Thursday, March 23

News of the Weird: West Tennessee edition

It took Edward many years to acquire the look of a half-Native American elderly woman.

The big news this week out of Dyersburg is the tranny nanny who kidnapped the family's two children. Turns out the family had no idea that nanny Ericka, who'd been living with them for five years, was actually Edward. And, really, who would have suspected? What could have given it away? The weird lip growth?

Kudos to Nick for his work on this story. I always knew that Dyersburg would get a lot more interesting with him actually living there again.

Then there's the murder of a pastor in Selmer, the teeny town next door to my own teenier hometown of Saltillo.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Selmer Police Department have issued a statewide Amber Alert this morning after a pastor was found shot to death in his parsonage and his family missing.

Matthew Brian Winkler, 31, was found dead in a bedroom of the adjacent parsonage of Fourth Street Church of Christ, where he was the minister, Selmer Police Chief Neal Burks said.

The alert was issued for Winkler's three children and his wife after church members found him slain in the family's home Wednesday night around 9:22 p.m. Parishioners went searching for the family after they failed to arrive for evening services. The children and mother were last seen on Tuesday, at approximately 5:45 p.m.

I'm so ironically out of the newsloop that it was Kristin in Nashville who informed me that this was going on.

Then I called my grandmother, the Saltillo gossip columnist for The Savannah Courier, to see what she had heard, and if she knew the Winkler family (since she knows everyone, and I'm not exaggerating; you know how older ladies in small towns are). She said she'd heard about as much as I had, but that she didn't know any Winklers in Selmer.

The couple had lived in Selmer for about a year...


Winkler moved to Selmer from McMinnville, about 65 miles southeast of Nashville, where he served as a youth minister, Ashe said.

Usually, if you live in a small town like Selmer and you didn't grow up their or aren't married to someone who grew up there, you're running from something and you have a past you'd like to leave behind.

I'm not saying that's the case here, but I've seen plenty of crazy out-of-towners come to Saltillo and try to make a quiet living there, only to get blown up in a meth lab or get their heads chopped off or their house burned down or whatever, because fate the universe doesn't give them a break just because they changed their address.

Small towns are small for a reason. People leave; not many come in.

UPDATE: I just reread the last part of this entry and it sounds horribly harsh. I don't mean to imply that this family was running from something or that they deserve whatever morbid things are happening to them. I hope everything turns out as well as it can in light of the terrible events. I'm just making a larger point about the fucked-up things that happen in small towns, where you're tempted to think, That could never happen here.

UPDATE 2: Wanna know how dumb and distracted I am? I just now realized that this whole time -- THIS WHOLE TIME (it's 8 p.m.) -- I'd been thinking about Sardis -- a real teeny town near my house, not Selmer -- a town with its own fucking newspaper and a population that's probably at least as big as Savannah's (that's still just 20 minutes or so from my parents). So, yeah. What I said about small towns? Still true. Just doesn't apply in this case. As my grandmother the gossip columnist would say, bring out the wet noodle.

Anyway, they found the family in Alabama. Check your local news tonight for the details.


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