Eric Wrinkles was executed by the State of Indiana for a triple murder. According to court documents Eric Wrinkles was hospitalized for mental illness a couple of weeks before the triple murder by his mother. However the stay would be short as doctors at the mental health facility deemed him not to be a risk to himself or others. Once released Eric Wrinkles would go to the home of his estranged wife and would murder her Debra Jean Wrinkles, his brother-in-law Tony Fulkerson, and Fulkerson’s wife, Natalie Fulkerson. Eric Wrinkles would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death. Eric Wrinkles would be executed by lethal injection on December 11, 2009
Eric Wrinkles More News
Ten years ago, a 49-year-old Evansville man who murdered his estranged wife and two for her relatives in front of young children was put to death.
That inmate was Matthew Eric Wrinkles, put to death with a lethal injection administered in Michigan City the morning of Dec. 11, 2009.
Wrinkles spent years fighting his sentence, and stayed in the news regularly between the 1994 murders and his execution in 2009. He claimed he was abused by the wife he killed, he tried to make peace with her family members on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and, eventually, he decided to die by refusing to seek clemency from then-Gov. Mitch Daniels.
Here’s what you need to know about the last death row inmate executed in Indiana.
Authorities said Eric Wrinkles was on methamphetamine when he cut the phone lines, broke into his brother-in-law’s Evansville home and killed his wife, Debra Jean Wrinkles, 31; her brother, Mark “Tony” Fulkerson, 28; and Fulkerson’s wife, Natalie “Chris” Fulkerson, 26.
The couple was in the middle of a divorce and custody battle over their two children. Debra Wrinkles and the kids had left home to stay with the Fulkersons as the situation between the couple worsened
Court documents said Wrinkles was wearing camouflage and face paint and when he kicked open the door of the home around 2 a.m. on July 21, 1994, armed with a gun and a knife.
Eric Wrinkles shot Mark Fulkerson in front of Fulkerson’s 3-year-old son, then shot Debra Wrinkles as their daughter pleaded for her mother’s life, police said. Finally, he shot Natalie Fulkerson in the face and fled the scene in a pickup truck
Wrinkles was later arrested at his cousin’s home, where a .357-caliber Magnum used in the killings was recovered.
The murders happened just days after Wrinkles’ mother tried to have him committed due to his erratic behavior. She was told her son didn’t meet the criteria.
He had been briefly hospitalized about two weeks before the murders but was released after a psychiatrist determined he was not “gravely disabled,” according to records from a 1999 court hearing.
Eric Wrinkles has said the killings were motivated by his methamphetamine addiction and fear that he would no longer see his children.
In the lead-up to his trial, Wrinkles claimed his wife had become abusive. He said he was afraid she planned to shoot or stab him. But police and Debra Wrinkles’ family said it was who Wrinkles had a history of abusing his wife.
“I feel like Caesar on the steps of the Senate. I’m made out to be this bad guy because of women’s rights and all this stuff,” Wrinkles told the Evansville Courier from the Vanderburgh County Jail. “When it comes down to it, I’ll give my own version of what exactly transpired. There were a whole lot of things leading up to this situation.”
Eric Wrinkles was convicted of the murders in May 1995 after a week-long jury trial. He was sentenced to death on June 14, 1995.
A direct appeal led to his conviction being unanimously affirmed in December 1997.
In August 1999, Wrinkles sought a new trial, claiming his original attorneys were too preoccupied with other cases to adequately represent him.
Wrinkles’ new defense team also claimed that trial attorneys failed to discuss Wrinkles’ methamphetamine addiction or research his troubled childhood for the penalty stage of his trial.
In November 2009, after years of rejected efforts to save his life, Wrinkles’ lawyers told reporters that he had made the decision to die and refused to fill out paperwork formally requesting clemency from Gov. Mitch Daniels.
Parole board officials had intended to visit him at the Indiana State Prison to make sure he understood the rights he was surrendering, but that visit was called off after Wrinkles’ attorneys notified the Parole Board that he was waiving his right to request clemency.
By that point, Eric Wrinkles had exhausted his appeals in state and federal courts
A week after the Indiana Supreme Court declined Wrinkles’ final review motion, he appeared as a guest on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” via remote feed from prison. During the talk show segment, he was confronted by members of his victims’ families.
The Fulkersons’ children; Debra and Tony’s mother, Mae McIntire; and Natalie’s mother, Mary Winnecke, were all on the show.
Wrinkles said he never intended to kill anyone and was on the way to a friend’s house out of town. He said he was wearing camouflage because he planned to go hunting and fishing, and only stopped by to the house to see his children.
“I didn’t think I would ever see them again,” he said. “It wasn’t to kill anybody.”
When asked if he deserves the death penalty, Wrinkles said he didn’t think his opinion mattered and that the time spent in prison could never make up for what he did.
“You can’t put a price on human life,” he said.
Winnecke said she didn’t raise her daughter’s children to hate Wrinkles. She said she didn’t believe the story Wrinkles told, but she still forgives him.
“I pray for you that you ask God for forgiveness, because that’s where it’s all at,” Winnecke said. “And I ask everybody to write the governor to stop the death penalty because we’re not here to judge. You deserve to be in jail, but we don’t want you to die.”
McIntire raised Wrinkles’ children after the murders. She said Wrinkles was abusive from the moment he married her daughter, and that she hated him for what he did.
“He has been tried by 12 jurors. He was sentenced to death row and that’s where he should go. He should die,” she said. “He killed three beautiful people and left four children orphaned.”
On the day of his execution, Wrinkles continued to speak about the change he had undergone, saying in his final statement that he was “not proud of the man I was, but I am no longer that man.”
He died from lethal injection at 12:39 a.m. on Dec. 11, 2009, at Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. His final meal was prime rib, a loaded baked potato, pork chops, steak fries, and two salads with ranch dressing and rolls