Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder by the book: Murder by Deception

Case Re-opened

Now the Springfield police were reviewing the whole incident in a new light, and they hired Tom Bevel to assist. He concluded that it had been a staged domestic homicide, covered by the murder of Harrington. One or the other Winger had willingly let Harrington into the house, despite the fact that they feared him and that their 100-pound dog was locked in the garage. Blood pattern analysis at the scene indicated that Harrington was killed first by gunshot, in the kitchen area, where he fell on his face and bled. Donnah had probably come running from the bedroom, where she'd left the baby on the bed, to find out what happened and was beaten with the hammer. On the day of the incident, Winger said, Donnah had left the hammer in the dining room to remind him to finish a project. Harrington, who had a knife and a crowbar with a taped handle in his car, would not have known he would have access to a hammer.

Hammer on the floor at crime scene
Hammer on the floor at crime scene
The blood spatter on the clothing Winger wore that day also implicated him, not Harrington, in the hammer beating. Although he claimed he had cradled his wife, thus getting blood on him, paramedics found her face down in a pool of blood, meaning, for Winger's account to be true, Winger would have had to have placed her that way after cradling her. In addition, the blood was spattered on Winger's shirt, not smeared, as from a transfer of blood.

Re-enactment of forensic examination of shirt
Re-enactment of testing done to shirt

Only a few spots of blood from Donnah were found on Harrington's clothing, which could have happened when Winger beat Harrington in the chest with the same hammer he had just used on Donnah. He then rolled Harrington over onto his back, creating another pool of blood, and shot him again, from overhead, straight into the floor. Since Harrington had been shot in the top of the head, this was inconsistent with Winger's statement that Harrington had looked up at him, and the position of his body was inconsistent with how Winger said he had fallen after being shot.

Re-enactment of forensic examination of hammer
Re-enactment of forensic examination of hammer

After a neighbor came forward to say that she had heard a single gunshot at 4:30 p.m. that day, it became clear that some forty minutes had passed between Harrington entering the home and the second shot. That, too, was inconsistent with a rampage murder attempt by Harrington, which would have taken only a few minutes.

It was disturbing to many that the police had missed these details, especially since the home-invasion scenario was so bizarre, but no answers were forthcoming. In fact, criminal charges were not immediately made when this information was publicized. Spokespeople for the department said the evidence was still under review.

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