The Jeffrey MacDonald Information Site is a compendium of information about the Jeffrey MacDonald case. MacDonald was convicted in 1979 of the murders of his pregnant wife and two small daughters. He is serving three life sentences for that brutal crime.

The Murders of Colette, Kimberley and Kristen MacDonald

The Jeffrey MacDonald Information Site is a compendium of information about the Jeffrey MacDonald case. MacDonald was convicted in 1979 of the murders of his pregnant wife and two small daughters. He is serving three life sentences for that brutal crime.

December 11, 1974: Dr. Donald Morgan, Army Psychiatrist


I, Mary M. Ritchie, being a Notary Public in and for the State of North Carolina, was appointed to take testimony of the following witness, Dr. Donald W. Morgan, before the Grand Jury, Raleigh, North Carolina, commencing on December 12, 1974. All Grand Jurors are present.


Dr. Donald W. Morgan, having first been duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

Examination By Mr. Victor Woerheide:
Q Will you state your name, please, sir?
A Donald W. Morgan.
Q Are you a doctor, sir?
A Yes.
Q What is your home address?
A 5004 Norbeck Road, Rockville, Maryland.
Q And your business address? <
A Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Q And, will you give up a brief description of your education and professional background?
A I attended the University of Pennsylvania, 1952 to 1956, and got a B.A. in mathematics. I attended the University of Buffalo Medical School from 1956 to 1960, getting an M.D. I then went to rotating internship in the Army -- entered the Army at that time and have been in the Army ever since.
I did a rotating internship at Trippler Hospital in Hawaii, and I went to Walter Reed where I took three years training in psychiatry -- left Walter Reed. While still on active duty, I went to civilian school for three years in New York City, Down State Medical School, for training in research psychiatry -- got a degree, a doctor of medical science.
I returned to Walter Reed and have been at Walter Reed since that time, working in a number of jobs, including research, computers, and my current job as Chief of Psychiatry.
Q Now referring to the time frame of August - September, 1970, did you have an occasion to make a psychiatric evaluation of a Captain Jerry R. MacDonald?
A Yes, I did.
Q And, did you do this in conjunction with Dr. Bailey and Dr. Edwards?
A Right. At that time I was Director of Research working with Dr. Bailey; and he asked me would I participate in this sanity board.
Q Did you have available to you, at that time, certain materials -- I'm particularly thinking of a psychiatric evaluation made by Dr. Mack of Philadelphia and an evaluation made by a Dr. White, psychologist -- both of them being psychologists?
A Well, in the course of -- what we did is -- it was an unusual request to the department, and I think that's one of the reasons I got involved. The request from Colonel Rock was to the department -- was would we look at Dr. MacDonald; because he had a report from a psychiatrist, testifying to the fact that Dr. MacDonald could not have committed a crime of which they were doing an Article 32 Investigation for. That's a very unusual request. And the request at that time was in an informal letter, saying would we look at this man; because, in Colonel Rock's experience, that's an unusual kind of statement for a doctor to make.
Dr. Bailey had worked with the defense. Dr. Bailey was my boss -- not my immediate boss; but Dr. Bailey was in the department of Psychiatry. My immediate boss was in research. He knew all the facts of the case. He knew all the business; and I didn't know anything when I saw Dr. MacDonald. I specifically did not know, nor did I wish to know the incident. For, the thing that we were being asked to do -- in the Army when you do these things -- the details of what the person is charged with, really, isn't that important.
And the question was being asked -- is it possible that this man has a personality structure which would make it impossible for him to commit a murder. I don't need to know about "the" murder or the murder in order to know, so I did not initially know any of that. In fact I was much in doubt about most of these things. I know a lot more about it since July - August that I knew at that time.
And I interviewed Dr. MacDonald for an hour and a half to two hours; and then Dr. Bailey and myself and Dr. Edwards got together to talk about it. Dr. White, the psychologist, looked at the material supplied to him by civilian psychologists. I had no -- I never looked at that material until I had an opportunity to do it recently.
Q All right, sir. Before we go into the details of your testimony, I have a letter addressed to you by Bernard L. Segal, counsel for Dr. MacDonald. I think you're familiar with this letter?
A Yes, I am.
Q I'll ask our reporter to mark it as Morgan exhibit 1 of this date, and I -- it's the same as the previous letters we had marked for the other psychiatrists. It's in effect a release permitting him to testify, in full, details concerning any statement that were made to him or any material furnished him by or on behalf of Dr. MacDonald or, then Captain MacDonald.
(Dr. Morgan exhibit #1 marked for identification)
Q Dr. Morgan, I think you said you conducted two interviews?
A Yes, sir.
Q Did you take notes?
A Those interviews were tape recorded. I didn't take notes.
Q Did you review the tape recordings?
A No, I never reviewed them after that.
Q Did you destroy them?
A Yes, I did.
Q Do you recall if Dr. Bailey made notes from the first of those interviews?
A Yes, he listened to both and made notes on the first. Yes.
Q Have you had an opportunity to review his notes?
A Yes.
Q Will you give us your recollection now of the first interview?
A Well, I can remember this. It was in Dr. Bailey's office and Dr. MacDonald sat on a very soft couch directly opposite me; and I brought a reasonably comfortable chair up in front of the desk and that the tape recorder was behind, sitting on Dr. Bailey's desk behind me.
I talked to Dr. MacDonald. He already knew his rights, and I told him again his rights -- that he needn't talk to me and that, if he did talk to me and if I happened to be called, then anything he said to me -- he understood all that probably better than I did.
I then talked to him and told him that I wanted to do this interview, why I was doing it, and talked to him about -- it's not necessary to talk about the events that happened. I was interested in getting to know him and his personality; and we began rather innocuously, and he should know that I knew only the bare things. I was aware of the charges -- that is, he was charged with the murder of his wife and two children. But beyond that, I knew nothing.
His lawyer was not present during that interview. And I did what I thought was a reasonable kind of -- for myself -- a standard kind of interview, going after the question, now, of being asked -- and not a question of sanity. The question at this point in time that I'm pursuing is the man's personality. Later -- the second interview, I did a formal mental status because half way through, they changed the rules on us and asked us for a formal sanity board which means we have to answer these questions, specifically. And I am referring to these notes, and I have to say that it was a long period of time between 1970 and 1974. And I was very shocked to be called about this thing. I knew nothing of these things and I obviously don't forget a case like this. But the details that I'm telling you now, I could not have drawn to mind without these notes Dr. Bailey took.
I did not specifically in one -- the first interview I had with one of your assistants -- you remember I objected very strenuously to going and talking about it. Because at that time Dr. MacDonald saw me, he thought we were evaluating him the Army rules, which is, at that time of the alleged act, was he sane. Really, what is asked of me now, as I understand it is to further -- which that letter lets me go -- and talk about his personality.
Q Right. And we are particularly interested in that now.
A Right. I took a little part of history about him. He obviously was -- I took a history of -- he was born on Long Island, and took a general history of his childhood -- had a reasonable stable family life. His mother was a nurse. He father was a professional. He did well in college -- did well in high school.
And then I came down to trying to get to know him a little bit; and I asked him how was it that he went into the airborne, which, from my point of view, is kind of unusual for a guy to volunteer for. Not many doctors volunteer for airborne. And he talked to me about that -- about why he went into the airborne. He was down at Fort Sam Huston, and one of these airborne recruiters came down and talked him into going into the airborne and continued -- you know, kind of challenged him to go into the airborne.
And then he talked to me about how easy the airborne -- how easy the airborne was and how that that really wasn't challenging enough for him. And he then went to Special Forces, which is even strenuous and certainly more risky than simply being airborne.
And I tried to go back into -- I tried to go backwards into various -- what I thought neutral, not-charged areas. I asked him about his growing up. And he talked to me about his dog, the collie named Lady -- that he had had and had been poisoned. And this is the -- the way that I I conduct an interview is try to be not -- try not to ask questions. I try to ask a question and sit back and let the person talk after that. And then I try to go with the person wherever he moves to. Because not only the question is important, but what he says, and how he says it, and what areas he moves to after that is important.
And he talked to me about his dog and about his dog being poisoned by a neighbor lady and about his going away. And he rode his bike for five miles in a park, and he sat there all day. And he felt that the police had let him down, because I think he asked them to perform an autopsy on the dog; and they said they couldn't do that. And then he said -- you know, of course, what could the police do?
And from there he moved -- by his own volition -- to talking about a pony that he purchased for his children and his wife, Colette. And he got that from somebody that he knew there at the post -- that he was going to give him away. This man was going to give the horse -- the pony away, and that he stabled the barn in a barn. And that he would go with the children to feel the pony and care for the pony and that, initially, Colette didn't want to have this pony. But after some initial thing -- you know, she didn't want to have the pony -- that she now went out went them too, and would be with the children and the horse.
And at that point -- quite unexpectedly -- his mood changed very dramatically, His affect changed and he started to cry. And I said what are you crying about? What's upset him? And he said he was crying about his family, and he really became quite upset at this point, crying quite heavily. And he began to say it's not right. That shouldn't have happened -- that he never did anything wrong -- "he" never did anything wrong and it's just not right and unfortunately, the tapes are gone; but it was striking -- striking to me -- the amount of feeling that was being expressed here. He said that -- you know, that he had taken care of some of the crummiest people in the world and how could such a thing happen -- like, how could this possibly happen?
Then he started telling about how wonderful his wife was -- that she was one of the kindest people he had ever known and that he still wakes up and expects them to be there. Remember, now this is in August, and that's not unusual. And that he has to fight constantly to be cool and competent. And that he has a tremendous feeling of guilt -- guilt about not being competent -- not being able to handle the situation.
And I asked the question about how do you think this will all come out -- something like that. I'm sure I wasn't specific. And he took the question -- he took that question n and said -- these proceedings? You know, I'll get out of these proceedings. I've got the most competent lawyer in the world. He's the best of all possible lawyers -- in effect; he has an innocent client -- that he, Dr. MacDonald, is innocent. And then he goes on.
And remember, that I started at the beginning by telling Dr. MacDonald, I don't want to hear about -- I don't remember how this started. I said I don't want to hear about these things.
And secondly, we started by talking about his pets as a child; and we very rapidly moved from his pets as a child to the point -- to his crying about his family, to his being accused of the crime. And now he becomes quite angry and begins a long tirade about his incompetency of the Army investigation, which to me -- I didn't know anything about what's going on. You know, I didn't know the investigation. It might have been incompetent for all I know. And he went into details, saying, you know, first of all he didn't respond; and then when he did respond, they came in and they destroyed the crime scene. And then they absolutely refused to go out and look for these people that it -- you know, and that the FBI ran away from the case -- just a whole list of tirade. In fact, he told me that JAG down there was harassing his lawyer, which might or might not have been true. But he was really upset about -- angry at the Army for their misconduct of the investigation. Misconduct -- one, in that they are charging him; and two, that they are not going after the people that did this.
And then he starts talking about them charging him -- that, you know, because there was a while he wasn't charged and he said to me, you know, it's big thing at Fort Bragg. Some say you're in two camps -- the doc did it or the doc didn't do it. Those were his words at that time.
And you have to remember that me, as a doctor, well, I have some feeling, you know about this -- you know, this is not an average GI that I'm examining. This is a doctor being accused of murder by an incompetent Army, and I can understand that -- you know, I could understand his feelings about an incompetent Army. And he said that they didn't understand why he was lying on the couch and went into details about his being on the couch and those kinds of things which I didn't have any knowledge at that time. And it really, quite frankly, didn't make any -- didn't make a lot of sense to me.
And quite frankly, at that time -- the way he was presenting it to me was quite consistent with my way of seeing the CID and MP's going to crime a crime scene. And what he was telling me seemed to make good sense; and quite frankly, I gave him -- I asked him would he like to have some time to get himself back together. And he did take that time. He got himself back together. He composed himself. And on his own, now, we began talking about the 17th of February. And here, frankly, you know, I began to be concerned about him. I began to be concerned about his depression -- about being -- his upset -- his crying, his depression. It's five months after the death of his wife and children, and he's still having a -- what I think to be -- an emotional reaction. So, we began talking then about his feelings about the family; and he begins telling me of the dreams that he's having. And he -- dreaming of them coming up -- of walking up and hearing the children screaming and hearing them screaming. And I asked him about -- does he cry still? And he says he does cry. And he can still see his wife lying on the floor.
And I really go after the depression in terms of his sleep. But his sleep patterns -- he's sleeping, by this time, pretty good. He wakes up a lot between six and eight o'clock; but he is usually is able to sleep.
And then he tells me that his dreams have changed -- his anxiety dreams -- the dreams that he feels badly about. People do after the loss of a loved one or a loss -- people have dreams about them which are upsetting and that's a sign of depression -- a sign of being ill. And he says that the character of his dreams have changed, and now he has anxiety about Colonel Rock -- and Colonel Rock is the guy that's doing the investigation -- running this Article 32 Investigation -- looking at him and saying, "Did you do it?" And his saying "No." And his having this feeling that Colonel Rock couldn't hear him, and he's having to tell Colonel Rock over and over and over again that he didn't do it.
And then I asked him about other kinds of dreams that bothers him, and he told me about dreams that he had as a child -- anxiety dreams that he had as a child -- where somebody would be looking for him and he would run and hide underneath -- in the dream, he would run and hide under the bed. And he would be very frighten when he woke up. But that stopped when he age six and that's certainly normal.
And then he begins telling me about the screams in the dreams. And I asked him specifically, do you hear those screams when you're awake? And he denies that he ever hears them when he's awake. And then he says he now has nice dreams and still -- in spite of my letting him compose himself, now he is crying again. And he says I have nice dreams about them now. And he doesn't want to talk to people about them. He doesn't want to share those dreams. He thinks all this -- people asking about him and his wife is really an invasion on kind of his relationship to his wife. So, I'm still concerned. I say -- and he thinks people are being kind of morbid in asking him about it again and again. And if you remember, I didn't ask him about this at all, okay? So that -- he's not accusing me of being morbid -- that he's telling me these things.
And he's talking about crying, and I ask him does he get relief from crying. And he says -- very little. And his weigh has increased. And I was -- seeing how depressed he was -- because one of the signs of depression is weight. He's not depressed. His weight, in fact, has increased and he, at that time, was in confinement, under house arrest. And he talked about -- I asked him how did he feel about.
Then the reel ran out, and I asked him how he felt about crying, Well, I had to turn the reel over; and he began to compose himself more at that time; and he really did begin to get himself together. And he said it's okay for women to cry, but men shouldn't cry and that's a fantasy that most Green Beret people have.
And then he talked about his escort officer -- what a nice escort officer he had and how his escort officer is really very understanding, very nice to him.
And then he began to talk about his sexual history. I'm now trying to get away from this and go back to his sexual history. And he tells me about having a reasonably good sex life -- of not being -- of having two girls friends. I asked him about his immediate sexual life and he tells that some women had offered to -- he's under house arrest -- and some women had offered to come and have relations with him, and he denied that. He denied her that, because he didn't think that would be quite right given the circumstances. And that he hadn't had any relations and that, you know, probably was because of the stress.
And then he talked about as a child -- either wetting the bed or masturbating and having wet dreams and hiding the sheets, and how he felt about that. And then he went on and asked me about the mechanisms and talked to me about the mechanisms of having an erection on awakening.
And then he talked to me about, you know, their -- his sexual life -- having relations three or four times a week. And I asked him specifically had he ever been impotent -- had he had an occasion of trying to have sex and not being able to have an erection. He said, yes, he had had that at one time with a girl who was very attractive but very pushy. And he was concerned about that. And then he said, well, this could have well been because he had been drinking some Cold Duck and that he was to drunk to have relations.
And then he goes on and talks to me -- and he immediately says that his wife -- he was never impotent with his wife and that he and Colette always were able to have relations. And then I asked him if his wife knew about his extra-marital affairs. He had two extra-marital affairs that he talked to me about. One, I can recall specifically, was an airline stewardess that he knew down at Fort Sam Huston. And he said that, no, his wife didn't know about them; and that's not important. And then he qualified and -- maybe she did know about the airline stewardess business; but they never talked about it.
And then I asked him is there any reason that you think your wife was stepping out on you; and he said, no, that he had no reason to think about that.
Then I went back and began in terms of the homosexual experiences, and I'm sure the question I asked him was the standard question. Have you ever had any homosexual experiences?
And I tried to asked in that fashion. And he said he never had, but he had been approached at age eighteen -- at thirteen, while mowing a neighbor's lawn. And he talked to me about it, and it seemed like he handled it quite reasonably. The guy had invited him for a drink and he simply left and -- he just left and did not have homosexual relations with the guy.
Then he talked to me about his experiences with homosexuals while he was on Fire Island, driving a taxi. And he made extra money by fixing up homosexuals with other homosexuals -- you know, by driving the taxi there. And then he said to me that sometimes that he would get -- sometimes homosexuals travel with a female companion. And he said sometimes after he had fixed the guys up with other homosexual friends that he would take their girl out. He would get to take the homosexual's girl out -- the girl that they were traveling with. And that was the end of that first hour.
Q There is just one thing that I want to --
A That was more than an hour. That was --
Q I want to touch upon -- can you recollect any further about this as a kid wetting the bed. Somehow or other you said he may have masturbated, may have ejaculated --
A I don't know whether he wet the bed, or whether he had an enuresis and wet the bed, or whether he had wet dreams; but anyway, whichever it was, he hid those sheets and he can remember doing that -- hid them from his mother.
Q Did he explain why it was that he hid the sheets?
A Not that I recall.
Q All right, sir, now you have a second interview.
A After that -- after the first interview, then Dr. Bailey, Dr. Edwards and myself got together about this rather unusual case; and, particularly, because Dr. Bailey and Dr. Sadoff had had an argument on the phone. I don't know whether that's relevant, but I'll tell you about that.
Dr. Bailey and Dr. Sadoff had got into an argument about not releasing information to each other, and we specifically then knew that this was going to be an issue. And we asked that a civilian consultant come in to talk to us about -- give us some advice about how to proceed. You know, not only do we have an unusual request; we have a very hostile expert witness in forensic matters.
So we met again, and we decided that Dr. Rappaport counsel us about doing this thorough evaluation; and in the meantime, going back to Colonel Rock -- Colonel Rock then change the rules and asked us for a formal sanity board, raising the McNaughton and the Durham Rules. So, then, I saw Dr. MacDonald another day -- sometime later -- to do a more formal mental status and that is asking not personality things -- not about his personality -- not trying to get to know him as a person, but his mental state. You know, what is his mental state so I could complete a formal mental status. In fact, we had a form. That's why I saw him again.
Q All right. Now will you tell us about that, sir?
A That went very -- you know, kind of routinely. The only thing that struck me about it was -- one part of the form on the mental status is judgment concerning family and social affairs, and I asked him what he -- how he and his wife got along. He said fine. I said what did you argue about, and he said disciplining the children. And he went on and he elaborated that they had had arguments about disciplining the children -- particularly over bed wetting and the children sleeping in other's beds -- that -- if you have children, you know that they do that -- they sleep in different beds -- and that his desire was to have the children put back in their own bed and made to sleep in their own bed. And his wife felt differently about that -- that she would let them just sleep in anybody's bed. That was a bone of contention for them.
Q In this general area, then, bedwetting and how to deal with it; let's say is a disciplinary problem, is it? Did you have any reason to believe that there were other areas involving the disciplining of children in which there might have been some conflict?
A There might have been, but he didn't tell me about them. He said the area of conflict in the family -- what did you argue about, which is a question I ask all married people -- what do you argue about. And he said disciplining the children, and he went on and talked about this which was enough for me.
Q All right, sir, now I take it that you and Dr. Bailey and Dr. Edwards, together, conferred with each other and exchanged the results of your respective interviews -- what you had derived from them -- and arrived at certain conclusions. Can you give us your conclusions as to his character and his personality -- the sort of man he is?
A My own?
Q Yes, your own.
A That's not what -- now, this is what you all are asking me. That's not what we wrote in our report.
Q No, but you made certain observations from it. You personally arrived at such conclusions, did you not?
A We feel -- first of all, it's an inappropriate question Colonel Rock was asking us. And we answered the questions -- if in our opinion, at the time of the alleged acts, that he was free from mental disease, defect or derangement. And, secondly, at the time of the alleged acts that he was able to adhere to the right. And, thirdly, that right then he was able, clearly able, to participate in his own defense. And we also answered this question about did we think that it was possible for him to commit this act. You know --
Q That's going into a different area.
A That to me is an inappropriate question. But that's the question that's asked, and we answered that question. And we do think it's possible, and we think it's inappropriate to say is it probably which is -- you know, that's not our --
Q But it is a question you can answer.
A Is it possible for this man to have done it -- to have committed such an act? Yes, and we based that upon --
Q That's a matter of character, personality, response to stressful conditions?
A Yes, sir.
Q Reactions to stressful situations?
A And what do we base that on? What do we base that on?
Q Yes, that's my question..
A What I base that on is -- I see Dr. MacDonald who is striving constantly to be a superman. And underlying that, you know -- and he's very bright. And he's very talented; but he constantly striving to be the best -- to be a superman -- to be a he-man and going in the Green Beret and all of this sort of business. Underneath that is definitely, in my opinion, a defense against very latent homosexual desires. By homosexual desires, I don't mean he's a practicing homosexual -- far from it. But that he has the, you know, drive to be a homosexual, which he doesn't act on. He's not a homosexual; but he has homosexual desires, and also certain psychopathic tendencies -- that is telling me about his extra-marital affairs -- again, almost being too much of a man.
And this type of individual certainly is not -- in a stressful situation, where he was challenged in -- particularly in a sex -- in an area, has a possibility. Of course, everybody has a possibility of committing a crime; but in a stressful situation, it is possible he did. He is not a man without defect -- essentially that is what Dr. Sadoff was telling Colonel Rock -- here's a guy who couldn't possibly do this. And that we were saying and what we continue to say is -- whether or not he did it is not up to us. But , we disagree very vehemently with Dr. Sadoff's conclusion that this man could not possibly have done it.
Q Let me ask you this -- he has a chink in his armor or an Achilles' heel. If his manliness is, say put down -- his sexual adequacy is questioned, he could react, let's say, violently to such a challenge. Let's add to the situation and say fatigue from working twenty-four hours and then staying up until two o'clock in the morning the following day -- in other words, a night and a half without sleep -- an argument, let's say, about disciplining the children -- bedwetting, and a situation where his wife goes to bed at ten o'clock, and he stays up to two o'clock in the morning reading -- not going to bed with his wife. When you add these elements that might create a stressful situation, if he were challenged as to his adequacy as a man, as to his manliness, could he strike out violently --
A (Interposing) I've already answered it.
Q And kill a member of his family? I know you've answered it; I'm just trying to make it a little bit more specific. I'm adding certain elements -- that is the element of fatigue, the tiredness.
A The more stress you put a person under, the more you break down his defenses again these underlying, unwanted drives.
Q And the more likely it is --
A That they erupt.
Q That you may have an outburst?
A Yes, sir. But that you know --

MR. WOERHEIDE: Mr. Foreman?

FOREMAN: Any questions? It's doesn't appear so.

MR. WOERHEIDE: Dr. Morgan, we're very grateful for your being here.

Witness excused.



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