S1/E5: Barry Winchell

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August 31, 1977

Barry Winchell was born in Kansas City, Missouri.  Barry’s mother, Patty, was in an abusive marriage with Barry’s father. She soon divorced him, but her young son’s struggles were just beginning. Patty would move across states several times, searching for a stable life for her children.

When Barry was three years old, his family was homeless for six weeks in Fort Worth, Texas. Patty, Barry and his brother lived in their car. The boys spent their days alone in the car while Patty worked at the Waffle House. With little more than his imagination to pass the time, Barry created two imaginary friends became his constant companions. .

1981

Patricia married Wally Kutteles: the man who Barry would, for the rest of his life, consider his father.  Wally was a veteran of the Korean War, and by all accounts, a good man.

While he now had a solid male role model in his life, Barry still had many challenges to overcome. He suffered from both attention deficit disorder and dyslexia and was delayed in learning to read. He also struggled with other subjects at school, but showed a natural predilection for mechanics and excelled at other technical skills. Nevertheless, he was considered learning disabled and as a result, was grouped with the children that were seen by their peers as outcasts. As a result, Barry would battle with low self-esteem into adulthood.

Years later, the family moved to Tarpon Springs, Florida, where Barry dropped out of high school and enrolled at a technical school, where he learned welding. He eventually earned his G.E.D, which increased his possibilities for future employment.

1997

After careful consideration, and with the encouragement of his parents, 19-year-old Barry Winchell enlisted in the United States Army.  Patty and Wally thought this was a good move for their son, as it would help him gain self-confidence and give him a career path.

 

1998

Barry was transferred to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The young Private First Class was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division infantry.  He was paired with specialist Justin Fisher  and the two shared a room on the third floor of the barracks.  

That same year, 18-year-old Calvin Glover enlisted in Oklahoma City.

March, 1999

Calvin Glover completed basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia, and was assigned to the 502nd at Fort Campbell.

Barry and Fisher traveled with other soldiers to various bars in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. The drive was just over an hour from their base.  The soldiers decided to visit a nightclub called the Connection,  that featured transgender performers, including 28-year-old Calpernia Addams. Barry and Calpernia hit it off and began dating shortly after meeting.

Fisher gossiped about Barry’s relationship and spread the rumors that Barry was gay. Barry didn’t identify as gay. He just happened to fall in love with a woman who just happened to be born a male. But nuance was not exactly appreciated by his fellow service members.

Barry immediately became a target of harassment. The culture of the military at the time was not sensitive to the plight of the LBGTQ community.  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell had been enacted in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. The policy theoretically lifted a ban on homosexual military service that had been instituted during World War 2. It directed that military personnel “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue, and don’t harass”.

Gays in the military were not allowed to talk about their sexual orientation or engage in sexual activity. Commanding officers were not allowed to question service members about their sexual orientation. It was considered a liberal policy at the time, but many gay rights activists criticized it for forcing service members into secrecy. It did little to encourage true acceptance, or to change the views and actions of military commanders. Gay and lesbian soldiers continued to be discharged from service.

In Barry’s case, he had to keep his persecution secret for fear of being discharged. He didn’t tell his superiors, his parents, or even Calpernia. He stayed quiet, and the harassment continued.

 

July 3, 1999 Midnight

 

Calvin Glover, Private First Class Arthur Hoffman and Barry Winchell were gathered in front of their barracks and had been drinking beer all day. Glover had been bragging about his past: doing drugs, dealing drugs, and even robbing banks.  Barry thought Glover was embellishing his many misadventures, and eventually told Glover “take your drunk cherry ass to bed”. This humiliated Glover, who did his best to provoke Barry into a physical confrontation. He tried to knock Barry’s beer out of his hand several times before escalating it to a fist fight. To add further humiliation, Glover never landed a single punch, but Barry connected three or four punches to Glover’s face and threw him to the ground, easily restraining him.

Just then, a Staff Duty Noncommissioned Officer walked by and helped Hoffman separate Barry and Glover. To show the fight was over, the two combatants shook hands in front of their SDNCO. Barry repeatedly said to Glover “It’s cool, right?”. Glover finally responded “No, it’s not cool. It ain’t over. I will fucking kill you. We ain’t through.”

Glover later told Hoffman and Fisher “I won’t let a faggot kick my ass”

 

July 4th

Justin Fisher repeatedly taunted Glover about losing a fist fight to a quote unquote faggot. “How does your face feel? How did it feel to have your ass kicked by a faggot?”  Glover responded “Fuck you.”

26-year-old Fisher bought the underage Glover beer and the two drank in Glover’s room late into the night.   

 

July 5th 1:15 AM

 

Fisher and Glover left the room and passed a sleeping Barry Winchell on the way to Fisher’s room. Barry was sleeping on a cot outside the doorway of the room he shared with Fisher. He was outside the room because he was taking care of the company mascot:  an Australian Blue Heeler named Nasty.

Once in the room, Fisher played the Psycho soundtrack on his CD player. Glover picked up Fisher’s Louisville Slugger baseball bat and began making chopping motions while mumbling to himself. Glover was wide-eyed as if in a state of psychosis. He kept saying “faggot” over and over again. After ten minutes of walking around the room swinging the bat, Glover told Fisher he wanted to “fuck up Winchell”.

Fisher said “Go for it”.  

Glover left the room and approached the sill sleeping Barry Winchell. He raised the baseball bat and brought it down on Barry’s head with such ferocity that blood, brain and bone were spattered on the wall behind the cot he lay in. Glover struck Barry repeatedly in the head and neck before returning to Fisher and proudly telling him he had “whooped Winchell’s ass”. Fisher then helped Glover wash the blood off his bat.  

After 10 minutes of waiting in the room, Glover said “Let’s go outside and have a cigarette”.  Glover put on a pair of thin gardening gloves before leaving.

Once in the hallway, they saw Barry lying on the cot. Glover looked down at him and said “look who got their ass kicked now, faggot. You won’t be kicking anybody’s ass now, faggot.” He then punched Barry in the face.

Fisher heard Barry making gurgling sounds and asked “Is he dead?” Glover lifted Barry’s head up, and when it dropped lifelessly back down, he said “He’s dead”

Fisher asked “What are we gonna do now?”

They hatched a plan to dump Barry’s body in a nearby river. They searched for Barry’s car keys, but couldn’t find them. When they start to panic, Fisher tells Glover “You better the fuck out of here”, then starts yelling “Winchell! Winchell! Come on, get up!” All the while, Fisher is looking directly at Glover. Glover gets the message, and leaves.

Fisher then alerts other soldiers and, acting as if he had just found Barry, begs them to help.

He went down to the second floor where he woke up private first class Jonathan Joyce and his roommate Private first class Nikita Sanarov.  Joyce ran upstairs to find a bloody Barry Winchell. Barry made a choking noise; he was still alive.  Joyce ran back downstairs to call 911, but couldn’t get through. None of the soldiers knew that at this time, 911 was not accessible from inside the military barracks.

Joyce ran back upstairs, where he saw Fisher attempting to pick Barry up in a fireman’s carry.  The two then worked together to transport Barry to the second floor landing. Down on the 1st floor, Private Christopher Matthews heard their screams for help. He had combat lifesaver training and ran up the stairs to help.  He needed to know how Barry sustained his injuries in order to treat him properly. Fisher said he didn’t know what happened.

Sergeant Bradley Harden came and applied a field dressing to Barry’s head while Joyce ran outside to dial 911 from a payphone.  It took 30 minutes for the paramedics to arrive, which meant Barry had been bleeding profusely for nearly an hour in total.

At this point, Barry’s eyes are swollen and blackened; a sign of massive hemorrhaging.

3:30AM

Calvin Glover runs to the scene, wearing a pair of black shorts with a white t-shirt over his shoulder. His clothes are soaking wet and there are blades of grass stuck to his face.  PFC Arthur Hoffman was on the scene at the time and later said Glover looked jumpy. Glover asked Hoffman what was going on. Hoffman told him Barry was throwing up blood.  Glover continued to act like he had no idea what was going on.

7:00 AM Kansas City

Pat Kutteles was having her morning cup of coffee when she received a call from Lieutenant Colonel John Stratis. He broke the news to her that Barry had been kicked in the head with a boot.  Information about the incident was speculation at this point. Since the army’s Criminal Investigative Division wasn’t aware of the harassment directed towards Barry by Fisher and Glover, a hate crime was not even on the table.  To make matters worse for the investigation, soldiers were ordered to clean the barracks module, even though it was a crime scene.

Barry was being treated at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  Pat was given the doctor’s number and immediately called it. She was told that her son had irreparable brain damage.

Pat and Wally could hardly process this news. She had just talked to Barry four days prior, and he told her how excited he was to enter warrant-officer school. Pat, Wally and Barry were all looking forward to visiting him in Nashville at the end of August to celebrate Barry’s 22nd birthday.  

Pat and Wally got on the earliest flight to Nashville, where they were greeted by a group including Sergeant Kleifgen. It was clear to them that the Sergeant was affected by what happened and had admired their son.

They drove to Vanderbilt. Barry was in a coma, only kept alive by a respirator.

 

July 6th

Barry never regained consciousness. He had massive head injuries that would be impossible to recover from.  After accepting that it was only a matter of time, Pat gave doctors permission to turn off the respirator to allow her son to die in peace.

While Pat and Wally watched their son die, Calvin Glover was taken into custody after investigators found bloodstained clothing in his room.  While being held in the D-Cellblock at Fort Campbell, he and Private Kenneth Buckler compared tattoos and discussed what they were in for. Glover said “I did kill that guy. The one thing I can’t stand is faggots or niggers”.  

Meanwhile, Fisher continued the charade that he tried to save Barry Winchell. So much so, that Pat and Wally wanted to personally thank him for his efforts.  But Fisher’s story kept changing.  He initially said he slept through the whole thing.  Then he said the barking dog woke him up.

 

July 8

Agent Howard Sander of the Criminal Investigative Division interviewed Justin Fisher. Sander’s report stated that Fisher admitted taunting Glover about being beaten up by Barry, and urging Glover to act on his impulse of wanting to attack Barry. He even admitted to washing the bloody bat.  

Company commander Captain Daniel Rouse  restricted Fisher to the post. While he couldn’t leave, he could still interact with his fellow soldiers.

July 18

Fisher was ordered into pre-trial confinement after being charged with murder, being an accessory after the fact, false swearing, obstruction of justice, and giving alcohol to a minor. He and Glover were both being held at Fort Knox, awaiting court-martial proceedings.

August 31 1999

Instead of celebrating what would have been Barry’s 22nd birthday, Pat and Wally traveled to Fort Campbell to attend an investigative hearing for Calvin Glover.  Major General Robert T. Clark reviewed the hearing and received recommendations from the investigating officer, brigade commander and staff judge advocate.

September 25, 1999

Glover was court martialed and charged with premeditated murder. He admitted to unpremeditated murder before the proceedings began, in hopes of getting a lighter sentence.  Prosecutor Captain Gregg Engler denied Glover and the court-martial was carried out.  While offering his plea, Glover cried when addressing Judge Colonel Gary J Holland. He said “I don’t know why I did it. I wasn’t really mad at him, sir. It was just a mistake, sir. I was really drunk.”

His defense attorneys argued that Glover wasn’t solely to blame, as Fisher had goaded him into the attack.

Section leader staff sergeant Michael Kleifgen testified that Fisher was in fact the one that initially spread rumors about Barry’s sexuality. He also testified that Fisher often harassed Barry, including an incident that left Barry bleeding and requiring stitches. Fisher had repeatedly him in the head with a dustpan.

Kleifgen said he spoke to the three men multiple times about their differences, but after the problems continued, he took his concerns to a first sergeant. The first sergeant told him “Basically, there’s nothing we could do because of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy. “

 

December 9, 1999

A five-member military jury deliberated the case and found Calvin Glover guilty of premeditated murder. He received a life sentence with the possibility of parole.

 

Jan 9 2000

Justin Fisher pleaded guilty to a reduced charge. He admitted to lying to investigators and obstruction when he wiped blood from the murder weapon. The plea agreement led to dropped charges of participating as a principal to premeditated murder and acting as an accessory after the fact.

Fisher sobbed during sentencing and apologized to the family of Barry Winchell, as well as his own family.

He said “Barry, I hope you can hear me. I’m sorry for the part I played in this. I know you are now in a better place. I hope you know that if I could go back to the morning it happened, I would have changed it all.”

Justin Fisher was sentenced to 12 ½ years in prison.  

After Barry’s murder, a national spotlight was aimed at Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. An effort to repeal the policy was spearheaded by Pat and Wally Kutteles.

Fisher made an appeal for clemency. He was denied.

That same year, the Film “Soldier’s Girl” was released. The movie was based on Barry’s murder and the events leading up to it. The film received a Peabody Award and numerous Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. More importantly, it renewed the debate over the effectiveness of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.

August  2006.

Fisher was released to a halfway house.

October 2006

Fisher was released from custody.

 

2008

One of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign promises was to overturn Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and to allow gay men and lesbians to openly serve in the military.

February 2010

After two years of stagnation, the Pentagon finally announced it’s plan to reevaluate the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy and began a study to determine how a repeal would affect the military.  

May 2010

The US House of Representatives voted to allow the repeal of Don’t ask Don’t tell .

In an interview, Pat Kutelles said  “I feel Barry died for a reason,I feel that there’s a reason things happen. That’s also one of the reasons I keep fighting. That gives me comfort, in a way. But often I feel like I’m really alone, and really, really missing my child.”

 

September 20, 2011

After many filibusters, injunctions, arguments and false starts, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was officially repealed.

 

November 14 2016

Patricia Kutteles passed away from kidney and liver failure after battling cancer. She was 67.  

 

Calvin Glover is currently serving his life sentence at  the U.S. disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

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