Rebecca Simic, the second ex-wife of Mark Winger spoke with ABC 20/20 tonight about the murder of Donnah. Their four children also open up about the ideal father they believed they had for years.
Mark and Rebecca Winger were a picture-perfect Midwestern family with four children. But a tragedy occurred when it was revealed that Mark was the man behind the murder of his wife, Donnah.
The case was previously closed, and Mark had begun a new life by marrying his daughter’s new nanny, Simic in an attempt to move on from his tragic loss.
Years later, however, Mark’s immaculate facade was shattered by a surprising revelation from Donnah’s close buddy, revealing his terrible secret.
He was caught and charged with the murders of Donnah Winger and Roger Harrington in August 2001. A jury convicted him guilty of two charges of first-degree murder after a three-week public trial.
ABC 20/20 Tonight: Who Is Rebecca Simic?
Rebecca Simic is the second wife of Mark and the mother of four children, Bailey, Anna, Maggie, and Ben Simic. The family recently had an interview in a two-hour “20/20” special on ABC.
They open up about the ideal husband and father they believed they had for years, as well as their current sentiments for Mark.
Jenny Levin and Michelle Hansen, Donnah’s sisters, are also interviewed in “20/20.” They spoke about losing their sister, discovering the truth about Mark, and how reconnecting with their niece, Bailey.
She was only a baby inside the house at the time of the murders, and Donah’s sister helped her recover from the death of her mother.
Shortly after the death of the baby girl’s mom, Rebecca Simic said she “wanted to protect” Donnah Winger’s daughter from “the chaos that had gone on around her.”
— 20/20 (@ABC2020) May 28, 2022
Mark speaks out about the circumstances leading up to Donnah’s killing in a rare jailhouse interview on “20/20,” which also includes insight from best-selling crime author Harlan Coben.
Police had decided that Donnah’s death in 1995 was a terrible accident caused by a mentally ill motorist who had previously transported her home from the airport.
Former Sangamon County deputy state attorney Steve Weinhoeft described Donnah as “clinging to life.” “She had been smacked in the head seven times with a hammer.”
According to Weinhoeft, the second victim, a Caucasian male, had two gunshot wounds to the head but still had a pulse when police arrived.
Cox discovered the man’s wallet and recognized him as Roger Harrington.
Mr. Winger told authorities he was on the treadmill in the basement when he heard a disturbance upstairs. Winger proceeded to investigate, first going to the house’s master bedroom, where he discovered Bailey on the bed, according to Cox.
He then heard additional noises and went to the dining room, grabbing his revolver from the nightstand.
According to Graham, Winger told police that when he walked down the hallway, he saw Harrington swinging a hammer at his wife. Winger claimed he shot Harrington once, then shot him again as he began to sit up, according to Cox.
Police didn’t start looking into the case until 1999, more than three years after Donnah’s death. It was after her best friend DeAnn Schultz came forward to say she’d had an affair with Winger before her friend’s murder.
Schultz told authorities at the time that Winger had said things like, “It would be simpler for us to be together if Donnah just died.” And “All you’d have to do is come in and discover the body.” Schultz claimed she thought the statements were “crazy stuff” at the time.
Police then looked into why there were no traces of forced entry into the residence. And why Harrington may have left potential murder weapons inside his car, such as a tire iron and a knife.
And instead utilized a hammer belonging to the Wingers that happened to be on the kitchen table. Harrington’s automobile was also positioned in the opposite direction, indicating that he did not try to disguise his presence at the Winger’s house.
“Harrington was not an intruder; rather, Mark enticed him into that residence,” the court stated. And following several other pieces of evidence against him, he was finally arrested and charged with murder.
Mark Winger’s Second Wife, Rebecca Simic- Wikipedia Bio
Rebecca Simic, the second wife of Mark Winger was 23 years old and recently graduated from college when she was hired by Winger as a nanny. According to her, she was recruited as a live-in nanny for Winger’s baby daughter Bailey a few months after the killings.
Winger and Simic’s connection quickly developed into a loved one, and they married within a year. Simic had already grown to love Bailey as her own daughter and had formally adopted her.
She bought Winger’s story about his first wife’s terrible demise, just like the cops.
Rebecca Simic recalls the impact of Mark Winger’s “shocking” arrest: “My whole body just kind of went numb.” At the time, Mark Winger was seen as a caring father who overcame the murder of his first wife.
— 20/20 (@ABC2020) May 28, 2022
Simic and Winger had three more children together over the next four years. And they relocated to a farmhouse outside of town to accommodate their rapidly expanding family.
She characterized herself as a young lady with the world in her hands who wished to serve people and work with children when she first visited Winger’s home in 1996.
And she’d discovered that, although not in the way she’d hoped, as a caring wife and mother attempting to heal a family shattered by tragedy.
The officials resumed the investigation into Donnah Winger and Harrington’s deaths after they discovered new evidence, as well as the fact that Winger was cheating on Donnah.
That new material painted a much different picture of the catastrophe that occurred inside the Winger house on that fateful day in 1995.
She was burdened with a new identity that was both unwelcome and unrecognizable after her husband’s conviction. A single mother of four small children and the wife of a convicted murderer, surrounded by a community that she believed considered her guilty by association.
Where Is Rebecca Simic Now?
Following her husband’s arrest, Rebecca Simic, got a divorce from Mark Winger and her family relocated away from Springfield to live with Simic’s brother, Steve Simic.
She legally changed the names of herself and her children from Winger to Simic, her maiden name.
Despite relocating and changing their surname, Simic found it far more difficult to escape the taint left by his misdeeds. She not only lost her marriage, but she also lost her financial stability.
She was unable to find work after seven years as a stay-at-home parent, and her home was in foreclosure, so she had to make the difficult decision to apply for assistance.
Simic tried to maintain a sense of normalcy and pleasure for her children while secretly grieving.