The authorities descended upon the Winkler home in Cameron Park, California, after a 911 call regarding a fatality. Investigation Discovery’s ‘American Monster: Edge of Reason’ focuses on the reasons behind the murder of a beloved mother, Rachel Winkler. While the police knew who killed Rachel, the circumstances surrounding the death became the points of argument during the ensuing trial. So, if you’re curious to find out more, we’ve got you covered.
How Did Rachel Winkler Die?
After high school, Rachel pursued a bachelor’s degree in business at Sonoma State University in California, later working with several small companies. The 37-year-old had married Todd Winkler, a former Air Force pilot and a pharmaceutical executive, just weeks after they met. Together, they had three young children and had been married for about six years when the incident occurred. At the time, Rachel worked at the Cameron Airpark in California as a manager.
On the morning of February 27, 2012, the Winklers’ neighbor called the authorities to report a domestic dispute ending in death. He had gotten a call from Todd regarding a struggle between the couple. Once the police got to the house, they found Todd, who directed them to Rachel’s body. She was in one of the bedrooms and had been stabbed several times. Apart from defensive injuries on her palms and abrasions on her face, she had stab wounds to her neck and eye. The weapon used was a pair of scissors.
Who Killed Rachel Winkler?
The authorities then learned that Rachel and Todd’s marriage had been on the rocks for a while, and she had planned to file for divorce. According to a friend, Brandy Stanley, Rachel had told her in a phone call that Todd was a pathological liar, also calling him a creep in an earlier email. Furthermore, Rachel had begun an affair with James White, whom she met at work. Todd knew about this relationship for more than a year and tried to win his wife back.
When Todd was questioned, he claimed they argued over the custody of their children. At one point, it turned physical when Todd punched Rachel. He contended that his wife then came at him with scissors, and a struggle ensued. Then, Todd claimed to have stabbed her, walked out to his car, and returned with his jacket. At that point, he said he feared for his life and plunged the scissors down Rachel’s neck during yet another struggle.
Later, the police learned that this was not the first time Todd’s partner had died. His previous wife, Catherine, died in what was ruled a car accident in 1999 in Georgia. At the time, he told the police that Catherine was driving him to a medical center because an insect bit him. In Todd’s version of the events, his wife drove off a dirt road down a mountain while he was ejected from the vehicle. In the end, he collected more than a million in life insurance.
Furthermore, there was a history of Todd’s disturbing behavior to contend with. According to Rachel’s brother, Todd once physically assaulted Rachel at a bar in San Diego in 2006. The prosecution also believed he lied to his employers about cancer many times. Then, in another chilling development, Rachel’s father said that Todd once wanted to stage a car accident with Rachel where the vehicle would go off a cliff, to cash in on insurance money.
James further stated that Rachel feared for her life, adding, “She said, ‘If anything ever happens to me, I want you to look at Todd. And I want you to look up my kids when they get older and tell ’em how much I loved ’em.'” At Todd’s trial, the prosecution brought attention to the fact that he cleaned up the crime scene and waited several hours before calling anyone.
As for his wounds, the prosecution believed they were self-inflicted because none of the items he touched had any blood on them. After the attack, Todd admitted to feeding his children, who were all in the house, including the seven-month-old in the bedroom. The trial began in September 2014, with a wealth of evidence being presented against Todd. The prosecution claimed that the motive was financial since he didn’t want to pay child and spousal support.
Where is Todd Winkler Now?
At the trial, the defense claimed that Todd had a history of mental illness and was hospitalized during his service and while working for the pharmaceutical company. They further contended that he had dissociative identity disorder, and during the attack, his right arm was temporarily paralyzed.
However, the jury sided with the prosecution, finding Todd guilty of murdering Rachel. In December 2014, then 47 years old, he was sentenced to 26 years to life behind bars. Records indicate that Todd remains incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison in Marin County, California. He will be eligible for parole in June 2031.
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