The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 14, 2012

Retiring Sheriff Winchester gets a warm surprise

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — For all of Garfield County Sheriff Bill Winchester’s investigative skills, he was taken completely unaware by a Friday night plot.

Before Winchester walked into what he thought was a party for an old friend at Springhill Suites, he stopped to sign the guest book. That’s when he found out the party was for him.

About 200 people filled the room, waiting for the outgoing sheriff to show up. The crowd was made up of area sheriffs, police officers from Enid and around the region, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents, active and retired deputies, judges, county officials and courthouse employees. Even Enid City Manager Eric Benson turned out to wish the sheriff well in his retirement.

When Winchester came into the room, he was warmly greeted with handshakes and hugs.

District Attorney Mike Fields was the evening’s keynote speaker. Looking back over his years of working with the sheriff, Fields recounted the time Winchester decided to start a “good driver” reward program and drove out looking for a driver to reward.

Spotting one, he pulled the car over, congratulated the driver on his excellent driving, and then asked what the driver would do with the money.

“Well, I guess I’ll go get that driver’s license,” Fields quipped.

Fields said the “craziest” case Winchester ever brought to him involved an informant who said four men were plotting to break into the residence of a physician, to rob and perhaps murder him. After telling Winchester there wasn’t anything they could do at that point, Winchester politely left his office, Fields said.

He came back the next day with a tape of a conversation the informant had with the four plotters, which was sufficient to build a case, Fields recalled.

“I’m so appreciative of everyone coming out,” Winchester said. “They kept it a surprise, that’s for sure.”