March 2006: Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures
For years Jeffrey MacDonald has made desperate pleas for money to be donated to his defense fund. He used his newsletters to do this and many supporters held fundraising drives to get money. Finally people caught on and the well dried up.
Now it would appear that his quest for donations is more forceful than ever as he claims it is needed to aid him in his latest round of filings. But many who were faithful and gave were treated very badly and will never forget it.
This case is plain and simply abuse of our judicial system. How much more of the American taxpayer's money will be used to counter his attacks? The DNA cost alone is currently over $90,000.00.
Thus, I would like to show two e-mails I received, describing what some term as "begging for money again":
Yes, I know Jeff MacDonald, I'd say we kept in touch for about 4 - 5 years. When my family and I first heard about the case back in the months before the trial was about to commence, we initially felt he was innocent (ha!). We also contributed to his defense fund. One time I dropped off a check for the defense fund and that's when I met him at St Mary's Hospital. As usual, he was charming and gracious and all the staff at that time respected him. In the course of our initial conversation, we agreed to a drink or coffee.
I never heard from him and being the devil's advocate, decided to call him very early at the hospital. We didn't get all the news about Mac back then, but some of the information in the paper made me slightly suspicious about him. Like why was he the only one left alive?
Anyway, I called the ER and spoke to the nurse on duty in the ER. I worked in another ER as a volunteer and choose an early morning hour hoping they wouldn't be busy. I specifically asked the charge nurse if they were busy and she said no, not at all, they'd had no cases in hours and he'd be happy to hear from me. She then put me on hold and went to get Mac. He came on the line shortly after. When he found out it was me and that I was calling about our drink, his reaction really took me aback. I barely knew him, and he got very angry - very, very quickly. He claimed they were very busy in the ER and that I had interrupted him and couldn't believe I had called. This was all a lie, as they hadn't been busy for hours, according to the nurse I spoke to. He wasn't screaming in my ear, but his voice kept getting louder and louder. I don't recall his exact words, but when I tried to point out what the nurse had told me, he just kept saying they'd been busy. You know like how he keeps sticking to his version of events on 2/17/70?? He then ended the call rather abruptly.
My family and I didn't think much of it at the time, for at the time, we just attributed this to the stress he was under. However, I have to say it planted a little seed in my mind, for if his temper flared up like that with a near perfect stranger, what would he do in other situations with close family or friends where he perceived some stress, disagreement or conflict or whatever?
We followed the trial, and we also started to write to him in prison up to the point when we all completed reading Fatal Vision. After each of my family had completed reading the book, we then held a family vote in the dining room and unanimously voted him guilty as hell. There were two glaring facts that underscore his guilt: his story doesn't add up to the evidence of the blood patterns of the victims, nor to the neatness of the living/dining areas where he claimed he was attacked. We were all quite impressed with Paul Stombaugh's testimony on the blood analysis. It made us all sick to know how Colette and her children really died and how they suffered at his hands.
However, back to the letter writing. We noticed a similar pattern. Mac would write kind nice letters seeming to care about us, but - only when he wanted something from us, like a letter writing campaign to congress about the case. As I recall, there were a few other instances where his temper flared up like when he always ranted on and on about the unfairness of it all for him. I don't ever recall him ever mentioning missing Colette or seeing the children grow up, anything like that. It was always about him.
After we quit writing, we never heard from him again. Throughout the years, I would read a bit here and there about the case. Eventually, I heard about your website and the parole hearing.
I always remembered Colette and her children in my prayers, especially on each anniversary of the murders and have entered their names (the last name I deliberately wrote in as Stevenson) in our prayer book at church during All Soul's Day masses. I just couldn't get the date out of my head. I'm also a victim of domestic violence and was one of the lucky ones who got away and started over with the help of my family. I've always felt Colette was just about at the turning point of getting ready to leave Mac. I know she knew about the affairs and she certainly knew of his temper. Like Mildred, I can only imagine the pain she suffered before the murders. One thing I read in her autopsy report indicated she had sexual relations about 72 hours before the murders. I don't believe Colette ever cheated on Mac. How disgusting Mac makes love to her and then brutally kills her several days later. How sick.
I agree with you 100% about him. God, will he ever just shut up and rot away in prison? No, I know he won't, but Lord the cost to the taxpayers is unbelievable, not to mention the agony he's put Colette's family and friends through.
If you and Bob need any help in countering him, just let me know. I'm only happy to help. Too bad the death penalty can't apply in this case. I remember something Murtagh was quoted in Fatal Vision about his role as a prosecutor. He felt he was the only voice (outside of Freddie, Mildred and Bob) for Colette and her children, especially after going over the case for years before it actually went to trial. That's how I feel too.
Christina, we've just got to counter him and outlive the son of a ______ !!
Thank you for permitting me to vent a bit and to use your venue to do so. Hopefully, I am also "bringing something to the party" so to speak, by offering up my suggestions on "fundraising" for the MacDonald group who apparently have not learned to think creatively about fundraising endeavors beyond "please help us". Especially when there are so very many ways to "cut corners" and economize. Any good wife should be a champion at it. So, for starters, enough of the very "gauche" begging scenario.
Thus, I suggest the following:
1. The extended family can sure chip in. I know they haven't been able to do much in the past, what with their own families, obligations and situations.
Yet, I am aware that the home of his late mother sold well. If it was sold for less than $359,000 then that was a shame. I know what it was worth several months BEFORE it was sold, and the real estate bubble in southern California did not burst. So, assuming that each family member was given some share in that sale, each of the two siblings could pony up a % of their share. Perhaps they did. But then again, at least one of them and/or the various nieces, nephews, cousins, family friends could raise some money. Maybe create tee-shirts and sell those. Host a bake sale. Do the grass roots type of thing. If the entire proceeds went to MacD then he should of course hand over all but maybe $50,000 for "whatever it takes" to pay for his ongoing battle. (This first suggestion is a fairly obvious one, but one that should be seriously considered.)
2. Now that MacD is married, his wife should share in EVERY way. If she owns her residence free and clear, take out a loan. Even if she doesn't, she can still borrow against the equity. Today the real estate market is doing well on the east coast, in some areas as well as the west coast. It is reported that Mrs. MacD refers to EVERYTHING ad nauseam - even to the deceased - as THEIR family. Forgive me, but those dead persons, (Colette, Kim, Kris, Mildred, Freddy, Perry (MacD's mother) and Mac (his Dad) remain solely HIS family. But, assuming the old "we two are one" stuff is a most sincere statement, then MacD can sort of INSIST that THEY sell some of THEIR property.
Take a loan on the business or bring in a partner as an investor. Sell items of value either through a reputable auction house or on e-bay. You can maintain anonymity, although this seems to be very unlike Colette's successor. Well, even considering this, she could get more buck for the cluck by taunting her marital status. Plus she can get some personal hype for some sort of ongoing publicity for herself. I say by herself because, after all, this IS supposed to be about making money. So other egos, such as MacD's would offer up the pain of being OUT of the limelight for "the cause".
3. More directly, this next point directly reflects just how much saving and economizing a wife can do. After all, we all acknowledge that Mrs. MacD in her "other life" did not carry the name Trump, Onassis, Kennedy or Helmsley, although it appears that she believes her current status puts her in that league. (If I had a "smiley face" icon, I'd insert a giant one here that would be an animated laughing one.) But I digress. Let's move on to "more money saving tips" for the little woman.
Gas - Wow! Gas prices for driving, heating, transportation such as planes and buses - it has gone up, up, UP! And it doesn't look like the prices will drop appreciably for some time. So, instead of lamenting - no, rather WHINING - about the long drive, twice a week, yadda, yadda, yadda - This is when another sacrifice will pay off. Go once a week or once every OTHER week. Obviously, if the trips include overnight stays at a local motel, then either downscale the place OR try to cut a deal as a frequent guest might well expect to do. Even better, don't stay overnight. Remember, just like our great nation's spirit of sacrifice in WWII with Victory Gardens, voluntary rationing, etc., this is all FOR YOUR CAUSE. That should be the motivating force here.
Clothes - Well, obviously now one should shop the "gently used", the annual sales at Macy's and repair and update the old stuff, assuming that one's taste is "classic" enough to tolerate updates.
Food/groceries - Well, everyone can cut back here. Less prepared foods and more cooked from scratch should be the order of the day.
The "big box" grocery chains offer lots of deals on everything from Wheaties to round steak. (Notice I didn't say filet mignon - that would be folly in view of THE CAUSE.)
Job/Work/Career - Write an article and get it published. Try to show the average Mom how her kid can find greater self-expression and fulfillment in drama. Do a video about it. Even better, reinvent your school to have a class geared at women. Sort of a "how to" as to getting what you want thru wheedling, whining, and employing endless inane chatter. Remind those ladies that it isn't WHAT you say, but how much you say it. Yes, indeedy.
Also, raise the class fees. If the tiny tots parents can afford the luxury of drama classes for their budding thespians, then another $25 apiece won't hurt. Sell peripheral material like tot mugs, leotards, photos of yourself emblazoned on everything with a "Free US now" (I am using Mrs. MacD's incessant "WE" so that we can all appreciate just accomplished they BOTH are in the use of the personal pronouns "I" and "we".)
Now every hubby has to lead the way - show the little woman how a real alpha male takes charge of the female and the whole pack.
Let's cut down on all those stamps. Postage is now up to $.39 And again, we ALL know how many letters MacD writes. Whew! I think that perhaps HE could retire from that tired old "just a humble orderly in the prison so that I can work on MY case." He could get a much better position at the institution - something in education that pays a little more - something in prison industry. But PLEASE, let's cut the postage by at least 1/2. Besides, it will have a further effect. Less mail equals less censors needed to read it and eventually more taxpayer dollars won't be wasted just to have a guard assigned to reading the mountains of repetitious hogwash that comes out of that pen. His postage fees in December alone must have been outrageous! I might also suggest that he photocopy his ...ahem... "personal" correspondence and just insert the appropriate name after the "Dear" or "Dearest".
Next - Make gifts for your bride - Stop spending the cash! Prisoners make lots of neat items. Don't buy them "inside" on a trade. Rather, learn to be artistic and crafts-oriented right there. See? There are opportunities for saving and personal enrichment at every turn!
Next is a hard sacrifice, but I know that ol' tough-as-nails MacD can do it - cut the subscriptions to the world of magazines by at least HALF. Borrow books and magazines from the prison library.
Stop sending OTHER PEOPLE's MONEY sent in GOOD FAITH for YOUR CAUSE on frivolity. People do not give to charities so that the beneficiaries can make $100 or $200 or $300 worth of phone calls to anyone EXCEPT a lawyer. From the looks of the expanding waistline, a bit of a cut on food items from the prison commissary would benefit YOUR CAUSE financially and YOU aesthetically.
You see, when one needs money in the real world one has to be clever, industrious and willing. Begging demonstrates NONE of those attributes.
I suggest that the happy couple, all aglow over their future, put in time researching GRANTS. Even a neophyte can write grant letters and use a guide as basic as Lesko's vast storehouse of books on the subject. How to get money for anything is pretty much the skinny on that.
Lastly, put pressure where it belongs. Although your attorneys are generally pro-bono and charge filing and actual costs only - maybe they have creative plans. Also, don't incur filing charges by adding to an overburdened court system with things like your latest nonsensical plea. That has more holes than a sieve.
As for MacD, he believes himself to be such a wise person, his pseudo-intellectualism falls flat under the scrutiny of the true intellectual. Quoting Schopenauer, Bierce, Jung, etc. is not from one's accumulated arsenal of wit and wisdom, but rather from the overuse of "Great Quotations for Every Occasion".
There, now I feel better! I think this is a great way to help THE CAUSE! The MacD's bond will strengthen because of the mutual sacrifices being made. After all, love isn't about elegance, $30 nail fills, two-process hair color, purchased gifts, etc. but rather about sacrifice where it counts. Start that ball rolling in one's own personal life FIRST, then one can anticipate generosity from the sideline observers. But NO ONE should contribute to ANYTHING that merely serves to support the capricious lifestyle and silly spending of the project beneficiary. "Fohgeddaboudit!" to quote the Sopranos
And now two thoughts for those involved in THAT CAUSE! It is good food for thought, yes?
Oh that I had wings like a dove to fly away and be at rest. So I would escape far away and take refuge in the desert. Psalm 55:7-8
"If we are truly docile, we will ask no questions about the road along which God is taking us."
(Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Abandonment to Divine Providence)