April 1970: Dr. Robert Sadoff's Notes re: Psychiatric Examination
of Jeffrey MacDonald April 21, 1970
Spelling, punctuation and grammar preserved
Jeffrey is a twenty-six year old widowed Captain in the U.S. Army who is also a physician, having gone to Princeton University from 1960-1964 then to Northwestern Medical School from 1964–1968 where he received his B.S. and his M.D. He served his internship at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital from 1968-1969 and then served on active duty fro 1 July, 1969 at Fort Sam Huston, Texas, then went to Jump school at Fort Benning, GA., and then to Special Forces and the Green Berets at Fort Bragg in N. C.
He has been working in the dispensary and also moonlighted at a small hospital in North Carolina. On February 17, 1970, his wife and two children both girls, one age two, almost three birthday May 6, and five year old almost six, birthday, April 18, were killed. At the time his wife was five months pregnant and they were brutally beaten with fractured skulls, broken arms, many stab wounds and puncture wounds with ice picks and knifes. He had also been beaten around the head and stabbed with an ice pick in his right chest, causing a hemopneumothorax and had about fourteen lacerations on his chest. He spent some time in the hospital and was interviewed by the Army Intelligence Agency, CID, and went back to work until April 6 when he was considered to be a suspect and not just a witness
Since that time he says he has become bitter towards the Army and does not wish to remain in. He had considered cleaning up his time that he owed even after this happened because he had an obligation and he could help meet his funeral expenses better by staying in the service.
Past History: reveals that Jeffrey was born the middle child of three, having an older brother 28, and a younger sister, 25. He was born in Jamaica, L.I., and went to school at Petchogue in Suffolk County on the South Shore which is not a good area, he says. His mother is a school nurse and his father was an electrical designer who continued to go for his engineering degree but never quite achieved it. He says he got along well with them, did extremely well in high school and received a $1500 scholarship to Colgate but that then was interviewed by Princeton and given a $1000 scholarship there as the first member of his high school class in 22 years to attend an Ivy League school. He was co-captain of the football and basketball teams and probably no 1 in the class. He said he was impatient all his life and got through things quite well and early and easily and did his pre-med in three years at Princeton and wanted to get on to med school. During his sophomore year of med school his father died and left some bills. He said he was pretty broken up by his father's death but it was not un-expected.
Said he did not want to go to Princeton for the last year, cause it was the paper that one does in Phila and he could forego that. While in med school he had three or four jobs at a time as an extern doing histories and physicals. Father dies in 1966 when he was a sophomore in med school. His mother refused an autopsy and he thinks his father died of lung cancer because it was so rapid but the official diagnosis was a Hammond Rich Syndrome.
He had met his wife in high school, actually in the 7th grade, they were high school sweethearts and had broken up several times and gotten back together many times. Prior to his marriage, he said he slept with about 10 or 15 girls, usually one-night stands and usually not very exciting for him except for sexual reasons. There was only one girl he was serious about, but did not pursue. He took up with his wife again when she was a freshman at Skidmore and he was at Princeton. They were married between sophomore and junior years, when she became pregnant. He said he always knew he would marry her but he was going to wait until after his senior year. His first girl, Kimberly, was born April 18, 1964, the parents acted better than they had expected. His second girl Kristen, was born on May 8, 1968.
The wedding was on September 14, 1963, his wife's birthday is May 10th. In his own family, James (Jay) the older brother 18 months older than Jeffrey and the sister, Judy who is one year younger, currently lives in Schenectady, NY with two kids. They also had a dog, Jinx, and they were aware of the J's and K's of their kids and in his own family.
His brother who is older, is in trouble, as a matter of fact, in a weird coincidence had a psychotic breakdown on February 17th the day of the murders. He was on a re-trip on acid and was re-admitted to the hospital in a psychotic breakdown, is currently in a outpatient treatment and doing fine. Jeffrey thinks his brother Jay is on the fringe of the Mafia and may have some paranoid ideation. He thinks there is scheme against him and also about the CID is concerned because Jeffrey's phone is tapped, etc. Jeffrey has gotten a lot of publicity from this case and has received 400 letters from all over the country, some of them proposals, but nothing direct – mostly that they stay with him or that the girls will come and have him stay with them. He enjoys getting the mail and reads it.
With respect to the crime, it occurred on Tuesday, AM February 17th about 3 in the morning.
He described four blood-stained people that the Army was looking for and six weeks later they told him that they thought he did it. He described how the Army has put a tail on him and put escorts with him and how the Colonel of the MP's has been impulsive in his newscasts about Jeffrey's involvement. He said he was concerned because the MP's lost his fingerprints and also have shown other areas of incompetence. The FBI, Robert Murphy, apparently came down and shut the colonel up because after he saw him there was no more newscasts. This was April 16th. He thinks the CID has flimsy evidence such as threads of his pajama tops being in all three bedrooms and he said he can explain that because he went there in the day and that night, also that the struggle in the living room was not so great and a flower pot was upright rather than tipped over and he must have set it up that way.
He says he did not do it and he knows he did not do it. He said he cried at first when he accused and he had a serious reaction, was depressed after it happened. He said he would not do anything stupid but then he had to clear himself. He kept saying he was not paranoid.
That his friends had been great and his in-laws have been supporting him and everyone is on his side.
Monday night 16 February, Colette had her class in English Lit at the U. of N.C. and Jeffrey was outside with the kids, feeding the pony that he had bought for them. She left for her class at 6:15, he ate dinner, put the dishes in the sink and watched TV. Kristy fell asleep and went to bed and he had a habit of watching Laugh-In with Kimberly. He fell asleep on the floor from 7:30 to 8:00 and then Kimberly woke him up to watch Laugh–In from 8 – 9 and then she went to bed. Colette returned about 9:30 a little bit late for her because she had to drop a girlfriend off. She had a liquer and put on her night gown and they sat and talked.
He said it was a beautiful time of the day for them when they could sit and talk and read the paper and watch TV together. He remembers she took a Benedryl because she was pregnant and had some trouble sleeping and that safe. He finished watching J.C. did the dishes and began to excuse himself for doing them because he says he does them faster than she does and wanted to get them done and one thing she hated to do was dishes. He then pulled out a Mickey Spillane mystery and read it – read all James Bond, John T. McDonald and (…) and she went in to go to bed. Kristy crawled into the big bed and wet the bed on his side, so he put Kristy back to bed and went to sleep on the couch. One of the things that the CID was making out of this was he was not asleep with his wife – were they having domestic problems. The next thing he said he heard was his wife screaming and "Jeff, Jeff why are they doing this to me?" and Kimberly screaming "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy" and he started to get up when he heard the screams, suddenly he saw four people in front of him at the foot of the couch. He wasn't sure if it was four or five, one may have been a girl, had long blonde hair and a floppy hat but it could have been a guy. He did see one Negro man in a Sgt. E/6 uniform (jacket) and the female was saying, "Acid is groovy, kill the pigs" He said they were not in a frenzy and he sat up to see what was going on, he said they said it calmly and he was going to say who are you, when the Negro man on his left hit him full on the back of the head with a 2x2; he was not unconscious and he struggled up and as he got up, he was hit again and was hit in the chest and he thought that somebody really hit him good in the chest and he saw blood and knew he was stabbed in the chest and fell back. His pajama tops were ripped over his head and he grabbed the club during the struggle but then dropped it when he was stabbed. He said everything got funny and he said that be began to laugh and he fell off the couch. Then he remembers being on his hands and knees in the hallway with his teeth chattering and felt he was going into shock. All was still, there was no noise, it was hard for him to breathe and he saw air coming out of his lungs and knew he was hurt. He went He went master bedroom, saw Colette on the floor and saw blood all around. He tried mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and he saw a knife in her chest, pulled the knife out of her chest, and as he gave her mouth to mouth resuscitation the air came out of her chest. He said he didn't know what to do and he went into the girls' rooms and both of his daughters were the same way, the older daughter having a fracture skull and his younger daughter just being stabbed.
He said he got dizzy, but knew he had to do something and he called the operator, but he called on the wrong phone and told the operator he needed the police because people were dying and the operator said he had to call on a different phone to get the MP's because he was on base. He said he cursed her out and went back (down) on the floor because he was losing blood and finally got back to the operator and she connected him with the MP's.
He tried to (get) the heartbeat and pulse on his wife and it wasn't there and he was confused and did not know what he was going to do. He saw that she had neck wounds and chest wounds and got down on his hands and knees, next think he knew the MP's were there and he was getting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation from one of the MP's. In trying to explain what happened he said that maybe the gods were against him and related it to the Sharon Tate murder story because the word pig was written on the headboard of his bed but did not know if these hippies or long-hairs; he doesn't remember seeing beards or long hair except on one person. He was discussing the (ST case) with a friend of his, the article in Esquire Mag about Lee Marvin and witchcraft. But not the Sharon Tate thing. He said he does cry alone late at night when he's by himself, he admits to a feeling of relief that she gone and that the kids are gone and he's ashamed of that feeling.
He says he thought he could always start over again and make it but now he knows its very difficult for him. He felt he had to live up to am image of being strong, just as he had to live up to an image of being a lover in the past and that's why he doesn't break down and show more emotion about this situation.
When talking about the kids he cries even more and says he misses the kids sometimes more than his wife. Kristy was a tough girl and Kimberly was more like his wife-soft and feminine and passive. He feels like it is a private thing to cry and he mad at other people who expect him to cry in front of them about the situation. He says spontaneously "they have no right, just as other people had no right to kill my family, they had no right at all."
After it happened he said he was working in the emergency room and he saw a guy come in on a "bad trip" who was in very expensive clothes and he was angry at him but treated him as usual, even though he despised him he knew that he had to treat him as a doctor would.
He said he was calm like always and played the image as everyone would have expected him to.
With respect to his brother, he feels it's a weird coincidence about the 17th Feb and does not feel his brother or his brother's friends are involved at all. The only way may be a loan that his brother had to make because he lost $16,000 gambling and he got in with the Mafia loan sharks and yet this would not be a Mafia-type job and does not think his brother was involved at all. He, himself denies ever smoking marijuana or taking any drugs and his brother was quite surprised that he did(?) The only thing he's ever done is to take diet pills in his whole life and he started the weight control on the base and lost 12 pounds prior to the 17th and used to weigh 198, now he is down to 172 and 5'10 ½" but he lifted weights so most of his weight is in muscle; he has been a 186 average. He described a lot of the rumors that went around the base, such as his homosexual relationship with Lt. Harrison which of course, is ridiculous and thought that the Lt. became jealous of the family and killed the kids and wife but that is not so.
How he explains how he survived is that they must have thought he was dead and the screaming must have hurried them away. He thinks they might have gone to finish off his wife after she was screaming. He could not understand how he could hear her screams about don't let them do this to me while he saw the four people in the room. He thinks the people who did this must have been insane or else crazy on drugs. His wife's arms were fractured in 2 or three places, her skull was fractured, puncture wounds all over her head, neck, heart, lungs, stomach. They lived in a corner or end house, the back door may have been open, which leads to a laundry area and into the master bedroom.
They don't usually lock doors and his mother never has on Long Island either. They usually did lock the front door however. The call was placed at 2:42 AM., he had gone to bed at 2:00 AM he said. He is used to getting 3-4 hours of sleep and has done so for 5 years. His mother is doing good in spite of this. He hates the Colonel in charge of the MP's. The CID has not even questioned his close friends, both bachelor and married ones who came over.
Mental Status Examination: reveals Dr. MacDonald to be an average size, good-looking man who is sportily and well-dressed, who presents his difficulties in a clear and relevant manner, without evidence of psychotic though disorder, hallucinations or delusions. His memory is intact and his is well oriented. He does show some defensive mechanism about his masculinity and has need to prove himself as a man, both being in Special Forces, being in Ivy League school, getting through early, and constantly doing thing such as being boxing squad doctor, lifting weights, had some narcissistic gratification. There is no evidence for sociopathy or psychosis. His response of depression is masked but is easily obtained when discussing his missing the kids and his closeness with his wife. He is most concerned about his inability to help at the time when he was needed most. He speaks in bawing terms about his preparing himself, his being a hero, his being all kinds of things to be the strong, brave Green Beret and yet when it came time to save his family's life he was unable to do so.
He chastises himself for not being n the bed cause if two people were there, maybe he could have held them off and saved his wife's life. He is not so concerned people are accusing him of killing his family – he is more concerned about his not doing anything to save them. He has felt helpless, impotentent and ashamed. He does speak about his getting accused for the wrong reason. He thinks there has been some help to his guilt feelings because of the accusation even though they were for the wrong reason. He wants to clear his name and free himself and says he isn't paranoid, even people whisper, there he goes, when he goes to chow or when they see him on the street. He is a well-recognized guy at his camp and somehow there is a feeling that this is also satisfying some narcissistic needs for his being infamous or famous. He is ashamed of these narcissistic needs, however, but they do help him through his depression. He is not vindictive towards the killers, does want to see them brought to justice but knows that even if they are executed that will not bring his family back. He is prepared to work things out and start over and thanks his family and friends for supporting him through this ordeal, but is quite hard on himself when he recognizes his own role in his family's massacre.
Based on this examination, I would be fairly certain that Capt MacDonald was not directly involved in the killing of his family but that he does feel guilty because he did not (or was not) able to save them. For this reason there must be some distortion in the poloygraph test. I should like to have psychological tests to substantiate my impression that there is little or no psychopathic personality disorder and also that he does have unresolved masculine strivings, even with some latent homosexual conflicts. No evidence for psychosis is noted and that should be substantiated by testing.
I think as far as therapy goes, the captain ought to have some time to express his feelings to someone who will listen and understand that he doesn't hold this in and have a depressive reaction later on, even as far as a year later when the anniversary reaction usually shows up. I pointed this out to him and he was aware of the possibility.
In summary then, the big concerns were his ability to help even though he has the masculine strivings and the fantasy of being a hero and also his depressive feelings which he is able to cover up and which he feels are private and need not be shared with others who are curious about his reaction.