Widow of Slain Ill. Pastor Still Praying for Suspect

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  • Cindy Winters
    (Photo: AP Images / File)
    Cindy Winters addresses the media at a news conference outside the First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill. , Saturday, March 14, 2009.
By Joshua A. Goldberg, Christian Post Reporter
October 22, 2009|9:21 am

The widow of the Ill. Pastor who was shot and killed as he was preaching to his congregation this past March says she continues to pray for her late husband’s alleged killer and hopes that he “finds peace with God.”

 "I continue to pray for Terry Sedlacek and his family,” Cindy Winters expressed in a statement after a judge deemed 27-year-old Sedlacek as mentally unfit to stand trial.

“I hope he receives the help and care he needs, but ultimately my prayer is that he finds peace with God," she added.

On Tuesday, Madison County Circuit Judge Richard Tognarelli revealed in a three-page ruling the results of Sedlacek’s court-ordered examination, which found the suspect to be schizophrenic and unlikely to be able to assist in his defense.

According to psychologist Robert Heilbronner, who examined Sedlaceck, the suspect would struggle to follow the trial process, "have significant difficulty listening to and understanding explanations that are provided to him, and be unable to respond in a relevant manner during pleading or testimony."

In light of the examination, Tognarelli ordered Sedlacek transferred to the Illinois Department of Human Services for treatment and evaluation in a secure mental health facility. Within 30 days, the department must report back on whether Sedlacek is likely to be fit for trial within a year.

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Sedlacek, from Troy, Ill., is accused of fatally shooting Pastor Fred Winters of First Baptist Church in Maryville on March 8 as he preached to his congregation.

According to eyewitness accounts, the gunman had walked toward Winters during the service and fired at the minister, who tried to evade his shooter. Two men eventually went to subdue Sedlacek after his gun had jammed and were injured by his knife during the struggle.

Sedlacek has since been held without bail, charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery.

Though Winters’ widow, Cindy, reported in her recent statement that she has had numerous interactions with the Madison County State Attorney's Office and those in law enforcement, her main concern is not about the legal issues surrounding the day of the shooting.

“My main concern at this time is … for my family's emotional and spiritual health," the mother of two clarified.

Winters’ church, similarly, stayed out of the legal proceedings, saying that it is “not in a position to make determinations like the court can.”

“Our responsibility is to pray for those who make these decisions and for God to bring to light any and everything pertaining to the truth of what happened," it reported in a statement.

The 1,200-member church is currently still in the process of finding a new senior pastor and had reported in July that a five-member search committee was expected to begin its work around October.

The process, it stated, could last for “another 12 to 24+ months.”

The church has asked for prayers in the meantime.

 

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