Remains found in the woods of Oregon may belong to 47-year-old Paul Evans Winklebleck, wanted on felony warrants for kidnapping, criminal impersonation, assault, attempted rape and robbery. He is also accused of child sex abuse and failing to register as a child sex offender.
Winklebleck’s case is featured in a new episode of “The Hunt with John Walsh,” premiering Sunday, August 16, at 9 p.m. on CNN.
Abused at a sleep-over
In 1998, 11-year-old “Megan” (a pseudonym to protect her identity) was sleeping at her friend’s house in Portland, Oregon, when Paul Winklebleck, a construction worker who was dating her friend’s mother, sexually assaulted her for hours over a single night.
As she told CNN’s “The Hunt with John Walsh,” “He said that he knew my mother — that she would be the first to be killed if I said anything. And then it would be me being tortured, then killed.”
“About 7:30 a.m., he told me that I could go,” she said. “I ran directly downstairs and I slipped my shoes on, and I lived about 20 blocks away from her.”
Megan ran home without stopping. Her grandmother took her straight to the emergency room to get a rape kit done.
Winklebleck was arrested and convicted of first-degree sodomy. He was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison and given 20 years of parole.
When he got out, he was ordered not to have any contact with minors. But in 2010, he was accused of sexually touching the teenage daughter of his new girlfriend. Before an arrest warrant could be issued, he disappeared.
Kidnapped and held at knifepoint
A week later, Winklebleck surfaced again in Portland. He approached two young women heading back home from a Snoop Dogg concert, convincing them that he was a police officer patrolling for inebriated drivers and offered to drive them home. The two agreed.
“This is probably the fifth pedophile that I’ve [profiled] who’s waited outside of concerts and said, ‘I will drive you home or I will get in your car. I’m a parking lot security guard, I’m an off-duty cop; and you’re tipsy, you’re going to get a DUI’,” said John Walsh. “It’s become a standard with these kidnapping predators.”
Soon the women realized Winklebleck was not driving them to their home. When he took their cell phones and brandished a knife, they knew they were in serious trouble.
Thinking quickly, they persuaded Winklebleck to pull over on a dark rural road so they could go to the bathroom. Once out of the car, they tried to escape.
As one of the girls ran for help at a nearby home, the other attempted to fend off Winklebleck.
Seeing the headlights of a passing car, she ran toward it. It didn’t stop, but Winklebleck — apparently fearing that it would — sped away in the girls’ car.
Both girls survived, traumatized but otherwise unharmed. The next day, their stolen car was found in a field 10 miles from where the girls escaped. There was no sign of Winklebleck.
Four and a half years later, in December 2014, human remains were found by hunters near Turner, Oregon. A medical examiner has concluded that the body is that of Winklebleck. The Portland Police Bureau is awaiting DNA confirmation that will allow it to close the case for good. The cause of death has not been determined.
“I’ve been hunting bad guys for over three decades and I’m always glad and greatly relieved to share the news that their reign of terror is over,” said Walsh.
See more of Paul Winklebleck’s case on “The Hunt with John Walsh,” at 9 p.m. ET/PT Sunday, August 16.