Monday, March 9, 2009

Prosecutor: Man Who Gunned Down Pastor Planned Attack

TROY, Ill. -- An Illinois prosecutor charged a Troy man for murder after he walked into a church on Sunday morning and gunned down a pastor as he gave a sermon.

Terry Joe Sedlacek of Troy has been charged with murder and aggravated battery involving the slaying of Rev. Fred Winters, according to Madison County court documents. He is being held without bond, even though he is in a St. Louis hospital for self-inflicted knife wounds.

Madison County State's Attorney William Mudge said after charging Sedlacek that investigators discovered a day planner where Sedlacek listed Sunday as a "death day." Mudge said that indicates that the attack was planned, but he and the police are still struggling to determine a motive.

Illinois State Police Capt. Mark Bramlett said detectives haven't found a connection yet between Sedlacek and the pastor, except that Sedlacek had friends among the church's large congregation.

Sedlacek is accused of killing Winters at the First Baptist Church at 7110 State Route 162 in Maryville.

About 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Winters was giving a sermon when a gunman walked up to the pastor in the church. Sedlacek pulled a .45-caliber firearm and shot at Winters. The bullet hit Winters' Bible, which burst into confetti. About 150 parishioners were watching when the gunman began shooting.

Then, Sedlacek shot the pastor the chest. Winters died a short time later. Sedlacek then pulled out a knife and cut himself, and two parishioners tackled him to the ground. The two parishioners were injured, one seriously. One of the parishioners is still hospitalized this morning, along with Sedlacek.

Sedlacek had three magazines of ammunition with him at the church. Mudge said that, if a perfect shot, it was enough to kill about 30 people.

Sedlacek and the seriously injured parishioner --Terry Bullard, 39, of Troy -- were treated at nearby Anderson hospital and then airlifted to a St. Louis hospital for surgery. Keith Melton, 51, of Troy -- the second parishioner who tackled Sedlacek -- was treated and released.

bullet EARLIER STORY: Terry Joe Sedlacek's Lyme disease.
bullet Sign the guest book for Pastor Fred Winters
bullet SLIDESHOW: View pictures of the scene.
bullet First Baptist Church's website

Madison County Coroner Steve Nonn said this morning that an autopsy showed that Winters was shot through the heart and died just seconds later.

Why exactly Sedlacek gunned down Winters is still a mystery to police, Bramlett said this morning. Detectives are out talking to neighbors and those who know Sedlacek to look for a connection. Sedlacek knew at least a few of the parishioners at the First Baptist Church, Bramlett said.

"We're still talking to friends and family members and trying to figure that out," Bramlett said. "Some people he knew went to that church, but we're not real sure why he chose that church, that pastor.

"Hopefully, after we get out and talk to people, it will be come clearer as to what motivated him to do that," Bramlett said.

Winters became senior pastor of the church 22 years ago, when the church had just 32 parishioners. At last count, the massive church near Anderson Hospital had about 1,200 members.

State police investigators and forensic teams are sifting through evidence found at the church, Sedlacek's Jeep Wrangler and at his home in Troy. Anyone with information about the attack or Sedlacek is asked to call Illinois State Police Special Agent James Walker at 618-346-3765.

A disaster cleaning company is at the church this morning And, visitors are stopping by to leave memorials to the slain pastor.

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