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

1984: DECLARATION OF REX JULIAN BEABER, Ph.D.
re: Cathy Perry and Helena Stoeckley

 

DECLARATION OF REX JULIAN BEABER, Ph.D.
 

I, REX JULIAN BEABER, Ph.D., declare as follows:

1. I am an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Medical School of the University of California, Los Angeles.

2. I have a doctorate in psychology and have served as a consultant in both the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office and the Ventura County Public Defender's Office, and to the Terminal Island Federal Prison.

3. Among the facts given to me and relied upon in reaching the conclusions expressed below are the following:

 

  • The contents of the document entitled, "Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law Re Defendant's Motion for New Trial."
  • The contents of the document entitled, "Declaration of Elizabeth F. Loftus."
  • The contents of the document entitled, "Declaration of Raymond R. Shedlick, Sr. (#4).
  • The document entitled, "Declaration of Ted L. Gunderson."
  • The document entitled, "Declaration of Prince E. Beasley."
  • The affidavit of Raymond Madden, Jr. (#17) to the United States District Court.
  • The confession of Cathy Williams, aka Cathy Perry, dated November 21, 1984.
  • The data that I recall from my personal interview with Ms. Helena Stoeckley in Los Angeles, California.
4. For the purposes of forming the opinions presented below, I have accepted the following facts:
  • The murders referred to in the case captioned United States v. Jeffrey R. MacDonald, No. 75-26-CR-3 took place on February 17, 1970.
  • Subsequent to these murders, two persons, Helena Stoeckley and Cathy Perry, made statements that amounted to confessions of being witnesses/participants in these crimes.
  • Helena Stoeckley made a series of statements regarding the crimes to various persons and investigators.
  • Ms. Stoeckley's various statements contain a number of discrepancies regarding factual details and time sequence of the crime itself and the events that occurred just before and just after the crimes.
  • There are discrepancies between the factual particulars of Cathy Perry's confession and the confessions of Helena Stoeckley.
  • The various statements by Cathy Perry and Helena Stoeckley have been made over an extended period of time exceeding ten (10) years.
  • Ms. Cathy Perry has been diagnosed and treated for schizophrenia.

5. It is my opinion that, notwithstanding the internal inconsistencies in Helena Stoeckley's various statements regarding the MacDonald murders, she has been relatively constant in her contention that she was present during the offense and that the offense was carried out by persons other than the defendant, Dr. Jeffrey R. MacDonald.

6. It is my opinion that the internal inconsistencies of the various Stoeckley statements and the factual inconsistencies between the Stoeckley confession and Cathy Perry's confession may be explained by the factors enumerated below, acting jointly or severally.

  • The passage of time from the date of the crime and the attempted recollection, due to the effect of the passage of time on memory.
  • The passage of time that elapsed between attempted recollections due to the effect of the passage of time on memory.
  • The imperfections of eye-witness memory, even under optimal circumstances.
  • The effects of the stress attendant to the participation or witnessing the crime and the ability to store and recall information.
  • The effects of the stress at the time of attempted recollections on memory accuracy.
  • The potential effects of poor lighting and nighttime viewing on the original perceptions of the crime.
  • The effects of possible intoxication at the time of the viewing of the original event.
  • The effects of possible drug use during the time that elapsed between the crime and any attempt at recollection.
  • The effects any belief or fear on the part of either Stoeckley or Perry at the time of an attempted recollection of the dangerous implications of the publication of such recollections.
  • The possible effects of either Stoeckley or Perry's psychiatric condition on their ability to clearly recollect.
  • The possibility that Cathy Perry suffered from a reactive psychotic episode as a result of Ms. Perry's participation in the crime and that that psychosis and its treatment (especially the use of therapeutic drugs) interfered with her forming a completely accurate memory of the event in question.

7. It is my opinion that the factors enumerated above could account for inaccuracies in recollection, with regard to various details of the actus reus, without necessarily interfering with a competent memory of the most fundamental alleged fact; that is, that Ms. Stoeckley or Ms. Perry did participate in the murders in question. It is possible, and consistent with psychological-scientific thinking, that this profound event and its memory could remain intact, while the factors enumerated above would blur the accuracy of various details and event sequences.

8. It is my opinion that the likelihood that both Ms. Stoeckley and Ms. Perry would (a) know each other, (b) both suffer from the same delusion about having participated in this murder, and (c) both falsely confess to such participation, is astronomically unlikely. This conclusion is based on the rareness of this alleged delusion (it is extremely uncommon; indeed, a psychologist could practice a lifetime without seeing one case), and the statistical principle that the joint likelihood of two rare events (the delusion would be equally surprising in either Ms. Perry or Ms. Stoeckley) is the product of their individual likelihood. The assumption that these confessions are a product of some mental illness is statistically weak.

9. Within any of the documents I have reviewed I have found no information which would cause me to conclude that Stoeckley or Perry's utterances were the product of some psychological need for braggadocio.


(signed)
REX J. BEABER, Ph.D.


 

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