FEBRUARY 11, 2008
I am happy to say this new year holds the promise that Jeffrey MacDonald will spend it behind bars, still maintaining his story to the detriment of only himself.
In the movie Fatal Vision, Victor Woerheide makes a profound statement to the effect that MacDonald will never explain his motivation for killing his family. Of course, to define that motivation is to declare his guilt. The ironic twist of fate was that any motive he had was irrelevant, because the physical traces of evidence would be sufficient to convict him. We may speculate about his reasons, but really, this only broadens one aspect of the case. That he was a philanderer was clearly established, but does not make him a murderer. The fundamental facts remain that his actions resulted in the deaths of his family, and very few people believe otherwise.
Every attempt by MacDonald's attorneys to have the case reopened have failed, from the Supreme Court on down. Yet the defense continues to file motion after motion claiming that MacDonald was wrongfully convicted. They want to blame the government for their own lack of diligence. No evidence was withheld from the defense, they failed to take the time to examine it. Anyone can count the motions that they have filed re: suppression of evidence and claims of newly discovered evidence.
The only reason one can determine for this is make the government have to rebut it and the court through the tedium of ruling on the issue, and that is costing the tax payers thousands of dollars.
And what is this new evidence? It always somehow has to do with Helena Stoeckley. Stoeckley was a pathetic site to behold. Her life was wasted on drugs and alcohol. She made up stories about many things from having sex with MacDonald to going to go to medical school, nursing school, operating room technician training and that she had auditioned for the Grand O'l Opry.
Segal tried to intimidate Stoeckley into confessing during the trial, he was not successful. Ted Gunderson and Prince Beasley devised a stratagem where they tried to convince Stoeckley that she had been present at the crime scene. Even Fred Bost climbed on the band wagon, telling Stoeckley he was a hypnotist.
They used every unethical tactic in the book. They had no regard for the truth or the rights of Stoeckley as a human being. Stoeckley was to later say "I feel that there was a scapegoat needed, and they definitely made one out of me."
In 1990, the defense toyed with several different theories of how to proceed with the case. One area touched on was the fact that the grand jury was convened because of the Kassabs and the CID working together. Kassab did send a letter dated March 4, 1974 to Colonel Henry Tufts, CID Commander, stating his intentions of filing his own criminal complaint against MacDonald for the murders of his daughter and grandchildren.
According to the defense, "Kassab wanted a letter from the CID in support of his actions which would say that the CID considered MacDonald guilty, and that there was enough evidence for an indictment to reasonably be brought. The CID decided to comply with Kassab's wishes as a way of justifying their own continued investigations of the more than three years since the conclusion of the Article 32 proceedings. The CID had nothing to lose--with the case moving into the civilian arena, they would no longer have to continue, or explain their involvement, since it would come to an end.
"However, faced with this development, the Department of Justice attorneys had to consider their options. Since the case now was not going to go away, they apparently preferred to see it brought out in a manner which would reflect well on them, and considered how to best present it. One of their offers was a joint CID/Department of Justice continued investigation, in which the CID command had no interest, much to the apparent dismay of Murtagh, who would be relegated to minor research tasks, if the investigation were to be called off. An added incentive to the Department of Justice attorneys who supported continued investigation was the fact that Furman v. Georgia, in overturning the death penalty, had changed existing law. Previously there had been no statute of limitations on a charge of first-degree murder on a federal installation. Furman essentially created a five year limit, and February 17, 1975 became the deadline for bring an indictment against MacDonald.
"While these plans were underway, Freddy and Mildred had begun to proceed with their plan to bring their own charges, and towards that end, visited Judge Alegernon Butler of the Eastern District of North Carolina to request that he issue an arrest warrant against MacDonald for the murders. Judge Butler told the Kassabs that he agreed with their cause, but would hold his decision until he heard what the Department of Justice and United States Attorney had to say. Butler wrote a letter to both offices asking whether they planned to pursue an indictment, and if not, why not.
"Under pressure, the Department turned the matter over to one of their best attorneys at the time, Victor Woerheide, who decided to pursue the case, and was given permission. Meanwhile, Murtagh decided to offer his services to Woerheide as an assistant and an expert on the case, and gave Woerheide a call. Woerheide accepted, and arranged to have Murtagh transferred to the Department of Justice as a liaison. Woerheide then arranged to have a grand jury convene in early August in Raleigh, the seat of the Eastern District of North Carolina; the Judge who took the assignment away from from Butler was Franklin T. Dupree, Jr."
The above statement, written by the defense re: Dupree taking the assignment away from Butler is not true. This allegation against the government is either made in ignorance of the record or with reckless disregard for what it reflects. Based on my research, I found that Judge Butler wrote a letter dated February 12, 1975 to Judge Clement F. Haynsworth, Chief Judge of the United States Courts of Appeals. The letter below describes the situation and debunks the defense's allegations.
The defense further contends that "Another of Woerheide's preparations was to ask that Stombaugh of the FBI, who had performed examinations of the torn clothing and murder weapons at the request of Colonel Tufts three years earlier, reexamine some of the the forensic evidence, as well as some items not tested previously by the CID lab. Apparently, the decision whether or not the FBI would become re-involved in the case--despite repeated decisions that the FBI, in J. Edgar Hoover's words, would 'under no circumstances,' become involved--rested primarily on Stombaugh's assessment. A message to the Charlotte, N.C. office notifying them of a trip Stombaugh was making to the house to examine the crime scene and the CID evidence, stated that 'Stombaugh's opinion will be of importance whether the Bureau makes this case or not.' Stombaugh recommended that the FBI reexamine the evidence, even though this was in direct opposition to explicit FBI policy 'not to make examinations if any evidence in the case has been or will be subjected to the same type of technical examination by other experts.'"
The grand jury convened on August 12, 1974, MacDonald was the first witness called. The defense contends that, "Woerheide's plan from the start was apparently to set him up for a big fall; his statement on record in front of MacDonald on the first day of the investigation read that the grand jury would be looking into criminal misconduct on the part of the CID in their investigation and the Article 32 hearing that followed, and then, if possible, who was responsible for the murders of Colette, Kimberley and Kristen as well as the 'felonious assault' on Jeffrey MacDonald. By couching the process in these terms, Woerheide precluded the need to have testimony to corroborate MacDonald's side of the story. Once MacDonald had told his story, the other witnesses would offer contradicting details, with which Woerheide would then confront MacDonald when he was recalled at the very end of the proceedings. Despite Woerheide's objective-sounding introduction, MacDonald was clearly targeted from the beginning of the proceedings.
What the defense neglected to mention is the fact that Woerheide clearly informed MacDonald that he was considered a suspect as evidenced by the following-
Victor Woerheide: "With respect to the murders, the finger has been pointed at various individuals; and one of the persons who has been a suspect in the past and who must be considered a suspect for the purpose of this grand jury proceeding is you, yourself, since you are the only survivor of the incident that occurred on the night of February 16, 17, 1970. And no one up to this point has been identified as the person who committed murder, person or persons that committed murder and assault on that occasion. Now, under the circumstances, in view of what I have just told you, it is my duty to inform you that you have a constitutional right to refuse to answer any questions if you believe that a truthful answer to that question may in any manner or any wise tend to incriminate you. Further, you have a right to counsel. You may not have counsel in the grand jury room during the course of the grand jury proceedings; but you may have counsel nearby, and upon request, you may leave the grand jury room and consult with your counsel as to any matter that is asked of you during the course of the grand jury inquiry. Do you understand what I have stated to you, sir? Yes, I do. Do you have counsel? Yes, I do. What is his name? Bernard L. Segal. Is he here at this time? Yes, he is.
MacDonald can claim whatever he wishes, but each of his claims can be explained and will always revert back to him, and he continues to display the narcissism alluded to in "Fatal Vision." Jeffrey MacDonald will most likely die in prison, because it is doubtful he will ever admit his guilt and take responsibility for his actions. So be it. When one lives a lie, one lives the life of the self-tormented soul.
As to Brian Murtagh, the defense has done everything they can to cast suspicion and wrong doing on him. Hard as they have tried, they have never found anything to dishonor his name or work except allegations with nothing to back them up.
Murtagh has been and continues to be a tireless, dedicated advocate of the victims. When one assesses the vital components which brought about the indictment, then the trial itself, Murtagh was there at every crucial juncture. Those of us who have followed the case and believe that MacDonald was proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, certainly owe a vote of thanks to him and all of his hard work. Thank you friend for the courage you inspire.