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

1974-1975 JEFFREY MACDONALD CASE GRAND JURY TRANSCRIPT
September 4, 1974: Mildred Kassab

 

I, Mary M. Ritchie, being a Notary Public in and for the State of North Carolina, was appointed to take the testimony of the following witness, Mildred Kassab, before the Grand Jury, Raleigh, North Carolina, commencing at 1:30 p.m. on September 4, 1974. All Grand Jurors present.

Whereupon, Mildred Kassab, having been first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

EXAMINATION BY MR. WOERHEIDE:
Q Will you state your name, please?
A Mildred Kassab.
Q Where do you live, Mrs. Kassab?
A 22 Bonnie Lane, Stony Brook, Long Island.
Q Are you the mother of Colette MacDonald?
A I am.
Q How long have you known Jeff MacDonald?
A Oh, I would say since grade school. He played with the children in the neighborhood off and on. And, as they grew up, he and Colette went together occasionally.
Q Were they approximately the same age?
A Yes.
Q The same class in school?
A Right.
Q The same school?
A Yes.
Q Would you say from a rather early age they were boyfriend and girlfriend?
A I would say about the second year, first year of high school and the second, and they ceased to go around together. Some little tiff of some kind. In other words, they didn't go together continuously.
Q There were interruptions in their friendship?
A That's right.
Q Which is quite normal.
A And met again in college.
Q How many -- well, where did Colette go to college?
A She went to Skidmore.
Q And how many years did she go there before she was married?
A She was there two years and about to start her third.
Q Then she and Jeff were married at the time he was a student at Princeton University. Is that right?
A Yes. And he was in his third year then, and finished so that he could leave that year. He was very bright.
Q And then he went to Northwestern University?
A Correct.
Q He studied medicine at Northwestern.
A Yes.
Q That took four years.
A Right.
Q And then he did an internship, did he not?
A That was in Columbia, New York.
Q How long did that last?
A That was just one year.
Q And then after the internship he went into the military?
A Well, he told Colette and we were told that he was inducted. I don't know --
Q In other words, he was drafted?
A Yes, but I gather at a later date, it seems that he was not, that he did volunteer.
Q He was sent away for basic training?
A To Texas.
Q And after basic training they took up residency at Fort Bragg. Is that it?
A Not immediately. He went to Fort Bragg and Colette was living in a small home that belonged to his mother in a cottage next door. And she followed him down after he found a home. The end of September, I would say she went down.
Q Now from the time Jeff and Colette were married, did you visit with them from time to time and did they visit with you?
A Quite often. I visited with Colette for a month at a time each time she had the baby. And when she lived in Chicago she came home very often and I would send her the money because she liked to come home for a visit. And she'd come home for a couple of weeks and bring Kimmie. And then later when there was Krissie, of course, she couldn't travel with the two of them and I went there. And I was there for a month after she had Krissie. In fact, I was there when she had the baby.
Q Well, I take it you visited them during the year they were at Princeton together?
A Yes.
Q Then you visited them off and on when they were in Chicago?
A Yes.
Q And where did they live during the internship?
A They lived in Bergenfield in New Jersey.
Q And you visited them there?
A Of course. We saw more of them than ever because Jeff was an intern at that time and would be away for three days at a time. And in that time, Colette would drive out to our home with the children and stay there. I'd be back at her house for a couple of days because we were very close. So we saw them almost constantly. I can't say "them." I saw very little ever of Jeff. He was almost always either at the hospital, at school, studying, or if they came to our house together, he would go and take a nap. And I assumed overwork, etc.
Q Do you recall any particular problems they had during this period of time, that is going back to the days at Princeton, and the days in Northwestern University, and the days of internship when they were living in Bergenfield?
A The only problem I was aware of was a money problem and that, of course, would be so with any student who had a family. We all tried to help. Colette did typing, she took children, picked them up in the morning and took care of them through the day, and took them back. And everyone pitched in and Jeff worked occasionally at nights and over Christmas holidays. That was the only problem I was aware of.
Q Remember while they were in Princeton, they rented a large house and occasionally would rent out rooms to dates of Princeton men?
A That was a weekly thing. They were chaperones and they had about fourteen rooms and went to the Salvation Army and a couple of the rooms had three beds in it. Some had bunks. And Jeff got the laundry from the laundry room at Princeton and every weekend they would have fourteen, sixteen girls come and they each paid four dollars a day and it helped push that year through. They even rented the driveway. We thought they were most enterprising. However, I thought it was a little bit of a job for Colette since she knew absolutely nothing of housekeeping. But, when I was there on a Saturday Jeff did help. He helped with the linens.
Q So far as you recall, their principal problems were financial problems.
A That's the only ones I ever heard of. I never heard of any other problems. And, if Colette seemed downcast or unhappy, it wasn't unhappiness, it was that her joy disappeared little by little. I assumed it was simply the worries and wading through this bad time and that the good time would come.
Q Now, will you describe Colette's personality. What sort of a girl was she?
A She was extremely sensitive and very loyal, quite kind. We had a child next to us who was her age who had polio and for three years she walked her bike to school with him, rain or shine, and rode it back because they didn't get out at the same time so that he wouldn't have to walk to school alone. That is just one of the things. She liked everyone and I think everyone liked her.
Q Would you say she led a rather sheltered life as a young girl growing up?
A Yes. Definitely so. She had one very close girl friend and they visited back and forth. She would stay with us and Colette would stay there overnight for a few days. They would spend their summers together at the cottage on the beach. And I think other than Jeff and one other boy who she dated in high school while she and Jeff weren't going out together, she never went out with anyone else. When she went to college I urged her to look around a little bit and accept some invitations. And she said she was a little bit afraid, the experiences some of the other girls had, and she didn't want to. And then when she met Jeff there was one -- the first time they went out we lived in an apartment in New York and Colette didn't come upstairs until quite late. And I asked her why she didn't bring Jeff up, why they sat in the lobby. And she said, well, I have to think things over, Mom, because we're older now and Jeff isn't like the other boys that I have known. He's a very insistent type and I've got to make up my mind how I feel about him. And my answer was that she's a big girl now and she'd have to make that decision herself, not to waste herself unless she was sure. Not much of a guiding mother, but that's the way I felt about it.
Q Was this shortly before they were married?
A That was, I would say, about a year before, and in February Jeff pinned her and it was assumed that it was an engagement.
Q Now she had two difficult pregnancies, I understand.
A Yes. The first was Caesarean and it was quite difficult. She did have an infection after it, but it was just a quirk that occurred. The second time they thought she could bear the baby naturally and let it go for a while and then saw that she couldn't and had to operate. And the following night, that was about eleven in the morning, and during the night Jeff was on duty in the hospital at that time as a young student, and he went in to see her because she was still in the recovery room. They hadn't put her into a room yet, and her pulse was gone completely and she had lost possibly two-thirds of her blood. She was bleeding internally. So they called the doctor and she had to be operated on again immediately, have a new incision and so on. And I couldn't go to see her for fourteen days because she was still in the critical ward all that time and Dr. Gornoff attended her. And it was suggested that -- at the time he suggested her tubes be tied off, but Jeff said that he was sure that she would want to have another child and it would be better not to. And Dr. Gornoff's answered as they told me when we immediately said, well, they must not ever have another child. They said, well, Gornoff said that if we have another child it will have to be taken from higher in the chest because of the other incisions and her record should be on file of a very competent doctor there and that should be done definitely. So for that reason with this third one I believe Jeff did write to the army and ask if he could have special care, but they said no. So Colette didn't have a doctor as yet at five months, because she had been putting off going. She didn't want to go to the army and take a chance on a young doctor such as her own husband who was just out of internship; and certainly you don't want someone else that is just a boy take care of you under those circumstances.
Q When did Colette learn that she was pregnant, again?
A Thanksgiving Day she told me on the phone.
Q She told you.
A I called her on Thanksgiving and she said, well, you can tell Freddy he can cut my throat, because his joke around the house was that if she became pregnant again, he'd cut her throat. And she said tell Freddy he can cut my throat. I'm pregnant. And she had been down there only since September. And I asked how she felt about it. She said, well, I don't know. I'm a little unhappy about it but everyone here is very happy. And she mentioned that they had fourteen for dinner. And Jeff's family was there. And she said that everyone is very happy about it except me.
Q Now the reason I'm asking these questions is to try to ascertain how security-conscious Colette was. During the period of their marriage did they have any problems or concerns about, well, being robbed or possible break-ins or anything of that sort, do you recall?
A Yes. When they were leaving to come home for Christmas their car was robbed, not the car, but the contents. All of their clothing was gone.
Q That was when they were living in Chicago?
A That was Chicago. They moved from that place and they moved to another house. And I know that Colette always had the front doors locked because I did the shopping and had to use the key. But the back stairway went to the cellar and she put out all of her clothes to be put away for the winter and someone walked in the back cellar and took them out. That's the other time. And then another time --
Q They were stolen from, not from inside the house, but from the stoop in the back.
A From the porch from the cellar, yes. But when they lived in Bergenfield she was quite security-conscious because the neighborhood was a little bit rough where she was living and the apartments were not that desirable. One day she called and said the night before the door to the street -- her apartment was peculiar in that the front door opened and there was one door to one apartment here, but the front door -- the stairs went straight up through a well into Colette's living room. There was no door, and when the outdoor door became unhinged and wouldn't close, she -- there was a big fight over it; she was very frightened. She didn't call us. I don't know why. But -- because we were nearly a hundred miles away. But she said that she sat at the top of the stairs in a chair all night and the only weapons in the house that she could find was a pitchfork and a hammer. She didn't know what she would have done with them.
Q A pitchfork and a hammer?
A A pitchfork and a hammer. Because she was afraid that someone would come up the stairs with the children there. So she put them to bed and sat at the head of the stairs. She was a very gentle person, but she was extremely maternal.
Q Did she take any special precautions with respect to knives and other utensils?
A Yes. Because she was I think perhaps it was from seeing me cut myself when she was a little girl. And even to slice meat she would have nothing to do with a knife. One Christmas I gave her an electric knife for that reason because it would just gently slice. She was afraid of a knife and if she saw someone -- if I was cutting a roast or something she'd say don't do it that way. Do it this way. Be careful. And when she lived in Bergenfield she had a hook and eye on the drawer where all of the scissors, knives, ice picks, anything that you would have that was sharp was in there so the children couldn't get to them. Now she did not have that in the house in Fayetteville. But the children were older by then, of course.
Q Now going back to Thanksgiving of 1969 when Colette had told you that she was pregnant again and continuing up to Christmas. Did you correspond with Colette or talk to her on the telephone occasionally?
A I'm sure I did. However, my husband spoke with her at least once a week because in his office he had a trunk line and it was just a matter of using the trunk line. So he'd just pick the phone up and say hello and so forth.
Q Do you remember any special problems or concerns that she had?
A No, I don't remember any problems or concerns, but my husband felt that she might be a little bit angry with him for something because her voice was different. She didn't sound the same. I would like to mention also that Colette never forgot a birthday, anniversary, Easter, Mother's Day and all that sort of thing. There were always cards. But January 19 is Freddy's birthday and it was the first time in sixteen years that he didn't have a card from Colette and we thought -- the first time she ever forgot. She always sent valentines and let the children put their little mark on and we didn't receive any valentines. We thought about that after that. She must have been upset.
Q Whose birthday was this?
A My husband's.
Q Oh, yes.
A And she was very fond of him since her father died when she was quite young.
Q During the period that they were putting Jeff through college and medical school and internship money was tight, obviously.
A Yes.
Q And I assume that after Jeff went to work for the army and was getting a regular pay check as an officer money was -- he had a steady income and money should have been sufficient. Do you recall any money problems they had or any discussion about it?
A Money wasn't abundant at the time either because Colette -- I had a floating fund that I let her repay me. When she needed the money I gave it to her and I let her repay it so that she wouldn't feel hurt and have that feeling that one gets from asking and taking. And each time she repaid the money I put it back into the bank and told her it was there for the next time. And the money went in and out often. And while they were down there -- it was in November, I believe, Jeff came up to see his brother and Colette called and asked if I could take the floating money out for her; and I did. And she mentioned it when I spoke to her on the fourteenth of February, that it seems terrible because there was money coming, they were making money. They weren't paying rent, but for some reason or another they just couldn't get the money together. Also, she was going to have to have an army doctor because they could not get the money together to have a private doctor. Well, I naturally would not have allowed that to happen, but I didn't know I wouldn't be speaking to her again. And she was worried about that.
Q So she apparently did have a few worries about --
A (Interposing) Yes. Money.
Q -- money. And a lack of reserves.
A And I felt that she was disturbed because Jeff bought a large -- I heard this since from someone else, a big etagere, brass etagere having shelves and a TV and a stereo and so on. Because when I came down all she said was, "Do you like it, Mom? And will it go in any house that I have in the future?" And so I didn't know that she had been disturbed over it. But Jeff was impulsive with buying. I remember that one time he bought two electrical whizzers. He bought one and then a man sold him the second one.
Q Electrical what?
A Waring blender. They had one and the man sold him a second one. He was very impulsive and easily sold. But there were many little things here and there that made me unhappy without me saying anything.
Q You know when we are young we read these stories they are married and they lived happily ever after. It never turns out quite that way and I think it's normal in every family relationship --
A And Colette would never tell me.
Q -- to have some problems. But was there anything that you observed on any occasion that might throw a little light on the relationship between the two of them.
A Christmas Day Jeff was short tempered in testy little ways. You know, such as going into a little storm over I told you, why didn't you pick up my suit of clothes. Little things that were a tempest in a tea pot. And Colette never answered and often I would think why didn't she say something. But she never did, and therefore, there were never any arguments when I was present.
I recall -- my sister bought a car for Colette because they didn't have a car and Jeff used it to go to the hospital and to work all the time and Colette walked with the express wagon to do her shopping, carry her laundry, things like that; and one day Jeff stumbled over some bottles and said something about taking the bottles -- why didn't she take the bottles back to the store? And she said she would get them back next week or something. I said to her after, "Colette, he has the car. Why don't you tell him to take them back himself?" She said, "Mommie, don't ever say anything to Jeff because he cannot stand criticism." And that's all that was said and I never did say anything to Jeff except the time we were down there for Christmas. The atmosphere was very tense for some reason. I didn't realize it at first because Colette, usually she and Kimmie would sit outside or wait outside for us when we were coming whether it was Chicago or whether it was Bergenfield. If my sister and I or Freddy and I were coming they would be waiting on the corner for us. And this day as we were arriving we called at twelve o'clock and said that we would be there in an hour. And we had a blowout and had to shop for a tire and we didn't get there until after three. And she and Kimmie were still sitting out on the corner waiting for us. And I thought that seemed rather sad, but I thought it was because she was disappointed.
We went in and she had the tree up. I said that I was pleased to see it was the first house she had a chance to put draperies up; and that it looked nice. Kimmie's room had a fluffy bedspread and she just didn't respond that much about things. She was very tense. I don't know why. I suppose it was because of her pregnancy. But there wasn't any laughter or the usual bubbly happiness that you run into when you come down to see one another on Christmas. And we went to bed early that night and the next day was Christmas and Jeff took us -- at eight o'clock he had a surprise. And we went down and there was the pony. And of course, I was joyful and the children were. And I said, "Oh, Colette, this is your first beginning for your farm in Connecticut" because she always spoke of someday having a big, old fashioned house with horses, cows, dogs, etc. And I said this is the first live thing for your farm. And she began to weep. And I just thought she was awfully touched at the idea of the pony, but since then I've decided perhaps she felt there wasn't going to be that happiness in the future.
Then Christmas day, after that, may I add in the afternoon we were only four people and the children and as a rule it was the custom in Jeff's family, it had been in the past in ours, as well, to have a lot of people in. So he suggested calling the people from upstairs, calling down the Kalins and this was about four in the afternoon. And Colette was preparing dinner and very much into Julia Child's cooking at the moment, a very ambitious dinner. Everyone does it once in a while. Chooses too many things that you can't do all at once. So I was helping her and she said, "Oh, no, don't ask them down because they'll stay and stay, and dinner is started and they'll stay until eight o'clock at night" and we are making the dinner. We had ducks in the oven. And he was impatient about it and called them down anyhow. Well we were busy in the kitchen, but we took turns going in to sit down. We made drinks and served them. I made eggnog and we sat with them a few minutes at a time. And it did get to be eight o'clock and the ducks were dried up and no one said anything though. And after they left we put the things on the table and I didn't realize something was wrong until I realized the silence and looked up and saw the children were not saying anything and Colette wasn't saying anything. And I said, "What's wrong?" And Jeff said, "Oh, she's always that way when I want someone around. It's just darn bad manners to stay out and not come in." I said, "Well, Jeff, she told you that we were busy." Colette had told him in advance that she didn't think that I would like it really, because I hadn't come to visit the Kalins, and she didn't think they were my type exactly; and after all, since we drove down to see them why have someone else. I explained that to him and he just pushed his chair away from the table and left the table.
The children said nothing and Colette had a couple of little tears and no one said any more about it. I told him I thought he was acting very childish and he just flung out of the room.
Q Well, to sum this all up, in the family Jeff was the dominant part.
A Definitely.
Q Played the dominant role. Colette was submissive. He occasionally was a little bit testy, but Colette didn't respond by being nasty herself but --
A That's right.
Q She tried to smooth it over and restore peace in the household.
A And I think perhaps that was why things were so tense Christmas, because it was possibly a time when they were getting along badly and she didn't want anything to erupt before us because she wouldn't want us to know anything was wrong. And she would never confide in me if she felt that Jeff was unfaithful. She never would do that because I had been -- too often when we are safe ourselves we become very complacent and we are ready to throw stones and I was always quite noisy about men who chased around and whose wives were submissive. We had one friend in particular that we remarked often how did she live with him, so for that reason Colette would never tell me if she knew of anything.
Q Did Colette ever indicate to you any thought that perhaps Jeff might be chasing around a little bit? Was there any indication?
A Only in an oblique fashion. One Christmas when he was going out to California to go to the various schools and check out to see where he would take his internship she came to us for Christmas alone with the two children and he went out there. And she said that she was disturbed because he was going with this friend of theirs who chased women and constantly embarrassed his wife. And, of course, I said something to the effect that she should leave him now and not wait the thing out; it will only get worse.
And I didn't know. Afterwards I wondered if perhaps in a roundabout way she was telling me something because it didn't --
Q But she didn't say anything directly. She just indicated her concern that this person might be a bad influence on her husband.
A That's it. He would be going with him and she was worried because Jeff is easily talked into things.
Q Now going beyond Christmas of 1969 when you visited there do you recall sometime afterwards getting a call from Colette in which she made some reference to possibly visiting you?
A I made the call to Colette. I called her on -- it was a day after a big snow storm and I called her. It was the 14th of February and she said she was alone. Jeff was working at Cape Fear and that they had taken -- and we had discussed a few other things but she said yesterday they took someone to the airport and she said I was wishing I could be on the plane. And Kimmie said when can we go to grandma's again? And she said we would like so much to be able to come home now -- come home. She didn't say now. And I said well the snow is very deep and it's covering the pool. There was just a light cover on the pool of plastic and I would be afraid at this time because there is no indication of where the pool is. And we had just put the pool in. The children wouldn't know where it was because we put it in for Colette and the children when they visited. And I said wait until spring. So, then she told me that Jeff might have to go to Russia with the boxing team and that if he did have to go she would be alone when she had the baby and would I surely be there on the 18th of July? And I said, all right, I will be there, regardless of anything in the world, I'll be there. But there would be nothing I could do to help her. Of course, I didn't say that but I had intended that we would find her a reputable doctor for her.
Q Going back to Christmas -- you worked around the kitchen. Recall whether there was an ice pick in the house?
A Yes, I do. When I was working at the refrigerator -- I took some little puff pastry hors d'oeuvres and things down with me for her for the holidays and they had to go directly into the ice compartment. And it was already loaded and I couldn't move the ice trays. So I got the ice pick out, jabbed around until I got the ice trays loose and could use one of them for the pastry so I know I used the ice pick.
Q I have a photograph here that shows a couple of ice picks. I mean shows an ice pick and a knife and I also -- these are not the ice pick and the knife shown in the photograph but they're similar. When you were working around the kitchen --
A I would say that this could be the ice pick but I would say that it would not be this one, because I've never seen one with that type of heavy handle. This type of ice pick is all over, you see them all over. And I would say theirs would have been that kind.
Q The knife you see there is an Old Hickory brand knife. Do you recall seeing a knife like that?
A I know she had many.
Q She had many knives?
A She had several.
Q And no one of them would necessarily stick in your memory at this time?
A No, only any one that I happened to give them myself, because their cutlery was gathered here and there. If they moved around some place and there was a can opener in the drawer, they had a can opener. If somebody had something they were throwing out they had a knife. It was rather a catch as catch can furnishing.
Q Beginning with February 17 can you tell us your recollection of what happened on that day? Start off with one telephone call.
A All right. He answered the phone, I should say a little after five. And a captain someone, I think it was Highstand,
(sic) but I'm not sure, said he was calling from Womack Hospital for Captain MacDonald. And that we should get down there as soon as we possibly could. And I asked him why, what has happened? Was there an accident? And he said I can't tell you now. Captain MacDonald wants to tell you himself. And I said Mrs. MacDonald and the children, where are they? Are they there, too? He said yes, which was the truth, probably they were there, but downstairs. And he couldn't tell us anything else. He -- before he told me that he asked my husband -- I said you can tell me whatever it is. I'm not a hysterical person. So, he said, well, in that case come straight down and he said would I try to call Jeff's mother, she is living in a new apartment and we tried the number and it doesn't answer. And he said bring her with you. So, my husband was in showering, and when he came out we immediately began packing. I called the new number at the apartment and Mrs. MacDonald was not there. I called her home number, there was no answer. So I waited until about seven o'clock and I called her mother and said that I wanted to speak to Perry about a school matter. I didn't want to frighten her and where would I get hold of her. She said well, she is in the house across the street; she is home, call her there. So I called and she was at home. She hadn't heard the first call evidently. And I relayed the message to her and told her to get over within the hour, that we had booked reservations, and we would be flying down. She came over and we drove to the airport. I guess we got down here about two o'clock and were met by an army man. Again, we tried to find out and were told to wait. We got to the hall and hurried up the hallway and into this room. Jeff was in a room enclosed -- I guess it was a recovery room or something enclosed in glass. And as soon as we entered he cried out, they are all dead. They killed them all. And Jeff's mother, I believe, began to scream and my husband took her out to the hall, and I went over and was comforting Jeff. They came back in and he told us that three men, two white men and he didn't say a black man, he said a nigger, he said stood by the bed and when he first woke up he heard the screams and he heard Kimmie yell, daddy, daddy, daddy and Colette screaming, why are they doing this to me, Jeff. And he thought he was having a nightmare. And as he started to rise he saw these people and the black man came over and raised a club and he grabbed it to try to hold it and his hand slid down on his wrist. Someway or other, I don't recall exactly, he felt sergeant stripes on him and he said at that point he had a rain of blows and thought they throw quite a punch until he felt the knife and realized that they did have knives. Oh, by the way, when he first started to rise up to a sitting position, he said, "What is going on, what do you want" something of that effect. And he said it was only when he raised the club I realized this is serious.
And he could hear Colette and Kimmie screaming. And when he pitched forward off the end of the sofa, he referred to it as the bed through most of the time when he spoke of it, when he pitched forth off of the sofa he saw this woman carrying a candle and chanting "acid is groovy, kill the pigs," and he fell at her feet. She had on boots. And the next thing he knew he woke up and he went from room to room looking them over and giving them artificial respiration. Then a peculiar thing, he went into the bathroom and looked himself over to see how badly he was hurt and what injuries he had. Then he went back and again looked them over. He called the operator. And he said she was an idiot of some type because she continued to ask him if he was on base or off base. And he hung up. And he looked out of the door, then he walked back, examined each of them again, and then he went out into the kitchen and picked up the phone and called again. And the operator was still on. Now this is -- we heard this the first day, more or less of it. I only heard part. We went to our apartment that was allotted to us at once. And I stayed in there most of the time.
Mrs. MacDonald was given the apartment next to us. Freddy went back at noontime to see Jeff and I went back that night. He seemed -- at night he seemed much better. He was eating dinner with apparent enjoyment and sitting up, and he no longer seemed as bad as he had in the morning. In the morning he had wept and cried and he had -- the thing I noticed because I stroked his head, when I would tell him he couldn't help that, meant he couldn't help and he said you gave her to me, and he said she was so good, and you gave her to me, and I couldn't take care of her. So at that point I went to the window and I looked out, and as I was looking out I said if I could find that girl I'd pull her eyes out and her tongue and turn her loose. And as I turned I had a funny feeling because I thought that was a terrible thing to say. Jeff looked shocked. But why should he feel shocked after what he had seen because he was looking at me with a look that I didn't expect because I as a mother felt that way. I assumed that he probably would, too.
But I didn't go back to the hospital very much because immediately a lot of people started flocking down and I like to take my problems in silence and alone. But many people came down. Freddy went to the hospital two or three times a day, but there was always a dozen or so people there and --
Q When he was telling you the story he said he saw this girl with a candle.
A Yes.
Q Did he say anything about boots?
A Yes. She had boots. He said they looked wet. And I said later that that was probably the new shiny type wet-look leather.
Q Did he say what color they were?
A I thought he said white. But someone said black later. So I could be wrong, you know, at a time like that.
Q Your recollection is the first time he told it to you he referred to white boots?
A I thought he said white.
Q I'm told that the Grand Jurors toward the rear of the room are having difficulty hearing you.
A I'll try to speak louder, but I'm sorry, I have a very low voice and it isn't strong.
Q I'm having a little bit of difficulty myself. You notice I bend my ear once in a while.
A I know most of the people around me I accuse of being a little bit deaf because they don't hear me, but I'll come up a little bit if I can.
Q Well, this is the story that he told you in the presence of your husband and Mrs. MacDonald? Is that correct?
A Yes, and it was never -- the subject was never reopened, ever.
Q What was his appearance when you went into his room?
A He had the bump here and the little scratches that I noticed because I went to smooth his head.
Q Would you say he was bare above the waist?
A Yes, he was bare above the waist. I was more intent upon the problem itself than taking a minute examination. I know that he had -- one or the other arms, he had a wound on -- I don't remember which one. I remember that he had a couple of little marks around here and that he had a tube, but I didn't see anything that looked -- the tube was the thing that frightened me, made me think this was serious because all of the other things were nothings.
Q Everything else was superficial?
A I'd say -- there won't be any bandages, Band-Aids or anything.
Q The tube was on his right side.
A Yes, the tube I remember seeing.
Q And at the lower end there was a little plaster of some sort.
A I took it in briefly and it was just the tube that made me feel that he was dangerously ill.
Q But apart from that --
A Apart from that --
Q There were no bandages anywhere.
A No, not even Mercurochrome.
Q What sort of marks did you see?
A Looked more like scratches here and there than -- certainly there were not --
Q Scratches -- fingernails, for example.
A I suppose it could be but I don't know, but it wasn't anything that was a slash or a cut. I didn't see a cut.
Q So he had a lump on his forehead and a tube in his side.
A Yes. And I remember one of the arms had a couple of marks on it, but I don't remember which one --
Q Once again they were superficial?
A Yes.
Q Did he seem to be alert, aware of his surroundings, oriented as to time and place?
A At that time?
Q Yes.
A Yes. Because it was two in the afternoon and he had been waiting for us. In other words, he must have been conscious all that while. And the doctor came in after he told us and said that he thought we should go, so that they cold give him a sedative. And we left at that time and I believe I only went back to the hospital once because I encountered all of these people. I knew a lot of them but they didn't mean that much to have them talk to me or be bothered. So I stayed away. When the group went to the officers club every night for dinner we stayed --
Q Well, you stayed there until the funeral ceremony that took place at the Chapel. Is that it?
A Correct.
Q Jeff told you the story once and that's all.
A That's right.
Q You went back to the hospital occasionally to see him and he was getting along all right and improving, and he was receiving many visitors? Is that correct?
A Yes.
Q You recall specifically any of these visitors?
A Who they were?
Q Yes.
A Yes. One was a Dudley Warner who comes from California with his wife. Another -- I don't recall the name, but someone who had visited them when they lived in Bergenfield, a friend of Jeff's who had been in training with him. There were people from Long Island, the Dahlmans, mother and father, and the son and his wife. There was a Helen Fail from Port Jefferson. There were a couple of cousins and their husbands. I would say there was perhaps twenty people around. I looked and thought each time that I saw them [illegible] I couldn't tell you. I was just surprised when we walked into the church to see that many people. I would say as many people as we have here possibly, it seemed to me. Perhaps it looked like more. But it seems like that many people.
Q Now Jeff was released from the hospital to attend the ceremony at the Chapel, I take it.
A Yes. They wanted to send him in an ambulance but he insisted on going in a car. And Freddy, my husband, Mr. Kassab, led him into the church for the service.
Q Now after the service at the Chapel you and your husband --
A (Interposing) We left.
Q And Mrs. MacDonald returned to Long Island.
A (Interposing) With the bodies.
Q And you took the bodies and there was an interment at a cemetery in Long Island.
A Correct.
Q And the name of that cemetery?
A Is Washington Memorial and it's in Selden, Suffolk County.
Q Washington Memorial?
A Yes, it's a plot -- my family plot.
Q What's the name of the town?
A Selden. No, Coram. Selden and Coram are next to one another.
Q C-o-r-a-m?
A Correct.
Q In Suffolk County?
A Yes. There was some question at the time about whether they would bury them here or where. And I said immediately, "No, I want to take them home" and Jeff was agreeable to that.
Q Did you return to Fayetteville or Fort Bragg after the interment?
A Not until the next summer. That same summer. That was in February and Jeff was called in April, I believe, and was under guard and there was going to be an Article 32. And we were staunchly defending him since we only had his story. We had just had this case out on the coast -- the Sharon Tate thing, so the whole thing -- there wasn't a doubt in our mind that Jeff wasn't being terribly abused. And we flew down because we felt that it would be in his favor for people to see that we, his in-laws, were visiting him and believed in him.
Q And your husband did testify as a witness on his behalf at the Article 32 hearing.
A He did, and I offered a reward at the time for any information.
Q And your husband's testimony was, in effect, character testimony.
A It was.
Q As a man of good character.
A It was an extremely good character reference. But he was feeling quite strongly about it.
Q From February 17 to the time you came down to Fort Bragg did Jeff say anything about or was there any conversation by you or your husband with him about seeking out these intruders who had broken into the home and assaulted him and killed his wife and children?
A When I spoke to him and I did ask him what the army was doing. Had he spoken to them lately. Only in terms of what the army was doing. He said he had been to see if he could get his furniture out but so far there was nothing being done. The next time we spoke to him was in regards to the man at the mortuary. We said that we would assume all the expenses and we would pay everything excepting a policy that I had for Colette that I'd paid since she was a little girl, a baby in fact. And we were still paying for, but had turned it over to her when she was married. So we said that we would use that toward, as part of payment and Jeff would give it to him. And he called us a couple of times, the man, to find out about it, and my husband told him that Jeff had not received the check. And he said he had. And my husband called Jeff and asked him and he said he hadn't received the check yet. And the man from the mortuary called back and said this is my business, I've checked with the insurance company, and he got the check for a week. So we called back and Jeff said, "I just got it, mother will take it down today," and she did. That was the only conversation at that time.
Q There was nothing said about him going out and looking for the perpetrators?
A Nothing. As a matter of fact, when he was free and called -- he wrote one or two letters to me, I believe, but we called occasionally and when he was free he said that we are going out every Saturday night and looking for them. And I said don't because you will be in trouble yourself, it's a very rough place and the next thing we know it will be you. And he said don't worry. We can take care of ourselves.
Q Now who was this we that he was referring to?
A He never mentioned who the "we" were.
Q But this was right at the conclusion of the Article 32 hearing?
A Yes.
Q Is that it?
A That's right. But we never dreamed of him tracing anyone down at that time.
Q Where did he say he was going looking for these people?
A In the various gin mills around Fayetteville or whatever.
Q Did you ever have a chance to observe that area?
A No, but I understand it's very rough and I was told when we were down there Christmas, that there were some very rough spots down there. And I just felt that it was pretty silly to go out looking for trouble when the army was the one that should do it.
Q Now did there come a time when he had a telephone conversation with --
A (Interposing) Yes.
Q -- your husband.
A My husband.
Q Fred. Alfred. Did Alfred record that?
A Yes, he did.
Q Did he play it back?
A He played it for me.
Q Did he play it back more than once?
A Yes.
Q How many times did he play it back?
A I don't know how many times he played it to himself, but I heard it through twice.
Q This was a conversation that your husband, Alfred, had with Jeff?
A Yes.
Q And what did Jeff say?
A Jeff called him the day before the night before and said he wanted to tell him something. And we mistakenly thought perhaps the army was listening in on our conversation and so on and so forth. So he said don't tell me today, call me at my office tomorrow and tell me there. So he took the tape along so that I could hear whatever it was. And Jeff said, well, I found one. You might say one down and one more to go and four to go. That was it. One down and four to go. And Freddy said what do you mean? And he said, well, let's say it's taken care of or words to that effect. And Freddy said, well, where is he? And he said he's six feet under now. And at that point Freddy said what did you learn, did he tell you anything? And he said by the time we got through with him he would have told on his own mother. And Freddy said something about trouble. And he said they think that he was robbed.
So when he came home and told me, we discussed it and decided that it had been a very foolish thing for him to do because -- we didn't doubt it, because why would he say such a thing, but it would be foolish to get rid of the one person who could help to establish his innocence.
So then, I didn't see him for some time but when he came out -- then he wrote two letters after that. He evidently thought that it had been foolish and he wrote a letter to the effect that if you ever tell anyone what I told you yesterday, I'll simply refuse to -- I'll refute it. So about a month later he came out and anytime he came to the house it was possibly six times in the whole year and a half that he was around and it would be for ten minutes. This was to drop in some pictures that I wanted of the children. And I asked him at the kitchen table after he was there for about ten minutes. I said, "Jeff, I know you don't want to talk about it, but I must know, I want to know what happened. What did you do, what did he say, tell me." And he stared around the room a bit and said, "Oh, this guy, he's a complete idiot. He doesn't know what he is doing at all." And I thought it strange that he said is instead of was. He said he remembers being in the house, he remembers the shouting. He doesn't know why he was there, and I said how about the girl. Did he know who she was? And he said yes, her name was Willie the Witch. And she went away with the fellow with the mustache. They're both away. So I said, well, which one was it that you killed and he said the one without the mustache, the white one. And I felt that he wasn't telling the truth, but I didn't feel anything wrong about it. I just felt that he was terribly uncomfortable talking to me about it and was gazing around because I held on to the last stitch believing in him.
Q Mrs. Kassab, I have a series of letters here, the first is dated November, 1970. Do you recognize that as a letter you received from Jeff? It's addressed to Fred, but when I say you, I mean you and Fred.
A I recognize the handwriting, yes.
Q And this letter says, "I will deny our phone conversation of today if anyone ever asks."
A Yes, I read this.
Q "I'm sure you can figure out why." Now is that a reference to a telephone conversation that Fred recorded?
A Yes, it was right after. We received it within two or three days.
Q And that's the telephone conversation you referred to?

MR. WOERHEIDE: Will you mark that as Mrs. Kassab's Exhibit #1?

[MRS. KASSAB'S EXHIBIT #1 MARKED FOR IDENTIFICATION]

Q This is a letter dated November 9, 1971, approximately a year later.
A Yes, I remember that.
Q It's addressed: "Dear Freddy, I am answering your incredibly rude letter." And he talks about "it is obviously the only way for justice to be met is for me to do it. I am doing it. I have been doing it. Four trips to North Carolina and Florida in last three months, and will continue to do it as long as my strength holds up. Broken hand last trip. Two thousand dollars ($2,000) spent."
A Yes, I remember that letter. In regard to the incredibly rude letter, I do not recall, because I don't remember what had been rude about it. Do you have the letter?
Q Do you remember that Fred wrote a letter and said in substance, "We've heard that you've been in our neighborhood."
A I had been to the hospital.
Q "You didn't visit us, you didn't call us" and expressing, let's say, hurt and disappointment.
A Yes, I was in the hospital for a cancer operation and Jeff was in town at the time and that is what angered Freddy, that he didn't come to see us or anything, because we still had open minds at this point and his reason was that he was on Long Island but couldn't let people know it. Something of that sort because he was looking for someone.
Q Did you continue to repose confidence in Jeff at this time and continue to believe his story that he was vigorously pursuing --
A Yes.
Q -- his search for the other intruders into the house and to do away with them?
A At this time Colonel Pruett and what was the other man, Peter Kearns, were visiting us and giving us their findings from time to time and they were quite damaging. However, I felt that the army might be just trying to clean its face a bit and insisted upon not believing it till the point came when I could no longer feel that -- because to me this is the worst thing in the world to happen, to have it be him when they loved him so much. It's far worse --

MR. WOERHEIDE: Ms. Reporter, would you mark that November 9, 1971 letter of Mrs. Kassab's Exhibit #2.

[MRS. KASSAB'S EXHIBIT #2 MARKED FOR IDENTIFICATION]

Q I have two other letters. One dated January 28, I'm sorry, January 9, 1972 and one is dated February 8, 1972. Are those additional letters that you received from --
A (Interposing) Yes.
Q -- Jeff?
A Yes.
Q I won't go into details on these letters, but he wrote you about once a year except in 1972 he wrote you one in January and one in February. Is that right?
A That's right. He called right before Christmas and asked if we were having people in and I said, "no."
Q Besides these letters, was there much in the way of contact?
A None at all. We felt he wanted to be left alone.

MR. WOERHEIDE: Will you mark Mrs. Kassab #3 and Mrs. Kassab #4.

[MRS. KASSAB EXHIBIT #3 & #4 MARKED FOR IDENTIFICATION]

Q He wrote you a letter saying the fact that he had been lying to you.
A Yes. It was rather a heart rendering letter. It upset me. He told us how much he loved all of us, how fond he was of us, and that he had told Fred a few lies but he supposed it was to establish a feeling in himself that he was more powerful than he was or words to that effect. And that he had nothing to do with the crimes.
Q Do you know what brought this letter on?
A Yes. There was a piece in the paper in the Daily News a couple of days before because -- from the beginning we had been adamant that we would not drop this, and we have been at it constantly, and the News printed a story -- they contacted us, and my husband gave them the story and they printed the story after speaking with the justice department that the case was being reopened and I believe they prophesied that there would be an indictment, not an indictment, there would be an investigation in the early next three or four weeks. I believe that was the gist of it. And so, of course, we received the letters.
Q Well, this letter is dated March 22, 1973. Can you identify this as the letter?
A That is the letter, yes.

MR. WOERHEIDE: Ms. Reporter, will you assign a number to this and I'll substitute a Xerox copy of it.

[MRS. KASSAB EXHIBIT #5 IS MARKED FOR IDENTIFICATION]

Q I'll read a part of this. "I did tell Fred some things after I left the army that were not one hundred percent true. It (those things) were partly true. I magnified them to (I guess) to help my own feelings of inadequacy and also I hope to isolate myself with these comments and allow my mental status to clear." Now do you understand that to be a reference to the statement he had made on the telephone on which he confirmed by alluding to it in subsequent letters that he had killed one of the intruders.
A No, I didn't think he was alluding to that. I thought that -- my feeling was that he was explaining that he said that because of the feeling of inadequacy, but that he was trying to get over his feelings of not being able to do anything. However, at this point I had had too many things that could not be explained to me and the letter distressed me, but I knew that it was a ploy because Jeff is extremely charming when he wants to be.
Q You say you knew it was a ploy?
A I felt that it was a ploy for my intervention.
Q In other words, he is asking you for help and call off the boys. Is that it?
A Yes.
Q Another comment here I'd like to read. "I never lied to you about extramarital affairs. I never had an affair, but I did see (date, sleep with) a very rare girl away from home. You knew that because we discussed it. Freddy knew it also." Now tell us about that.
A We would never have discussed it, because I think I would have told him to get out of the house if he had. He said to me, when Kearns and Pruett were investigating, he said they were just as inadequate as the rest, and that they were trying to pin every girl he ever met or spoke to into a girlfriend, saying he slept with them. That was the only thing said. I don't believe that I even made an answer to it, because there wasn't any answer. There wasn't anything said at all about extramarital affairs because I would have been most upset and I wouldn't have forgiven him had he told me at that point. At this point it doesn't make a bit of difference.
Q Had you had any reason to believe from anything that Colette said or anything that Jeff said prior to February that he had some --
A No, not at all.
Q -- episodes, let's say?
A No, never. Colette would never tell me. And I'm sure he wouldn't.
Q You saw that -- what looks like a club in the office?
A No, I didn't.
Q Did you see anything like that around the house when you were there Christmas time for a visit?
A No, I didn't. But we have a picture of something being painted.
Q I think you will see it on one of those photographs before you, Mrs. Kassab. Look at the middle photograph. I'm sorry we don't have the original club here. Do you recall seeing something like that around the house?
A That seems to be on a table. Right. This photograph you mean?
Q Yes. And in real life that club has approximately the same dimensions.
A Yes, I see what you mean. Well, we have a picture of a bookcase or something in the back yard behind the house and it's being painted and it's standing on a couple of these as braces.
Q Do you have a picture at home?
A Yes, but I don't know whether it's the same club, naturally, but it's standing on something as braces.
Q Was it a picture that was sent to you by Colette?
A No, it wasn't. We asked if we could have all of the pictures they had taken as slides, because I had movies of the children, but I wanted all of the pictures I could get, and Mrs. MacDonald selected from the ones that were there of Jeff, quite a few, and brought them over, and said that any I wanted I could have. And we had copies made of all of them and then we returned the original ones to them. It's just little Kimmie and Kristy out in the back yard at the clothes line and a bedspread hanging on it, and this bookcase is standing there. And it's propped on something that looks like that to me. It wasn't until I looked at the slides several times that I pointed out that I wondered if that was the same thing.
Q Well, I'm going to ask you on some future occasion to make a copy of the picture available to us.
A We'll do this.
Q In view of the fact that they had things stolen from their automobile and from a stoop in Chicago and Colette's concern about a possible intruder when they were living in Bergenfield or whatever it is, New Jersey, do you recall hearing either from Colette or from Jeff whether or not he instructed her in any way as to what she should do in the event that while he was at the hospital or something of that sort some stranger approached the house?
A No.
Q Or some intruders came by?
A Never. She never mentioned anything.
Q You indicated when Colette first talked to you about the pregnancy that, let's say, the people there at the house at Thanksgiving were happy, but she wasn't particularly happy about it, herself. Did she give any indication as to what her concern was?
A First of all, she didn't want Jeff to be shipped out and she would be there alone to have a baby with him away. Later, when we went down Christmas we were told that that had been taken care of. That Jeff's commanding officer liked him very much and would probably keep him there for that reason. I think that in the beginning her fear would not be as great as -- being a woman, I know that as your pregnancy increases it becomes more of a fact to you of what is going to happen. I think she became increasingly worried and she hadn't been to a doctor to be examined yet. And she had put on twenty pounds she said, and she was worried about whether it was going to be a very large child.
Q Now getting back to this telephone conversation that took place around Valentine's Day which was just a few days before --
A (Interposing) Yes.
Q -- the murders. This is something I want to get straight now. There was some talk about Jeff going to Russia.
A Yes.
Q And was this trip to Russia a trip that would coincide with the period when her term would fall due? In other words when the baby would be expected?
A Yes. He would go in April and he wouldn't be back until the end of July. He would be in Russia, so therefore, there would be no -- no one could communicate with him but she said there was a possibility that he won't have to go. I've since found that something of that sort they must volunteer for.
Q And when she mentioned this to you she wanted your assurance --
A (Interposing) That I would be there.
Q -- that you would be there in any event.
A Yes.
Q And that even in Jeff's absence you would be there to --
A (Interposing) I would be with her.
Q -- be with her.
A She really believed that he might forcibly be sent away without asking. In other words he would have to go. It was a very good chance.
Q You mean to Russia or to Vietnam.
A No, to Russia. That he would be going with the boxing team. And there was something mentioned about it at Christmas, that there was a boxing team going to Russia, but not very much further said about it. But I think in the transcript it mentions the boxing team.

MR. WOERHEIDE: Mr. Foreman, do any of the Grand Jurors have any matters?

FOREMAN: Does anyone have any questions?

JUROR: I have one. Did either Colette or Jeff normally lock their doors when they retired in the evening or during the daytime, that sort of thing?

A I don't believe in the day because the children would be in and out all the time. But I'm sure -- I know I, myself, left my doors open until I lived in New York for a while and still have a habit of leaving them locked because you form that habit. She lived in Chicago and I know that in Bergenfield they were locked. Of course, any time that I was there, I didn't arrive at night, so that I couldn't say that she had to unlock a door to let me in, but with her timidity I believe that the doors would be locked especially since they knew -- she said there had been a lot of rapes on the base at Christmas time. I didn't hear of anything worse, but I heard there had been a lot of rapes on the base. Now if the door was left opened it would have been strictly by accident, I'm sure.

FOREMAN: You said that when you had to go into the freezer compartment that it was necessary to use the ice pick.

A Yes.

FOREMAN: Where was the ice pick usually kept? Was it in a drawer?

A It was in a drawer, I am sure, because I had to go and get it. Now this was at a time when there were guests inside, there were things in the oven, there were things on the stove, a soufflé was in the making, etc. and I got the ice pick out. I asked where it was. I was told. I don't recall whether it was here or there, which drawer.

FOREMAN: But it was in a drawer?

A It was an ice pick and it was in a drawer and I was very careful not to puncture the side of the --

FOREMAN: Freezer.

A -- the freezer, because I had once done that so that I used the pick underneath the ice trays.

FOREMAN: When they picked you up at the airport and took you to the hospital were you able to go right into Dr. MacDonald's room at that time?

A Yes.

FOREMAN: Was anyone else in there when you arrived?

A A doctor and then someone else came in. Another doctor I believe.

FOREMAN: But there were no people?

A No civilians.

FOREMAN: No civilians?

A No.

FOREMAN: No army personnel in khakis?

A Not as we walked in. Just Mrs. MacDonald, my husband, and myself and a man who escorted us and there was a doctor in there.

FOREMAN: No civilians?

A Pardon me?

FOREMAN: No civilians?

A No, I didn't see any civilians. No.

FOREMAN: Mrs. MacDonald, how long was she in the room before your husband helped her out?

A I'm a little bit hazy on that. I think it was in the very beginning because it was a very shocking thing to hear and I was just aware of the fuss behind me and then he was back in the room alone.

FOREMAN: That's all that I have.

MR. WOERHEIDE: May Mrs. Kassab be excused, Mr. Foreman?

FOREMAN: Yes, thank you very much.

[MRS. KASSAB DISMISSED]

 

 

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