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Killer to die for 2 murders in 1980s

Already serving a life sentence for abduction, James Delano Winkles pled guilty in the killings of Pinellas women and bragged of other deeds.

By WILLIAM R. LEVESQUE, Times Staff Writer
St. Petersburg Times
published April 15, 2003


LARGO -- James Delano Winkles was boastful about the way he abducted two Pinellas County woman he raped and killed 20 years ago.

From details about the crimes, to the handcuffs and drugs he kept at the ready in his car, Winkles seemed -- to police who interviewed him -- almost proud of his deeds.

But Monday, the bill for Winkles' proud confessions came due when a Pinellas-Pasco circuit judge sentenced him to death for the killings of Margo Delimon, 39, and Elizabeth Graham, 19, in the early 1980s.

Winkles, 62, his gray hair tied in a long ponytail, displayed no emotion as the judge pronounced the sentence.

Judge Richard Luce rejected arguments that Winkles, 62, should be granted leniency because, by pleading guilty to first-degree murder charges, he allowed the victims' families to avoid the trauma of a trial.

"While it is true that the victims' families did not have to sit through a jury trial," the judge said, "they were not spared from learning the explicit and horrifying details of the last days of their loved ones lives."

Family members of Winkles' victims -- including Robert Delimon, Margo Delimon's husband -- said they were happy with the sentence.

"He got what he deserved," Delimon said. "It's a long time coming."

Winkles' lawyers also had argued that Winkles should get life instead of death because he was in poor health and would soon die in prison, anyway. Winkles has high blood pressure and thinks he suffers from cancer.

But Luce noted that Winkles presented no evidence of cancer.

Winkles, who pleaded guilty to the crimes last year, already is serving a life prison term for the abduction of a woman in Sanford in 1982, a case that led to his capture. That woman escaped from Winkles' car and lived to testify.

Margo Delimon was a Clearwater real estate saleswoman. She vanished Oct. 2, 1981, after leaving her office in Pinellas Park and depositing her paycheck.

Her headless body was found 19 days later in Citrus County. Her head was discovered seven months later in Hernando County.

A St. Petersburg dog groomer, Graham was last seen Sept. 9, 1980, driving a Pampered Poodle van to a house off Roosevelt Boulevard. A man had described Graham and had asked specifically for her to come to the house.

Detectives found the grooming van at the deserted house. Missing from the van were Graham's purse and a small choke-chain with a leash. Graham has not been found.

Two other Pinellas women -- Cynthia Clements and Bobbie Barkley, both 19 -- disappeared during the same period, and Winkles is suspected in both casesbut has not been charged.

Winkles has boasted about abducting, raping and killing 62 women, including 41 in Pinellas. But detectives don't believe that body count.

Robert Delimon said he looked forward to the killer's execution. "I wish we could turn back the clock," he said.

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