On “Dateline: A Cool Desert Morning” on NBC News, the complicated death of Susan Winters is looked at in depth. The 48-year-old woman was found in her bed in January 2015 and was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
Authorities ruled that she killed herself, mostly based on what her husband, Gregory Brent Dennis, told them. But Danny and Avis Winters, Susan’s parents, did not believe her. So, if you want to know what happened when they tried to get justice, we’ll tell you.
The Winters are Danny and Avis
In Altus, Oklahoma, in March 1966, Danny and Avis Winters had a child named Susan. By that time, the couple already had a son named Christopher. Susan worked as a lawyer in Oklahoma for a while before moving to Nevada to work for the office of the Clark County District Attorney. After that, Susan married Gregory Dennis in August 1995. They had two daughters, who were teenagers at the time of the incident.
But when the couple got a call that Susan had killed herself, everything changed for good. The first investigation showed that she had died from taking too much antifreeze and oxycodone. But Danny and Avis were not sure that was the right answer. “She had two daughters,” Danny said. She loved them above all else. If she wanted to kill herself, she wouldn’t have done it in front of those girls, and she wouldn’t have taken 24 hours to do it.
Avis was not happy with how the authorities handled the case. He said, “We were disappointed with the legal system, we were disappointed that the people in charge don’t read the evidence before them, we were disappointed that the Henderson police didn’t do any investigation, and the Clark County Coroner’s Office just accepted what Brent told them.” So, the family hired a private detective and a lawyer to look into the situation.
The couple also said that Susan had not been suicidal before she died. When she went to Oklahoma in December 2014, she seemed to be in a good mood. The parents also said she was looking forward to a busy 2015 and had plans to travel to see her youngest daughter compete in cheerleading. Susan was also happy that her older daughter was going to college.
This led to a lot of new information being found, all of which pointed to Gregory as the person who killed Susan. The investigation showed that he was using drugs and that he had lied about where he was the night of the incident. Also, on the first business day after Susan died, George asked about the life insurance policy. In May 2022, Danny and Avis’s persistence paid off when Gregory was given a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
Where are Danny Winters and Avis Winters right now?
Danny and Avis were glad to finally get what was coming to them, but they were sad that they couldn’t talk to their granddaughters. Avis said in court, “As if losing Susan wasn’t bad enough, we also lost the relationship we had with her daughters because we never thought this case was anything but a murder case. Sometimes the sadness is too much to bear, but we know that God is in charge and that he will give Susan justice in the end.
Danny and Avis made money by running several Sonic Drive-In restaurants in Oklahoma and Texas. Danny said that his daughter was happy about the idea of becoming the family business’s lawyer. He also said that they were making her an office in Nevada. It looks like the couple lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and is also in charge of the non-profit Winters Family Foundation.
A couple in Oklahoma City who didn’t think their daughter killed herself two years ago is now waiting for her husband to go to court. He was recently arrested in connection with her death.
They put a picture of their daughter in an ad in The Oklahoman on Tuesday, which would have been her 51st birthday.
On January 3, 2015, just before 7 a.m., police officers and medical staff were sent to the home of Susan Winters, a 48-year-old lawyer who went to the University of Oklahoma, became a lawyer, and moved to Nevada to work for the Clark County District Attorney’s office in Las Vegas.
They found Winters in the home she shared with her husband, Gregory Brent Dennis, a 54-year-old psychologist who grew up in Blanchard and played defensive back for the University of Tulsa from 1980 to 1983. Winters was not moving and wasn’t breathing. The couple had been married for 19 years and had split up at least once. They had two daughters that they were raising.
A declaration of arrest from the Henderson Police Department says that Dennis told first responders that she was depressed and had threatened to kill herself while they were trying to save Winters’ life.
According to the declaration, Dennis thought that his wife might have taken antidepressants and antifreeze. Winters was taken to a nearby hospital after medical staff were able to find her pulse. She was later said to be dead.
Officially, the Clark County Coroner’s Office said that Winters, a Blanchard High School graduate, killed herself by mixing prescription painkillers and antifreeze, which has the poisonous ingredient ethylene glycol.
Dennis later told the police that he and Winters had been drinking all day the day before, and he thought his wife had put anxiety medicine in her drinks. A detective found searches on the family computer that had to do with antifreeze being eaten.
Her parents, Avis and Danny Winters, who own several Sonic Drive-ins, didn’t think their daughter, who was a part-time judge in North Las Vegas, would kill herself.
She didn’t leave a suicide note. The arrest report says that there were no medicine bottles in her bedroom and no antifreeze bottles in the bedroom or the house. Later that day, Dennis thought that maybe the antifreeze was left by the last person who lived there. According to the report, he went to the garage and showed a detective two bottles of antifreeze. He said he found them when he got home from the hospital.
In the months after their daughter died, Dennis’s parents were worried about their son-in-law, so they hired private detectives to find him. As they pushed for law enforcement to look into the case again, the couple also sued Dennis, blaming him for their daughter’s death and saying he did it for money. They wanted to get back the $2 million in life insurance and inheritance money he got after Winters died.
Avis Winters said, “We were disappointed with the legal system, disappointed that the people in charge don’t read the evidence in front of them, disappointed that the Henderson police didn’t do any investigation, and disappointed that the Clark County Coroner’s Office just believed what Brent told them.”
Dennis found out in August that a grand jury was looking into something he had done. In December, Henderson police went to Dennis’s home and his health clinic in Boulder City with search warrants. In the grand jury investigation, the prosecutors began to call witnesses.
On Feb. 2, at 7:30 a.m., Dennis was arrested during a traffic stop near his home on suspicion of murder in the open with a deadly weapon. Winters’ parents say that the arrest happened because they didn’t give up, even though the case had been closed soon after their daughter died.
Avis Winters said, “No one looked into it, and that’s because my husband Danny and I knew Susan wouldn’t do it.”
She was born in Altus, Oklahoma, on March 14, 1966. She played softball for Blanchard High School, which won the Class 3A state softball title in 1983.
Winters went to OU and got a degree in political science. He then went back to school there to study law. She was a lawyer in Oklahoma City for a short time before she moved to Nevada and got a job with the Clark County District Attorney’s office in Las Vegas. Later, she went into private practice and became a judge on the side.
After both of them got divorced, Winters married Dennis in August 1995. By the spring of 2002, they had two daughters.
Winters often went back to Oklahoma to see family and friends. She was known to love her family, good books, and Elvis Presley. Her mother said that she liked to run a lot and had a quick mind. Before she died, she started working as an attorney for Winters Restaurant Group, the family business.
Her family said she was full of life and cared a lot about her kids, but her marriage to Dennis was falling apart. In 2013, they broke up, and Dennis moved out of the house while they talked about getting a divorce. Winters went to licensed professionals for help. The couple got back together in the end.
In his arrest report, police officer Ryan Adams said that Winters had been diagnosed with depression and anxiety by a psychiatrist. Friends said that Winters talked about suicide from time to time, but he never did anything about it. Family and friends said that Winters was in a good mood right before she died, around Christmas 2014.
According to the arrest declaration, on October 14 and 15, 2014, an angry Winters told a group of friends that Dennis was either having an affair or was gay because he didn’t want to have sex with her.
After Winters died, her parents hired a retired FBI special agent and licensed private investigator to find Dennis. The agent and other investigators watched Dennis 15 times between January 9 and March 27, 2015.
Investigators saw Dennis go to a hotel four times and meet with a convicted drug dealer named Jeffrey Crosby. They also saw Dennis sit in his own car with his head down and rub his nose, which was “consistent with a drug user,” Adams wrote. The arrest report says that the same kind of behavior happened from August 18 to September 4, 2015.
According to the declaration, Dennis’ phone records show that his phone and Crosby’s phone talked more than 3,900 times in the 13 months before February 2015, which was almost a month after Winters died.
Adams said in his report that an investigation into Crosby led to his arrest in July 2016 for trafficking cocaine and that he often gave Dennis the drug. Dennis didn’t mind telling the Winters family about his “recreational” drug use, and he even asked some of them for their prescription drugs, Adams wrote.
Dennis is said to have taken painkillers that were written for him by his own patients. Adams says that when Dennis was caught, he had three painkiller pills in the right front pocket of his pants.
“Dennis’s family and friends knew that he was addicted to drugs,” Adams wrote in his declaration of arrest.
Avis Winters said that Dennis knew he was about to lose it all.
“I think Susan found out that Brent was buying drugs with their money,” Winters said. “Susan said she was going to report him to the psychology board and he would lose his license. He didn’t want that to happen, and he wanted her money.”