- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 11, 2009

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The man accused of gunning down an Illinois pastor during his sermon as horrified churchgoers watched left an index card marked “Last Day Will” at his home, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

Other documents detail how the Rev. Fred Winters tried to run from accused gunman Terry Sedlacek at First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill., a St. Louis suburb, before the preacher collapsed and bled to death Sunday.

Authorities say Sedlacek, 27, of nearby Troy, fired four times from a .45-caliber Glock pistol, hitting Winters once in the heart.

'Dark money': 10 years in, Democrats learn to love Citizens United despite outward opposition
Iran expands support for Taliban, targets U.S. troops in Afghanistan
Trump taps 8 House Republicans for impeachment defense team

The court papers indicate investigators have found an arsenal in Sedlacek’s bedroom, including two 12-gauge shotguns, a rifle and a box of 550 .22-caliber bullets. An inventory of items seized from his home also lists the “Last Day Will” index card but does not detail what else was written on it.

A prosecutor said Monday that a day planner found on Sedlacek’s dresser referred to Sunday as “death day,” suggesting Sedlacek planned the attack. Authorities say Sedlacek brought to the church enough ammunition to kill 30 people.

Sedlacek was charged Monday with first-degree murder and aggravated battery in the shooting of Winters and the knife wounds suffered by two congregants who wrestled him to the ground after the shooting.

Sedlacek remained in serious condition Tuesday in a St. Louis hospital with self-inflicted stab wounds to the throat. One of the injured congregants, Terry Bullard, was upgraded to fair condition.

Investigators said they still hadn’t pinpointed why Sedlacek allegedly strolled into the church during its early Sunday service, packing a pistol and three magazines loaded with a total of 30 bullets.

An affidavit by Illinois State Police detective James Walker said Sedlacek entered the sanctuary and walked down an aisle to the front of the church toward the pulpit, where Winters spoke to him.

Walker wrote that Sedlacek then fired at Winters. Investigators have said that bullet clipped the top of the Bible the preacher held, sending pieces of paper spraying like confetti. Many of the roughly 150 witnesses said it looked like a skit.

Winters, 45, then bolted toward the edge of the stage with Sedlacek running parallel to him, Walker wrote.

“Pastor Winters then jumped from the stage where he landed on the ground. Sedlacek then placed himself next to the pastor and fired multiple shots, striking Winters,” the affidavit said.

Investigators have said Sedlacek fired four rounds altogether before his gun jammed. After chasing and mortally wounding Winters, Walker wrote, Sedlacek tried to flee but was subdued by Bullard and Keith Melton.

“The way I feel in my heart is my pastor needed help and I had to help. I can’t relate that back to anything. That’s just how I feel about it,” Melton said. “I’ve been in car accidents before where it seems like it’s slow motion. But this was over so fast, it’s harder to make sense of it.”

It remains unclear whether Sedlacek knew Winters, a married father of two who led First Baptist Church for nearly 22 years.

Authorities have not revealed the verbal exchange between the gunman and Winters, who was wearing a microphone. Madison County State’s Attorney William Mudge has listened to the audio recording but won’t publicly discuss it, spokeswoman Stephanee Smith said Tuesday.

Smith said Sedlacek previously had been issued a firearm owner’s identification card, though Illinois State Police spokesman Scott Compton said Sedlacek did not have a valid one.

Sedlacek attended Southwestern Illinois College in Granite City from August 2006 until May 2008 but never graduated, registration clerk Julie Boeschen said Tuesday.

Calls to the home he shared with his mother and stepfather went unanswered Tuesday, as have repeated visits to the house since the shooting.

Sedlacek’s attorney, Ron Slemer, told the Belleville News-Democrat on Monday that his client had deteriorated both mentally and physically since contracting Lyme disease.

Slemer has not returned numerous messages left by The Associated Press at his home and office.


Associated Press writer Tammy Webber in Chicago and AP videographer George Wise in St. Louis contributed to this report.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide