EDWARDSVILLE — A Troy man was found not guilty by reason of insanity at a discharge hearing Thursday afternoon for the 2009 shooting death of a pastor.
On March 8, 2009, multiple police officers from various locales in Madison County responded to reports of a shooting at the First Baptist Church in Maryville. Terry J. Sedlacek, then age 27, had walked into the church during a sermon being given by pastor the Rev. Fred Winters. Witnesses said Sedlacek walked down the main aisle toward Winters, who acknowledged his presence. It was at that time Sedlacek took out his .45-caliber handgun and began firing multiple shots at the pastor. Several parishioners attempted to subdue Sedlacek, who was also armed with a knife. He stabbed two men before stabbing himself in the throat. The cause of death for Winters was a single gunshot wound to the chest and abdomen. The other victims have recovered from their physical injuries.
Sedlacek was charged the following day with first degree murder and aggravated battery. Following his release from the hospital, he was transferred to the Madison County Jail in Edwardsville before being sent to Chester Mental Health Center in November 2009. He has remained hospitalized in state-run mental health facilities since that time. The subsequent investigation into the shooting determined that Sedlacek did not know Winters, nor was he a member of the church.
Since that time, Sedlacek’s fitness has been in dispute; and whether or not he was insane on the day of the murder. In addition to undergoing numerous evaluations during his time at the Chester facility and Alton Mental Health Center, Sedlacek was evaluated by separate expert physicians retained by the court, the State’s Attorney’s Office and the public defender, who represented Sedlacek in the case. The State’s Attorney’s Office retained Dr. Mathew Markos, director of forensic clinical services for the Circuit Court of Cook County. Markos has performed thousands of forensic psychiatric evaluations and has testified in hearings for both the prosecutor and the defense. Ultimately, the conclusion was that Sedlacek was found to have not only an extensive history of mental illness, including a diagnosis of schizophrenia, but that he suffers from a continued decline in his mental health since his arrest, despite ongoing treatment.
The order was entered this afternoon finding that Sedlacek was insane on the day of the shooting and the stabbings, therefore, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. This verdict supports Sedlacek’s status as unfit and unlikely to ever obtain fitness where he would be allowed to ever leave a secure facility.
Winters’ wife, Cindy, was present at Thursday’s hearing and has provided a statement for the media. She has no further comment at this time and requests the media respect her desire for privacy for her and her family.
In a press release, State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons expressed sympathy to the family, friends and parishioners of Winters.
“This was such a tragic and sad case for those who knew and loved Pastor Winters,” Gibbons said. “March 8th changed their lives forever. Cindy has handled all of this with such grace and dignity. I hope that this provides some peace for Cindy and her daughters and everyone harmed by this terrible and tragic event.”
Sedlacek, who will remain at the Alton Mental Health Center, was not present for the discharge hearing before Circuit Judge Richard Tognarelli. The maximum length of confinement for Sedlacek is 85 years — 60 for the murder and 25 additional years because he used a firearm. Any future attempt by Sedlacek to be released from that secure facility, even if only temporary, will require prior approval from a judge with input from the State’s Attorney’s Office as well as Cindy Winters and her family.
Gibbons thanked Assistant State’s Attorney Rachelle Crowe, who serves in the Violent Crimes Unit, as well as current and former staff members, for their hard work and dedication on behalf of the State’s Attorney’s Office, as well as all of the law enforcement and medical personnel who assisted on the case.
Statement from Cindy Winters
On behalf of First Baptist Church of Maryville and my daughters, I would like to express our sincere appreciation for the State’s Attorney Office and their support and hard work over the past six years. In situations such as ours, there isn’t an outcome in which one side wins and the other loses, for really we have all lost. We are extremely grateful that we live in such a supportive and giving community. Have caring individuals around us has made all the difference during our time of loss and we cannot say “thank you” enough. I would ask for prayers for both families involved as we continue to heal and go forward.