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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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Despite this revelation no patrol car was sent out to search for the mysterious woman.
During the Army hearing it became clear that the preliminary investigation at the murder scene had been a fiasco, with vital evidence contaminated due to negligence and incompetence by the military police. The catalogue of mistakes was staggering.
It was reported that the ambulance man had not only moved items at the crime scene,
but had also stolen MacDonald's wallet. Fingerprints had been wiped from the telephone and a hair strand taken from MacDonald turned out to be from a pony that he had bought for his eldest daughter.
But worse for MacDonald was the fact that a young Army investigator, William Ivory, believed that MacDonald had invented the whole story about the attack by crazed hippies. As a consequence the army put its focus on finding MacDonald guilty.
Colonel Warren V. Rock was assigned to head up what is known in military terms as 'Article 32,' which relates to when a member of the armed services is charged with a crime. On the defense side, Bernie Segal was assigned as MacDonald's attorney.
Freddy Kassab, MacDonald's father-in law-and stepfather to Colette MacDonald, was incensed that his son-in-law was being accused of the crimes. In response, he started a publicity campaign to prove MacDonald's innocence. Kassab was also dumbfounded by the fact that the army authorities chose to keep the hearing closed.
The woman in the floppy hat who had been seen by officer Mica and Lieutenant Paulk was now identified as Helen Stoeckley. She was known to be a heavy drug user who also had a keen interest in witchcraft and the occult. However, the defense accused the Army's investigator, William Ivory, of carrying out an inadequate investigation of the woman and her associates. By the time she was asked to testify she could not be found.
Medical witnesses testified to MacDonald being a man of sound personality with no obvious mental health problems or issues. They did not believe he had lied about events on the night of the murders.
Apart from the revelation that MacDonald had participated in a few extra marital flings, the majority of military and medical witnesses testified to him being a loyal family man who loved his wife and children.
After six weeks of public humiliation for the army, the case was dismissed and Colonel Rock ordered further investigations into Helen Stoeckley. According to the defense team, the Army was still determined to convict MacDonald.
MacDonald discharged himself from the Army. Around the same time he committed a grave error in judgment began to talk on chat shows about his experiences and worse, criticize the Army further. His celebrity appearances only helped to undermine his cause and personal loss.
Helena Stoeckley was eventually traced, interviewed and given a polygraph test. She told the Army that she 'believed' she was present during the murders. However, due to the fact that her prints could not be matched with any of those remaining from the crime scene, she was dismissed as a suspect.
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