ARTICLE 32 HEARING TRANSCRIPTS
August 12, 1970: Miss Marjorie Murdock
(The hearing reconvened at 0837 hours, 12 August 1970.)
COL ROCK: This hearing will come to order. Let the record reflect that all parties that were present at the recess are currently in the hearing room. Proceed, counselor.
MR. SEGAL: Miss Marjorie Murdock, please.
(Miss Marjorie Murdock was called as a witness for the defense, was sworn and testified as follows.)
Questions by MR. SEGAL:
Q Miss Murdock, would you please state your full name and home address?
A Marjorie Murdock, 425 W. 21st Street, New York, New York. Do you want the zip code?
Q No, thank you, Miss Murdock. Are you related in anyway to Captain Jeffrey R. MacDonald?
A Not at all.
Q What is your occupation?
A I am now a legal secretary.
Q And how long have you been so employed?
A I've been doing this about ten years, about eight years on a freelance basis.
Q Do you know the accused, Captain MacDonald, in this case?
A Not in a social way. I met him when I was hospitalized in Presbyterian, where I've had a number of rather heavy operations.
Q Excuse me, when you say you met him at Presbyterian, do you mean that you know Captain MacDonald in a professional way?
A Oh, yes, he was simply a member of a surgical team who worked on me.
Q When he was at Presbyterian and what is that institution?
A That's Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, otherwise called Medical Center.
Q When was it that you met Dr. MacDonald at Presbyterian Hospital?
A September of 1968.
Q He was not actually your attending physician, was he?
A No, he was the intern on the team.
Q Would you indicate to the investigating officer, please, the circumstances under which you came to know Captain MacDonald?
A Well, you know the teams were, well, 4 or 5 doctors at the beginning, with the top surgeons and two residents and so on, down to the intern, which was then Dr. MacDonald. I believe there are other lesser students below that grade, and he was on the team. He examined me not too minutely. I had a long history in the hospital, but he did take care of me. He put in my feedings, he helped me with my tubes and you know the apparatus that was necessary.
Q How did you actually meet Captain MacDonald?
A Well, he came in and introduced himself and asked me how I felt and did I know what was the matter with me and the usual questions. Evidently he had read the chart enough that he didn't have to go through stripping me and asking about every little scar and when I got it, the usual things which interns do. But he was very active.
Q Was there anything that was particularly notable in his care and treatment of you, Mrs. Murdock?
Q Would you indicate to the investigating officer in some fashion what brought Captain MacDonald's treatment to your attention?
A Well, the intern is not the most famous person, but he is definitely the hardest working man. I think they have to cover everything the other doctors cover, you know, for the particular period of the -- you know, the intern is on top of everybody and everything he did, he did as though it really mattered. He wanted to do it efficiently, properly, quickly, but definitely gently, which they do not all care about or can't even if they want to be. They are too nervous, too impatient, I don't know.
Q May I ask you what was the nature of the operation you were in the hospital for?
A Well, we didn't know. I had four days of exploration where I was taken off all food and fed intravenously with a tube down helping to go through where nothing would move and they just took me up and down to X-rays. One of the things that caused me liking this young man was that I know I was in extremely good hands -- well, I've never been in bad hands in the hospital and this is my fifth trip there. When I went to X-ray, the day before, it turned out that I went to surgery in the middle of the night and I had my picture taken. I was getting off of the table and Dr. MacDonald came into the room and asked the man who was hoping to go off duty if he had five or ten minutes and the man who was going off duty wasn't crazy about it, but he said, "yes, what did you have in mind" and then Dr. MacDonald said, he had an idea that if he could do so and so and such and such while I'm here, I want to see it, I have an idea. I don't know what went on upstairs to get him down here, but the man did it and whatever it was, Dr. MacDonald observed, and the customers, when you have left the X-ray room, you are put out in the hallway and some attendant will take you back, as they can. Dr. MacDonald didn't quite do that. When he put me in the chair, he also took me all the way back to my bed and saw that I was put in it, which was quite unusual.
Q Let me ask you. You indicated that you've been in the hospital for a number of serious operations. I gather that you have been attended by various physicians. Am I correct in that regard?
A Yes, sir. All these different teams, because they do circulate. I think it's enough -- I couldn't go into the actual figures, but I know that the interns put their month in in each part of the hospital, different service.
Q From the standpoint of having observed on these various occasions, what would you say and how would you characterize Dr. MacDonald's concern for human life?
A Well, he was an intern, but you have various -- I see doctors, quite a few of them have technical skills and in a big hospital you accept skills, you hope to find them and they're always there. But Dr. Herter, who's a very good surgeon --
Q Excuse me. We're not talking about Dr. Herter. You're talking about the chief surgeon at Presbyterian.
A I don't know what his title is. He's handled me since the 16th, and Dr. Herter has that quality of definitely being interested in you, not only performing the work, but help your morale, encouraging you, gaining your confidence and let you know that you're going to make it and there are times when you really don't know whether you are or not. Some doctors try to do it and they never quite get it over.
Q How does Dr. MacDonald fit in that category?
A He was comparable to Dr. Herter in that relationship. With these young men when they appeared, you knew that somebody was going to give you a lift to carry whatever you were aiming for.
Q Did you have an opportunity to observe Dr. MacDonald when he was not treating you, but treating other patients, other persons?
A Oh, constantly. I had about 4 days -- well, I can't see without my glasses and it wasn't worth putting on the glasses, because the tube was in the way, so I had nothing to do between X-rays but watch what was going on around me, and I watched him quite a bit and among the things I saw was a little lady I don't think spoke much English and she had also a mysterious thing that they were researching and couldn't locate, but she wasn't as lucky as I was. She couldn't express herself and she wasn't interested in food, she wasn't interested in anything, I guess, including getting well. Finally one day she kind of huddled up in bed to take a nap and Captain MacDonald came in and I don't know what he did, but he called through the ward and he stopped at her bed and looked at her and the first thing, I thought, well, is she gone, you know, we wonder these things and he looked at the foot of her bed, looked around the top and in the locker behind and he left the ward. I thought, gee, you know, must be going to get a screen, but he didn't go for a screen, he went for a blanket and covered this little old lady, simply because she was lying on the bed uncovered.
Q Again, what was the significance or why did that episode stand out in your mind?
A Well, it wasn't his duty, to begin with, technically. He could not have been prompted by ambition in his career and I've watched a lot of teams making it. He could have been concerned for a sad little old lady who didn't care and otherwise might not have gotten covered.
Q Did Dr. MacDonald ever discuss with you --
A The lady never knew it, never knew it.
Q Did Dr. MacDonald ever discuss with you his entry into the United States Army?
A Yes. The day after he followed me to X-ray, he had told me at the end of that day, that he was going to go down for his physical the next day, and we made a few jokes about it and he was right there. He was not there when we went to surgery, but he came back the next day and said he had passed and he was definitely going, he was simply delighted, crazy about it. Well, I wasn't so delighted, because it was quite likely I'd be going back there again some time. I don't stay out very long, and when he moved onto another service, said his goodbyes, the usual things, he said he would come back and see me some day and I thought, well, they all say that, but he did come back and I asked him repeatedly, how about your service and he said, well, my wife wants me to -- I can either go, I think, to Europe -- I don't know what part, whether it's a European country for three years and she can join me or I can go to Vietnam for two years. And I said well, that's fine, then you'll go to Europe and he said no, he wanted to go to Vietnam. So I tried to persuade him you know, just what I would want to persuade my husband to do and I suggested that he give his wife a break and stay with his family. He said, well, Vietnam, I am a doctor and I will be practicing and if I'm -- if I wanted to be of use, that's where I'd be the most use and I think that's where I ought to go. So we parted and I felt so strongly about it and I don't usually. I don't like men who weasel out. I wanted to ask him if there was a way that he could not remain just as he was and just continue his career, but I didn't have the nerve to do it. However, I did follow him and I asked him if he did not feel or care about breaking up his career, had he ever thought that he had, obviously, a nice wife, he was with her, he had a child because he had mentioned that she had used the child to coerce him into going to Europe instead of Vietnam, and just give his wife a break and go to Europe. He looked at me, sort of, you know, you have a nerve, and I said, well, look, you know, a certain percentage of these guys that go just don't come back and nobody knows who's going to fall on which side, like that, have you thought about you might be one who does not come back. How about that, that wife, how about that child and other children. Well, I think Dr MacDonald liked me because I liked him, you just can't like anyone who hates you, but he did very much squelch me and he looked me squarely in the face, and he said, "Miss Murdock, there must be thousands of men in Vietnam who all have a wife and children," so I dropped the subject.
MR. SEGAL: Cross-examine.
CPT SOMERS: No questions.
MR. SEGAL: Sir?
COL ROCK: I have no questions. Do you wish the witness to be excused?
MR. SEGAL: Yes, sir.
COL ROCK: Miss Murdock, you're requested not to discuss your testimony with any person other than counsel for the government or counsel for the accused. You are permanently excused. Thank you.
(Miss Murdock departed the hearing room.)