That was quick. Just hours after covertly-filmed video of a racist woman berating a mailman went viral, she's been identified as Erika Winchester, speech coach and citizen police academy graduate. But did this incident really get the mail carrier fired?
When the video was splashed all over blogs and message boards like 4chan and Reddit last night, the Internet hive mind quickly tracked the woman down. She was identified as 60-year-old Erika Winchester of Hingham, Mass., and her number and address were posted on numerous sites. (Real estate records confirm Winchester lives at the house featured in the video.) Winchester runs a speech coaching business called The Speech Company, which bills itself as "the nationally leading human-to-human communication organization." She's also a sometimes-actress, judging from this old listing on Exploretalent.com.
SWinchester appears to be notorious in the affluent town of Hingham as sort of a nut. When the local gossip blog Around Hingham posted the video a couple weeks ago, anonymous commenters shared their encounters: "I went into that lunatic house to give a painting estimate," said one. "I told her then and I will say it again she needs to get her meds checked. Out of her mind whack job."
And Winchester has a history of belligerent behavior. Documents posted by The Smoking Gun show police were called to an event at the Hingham armory in 2007 to deal with Winchester, who was threatening "that anyone who wrongs her would ‘get it with a machine gun.' When a cop tried to put her in a cruiser, she threatened to chop off his balls. And in 2005 she was arrested for drunk driving when she crashed her Volvo (of course) through a street sign.
Even more outrageous than Winchester's actions, though, is the mailman's claim that he was fired for the incident. Can you really be fired for having racial slurs hurled at you? One Around Hingham commenter claims the guy in the video actually got fired for poor performance:
I spoke to a mail carrier today. He told me that the carrier from the video was indeed fired, but not for the incident on the video. He wasn't doing his job. Apparently skipping duties such as monitoring relay boxes and "not caring" about his duties. "They" had been watching him for some time... the final straw was when he drove over and ripped up a residential lawn with the mail truck...
Reached for comment about the video, US Postal Service spokeswoman Maureen Marion said the USPS "was aware of its circulation." She said the man who shot the video was a temporary employee until fall 2009. His termination was "handled in accordance with our national collective bargaining agreement." Marion wouldn't comment on whether it had anything to do with the video.
We called Winchester's home early this morning as her phone number was being passed around the Internet, hoping to reach her before her lines clogged. A woman who sounded much like the woman in the video answered with "House of Pizza, how may I help you?" When asked if Erica Winchester lived at the address she angrily declared, "All sorts of people work here, this is a pizza parlor," and hung up. Clearly she'd already been been inundated with anonymous prank calls.
As for that mail carrier: If you read this, the CBS Early Show wants to talk to you.