The Wrong Guy

In a bungled hunt for a killer, police wreck the life of an innocent

Exactly when the police determined this remains a point of contention. Wooley's civil attorney, Jeff Lynch, believes the police had this information as early as Sunday, May 19, three days before his release, and chose not to act on it, using his client's continued incarceration to flush out the real killer. In his deposition, Chief Kowalski admitted his department had "preliminary information that indicated he [Wooley] may have been at a different location." While detectives were awaiting final confirmation of this information, they were stunned by a dramatic breakthrough.


McKinney police headquarters, May 22, 2002, 12:30 p.m.

It had been a week since the shootings, and Raymond Wingfield had yet to provide police with a complete accounting of his whereabouts on the day of his wife's murder. Detectives never ruled him out as a suspect, and their interviews with friends, family and others revealed a man whose business and marriage were failing and whose honesty was in question. An avid hunter, an expert marksman and an ex-Marine--if anyone were stockpiling weapons, it was Wingfield.

Paul Wooley, from an infant to a troubled adult: Wooley had a difficult relationship with his family, which they say contributed to his emotional problems as an adult.
Paul Wooley, from an infant to a troubled adult: Wooley had a difficult relationship with his family, which they say contributed to his emotional problems as an adult.
Even after McKinney police knew they had the wrong man, claims Dallas attorney Jeff Lynch, they kept his client Paul Wooley in jail for more than three days in an "attempt to smoke out the true killer."
Mark Graham
Even after McKinney police knew they had the wrong man, claims Dallas attorney Jeff Lynch, they kept his client Paul Wooley in jail for more than three days in an "attempt to smoke out the true killer."

Related Stories

More About

When Corporal Drew Caudell interrogated Wingfield in the early afternoon of May 22, it was obvious he had no alibi. Rather than working as a firefighter on May 16, he dropped his two children at day care and ran errands for his home-building business. He spoke to his wife, Amy, several times that day, both before and after lunch. According to police records, he recalled being on Highway 289 driving from Frisco to Celina when he got a call from his wife's office telling him she had been hurt.

At the close of the interview, Caudell asked Wingfield if he would take a polygraph. Although Wingfield agreed to be tested the next day, the officer noticed "he dropped his head" and "his hands started to shake."

At 5 o'clock that same afternoon, Wingfield went to his wife's grave, intending to kill himself, he would later say, because of his grief. Concern over his two small children caused him to change his mind. As he drove away from the cemetery--or so he claimed--a man in a gray SUV fired two shots at him, shattering the windshield of his pickup and sending him careening into a ditch. Apart from some superficial face wounds, he wasn't hurt. He flagged down a passing motorist who brought him to the Celina Police Department. He had no idea who might want to harm him, he told the police, but thought it might somehow be connected to his wife's slaying.

Collin County sheriff's investigator Mitch Selman just wasn't buying Wingfield's story after he brought him back to the sheriff's office for further questioning. According to police records, "Inv. Selman found it significant that there were no glass fragments...on his [Wingfield's] clothing, skin, hair or shoes." The cuts across his face also appeared to be self-inflicted. Selman accused Wingfield of staging the shooting to take the focus of the homicide investigation away from him. At first, Wingfield denied the accusation, but then without saying why, he admitted he had shot his truck.

A team of McKinney detectives continued the interrogation, which lasted more than six hours. But Wingfield remained adamant: He did not murder his wife. Detective Marco Robles, searching for a less resistant path, turned his attention to Alisa Stewart. Repeatedly, he asked Wingfield whether shooting Stewart was intentional or just an accident. Wingfield finally broke down, claiming he shot her accidentally--and he never intended to shoot his wife either. It might seem premeditated--renting a Ford Explorer on the day of the shooting so he wouldn't be recognized. But he just meant to scare her by firing above her head. It was his way of taking her mind off their financial problems. He aimed to miss. Only somehow he didn't.

His motive for the crime seemed as obscure as it was absurd. A husband had executed his wife, a loving mother of two, because he wanted her to stop worrying about their bills? He had maimed her close friend, permanently disabling her, by accident? The confession guaranteed that Raymond Wingfield would be sentenced to at least 60 years in the penitentiary. But it offered little solace to anyone except Wooley. He was released from custody 30 minutes after it was signed.


1410 Meadowbrook Drive, McKinney, May 23, 2002, noon

Wooley appeared quite corporate in his blue suit and blue tie, a far stretch from his portrayal by the media as a homicidal maniac just two days earlier. Standing in his front yard, he stared directly into the TV camera, looking calm and comfortable. "They came into my cell and said, 'Go home, we've got him,'" he recalled. "I didn't even know there was another him until then."

"What did you think?" asked the reporter.

"Yippee." He laughed loudly, half-apologizing. "I still haven't slept in a week..."

The reporter said that when Wooley was told earlier that the police had arrested the victim's husband, Wooley just rolled his eyes. "How is it that they could make a mistake of that magnitude?" asked the reporter.

"I still haven't figured all that out yet," said Wooley, although he was contemplating litigation to find out. For now, though, he just wanted to clear his head and find a job.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
Dallas Concert Tickets
Loading...