. Adopting the child was an easy decision for her.
"She looked at me with tears and said, 'Michelle, I knew that when you took the baby in my arms, she was always mine,'" Donnah's sister Michelle Hansen told "20/20".
The Wingers welcomed Baby Bailey to their home on June 1, 1995. Donnah's family said the couple loved their new parenting roles. They seemed to have all the prerequisites for a long and happy life together.
PHOTO: Donnah's sister Michelle Hansen. (ABC)
"Mark was just as excited to be a father as Donnah was to be a mother," said Hansen.
The story goes on
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