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
 

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February 14, 1991: Affidavit of FBI SA Raymond Madden, Jr.
 re: Dr. John Thornton

 

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
FAYETTEVILLE DIVISION

NO. 75-26-CR-3
NO. 90-104-CIV-3-D
 

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

:

 

v.

:

Affidavit of FBI SA Raymond Madden, Jr.

JEFFREY R. MACDONALD

:

 



Raymond Madden, Jr. being duly sworn, does depose and say that:

1. I am a special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (hereafter FBI) assigned to the Raleigh Resident Agency, Charlotte Division, and as such I am currently assigned as the FBI case agent in the above-captioned matter.

2. I had no previous direct involvement in this case until August 1980, following Jeffrey MacDonald's August 1979 convictions in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

3. On December 6, 1990, Dr. John I. Thornton was contacted and advised of the identity of the interviewing agent as well as the identity of Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Eric Evenson, Eastern District of North Carolina (EDNC), Raleigh, North Carolina, who was present during the interview at Dr. Thornton's residence in Napa, California. Prior to the interview taking place, Dr. Thornton related he had received a copy of a letter from attorney Harvey A. Silverglate, the current defense attorney representing Jeffrey R. MacDonald, informing him that the FBI may attempt to interview him and Silverglate's objections to such an interview. Dr. Thornton volunteered that he personally had absolutely no problems with an interview and that in his mind he was in no way possible violating an attorney-client privilege in talking about the MacDonald case. He was informed that he was welcome to contact Silverglate or anyone prior to the interview being conducted and stated that he did not think it was necessary and advised as follows:

4. He has a doctorate degree in Forensic Sciences from the University of California at Berkeley in 1974. He has worked in crime laboratories and taught forensic sciences since 1963.
He worked as a full-service laboratory examiner from 1963 through 1972 in Contra Costa, California, and performed all types of forensic examinations with the exception of blood studies. Dr. Thornton advised he believes his specialty in forensic science would be as a "trace expert."

5. He first became involved in the MacDonald case in 1976 when he was retained by the defense attorney, Bernard Segal. His association with the case lasted from 1976 through approximately 1981. Dr. Thornton was hired to evaluate the physical aspects of the case against Dr. MacDonald, the total review of forensic evidence rather than just the evidence gathered by the government. He was retained to conduct a "De Novo" examination, a fresh examination. During the period from 1976 to shortly before the trial, he did very little as a forensic scientist for the defense team. During this time frame, he was reviewing crime scene photographs, laboratory reports of the FBI, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), and the United States Army Criminal Investigative Division (CID).

6. At the present time he is not retained by anyone representing Dr. MacDonald or the defense team representing Dr. MacDonald. The last time he considered himself retained or associated with the case was when Attorney Brian O'Neill of Santa Monica, California, in approximately 1983 requested his assistance at which time his function was to assist O'Neill and Dr. Richard Fox, Ventura, California, who was the new principal physical evidence advisor, to review Thornton's previous examinations and scientific findings. Dr. Thornton noted that over the years he had collected reports, photographs, etc. and that he had withdrawn from the case but consented to talk with Dr. Fox to familiarize Dr. Fox with Dr. Thornton's findings concerning forensic evidence. Dr. Thornton recalled he attended one meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1983 with Dr. Fox, O'Neill, Attorney Wade Smith, and Ray Shedlick, a private investigator whose daughter assisted him with the case.

7. Other than the above, he has had limited association with the case since 1983 with the exception of being a recipient of Dr. MacDonald's newsletter, which he receives on an irregular basis. Occasionally, he receives a telephone call from Donna Bruce, a MacDonald supporter who is apparently closely associated with MacDonald's defense effort. He has not been personally acquainted with or contacted by MacDonald's current defense attorneys, including Harvey Silverglate, except for the filing of an affidavit which he was requested to do by Phillip Cormier, an associate with Silverglate's law firm. He reaffirmed that within the last week he received a letter from Cormier concerning possible contact by the FBI. Again, he personally had no objections whatsoever of being interviewed by the FBI as he was not privy to defense strategy past or present, but if a difficult area came up during the interview he may decline to answer certain questions and would definitely say so. At this time it was again pointed out to Dr. Thornton that he was certainly welcome to contact Mr. Silverglate, Mr. Cormier or in fact anyone prior to the interview continuing, at which time Dr. Thornton volunteered that if he had any difficulty answering any questions because of a possible pro-fessional conflict, either client/privilege or any other reason, he would definitely voice his objections.

8. In 1979 prior to MacDonald's trial, he was aware of the scope of the investigation conducted by the government and wanted to examine the physical evidence in connection with the case. He was well aware that the evidence was voluminous.

9. The defense team in 1979 thought the case would go to trial and end with MacDonald being acquitted. Dr. Thornton related this was also his opinion even though he knew a thorough examination of the evidence would take a long time. The defense decided to go to trial and it was evident from the outset that Attorneys Segal and Murtagh had difficulty getting along as they differed greatly on most legal issues of the case. It was Dr. Thornton's opinion and recollection that the presiding Federal Judge, Franklin T. Dupree, Jr., "ordered" certain physical evidence to be released for examination by Dr. Thornton. Dr. Thornton recalled Mr. Murtagh objected to the release of evidence to Dr. Thornton in order that it could be shipped to California for proper examination. Eventually Judge Dupree ruled that the defense, particularly Dr. Thornton, could examine the physical evidence at the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI) laboratory in Raleigh, North Carolina.

10. Dr. Thornton advised this was the first occasion that he had access to the physical evidence in the case and he recalled he was permitted access to a United States Marshal's cell in Raleigh, North Carolina, where the evidence was kept. This was approximately three months prior to the trial beginning and it was his recollection that while reviewing the evidence in the Marshal's cell that he was accompanied by either Special Agent Donald M. Murray of the FBI and/or Attorney Brian Murtagh, but believes Murray stayed with him the entire time. It was Dr. Thornton's recollection that all of the physical evidence was in the cell and the purpose of his examination was to familiarize himself with the evidence. It was Dr. Thornton's recollection that he was permitted to review all of the evidence he desired and that he was to then tell the government specifically what evidence he desired to further review under laboratory conditions. Of primary importance to Thornton was MacDonald's pajama top and all other evidence was secondary including the examination of trace evidence, specifically hairs and fibers.

11. Dr. Thornton recalled that the jail cell was filled to the ceiling with cardboard boxes which contained the government's physical evidence. He had made notes from his prior review of documentary evidence and laboratory reports. He remembered reviewing notes regarding hairs, fibers, blood work, etc., but of paramount importance to Dr. Thornton was the MacDonald pajama top. His main purpose was to examine and identify the evidence he wanted the government to release for additional forensic examinations. He told the government he wanted "all" of the evidence but Judge Dupree denied the defense's motion for this request. He recalled that during his examination of the evidence in the Marshal's cell, he had total access to virtually everything in this cell; however, he noted he did not know the significance of all of the evidence contained in the cell. He also took some bedding and other unrecalled items. He was mostly concerned with the examination of the pajama top and various bloodstains on the bedding.

12. Dr. Thornton stated he wanted to remove other items of physical evidence from the jail cell, but was not permitted to do so by either Murtagh and/or the court. He could not recall the specific evidence he wanted to examine and had no complaint to his access of the evidence, but was upset to not having total access to examine the evidence under proper scientific conditions. Dr. Thornton recalled that he wanted to re-type certain blood findings by other technicians, as he had received information that the CID laboratory had erroneously misidentified blood types of the MacDonald family. Dr. Thornton advised that, as a scientist, he wanted full disclosure for appropriate forensic examinations under conditions acceptable to him. Mr. Segal and the defense team, including himself, felt that MacDonald would be acquitted, therefore, a complete and total examination of all of the physical evidence was not significant.

13. When asked why Dr. Thornton looked at certain items of evidence in the jail cell and not others, he advised he had not realized how much work the government laboratories had done. Had he known the extent of the trace evidence available to the government, he would have encouraged the defense not to go to trial as the defense was not prepared to respond to the physical evidence of the government. Dr. Thornton related he did finally examine some physical evidence prior to the trial at the NCSBI laboratory in the company of Special Agent Murray and Attorney Murtagh. In his opinion, the laboratory was ill-equipped and he needed more sophisticated instruments and equipment to conduct proper examinations. He did not review all evidence from the cell at the NCSBI laboratory because he had a constrained period of time for examinations, probably two to five days. It was his opinion that proper laboratory examination of all the evidence would have taken six months. He did not know what items were important to examine, and on trace items he was unaware of their significance.

14. When asked specifically Dr. Thornton's opinion as to foreign fiber evidence as being in the MacDonald residence and as to what conclusion he would draw, Dr. Thornton replied he thought this was somewhat of an unfair question, but stated that there may have been trace evidence to indicate the presence of additional people in the MacDonald residence on the night of the murders. In his opinion, evidence of trace material would not necessarily mean that "alleged intruders" were responsible for the MacDonald family murders; however, Dr. Thornton noted he recently learned that wig hair had been found at the crime scene, and believes this information would be forensically significant to the possible presence of intruders in the MacDonald residence on the night of the murders. His "quarrel" as a citizen and scientist is that he did not have proper access to "bench notes" of CID examiners prior to the trial. These items certainly would have been an issue on his part and any available significance [sic] evidence concerning hairs and/or fibers should have been made available to him during the trial. He did not remember reviewing the lab notes of FBI Examiner Paul Stombaugh prior to the trial or possibly receiving these notes under "Brady material." Dr. Thornton recalled that long before the trial he asked Segal to obtain "bench notes" of all physical examinations, but this request was denied by the court. Dr. Thornton advised he was aware numerous fibers of unknown origin were located at the MacDonald crime scene and the significance of these fibers were unknown to him. He readily conceded that all residences have unknown sources of hairs and/or fibers, but stated the MacDonald case was a separate issue.

15. In retrospect, Dr. Thornton related he had access to the Marshal's cell to examine any materials he desired, but in his opinion he was not given sufficient time or opportunity under the circumstances to examine the evidence as he would have desired. As previously advised, he filed a recent affidavit approximately two months ago for the new MacDonald defense team, which he signed and had notarized because it was accurate, although in his opinion the affidavit "doesn't say anything" except to state that he did not look at all bench notes prepared by original laboratory examiners.

Dr. Thornton also made available a copy of his professional resume.

Further your affiant sayeth not:

(Signed)
Raymond Madden, Jr.
Special Agent


Subscribed and sworn to before me this 14th day of February, 1991.

(Signed - unreadable)
NOTARY PUBLIC
 

 

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