SELMER, Tenn. – The pastor's wife accused of shooting her husband to death was formally charged with first-degree murder at her arraignment hearing on Monday.
Mary Winkler, 32, did not enter a plea. She is accused of killing 31-year-old Matthew Winkler, the preacher at the Fourth Street Church of Christ in Selmer, Tenn., a small town 80 miles east of Memphis.
After the shooting, she then fled with the couple's three daughters, Breanna, 1, Mary Alice, 6, and Patricia, 8, according to police.
Dressed in an orange prison robe and wearing ankle shackles, the petite Winkler came to the hearing Monday holding her attorney's hand. She kept her head down during her brief court appearance and said nothing except "no sir" when the judge asked if she had any questions after he read the complaint against her and explained her rights.
General Sessions Court Judge Bob Gray delayed a decision on bail until a preliminary hearing, set for Thursday.
Police said Friday she confessed to shooting her husband twice in the back. Her defense attorney said he is looking into reports of a confession to determine whether it actually happened and if so, whether that confession was legal.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has refused to discuss a motive, though officials there have said they know what it is. Investigators do not believe the killing happened because of infidelity, the agency said, refusing comment on whether Winkler had been accused of domestic abuse. Court papers offered no hint on a motive.
"There are persistently going to be rumors about why this happened, how this happened … but we're not allowed to comment," Mary Winkler's attorney, Steve Farese, told FOX News after the Monday arraignment. "Our defense right now is every defense known to man."
Farese added that he has not yet seen the specific charges or the "alleged confession" that his client apparently gave to police. "We'll have to see how this thing plays out," he said.
Another defense attorney, Leslie Ballin, declined to answer questions about Mary Winkler's state of mind but said her lawyers might order a psychological exam later.
Mary Winkler was locked up at the McNairy County jail after being returned Saturday from the coast of Alabama, where she and her three young daughters were apprehended late Thursday by police following a multi-state search. An amber alert had been issued for the children.
Church members found Matthew Winkler dead in a bedroom of the couple's parsonage Wednesday night after his family missed a church service. Mary Winkler and the children were nowhere in sight.
After Mary Winkler's arrest, an Alabama judge released her children to the custody of their paternal grandparents in Henderson.
Earlier, a family friend said Mary Winkler wanted her husband's congregation to know "she was sorry for everything she has done."
Church member Pam Killingsworth visited Mary Winkler after church services yesterday and said the preacher's wife gave no indication why Matthew Winkler, her husband of 10 years, was shot.
The congregation held its first Sunday services since the shooting death and were warned by elder Robert Shackelford not to speculate about why their popular, young minister was killed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.