NOVEMBER 19, 2009
Jeffrey MacDonald was convicted on August 29, 1979 for the triple murders of his pregnant wife Colette, and two little girls, Kimberley and Kristen. We are very thankful for the hard work of the investigators and the prosecutors who finally brought justice for the victims.
The jurors in the case sat through the long trial, listening to the evidence from both sides, they had to view all the horrible crime scene pictures, as well the bloody clothing that the victims were murdered in, and finally, the heart wrenching task of visiting the crime scene.
After the jury was selected and in place, they among themselves voted to make David Hardison the jury foreman. It is with sadness that I report to the readers that Mr. Hardison recently passed away at age 80.
I had the privilege of speaking to Mr. Hardison in 1986. He was a kind man, who did not take his duty as a juror or jury foreman lightly. He graciously gave his time to me, answering all my questions. As my friend Sara told me, "I am grateful for his unwavering belief that MacDonald was guilty beyond any reasonable doubt."
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
The following is a tribute to Mr. David Hardison written and published in Observer.
The Passing of the Players
By Sara VanderClute
Sometimes, it's in the obituary column that one finds the memory of a friend, or a reminder of an episode from one's own life. That happened to me this week when I read of the death of 80-year-old David Hardison, a retired Air Force man. The obit itself was brief. No subsequent coverage pointed out what a significant role Hardison had played in a terrible story, long associated with Fayetteville. Hardison was the foreman of the jury that convicted Jeffrey MacDonald of murdering his family almost forty years ago.
I interviewed Mr. Hardison not long after the trial and MacDonald's conviction for a story I was writing for Family Circle Magazine. The story was really about the extraordinary efforts made by MacDonald's in-laws, Fred and Mildred Kassab, to bring the case to court so it could be decided by a jury. But Mr. Hardison's point of view was important to readers in affirming the verdict. He was being pursued by journalists of all stripes, mostly by phone or showing up at his rural home north of Spring Lake. I wrote him a letter and because I was a military wife, I think, he agreed to talk with me.
We spent several hours at his home, and I vaguely remember that there was an elderly relative bedridden in an adjoining room. Hardison was very candid with me, sharing his thoughts on the evidence that was presented at trial, and how the experience had affected him personally. I remember he spoke of how he would wake up at night, during the trial, hearing a child crying. It was the deaths of the two little MacDonald daughters that seemed to affect him most. The horrible details of the crime seemed to permeate even dreams, a phenomenon not unique to any one juror. Serving as the foreman of that jury was no cakewalk for David Hardison and I am convinced he approached the responsibility as he had everything else in his life. With a commitment to do the right thing.
So much has transpired in this world since David Hardison was a jury foreman and I was an eager journalist, seeking to confront the injustices of life. So many of the players in the awful MacDonald story are gone now Peter Kearns, one of the Army investigators in the case, died a few years ago. The Kassabs are deceased and released, one hopes, from the grievous pain and heartache that afflicted them both after the murders. MacDonald's mother died long ago, as have many witnesses, including Helena Stoeckley and more recently, her mother. Even MacDonald himself, who has also experienced loss in this horrible drama, is a gray-haired inmate, close to entering his 70s.
The crime occurred at Fort Bragg on Feb. 17, 1970. Forty years of grief and pain and loss for so many people. In that time, we've come to know much more about sociopaths and how they are capable of horrific crimes, even as they appear among us as achievers or even over-achievers. Scott Peterson is a more recent example, and there have been many others since the MacDonald case. Mysteries of the human mind and heart continue to confound us all as we ask, "How could this have happened?"
So, as I lament the loss of David Hardison from this world, I think of the many good and responsible people who make our world work, who contribute quietly to the concept of justice, who seek no acclamation for their deeds. Rest in peace, Mr. Hardison, rest in peace.
Permission to use received from Sara VanderClute