A confession, then suicide

Published May 29, 2007

AMPA — The final report of a popular meteorologist’s suicide shows the turmoil he felt in the hours before his death.

Before he shot himself, John Winter, 39, told his wife he had an affair, according to documents released Tuesday by the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office.

Winter, weatherman for WFLA-Ch. 8, died April 5 inside his garage at the Lithia home he shared with his wife, Karen Winter.

Before his death, Winter also called his friend, Robert Fontaine Jr.

Fontaine told investigators Winter felt ashamed because of the affair and worried his wife would not forgive him.

In a three-person phone call that afternoon, Winter told his wife and Fontaine that he wanted to end his life.
He spoke of his grandfather, whom he called “Bop-bop.” His grandfather committed suicide in 2005, according to medical examiner’s records.

“During the conversation, John stated that he wanted to end it all and that if it was good enough for Bop-bop, it was good enough for him,” according to a Sheriff’s Office interview with Fontaine.

Deputies went to Winter’s home on Tealwater Place in Lithia after they received an anonymous 911 call from a woman in Pinellas County. The woman told investigators she was worried about Winter.

At the suburban house, deputies found Winter’s black Cadillac in the driveway. They couldn’t see any lights in the home. No one answered the telephone.

Deputies tried to open the garage, but the key code didn’t work, so they kicked in the front door. At that moment, they heard a single gunshot.

Investigators found Winter sitting on the floor of the garage, a .45-caliber gun in his hand, a gunshot wound to his head, according to the report.

Xanax was found in Winter’s body when he died, according to an autopsy report.

Investigators found a printed suicide note sitting on a laptop computer and a Bible on the kitchen counter. His wedding ring lay on top of his wallet in the kitchen.