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New York physician Jeffrey MacDonald was convicted in 1979 for murdering his pregnant wife and two daughters, but questions remain about his guilt.
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New York physician Jeffrey MacDonald was convicted in 1979 for the 1970 murders of his pregnant wife and two daughters, but many questions remain about his guilt. An army hearing and later a grand jury in North Carolina both found that MacDonald was guilty, but the bizarre circumstances and a badly botched initial investigation has left many open questions.
Army doctor Jeffrey MacDonald seemed to have everything going for him: good looks, charm, a commission in the Green Berets, a pretty wife, and two young daughters.
Jeffrey and his wife Colette were the perfect American sweethearts who had married after an early courtship. MacDonald had excelled both on the sports field and in his studies at Princeton. After graduation his stellar career trajectory continued with an internship at the prestigious Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York.
The massacre that took place in the MacDonald's family home a few weeks after Colette had written a letter to a friend describing their happiness, was to become one of the most protracted cases in legal history.
In the early hours of February 17, 1970, the harmonious lives of the MacDonald family was to be shattered when the entire family, except Jeffrey, were slaughtered.
MacDonald claimed that he had woken after hearing his wife and one of his daughters screaming. He then found himself being attacked by three intruders armed with a club, ice pick, and knife.
When the military police and ambulance arrived, including officers Kenneth Mica and Lieutenant Joesph Paulk, they discovered a grisly scene. In the master bedroom 26-year-old Colette, who was pregnant, lay on her back covered in blood with her legs spread. Her face had been battered and part of her chest was exposed, while one half was concealed by the top half of a man's torn blue pajamas.
Next to Colette lay Jeffrey MacDonald himself. He had made the call to the police, but was now unconscious. After resuscitation his first concern was for his wife and children. Screaming to the police to check on them, officer Mica first entered the bedroom of the eldest daughter, five-year-old Kimberly. To his horror Mica discovered that she had stab wounds to the neck and that her skull had been smashed. Across the hall another gruesome sight greeted the officers when two-year-old Kristen was found dead on her bed with stab wounds in her chest and back.
Later, while being questioned by the Army Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI, a distraught MacDonald described how he had been attacked by a black man wielding a baseball bat while he slept on the sofa. Two white men also attacked him, and MacDonald used his pajama top as a shield to fend off the blows. He also recalled a blond woman, with a floppy hat, standing by and holding a candle. He heard her say "kill the pigs" and "acid is groovy".
The description of the woman in the floppy hat resembled a similar figure that officer Mica had recalled just a few blocks away as he rushed to the crime scene.
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