[MN] Ramsey Co. Sheriff Fletcher: Justice for Barbara Winn!
Saturday, April 28, 2007
COLD-CASE ON FIRE! JUSTICE FOR BARBARA WINN!
A North St. Paul woman uses a cold case to raise awareness of domestic violence.
By Anthony Lonetree, Star Tribune
[Excerpts] When an investigation into the shooting death of Barbara (Bobbi) Winn, of Maplewood, ended in 1981 without charges being filed, her family felt defeated. "We locked down," recalls Patty Bruce, a relative. But in 2006, Winn's case surfaced again, and this time, Bruce said, the family met and decided: "This time, we're going to fight." Bruce, in turn, has become a domestic violence activist, creating Web pages from her home that honor Winn and -- in a slide show depicting victims from across the United States -- draw attention to Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. Her activism, ignited by online networking that has produced 800-plus "friends" on Barbara Winn's Myspace page, coincides [:)] with a potential legal breakthrough, as well. Anoka County prosecutors have decided to take the Winn case to a grand jury, possibly within the next three weeks. At the North St. Paul home that Bruce shares with her husband -- Barbara Winn's brother -- and their children, Barbara Winn's picture sits atop a piano in the living room... Asked how many hours she's spent in the past year on the Winn case, the correspondence and the online memorials, she said without hesitation, "thousands"... As a cold case, Barbara Winn's story may come to fascinate crime buffs. Winn died in May 1981 of a gunshot to the chest. A former live-in boyfriend, who was arrested but never charged, told authorities that she had told him she shot herself. She also asked him to get rid of the gun, he said, and he did so by taking it from the bedroom and tossing it out of a car window while he drove away from the area. The medical examiner's office never ruled on the death. Relatives have disputed the suicide claim, and Maplewood police reports have noted there was hair and skin under Winn's nails, indicating a struggle... The Ramsey County Attorney's Office, seeking to avoid its own conflict of interest, later referred the case to the Anoka County Attorney's Office. It decided last month to convene a grand jury to hear evidence in the case... likely in late October or early November...