On-Scene Detective Identifies Cult Members Responsible for 1970 MacDonald 'Green Beret' Murders & Army/Police Complicity in Cover-up
By Ken Adachi <E-mail>
March 27, 2007
Medical doctor Jeffrey R. MacDonald, labeled by the press in the 1980's as the "Green Beret Killer," has already spent 27 years in federal penitentiaries for murders he did not commit. To quote Harvard legal scholar Alan Dershowitz, "Jeffrey MacDonald is the most victimized person in the history of United States jurisprudence."
The grisly, ritualistic-style murders of which he was convicted took place in Dr. MacDonald's home located in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, on February 17, 1970, between 2 and 3 am in the morning. At the time, MacDonald was a captain in the Army (Green Berets) and assigned to medical duties at Womack Army Hospital, Ft. Bragg. Incredibly, Army investigators decided within fifteen minutes of arriving at the crime scene, that Dr. MacDonald had "staged" the entire massacre and then stabbed (and clubbed) himself-repeatedly-in order to make it "appear" that he was a victim of outside assailants who entered his home.
Ultimately, Jeffrey MacDonald was framed and railroaded as the patsy to take the fall for the murders of his wife (Colette) and two young daughters (Kimberly and Kristen) in order to preclude the capture and interrogation of the true killers of MacDonald's family: a satanic drug/cult group which included a 16 year old girl by the name of Helena Stoeckley.
A local police detective from the Fayetteville Police Department vice squad, Prince Everett Beasley, had been using Helena Stoeckley as a trusted drug informant for several months prior to the MacDonald murders. Upon learning of the description of the assailants given to Army CID (Criminal Investigation Division) investigators by Dr. MacDonald (who sustained 17 stab wounds and three blows to the head with a baseball bat on the night of the murders), Prince Beasley immediately suspected that Helena Stoeckley and her cult group may have been involved.
Beasley waited in his car for Stoeckley and her companions to return to her home on the evening of February 18, 1970, less than 24 hours after the murders. After Stoeckley and her friends pulled into the driveway and got out their car, Beasley pulled up behind them and called Stoeckley over to talk with him. She approached the car alone, telling her nervous companions that "everything's cool" and not to worry.
Beasley confronted Stoeckley with his suspicions that she and her group were involved in the murders and Stoeckley admitted to him that they were in the MacDonald home on the previous night in order "to teach him a lesson", but that things had "gone bad" (Stoeckley would later tell Beasley that the cult members had originally planned to only "push MacDonald around" and intimidate him into "cooperating" with them, but "things got out of hand" (According to Stoeckley, the cult member who entered the MacDonald home on the night of the murders were all high on an assortment of drugs, including heroin and mescaline (the resemblance to the Charles Manson ritualistic, satanic-style murders of Sharon Tate and her friends the previous summer was remarkable and should have been obvious to investigators).
Since the MacDonald murders had taken place on an Army base, Beasley radioed the Fayetteville police dispatcher to contact the Army's CID investigators and tell them to meet him at Stoeckley's home in order to further the interrogation of Helena and the other cult members who were milling around the driveway, but the CID investigators never came. After waiting for nearly an hour, Beasley finally had to leave, as the cult group was becoming increasingly hostile to his presence and were now threatening him. Prince Beasley would later say that if the CID had showed up that night and interrogated Helena Stoeckley, she would have admitted everything about the MacDonald murders and this in turn would have prevented the egregious and barbaric injustice inflicted upon Jeffrey MacDonald.
The statement reprinted below was given to retired FBI chief Ted L. Gunderson by Prince E. Beasley on May 5, 1986. Most of the information presented was acquired by Beasley from Helena Stoeckley prior to her death in January of 1983. From the information given below, we now can understand why the CID never came to Stoeckley's home on the night of Feb. 18, 1970 to interrogate her and why the CID (and later the Department of Justice) wanted to hang the crime on Jeffrey MacDonald. Simply stated, the cult who murdered Jeffrey MacDonald's wife and children were part of a huge drug pipeline operation that ran from Viet Nam straight into Ft. Bragg and other military bases around the United States.
According to Stoeckley, many high ranking Army officials (including two Ft. Bragg generals) were involved in the drug running/distribution operation, along with some members of the Army's Criminal Investigation Division (CID) and some members of the Fayetteville Police Department. The lead CID investigator at the MacDonald crime scene, the person who said that MacDonald had "staged" the massacre of his family, was William Ivory, a man Helena Stoeckley identified as being involved with a Fayetteville Police detective named Lieutenant Rudy Studer in drug dealing. Stoeckley said she would tell all about Ivory and Studer's illicit activities if given immunity from prosecution. She never got it.
Beyond shielding corrupt Army officials who were involved in the Viet Nam pipeline operation, there were at least 15 teenage children of upper rank Army officers at Ft Bragg who were enmeshed in the local drug culture, including the daughter of an Army colonel who decided to focus the CID's investigation of the MacDonald murders exclusively on Jeffrey MacDonald as the sole suspect. Even more telling, the daughter of that colonel was known to be person who often associated with Helena Stoeckley and her cult friends.
Following the Prince Beasley statement, you will find a summary of the MacDonald case written by the late Jerry Potter in 1997. Jerry Potter and ex-Green Beret-turned-newspaper reporter, Fred Bost, published Fatal Justice in 1995, following ten years of rigorous investigation into the government's own files concerning the MacDonald case. They found uncontestable and massive evidence of collusion between the Army, the Department of Justice, and local law enforcement to cover-up the true facts surrounding the MacDonald murders and frame Dr. MacDonald as the patsy.
Jeffrey MacDonald has spent nearly half of his life in prison for crimes which he did not commit-and could not commit. Murdering anybody, least of all his wife and two small children, were (and are) simply outside the boundaries of his character. Jeffrey MacDonald has a lifelong track record of rock solid emotional stability, rationality, peaceful, non-violent character, and a caring concern for others. Some people in this world-given the right circumstances-are capable of murder. Jeffrey MacDonald is not one of them.
The American public must help this man gain his freedom. We cannot allow this travesty of justice to continue and those responsible for his railroading to go unpunished.
More details about the MacDonald case can be read here, http://educate-yourself.org/jm/index.shtml
and at Dr MacDonald's web site http://www.themacdonaldcase.org
© Copyright 2007 Educate-Yourself.org All Rights Reserved.
Statement of Facts Given to Ted L. Gunderson by Prince Everett Beasley on May 5, 1986
I, Prince Everett Beasley, make the following free and voluntary statement to Ted L.Gunderson, a private investigator from Los Angeles. No threats or promises were made to get me to make this statement.
I was born 6/15/25 at Maxton, N.C. I presently reside at 104 Myra Rd., Raeford, N.C.. 28376. Phone. 919-875-3693. I am a retired police officer who served on the Fayetteville, N.C. Police Department from 1953 to 1973.
Helena Stoeckley was my drug informant from approximately 1968 until 1972. She was turned over to me by Lt. R. A. Studer. [Lieutenant Rudy A. Studer] Fayetteville, N.C. Police Dept. He turned her over to me because Helena's parents were mad at him for working Helena in the drug community, and because he was made a Lieutenant and couldn't devote the necessary time to working with her. Studer told me the reason he turned Helena over to me was because of his promotion. Helena told me he turned her over to me because of the problem with her parents.
Shortly after I was assigned to the Narcotic Squad, Helena told me that drugs, primarily heroin, were being smuggled into this country in the body cavities of the dead soldiers being returned by air from Viet Nam to the United States. She named Ike Atkinson as the ring leader. Atkinson was located in Goldsboro, N.C., supposedly working out of Johnson Air Force Base. Helena told me they were smuggling drugs in the same manner into Johnson Air Force Base. Johnson Air Force Base is located at Goldsboro, N.C.
She advised Atkinson was in the service, but subsequently got out and continued his business in drugs with the same contacts. I didn't pay much attention to Atkinson because he wasn't in our jurisdiction.
The above information is all that Helena told me up to the time of the MacDonald murders in 1970.
Helena told me after the MacDonald murders that there were contacts in Viet Nam who put the drugs in the G.I.'s bodies, in plastic bags after the autopsies were complete, The bodies were sewn up and shipped to Pope Air Base, Ft. Bragg, Johnson Air Base, and other bases which she did not name.
When the bodies arrived in the U.S., they were met by a contact in the United States at one of the military bases, and after the drugs were removed by this contact, the bodies were sent to their final destination.
The person who met the bodies at the respective Air Bases knew which bodies to check, based on a pre-determined code. Although I believe Helena knew their identities, she never gave me this information. Helena told me that the people who handled the assignments in Viet Nam. and those who met the planes in the United States, were military personnel. She stated most of the drugs came from Thailand.
Helena stated the drugs and the pickups were made at the base at Fort Bragg. The reason she gave me more details after the MacDonald murders was because she wanted me to know that she knew what she was talking about, and she stated she would give me details, including names, dates, and places, once she was given immunity by the U.S. Government. When Ted L. Gunderson and I initially interviewed her, we told her we would attempt to get immunity for her on these matters.
Helena advised that Spider Newman, his son, Red Newman, Wineford (Winnie) Cole, Tommy Hart, and June Bug Walters (I don't know Walters' real first name) were several steps in the organization under Atkinson. All of these individuals were civilians who operated in the Fayetteville, N.C. area, selling drugs. None of these individuals had a business cover, but sold drugs out of their house. Those of us in law enforcement knew through our intelligence community that Atkinson ran the Viet Nam smuggling operation on the Eastern Seaboard. I believe Atkinson was arrested by the
Federal Narcotic authorities in the middle 1970's, and he is presently serving time. He was recently turned down on parole.
Spider Newman was being tried for drugs in the mid-1970's. There was a courtroom break, and he was later found in his car behind his home, shot in the head. I later heard that Spider was getting ready to turn states evidence when this happened. The police ruled this a suicide. His trial was in Federal Court.
Red Newman has been tried on drugs, and is serving time in the Federal system. Cole went to State Prison on drug charges in Fayetteville.
Wineford Cole, Tommy Hart and June Bug Walters were all tried and convicted of drug trafficking. I believe they were all tried in local and Federal Court at different times. I don't know if Cole and Walters are in jail now, but I know Hart is in the North Carolina State Penal System.
In regard to the Viet Nam operation, Helena told me that military, civilian, and police officers were involved in the Viet Nam drug network. She stated there were two prominent local attorneys and Army officers as high as Generals, who were part of the operation. She stated she would name and identity the people if given immunity by the U.S. Government. I believe this is part of the "bomb shell" she said she was going to drop. Helena never named the police officers she said were involved in the Viet Nam operation, but she did state that Studer and Sonberg were involved in drugs. Possibly these are the individuals she was referring to in regard to the Viet Nam drug network, who were police officers. Helena also told me after the MacDonald murders, that Alan Mazorelle, who was in her coven Satanic Cult, was a drug runner up and down the East Coast. Mazorelle took drugs as far away as Florida and New York City. Mazorelle was in the Army at the time. She never said where Mazorelle obtained his drugs.
Helena also told me that Don Harris, also a member of her coven Satanic Cult, was a heavy user of drugs. This is all she said about him.
Helena told me that Dwight Smith was a drug dealer locally. She never said where Smith obtained his drugs. She said Smith was an "alright guy".
Helena told me that Kathy Perry was a user of drugs. Perry took as many drugs as she could get her hands on. Perry dealt drugs only to maintain her habit.
Helena told me that Greg Mitchell was a dealer and a heavy user of drugs. She never gave details regarding how he dealt, but she stated anytime someone couldn't find drugs, they could always go to Mitchell and he would have them. At times, he would supply the whole group.
Helena told me that Bruce Fowler was a drug dealer and a user, and that she was his girlfriend. She never gave more details than this.
Dwight Smith, Don Harris, Alan Mazorelle, Bruce Fowler and Greg Mitchell were all in the same coven Satanic cult with Helena, and were all in the military. She stated that all of the above were dangerous, but she was the most afraid of Mazorelle. She stated Mazorelle would kill you in a minute.
I had extensive intelligence files on all of the above close associates of Helena's, but this information has disappeared from the Fayetteville Police files. I learned these files disappeared in August, 1979. During the MacDonald trial I was given a subpoena to bring these records to the trial. It was then that I learned they were gone.
In 1981 or 1982, I talked to Mrs Greg Mitchell, after Greg had died. She told me Greg had previously told her about drugs being smuggled into the U.S. in the body cavities of the dead G.I.'s from Viet Nam. She stated that Greg didn't give her the names of persons involved, but told her about the contacts in Viet Nam who placed the drugs in plastic bags, into the bodies, and others in the U.S. at our Air Bases who met the planes, and took the drugs from the bodies. She stated military personnel were involved in this operation in Viet Ham and in the U.S.
Lieutenant Studer told me in 1968-1969 that drugs were being brought into the U.S. from Viet Nam in the body cavities of the dead soldiers. He said they were being flown into the United States to the military Air Bases, and dispersed from there by contacts within the military.
Studer subsequently was promoted to Captain, Chief of Detectives, but was forced to resign because he misappropriated pornographic material obtained during an investigation. Helena told me that Studer monitored the drugs that Helena obtained, and if he didn't like them, he had her exchange those drugs for drugs that Studer could use. Helena told me that if the police obtained drugs on an arrest, they would often be on the street the next day. Studer would take the drugs and give them to Helena to sell back on the street. The only way I know that Studer could get these drugs was from the evidence room. Studer and Detective Larry Sonberg both had keys to the evidence room.
Helena told me that William F. Ivory, C.I.D.. and Studer were close friends. She stated that Ivory was dealing drugs with Studer. She stated she would give more details concerning Ivory if she was given immunity. Ivory was involved in the crime scene search on the MacDonald case. She also stated she would give more information on Studer if she vas given immunity.
Joseph Bullock was an informant and undercover operator for me and Studer from 1969 to 1971. Bullock advised me that he saw Studer and Ivory exchange envelopes on occasion at the Dunkin' Donuts, Bragg Blvd, Fayetteville, N.C., during this period of time. Studer dropped Bullock shortly after this because, according to Bullock, Studer knew too much of what was going on. Bullock was subsequently shot in the head during an ambush when he came home from work. It was general knowledge in the community that Bullock was an informant for me. Bullock described Studer as a "son of a bitch."
Sonberg left town unexpectedly, shortly after the MacDonald murders. The rumor was that Sonberg had double-crossed some drug dealers, and had to leave town. Helena told me that Sonberg was dealing
drugs even though he was a police officer. I have no knowledge that Sonberg was involved with the drug operation out of Viet Nam.
Helena once mentioned the name Proctor to me. I don't recall what was said about him, but I knew she knew him. I assume she was referring to James Proctor, Judge DePree's [sic] former son-in-law. I don't recall if she referred to Proctor by his first name. She mentioned this sometime after the MacDonald murders. She said she would talk more about Proctor if given immunity.
Helena told me that 3 or 4 nights after the MacDonald murders she vas picked up by Ivory and I believe C.I.D. agent, Shaw (I don't know his first name). She stated they talked to her about the MacDonald murders. Helena advised she gave them a story that they didn't believe, and they turned her 1oose.
Helena told me that Studer contacted her shortly after the MacDonald murders and Studer told her to get out of town because Beasley was after her. She ultimately left, and went to Nashville, Tennessee.
During the time I worked with Helena (1968 to 1972) I estimate that she was responsible, as an informant, for the arrest of hundreds of individuals. I estimate at least 200 persons or more were arrested as a result of information furnished by her.
She set up Mazorelle and Thomas Rizzo for the arrest on drugs just before the MacDonald murders. When I looked for the intelligence files on the Stretchly group in 1979, I recall also looking for the arrest file on Mazorelle and Rizzo for their arrest. I recall they were arrested in January 1970. I remember that these arrest files were intact at that time. I have since been told that the arrest files on Mazorelle and Rizzo are now missing.
It is interesting to note that Mazorelle claims he was in jail the night of the MacDonald murders. He claims he can prove this from Superior Court records in Cumberland County. I have been told there is a slip of paper in the court records that shows Mazorelle was in jail the night of 2/16-17/70. These records are available to the public.
I know Mazorelle was not in jail 2/16-17/70 because I arrested him in January 1970 and recall that the trial was set for Mazorelle the day of 2/17/70. If Mazorelle had been in Jail that date (2/16-17/70) he would have been available for trial on 2/17/70, and I would have appeared in court as a witness. John De Carter of the Sheriff's office was with me in the arrest of Rizzo and Mazorelle and he would have also had to appear in court 2/17/70. I specifically recall that I did not appear in court on any case at the Cumberland County Court House on 2/17/70. I was on the street all day looking for suspects on the MacDonald murders.
I don't recall that Mazorelle was out on bail, but I believe he was, or he would have appeared 1n court 2/17/70. Since he didn't appear I believe he jumped ba1l, which means a bench warrant would have been issued for him. I recall he was subsequently arrested in Waycross Georgia for burglary, but I have been informed through my sources in law enforcement that the Waycross arrest records are also missing.
I recall that a bondsman, C. B. Avertt, went to Waycross to extradite Mazorelle for jumping bond on my drug arrest. I talked to Avertt in 1979, and he told me that he didn't recall making the bond and had no record. I talked to him a month later and he recalled that he made bond for Mazorelle for $2500.00 after the MacDonald murders, which, according to him, would confirm that Mazorelle was in jail the night of 2/16-17/70. Avertt is either involved in the cover up or is mistaken. Mazorelle's bond could not have been made after the MacDonald murders because the trial was set for 2/17/70, as explained above.
I don't have knowledge concerning the possible altering of Court records concerning the Mazore1le-Rizzo drug arrest, but I recall a number of occasions when Cumberland Court House records were altered after working hours at night. I don't believe Mazorelle was in jail the night of the murders.
In addition to the above, Helena told me that Mazorelle was out that night and involved in the MacDonald murders.
In regard to cases that Helena made for me, I recall that she was responsible for the largest drug recovery in the history of our police department up to the time I retired. Several months before the MacDonald murders, she tipped us on drugs that were being transported from Canada to Fayetteville. Seven suspects were arrested. and over $20,000.00 worth of drugs were recovered.
Helena was also responsible for the arrest of four suspects from Texas, who were also transporting and selling drugs in Fayetteville. We recovered about $40,000.00 worth of drugs on this case.
Helena told me about every instance where drugs came into Fayetteville from other areas. At the time I didn't think about it, but I now believe she told us about drugs coming from outside Fayetteville to eliminate competition, probably protecting the local drug scene, i.e. the Viet Nam operation. This is my opinion.
Judge Dupree and the U.S. Government have attempted to discredit me, insinuating I am having, and have had mental problems. 1 would like to point out that I have been on the Police Officers Advisory Commission for North Carolina since before I returned ["retired" was probably intended-Ken Adachi] from the Fayetteville Police Department 1n 1973.
I have read this 8 page statement, and it is true and correct, to the best of my knowledge.
Prince E. Beasley
Witness: Ted L. Gunderson
Summary of the MacDonald Murder Case, 1970 thru 1996
by Jerry Allen Potter
February 5, 1997
Why A Summary?
In 1985, when Fred Bost and I began research for our book Fatal Justice: Reinvestigating the MacDonald Murders (completed and published ten years later by W. W. Norton), our goal was to determine whether Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald did, or did not, murder his family on a rainy February morning at Fort Bragg, N. C. in 1970. Fred is a retired green beret sergeant major once assigned as an investigator at the Pentagon during the formation of the current volunteer army. He became suspicious of the army's case against MacDonald while serving at Fort Bragg at the time of the murders. I am a novelist and marine painter on the Monterey Peninsula. My own interest was whetted by talks with a former FBI bureau chief whose forays into various aspects of the case led him to believe Jeffrey MacDonald had been framed by the army to keep the FBI from delving too deeply into the severe drug problem that existed on Fort Bragg at that time.
What follows is covered in intricate detail, and supported by exhaustive and unassailable documentation in our book. Our documentation, at least, is logically unassailable because it is direct from the government's own files and their handwritten laboratory notes withheld at trial, and also because the handwritten bench notes differ incredibly from the typed evidence reports that were supposed to have been based on the lab notes. The difference beween the handwritten notes and typed reports is absolutely crucial in understanding what happened in this case, for the handwritten notes show evidence supporting MacDonald's story about intruders, but the official reports, typed for the defense team, show a case against him that isn't reflected in the handwritten notes, and do not show important finds those handwritten bench notes contain which, if known by the defense, would have stopped the government case in its tracks back in 1970.
Without a fact base from which to understand this case, the concerns of interested parties can be too easily dispelled by government generalizations about it, hence the following detailed treatment. For instance, the government claims that they brought to trial a massive circumstantial case showing MacDonald had committed these crimes. That is true. They did present such evidence. But what is the nature and quality of that evidence? And is it based on typed reports or handwritten bench notes? The government says that investigator William Ivory said he saw signs of a "staged" crime scene. That is also true, but sworn statements of MPs and other personnel make it clear that the moved items were moved after the MPs arrived, and that the items were moved by army men themselves or by curious onlookers who had come into the crime scene unchallenged. Half truth is not the same as whole truth. This, then, is why this case, after 27 years, like an old nagging injury, is the case that won't go away.
The case erupted early February 17, 1970, when MPs reported to 544 Castle Drive, an officer housing area on Ft. Bragg, not far from Fayetteville, N. C., in response to a phone call for help from Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, a green beret group surgeon and drug counselor. They found MacDonald's pregnant wife stabbed and bludgeoned to death. The condition of her body and particularly her arms, hands, and fingernails showed she had put up a vigorous fight. The two MacDonald daughters, Kimberly, 6, and Kristen, 2, were also dead. Kimberly apparently died from blows with a club. Kristen was stabbed repeatedly. Hairs found under their bloody fingernails indicated that they, too, had fought and scratched their attacker or attackers.
Dr. MacDonald was found unconscious next to his wife. One of the first MPs on the scene, Kenneth Mica, said he performed mouth to mouth resuscitation on MacDonald "at least three times" before he got him stabilized enough to talk. Suffering three head contusions, a collapsed lung due to a knife wound into his chest, and more than 15 other stab wounds (including one through his arm), MacDonald told MP Mica he had gone to sleep on the sofa because the baby had wet his side of the bed. Early in the morning he heard his wife and daughter cry out. He awakened to face three armed men and a blond woman who stood behind them chanting, "Acid is groovy, kill the pigs." The young woman wore a floppy "witch" hat, and go go boots. Her face was lit by a flickering light, MacDonald said, perhaps a candle.
MP Mica's Troublesome Sighting
When MP Mica heard MacDonald's description of the female intruder, he was astonished. He turned to his lieutenant who had just arrived and told him that only moments earlier, at about 3:55 a.m., he had seen a suspicious young woman standing on a rainy street corner about three blocks away. She wore a floppy hat and boots. Mica asked his lieutenant to set up road blocks and send someone back out to find the girl he thought might have been the one MacDonald described. After all, how many floppy hatted young women wearing boots could there be at that hour of the morning on a military post, especially in bad weather? But nothing was done. The MPs bosses, who would only moments later make a decision to misrepresent the early known facts of the case to keep the FBI from controlling the crime scene and the on post drug investigation, told this MP to keep his mouth shut about seeing the girl.
William Ivory, the 26 year old army investigator, had never led a murder investigation in his life, yet he made a quick perusal of the crime scene; and within a very few minutes decided, even before collecting or lab testing any evidence, that Jeffrey MacDonald was guilty of the murders. Even though the Princeton educated MacDonald had no history of violence, was known by his in laws as a "perfect" father to the girls, and had a flawless army record as group surgeon of his unit, and even though the army knew the drug crowd on Bragg had a grudge against MacDonald, they told their superiors they already had their man. Before any investigation was made, the told their bosses no civilian intruders were involved.
But local police and an army agent, men who had worked the drug scene and who knew the local kids well, have told us they immediately recognized the descriptions, the racial make up, and general dress of the group MacDonald had described. These law officers thought the young woman carrying a candle and running with a black man wearing a fatigue jacket could only be Helena Stoeckley, an intelligent but troubled 17 year old addict daughter of a retired colonel. She was one of the key drug snitches for the local police and the army. These men knew of no other white girl in 1970 who ran around with a black man, especially a black man of a certain build and wearing an army jacket with an outdated rank insignia on it. Yet, ignoring the MPs sighting and MacDonald's descriptions of kids that might have been real, the army brass continued to lie to the FBI about the likelihood of civilians being involved in the murders. The FBI investigators sent by Hoover weren't needed. Even though they knew Helena Stoeckley fit the description of the female intruder and even though they knew of MP Mica's sighting, the official line was immediate and simple: there were absolutely no civilians involved in this crime.
MacDonald's Previous Altercations with Addicts
Besides the MP's report about seeing the young woman, the army became aware of other sightings of a group like the one MacDonald described who had been in the area just before and after the crimes. For instance, a teacher said she saw members of such a group talking with Colette at the extention university only hours before she was murdered. She said the young people, a group of hippie types, seemed to be leaning on Colette to convince her to agree with them about something. A private investigator later showed this teacher an array of photos of young men. Without hesitation she picked out Helena Stoeckley's boyfriend, the violent and disturbed heroin addict, Greg Mitchell, who later confessed to the crimes. This teacher says she told two army investigators about this confrontation. The army knew that Dr. MacDonald was a drug counselor with a tough view of illegal drug use by troops, and had gotten at odds with violent drug users. In fact, he had a serious run in with drug addicts a month earlier, and had been physically attacked by a screaming heroin addict in his office less than twenty four hours before the murders. It was well known on post that this new young doctor had gained the reputation of a hard liner when he rewrote the policies and procedurals manual to make drug paraphernalia harder to get out of his unit's medical facilities. In fact, MacDonald had been warned by a fellow officer to tread more easily, that many of the heroin addicts he was dealing with were Vietnam veterans who were disillusioned and angry, and many of them were dangerous. One of MacDonald's fellow medical officers said he had been "worried" about MacDonald, and had warned MacDonald that his tough reputation amongst the drug users was going to get him into trouble with them.
Since the army knew all this about MacDonald and his dealings with drug addicts, he would have been a likely target for just such a group whose drug supply lines he threatened. In fact, a nurse who had attended a tracheostomy performed by MacDonald on a soldier who had overdosed on heroin called authorities who had two of his waiting friends picked up. They gave up the name of their heroin dealer, a black man whose general description matches that of the club wielding black attacker described by MacDonald. Instead of considering MacDonald a target for unbalanced and violent drug dealing young people on post, however, the army CID continued targeting him for the murders. This decision to ignore young people who were known to match MacDonald's descriptions of intruders and known to be violent drug users and dealers seemed to Fred and me an incredibly foolhardy risk by the army brass.
We considered this risk unlikely until many years into our investigation we learned that a large number of drug users and dealers at Bragg in 1970 were the sons and daughters of command officers. In fact, an investigator working for us recently interviewed an army agent who had attended some of the periodic briefings on the MacDonald case in Washington D. C. This man said that one particular teenager was mentioned as "a problem" in the case. She was a problem because she was thought to have bought her drugs from another officer's daughter, the 17 year old army snitch, Helena Stoeckley, who matched the description of MacDoanld's female intruder to an incredible degree. This particular teenager was a problem for the CID also because she was the daughter of the officer who had made the most important early decisions to turn the case forever away from drug using young people and toward Jeffrey MacDonald even at the cost of suppressing evidence. He was the man who heard the MPs report about seeing a woman on the street corner just after the crimes and kept that information quiet. Was his daughter involved with this group? With this crime? We don't know, but narcotics cop Prince Beasley told us that he, too, believed this young woman to have been running with Stoeckley's group of drug users. His Stoeckley notes contained the girl's name and he told a BBC producer that she had climbed out of the window of her house to sneak away one night to be with the Stoeckley crowd. A writer who interviewed people in the Ft. Bragg and Fayetteville area just after the murders told us he, too, had been told by informants that this officer's daughter was "in the drug crowd."
Nearly twenty years after the crimes the BBC producer phoned the girl, now a mature woman, and asked her about her relationship with Helena Stoeckley. The woman became very agitated and hung up the phone. Learning about her possible involvement, I phoned her a few years later. She was very friendly until I told her what I was doing. When I asked her about Stoeckley she refused to talk with me any further. I cannot say whether she was involved with Stoeckley, or involved in the murders. I can only say that, in my view, because of what I've been told by law enforcement officers and others who were on the case at the time, and because of her suspicious behavior on the phone, she bears investigating.
I don't speak idly, or irresponsibly. Using government documents released by the FOIA, Fred and I have established that the officer in charge of the case, the father of this girl, did lie, blatantly, to the FBI that morning and throughout that first week to keep FBI agents from investigating the drug problem at Fort Bragg (as they were specifically ordered to do by J. Edgar Hoover himself very early on the morning of the murders.) And our recent investigations into drug users at Bragg, relying heavily upon and backtracking some of the previous work of the BBC producer, indicate that besides these two colonel's daughters, Stoeckley and the other girl, more than 15 other teenaged dependants of top level officers at Bragg (generals, majors, and colonels) were reportedly involved with drugs and drug trafficking. Some of them were running with members of the "hippie" group who actually confessed to these murders. The son of one very powerful colonel was listed in an army CID investigation report as being the common law husband of one of the young women who later confessed to being involved in the murders.
Knowing all this, the army brass continued to misrepresent the case to the FBI that week, and publically ignored the likelihood of young civilians being involved in the murders. This is all the more serious when one considers that army investigators found numerous items in and just outside the home, that suggested multiple perpetrators. For example, they found multiple pairs of bloody gloves, multiple weapons, and several deposits of fresh candle wax that didn't match the candles in the MacDonald home.
Dr. Thomas Noguchi, at the request of MacDonald's defense team, examined the crime scene photos of the victims' wounds and considered the number and types of weapons. He then said it would have been "impossible" for one man to have handled all those weapons using them against three struggling victims. Noguchi and another leading pathologist believed two weapons had disappeared, a ligature used to tie Colette (for her arm showed signs of ligature burn), and a scissors (for double pointed scissors marks were found on the children). One pattern of puncture wounds forms the letter "S," still another reason to suspect the involvement of unbalanced, self styled Satanists such as the Stoeckley group.
Noguchi, like another pathologist before him, still insists there were multiple attackers, and believes the blows of the club were made by a left handed person. Heroin addict Greg Mitchell, who later confessed to the crimes, was left handed. MacDonald is right handed. Throughout that first week of crime scene investigation the army also found an astounding volume and variety of trace evidence on the bodies, as you'll soon see, which indicated that someone else, not Jeffrey MacDonald, came into mortal contact with each of the victims. Yet, our study of the government's own documents shows that the army continued to "sandbag" the FBI even as they destroyed, covered up, changed, and lied about each troublesome piece of evidence, and even as they lied about troublesome interviews with their snitch, the colonel's daughter, Helena Stoeckley.
The Army Hearing
The army charged MacDonald, then released him after a six week Article 32 pre court martial proceeding in which the hearing officer, Colonel Warren Rock, heard and examined the army's case. There was no evidence against MacDonald, Col. Rock found, and the charges are "not true." Rock further found ample reason to suspect the army's drug snitch, Helena Stoeckley, and her companions. He mentioned her by name in his official report and asked his superiors to suggest that local authorities investigate her further. But the army proved to have no interest in conveying to local police information that, according to Col. Rock, would present MacDonald, who was their prey, as innocent; and Helena Stoeckley, a colonel's daughter and other local young people heretofore protected by them, as deeply involved with triple murder.
Helena Stoeckley, a serious heroin user, had been forced into becoming a drug snitch not only for the local police, but for the army, and all other police entities in the area. She was well known to have lived with a violent group of drug dealers who were delving into "witchcraft." The local policeman who worked her for leads believed she and her friends were having orgies in the blood of freshly murdered cats, as Stoeckley herself later claimed. When this local cop, Prince Beasley, heard about the murders and the descriptions, he agreed with his captain who had phoned him about them on the murder morning, that the MacDonald attackers sounded like the Stoeckley group. He remembered Stoeckley's apartment was "full of candles." "Candles everywhere," he said. She also ran around with a black man wearing a fatigue jacket with outdated sergeant's rockers on it, he had seen her the night before wearing go go boots, a cheap blond wig, and a floppy "witch" hat. Sergeant Beasley had learned that MacDonald had suffered multiple ice pick wounds, and he remembered Stoeckley carried an ice pick in her purse. He searched for her in all her familiar haunts that next day and finally found her that night in the presence of a group of males. "Wanta see my ice pick?" she quipped.
Beasley called her away from the males, one of whom was Greg Mitchell, whose attitude seemed threatening as he watched Beasley and Stoeckley. "This is nothing to joke about, Helena," Beasley said. He reminded her that children were killed. She began to cry and admitted she might have been there, that she was on drugs, but keeps seeing terrible things in her mind.
Thinking he had the MacDonald killers, he radioed his dispatcher and asked him to call the CID and tell them he had the group who might have done the murders. The dispatcher called the CID. Beasley waited. They didn't come. The males were growing angry and restless, calling threatening taunts toward him. He radioed the dispatcher again. The dispatcher told him the CID were busy and couldn't come out. Beasley's boss, Rudy Studer, a close friend of CID invesigator Ivory, had already ordered him not to get involved in this case. Beasley told us he decided he would either have to use force to arrest these kids, getting more unruly and he believed very likely armed, or he would have to let them go. Having no civilian authority in the murders, he obeyed orders and let them go, but not before telling his snitch, Helena Stoeckley, to get in touch with the CID herself to clear the matter up. At any rate, he knew who they were, and thought he knew where to find them. As another policeman pointed out years later, Beasley had another motivation for releasing Stoeckley and backing out of the case. She was his best snitch, and had contributed the leads that led to "hundreds of arrests" over the past year or so. Beasley says he made subsequent calls to the CID, but didn't know until years later that they actually went to see her, secretly, and protected her.
Stoeckley and her group remained a secret among CID agents and local cops until the hearing officer found that this young woman had admitted to army investigator William Ivory that she had no alibi for just the hours in question. Ivory had gone to see her a few days after the murders (Ivory's partner that night tells us it was because of Beasley's calls). To Ivory, she admitted she was on drugs that night. She admitted she wore a blond wig, floppy hat, and go go boots the night of the murders. And she offered no alibi. Ivory kept all this secret. This heretofore suppressed interview only came to light after her next door neighbor, who had seen her come home very early on the murder morning, confronted her with his suspicions that she and her friends answered the description and might have been the killers. Obviously shaken by this sudden and apparently unexpected accusation, she retorted that she might have "held the light," but hadn't killed anyone herself. After army hearing officer Col. Rock received this information from Helena Stoeckley's neighbor, he learned the army investigators actually had conspired to change a lab report to cloud the identity of a brown hair. The hair was found clutched in Colette's dead hand, a hair, Col. Rock learned, that was not Jeffrey MacDonald's hair or the hair of his family, who were all blond. Col. Rock found MacDonald not guilty.
The army rumor mill had it afterward that Rock had gone soft in the head, that the AMA had paid Bernard Segal to represent Dr. MacDonald, that the MP (who had finally come forward about his sighting of a floppy hatted female in the neighborhood) had been paid by MacDonald to lie, that the neighbor who confronted Stoeckley was also lying. Themselves now under accusation of framing MacDonald and suppressing evidence, they continued to tell local cops and media people that Jeffrey MacDonald had gotten away with murder.
Prosecutor James Proctor Keeps the Case Alive
To pay his legal bills, MacDonald left the army on a hardship discharge and worked as a doctor in New York state, then embarked upon an illustrious career in emergency medicine in Long Beach, California. But the army wasn't through with him. Army CID agents convinced a local federal prosecutor, James C. Proctor, that MacDonald was guilty. Proctor clamored for permission to prosecute MacDonald. He presented his evidence to his bosses at the Department of Justice, but they refused to prosecute, the record states, for lack of evidence. He promised a conviction, threatened to quit his job if he couldn't prosecute, and pushed for many months without noticeable success. Then army CID agents, after two years of wooing MacDonald's supportive in laws and showing them selected items of evidence, finally convinced them their son in law was guilty. Not surprisingly, the case then began to change complexion. Even though the DOJ had repeatedly refused to prosecute MacDonald, the in laws helped the army persuade a friendly judge to order a grand jury hearing. The army CID agents also convinced a young army lawyer of MacDonald's "guilt." This officer, Brian Murtagh, resigned his commission, left the army, and joined the DOJ solely to pursue Jeffrey MacDonald. Carrying his station wagon full of evidence he claimed would prove MacDonald guilty, Murtagh went to the FBI lab to begin building his new case. Murtagh, like Proctor before him, promised a conviction.
Indictment and Trial
At the grand jury hearing in 1975, MacDonald's lawyer, Bernard Segal, realized the evidence had been drastically changed. Back at the army hearing there had been no evidence against him. And the DOJ had found no inculpatory merit in James Proctor's evidence two years after the murders. Now, suddenly, items of evidence were presented as different from what they had been back at the army hearing. A particularly damning exhibit involved MacDonald's pajama top. It had been found covering Colette's half bare chest. It was full of holes made with an ice pick, and the FBI lab had managed to fold it in a way that allowed for all the fabric holes to line up with the stab wounds in her chest. The prosecutors assured Judge Dupree and the grand jurors that this proved MacDonald had stabbed his wife through the pajama top, since MacDonald had said he had pulled his pajama top off when he found Colette's body. The top had gotten ripped, he had said, in his fight with intruders, so the prosecutors insisted that it meant that MacDonald, not mythical intruders had killed Colette.
MacDonald was indicted. A suspicious Segal, believing the prosecutor had used the FBI lab to falsify evidence, insisted on having his own experts lab test the evidence. The government and the judge blocked him. Since he couldn't lab test the evidence against his client, he asked to see the handwritten lab notes upon which the army's original typed lab reports were supposed to be based. The government said, "No." He asked for the FBI's handwritten lab notes, to see how the evidence could have changed so severely. The government refused to give him the notes. At trial, still unable to lab test evidence and still not in possession of the lab notes, he begged Judge Dupree to force Murtagh to hand over the lab notes. The judge (who we now know had been James Proctor's law partner, and father in law, and even the grandfather of Proctor's child), simply asked Murtagh if there was anything in the notes MacDonald's attorneys needed. Murtagh said there wasn't, and Segal listened with horror as Judge Dupree, without even looking at the notes himself, ruled he wouldn't force Murtagh to give the notes to Segal.
Segal hoped to discredit the head of the chemistry branch of the FBI, Paul Stombaugh, the government's key forensic expert, by showing that he had very little formal training in chemistry, and in fact had flunked the only chemistry course Segal's investigator could establish the agent had taken in college. But the judge forbade Segal to so inform the jury.
Segal also had hoped to put before the jury the findings of the army hearing officer back in 1970, because that information would give the jurors some clue that the government might be lying about the evidence at trial, and it would prove that the army investigators had tried to finess hair evidence. But the judge ruled against Segal. He would not allow Col. Rock's official report to be seen by the jurors.
Segal had planned to bring to trial five psychiatrists, including three government men, who had examined MacDonald and had found him normal and sane, and unlikely to have murdered anyone, especially his family, and especially in a fit of anger. Dupree, in a ruse set up with the prosecutors and a psychiatric expert, a "new man," actually a former army psychiatrist who had been secretly in the employ of the government prosecutors on this very case for many years. This "new man" had never examined MacDonald, but had made his feelings known back in the early 70s after a visit from William Ivory, that MacDonald was guilty. Judge Dupree insisted that MacDonald get examined by this "new man," who interviewed MacDonald during the trial and promptly found him a homicidal maniac. Judge Dupree, now with an "expert" in hand who disagreed with the five earlier experts, refused to allow any psychiatric testimony, finding that "shrinks" had no place in trials and congress had erred in imposing them on the courts, anyway. He ruled that character witnesses would suffice for MacDonald. In the end, MacDonald's friends and family would tell the jury that he was a good man, with no history of violence, and this would be set in the jurors minds against the government prosecutors and FBI agents talking repeatedly throughout the trial about MacDonald's mental state while murdering his family.
The Stoeckley Issue at Trial
With most of his case blocked by Judge Dupree, a worried Segal called Helena Stoeckley as a witness. He had learned she had confessed to at least six friends and acquaintances that she had been in the MacDonald home the night of the murders. She made these confessions while crying and trembling and talking about "all that blood," and weeping about the murdered children. Prince Beasley, the city drug cop who worked her for leads in Fayetteville, said she'd confessed her involvement in the murders to him. She had taken a polygraph test at the hands of the army's chief polygrapher and had shown deception when she told him she hadn't been in the home that night. But on the stand at MacDonald's trial, facing a murder rap herself, she said she couldn't remember where she had been during those hours.
Having failed to get Stoeckley to incriminate herself under oath, Segal wanted to put on the stand seven witnesses who heard her confess to involvement in the crimes. It would have been hearsay evidence, but Segal argued to Judge Dupree in a bench conference outside the jurors' hearing that since Stoeckley was claiming loss of memory, this made her an "unavailable witness," and according to the rules on hearsay testimony the witnesses to her confessions should be allowed to tell what she had told them, especially since what she had told them had placed her in legal jeopardy. Segal argued further that the group Helena ran with were violent drug dealers and users, and that two of them matched MacDonald's descriptions of two of the intruders to an incredible degree. Helena Stoeckley wasn't blond, but had been wearing a blond wig that night, and go go boots, and a floppy hat, and had confessed to being at the murders. Segal also argued that one of his witnesses was the army's chief polygrapher who had tested Helena and had found her deceptive when she told him she wasn't in the home on the murder night. Even though the polygraph couldn't be used as evidence against, her, her interview with him after his polygraph examination should be used, Segal reasoned, for it had caused the polygrapher to report that he had tripped her up on a key issue of her story, and had found that Stoeckley, at least, believed that she was in the home the night of the murders and believed she had witnessed them.
But Judge Dupree dismissed all these points and ruled that the seven witnesses could testify, but they couldn't talk about Helena's confessions. The prosecution pointed out to Judge Dupree that they especially didn't want one of the witnesses to tell about Helena's references to "all that blood." So, the witnesses went on the stand, but were carefully enjoined not to tell the jurors anything about Stoeckley's confessions. This left MacDonald, as far as the jurors knew, as the only viable suspect, alone in his home with three corpses.
Government Tricks at Trial - The Official Blood Chart and the Pajama Top Folding Experiment
The pajama top folding experiment was the key exhibit of the government's case against MacDonald. Segal's cross examination of Paul Stombaugh, the head of the Chemistry Division of the FBI lab, produced an admission that the experiment did not prove what the prosecutors said it did. He admitted it hadn't grown out of his own examination of the evidence, but that Murtagh had brought it to him and asked that he do it. Segal also got him to admit that its construction did not meet certain necessary scientific standards. Segal thought he had made points with the jurors, but the prosecutors continued talking about the pajama top folding experiment as if it did prove something, and as if Stombaugh's self incriminating concessions had never happened. As the trial neared its end, Segal feared that the science had been too difficult for the jurors to understand.
The government's case was skillfully driven home in closing arguments by Murtagh's fellow prosecutor, James Blackburn, a man who has since pled guilty and served a prison term for embezzlement, fraud, and for creating phony court documents in other cases. Blackburn presented evidence he said was the most important proof that MacDonald had killed his family and was lying about intruders. In one hand Blackburn held up the wooden club found in the back yard, the club that had been used to murder Colette and Kimberly, and with the other hand he dramatically lifted MacDonald's pajama top. He informed the jury that investigators had found two dark fibers on the club, fibers from MacDonald's pajama top, fibers that made him a liar, fibers that meant that he, not intruders, had handled the club. It meant, Blackburn insisted, that MacDonald, not marauding hippies, had murdered his family. However, even with this circumstantial proof before their eyes, the jurors still had trouble believing MacDonald would kill his family.
They filed into the jury deliberation room with Judge Dupree's instructions ringing in their ears, instructions assuring them that if they found MacDonald's story at odds with the physical case presented by Murtagh and Blackburn and the FBI, then they could deem that MacDonald had lied, and was therefore guilty. Soon the troubled jurors called out from their deliberations and asked for a chart of all the blood spots found in the home. They wanted to see if blood was found on the hallway floor where MacDonald said he fell, stabbed and bleeding. If there was blood there, then MacDonald hadn't lied, they reasoned. If blood was absent from this spot, then he had lied and was surely guilty. So Brian Murtagh gave them the chart he and the FBI lab had created, without telling them he had left off the chart the particular blood spot they were seeking. The CID investigation report now in our possession says a spot of blood, of MacDonald's type, was indeed found on the hallway floor exactly where he said he fell. The jurors didn't know this most critical chart had been finessed, but since Murtagh's official FBI chart showed no blood there, they thought MacDonald must be lying. They voted, reluctantly, to convict him.
MacDonald became eligible for parole ten years later, in 1989, but he refused to apply. "I want out," he said. "But I don't want out with this conviction still standing. I didn't kill my family and the evidence shows it. I want an evidentiary hearing, and I want a fair trial."
"Are you willing to stay in prison forever, then?" I asked him.
"The prison isn't the walls here," he said. "The prison is that people still think I killed my family. The prison is the conviction. The evidence proves I didn't do it, if only I can get it into court."
First Steps in the Long Road Back
Soon after the conviction, MacDonald's friends funded a reinvestigation. A retired FBI bureau chief was chosen to find Helena Stoeckley. With the help of Prince Beasley, he did find her. She took two additional polygraphs that indicated she was indeed in the home during the murders. Tired, and sick from chronic liver disease, she confessed to the crimes, to "get it off my chest." She still had nightmares and still broke into uncontrolled sobbing when something reminded her of it. Her husband said she and he both believed she had been in the murder apartment. She said she would testify in open court, that MacDonald wasn't guilty.
The "Stoeckley Habeas"
MacDonald's new lawyer, Brian O'Neill, absolutely knew this information would give him a habeas win. He had Stoeckley's confessions and a confession of her boyfriend, Greg Mitchell, a soldier and heroin user. He had proof, now, that the army had found a piece of skin on Colette's hand, and instead of examining it, the army investigators "lost it." The defense team also had filed for FOIA releases of the lab notes. Some of them were finally turned over in 1983, but they were in such poor shape, so cryptically written, and so incomplete that it was difficult to follow the paper trail on any single piece of evidence. It would require hundreds of thousands of dollars and many, many months to analyze these notes, then file FOIA requests for the remainder of the documents still being suppressed, and then wait years for document releases. But MacDonald was running out of money. Thinking he had a win with the new Stoeckley material anyway, and wanting to get MacDonald out of prison and back to his medical practice, O'Neill began preparing a habeas petition on the Stoeckley issues. He wasn't sure she would cooperate by testifying on the stand, for she wanted the government to give her immunity from prosecution. He, nevertheless, possessed recordings of her accounts and was prepared to go ahead. While O'Neill was writing the brief, Stoeckley called Prince Beasley, her former police handler, to tell him she was fearful, that she was being watched by two men in suits, and that she wanted to talk with him and finally tell him everything. She had previously told him she knew something that would, "blow the lid off Fort Bragg." He presumed it was an illegal activity on post which involved high level army people, and he thought this was what she was going to tell him about. But before he got there, she was found dead. Certain other bizarre circumstances of her death seemed suspicious, so O'Neill had a pathologist attend her autopsy, and he found no physical signs of wrongdoing. She apparently died from liver disease brought on by years of drug use. O'Neill was deeply concerned over the possible effect the loss of Stoeckley would have on his case, but since he possessed her taped and written confessions, and the polygraph information, and still had many witnesses to her confessions, he filed the habeas petition.
The "Stoeckley" petition included affidavits from many people who had seen suspicious groups in the MacDonald neighborhood just before and just after the crimes, going toward the house before the crimes, and getting into vehicles parked on the nearby highway afterward. The university teacher told about seeing just such a group confronting Colette MacDonald that night. A newspaper delivery woman told of seeing Helena Stoeckley in a small grocery store later on the day of the murders. She seemed zonked out out drugs. She was wearing go go boots splashed with what looked like blood and smelled like blood, and she was with a black man. When the woman asked Stoeckley about the boots, and Stoeckley began to answer, the black man grabbed Stoeckley and pushed her out of the store and left. The woman said she had earlier had a "run in" with this same black man when he had deliberately used a baseball bat to strike a ball at a kid helping her deliver the paper at a trailer now known to have been owned by one of the Stoeckley group members. Stoeckley ran after the ball, laughing wildly. This trailer was raided by Beasely and a team of officers looking for Stoeckley later that day and found to have drugs in it. This trailer park is across the street from the grocery store.
Judge Dupree heard all these things, including Beasley's story about stopping Stoeckley the night after the killings, and hearing about her admission that she was on drugs, and thought she was in the murder apartment, and kept seeing terrible things. All very interesting, Judge Dupree said afterward. You can put all the hippies in Fayeteville in the MacDonald neighborhood, but without hard evidence that someone else was in the murder apartment, MacDonald is still guilty. He considered Stoeckley's confessions publicity stunts. Judge Dupree also summarily dismissed Greg Mitchell's troubled admissions because Brian Murtagh told the judge that Mitchell had been talking about something that happened in Vietnam. Murtagh said he knew that Mitchell had been wounded there. This was not true, of course, for Mitchell never saw combat in Vietnam. Nevertheless, the judge didn't ask for proof of Murtagh's facile claim. The judge himself gave Mitchell and Stoeckley an alibi, suggesting that they were probably "off somewhere" together during the murders. He denied the petition, and the higher courts upheld him.
The Black Wool and Wig Hair Habeas Petition
After fighting the government for fifteen years, MacDonald was now completely broke, and O'Neill, sorely whipped, stepped out of the case. MacDonald went without a lawyer for years, but a private investigator, Ray Shedlick, and his daughter, Ellen Dannelly, began rereading the lab notes. Fred and I began reading them as well. What was found astounded us. I won't detail the dozens of disturbing discoveries here, but some of the information is in our attached web page printout and most of the rest is in our book supported by 56 pages of footnotes referencing the government's documents. Two key items bear brief discussion here. Remember the fibers on the murder club, which, according to the prosecution was the "most important" evidence tying MacDonald to the murders? FBI handwritten lab notes kept from the defense at trial show that when the FBI lab examined the debris from the murder club, they, like the army lab, found two, and only two, dark fibers adhering to it. Except they weren't MacDonald's pajama top fibers they were black wool! This knowledge was not reported even though the prosecution experts tried to match it to MacDonald's clothing and failed. This black wool became even more critical when the FBI found that black wool fibers were collected from Colette's mouth area where she had been sruck with the club. They also found a black wool fiber on her pajama top, and no where else in the home. Concerned, they tried to match it to other clothing in the MacDonald home and failed. The discovery of these fibers that absolutely were not pajama fibers as Blackburn had claimed at trial, helped persuade Boston attorney Harvey A. Silverglate that MacDonald was not guilty. Even though MacDonald, by this time, had no money to pay him, Silverglate, who on principle works about half his cases pro bono, agreed to take the case anyway.
Another critical item found after years of searching through the lab notes and other reports suppressed at trial, was the chance discovery of a note about blond wig fibers. The handwritten army lab note said that certain blond fibers found in a ladies hairbrush (near the spot MacDonald said he saw the blond woman) were blond wig fibers. O'Neill had earlier been given, in FOIA releases, a lab note that said something about wig fibers, but the note was unclear, and was in fact followed by a penciled question mark, as if the examiner wasn't sure it was wig fiber. O'Neill could not have presented it safely without confirmation that it was, indeed, wig fiber. At any rate, since the defense was only allowed to view the evidence in mass, stored in boxes in a courthouse room at trial, without being allowed to perform any lab tests on it, there was little chance of O'Neill ever proving what the fibers actually were. He didn't present this equivocal and thus extremely vulnerable note in his "Stoeckley based" habeas writ.
But that wasn't the last word on the blond wig fiber. Years later, Fred Bost and John Murphy, a member of MacDonald's new defense team were allowed into an army document depository when the attendant grew weary of the interminable FOIA requests by the defense. Rummaging through a box of previously unseen army files, they found a previously unseen lab note confirming the first, equivocal lab note about the blond wig hair. This second, confirming, note made it clear that the army investigators indeed had found blond wig hair, and had found no MacDonald wig in the home to match it, had found no doll large enough to have provided the 24" wig fibers, and even though they knew Stoeckley had worn a blond wig that night and had admitted she'd destroyed it because it tied her to the murders, they still had covered up their knowledge of this incredible forensic find!
Harvey Silverglate reasoned that the blond wig hair and the black wool fibers was the evidence Judge Dupree had required back during the 1984 85 "Stoeckley" habeas proceeding to connect her and several of her friends to the crime scene. Since Stoeckley wore a blond wig that night and during her "witchy" phase wore only black and purple, these black fibers might tie her to the crime scene, especially since she had confessed repeatedly. Like O'Neill before him, Silverglate absolutely knew he had a win. He began preparing a new habeas petition based largely on the strength of new knowledge about the suppressed black wool fibers and the wig hair.
Meanwhile, a majority of the Supreme Court, tired of "excessive" appeals, decided McCleskey v. Zant, which severely limited second and subsequent habeas petitions even when government error or wrong doing has been indicated. (Government wrongdoing in the preparation of the key witness against McCleskey had been the central charge in the brief. The Court ignored the obvious finessing by the McCleskey prosecution and ruled to go ahead and execute their client, finding that if his lawyers had been more diligent they'd have discovered the government ploy earlier. Please recall that this decision angered and sickened Justice Thurgood Marshall.) As the untimely death of Stoeckley worried O'Neill before him, the decision in McCleskey troubled Silverglate as he filed his brief.
Judge Dupree, ill from cancer, came out of semi retirement to read the new habeas petition. He listened to the oral arguments, learned about the wig hair, learned about the black wool, learned that both had been suppressed, and learned that the black wool had even been placed by the prosecution in a mismarked box back in 1979 when the defense was allowed to "look only" at pieces of the boxed up evidence. So, even if the defense had known at that time what they were looking for among those boxes, they would have had a hard time finding it. The government claimed in their response that the blond wig hair was probably from a doll, anyway, and the black wool fiber was probably "household debris," even though at trial the prosecutors had called it pajama fiber and said it was the most important evidence against MacDonald. Judge Dupree, incredibly, accepted the "debris" and "doll" explanation as factual without an evidentiary hearing. Then the judge ruled, citing the new McCleskey precedent, that MacDonald's lawyers had found the evidence too late. It was a procedural problem. It wasn't decided on the merits at all. The judge simply ruled that O'Neill should have presented this evdidence with his Stoeckley material way back in 1984 even though it was suppressed at trial and for years afterward.
A new court attitude had reared it's head here. It didn't matter that the notes had been kept back at trial by this same judge's own decision. The angry spirit of Court revenge against interminable appeals and "loopholes" had taken corporeal form in McCleskey, and it affected Jeffrey MacDonald in a disastrous way. The suppressed blond wig hair, and the suppressed black wool fibers were now of no legal value, having first disappeared into the bottomless pit of the government files, then being dissolved forever by modern legal alchemists in the angry acid of current judicial doctrine. Brian Murtagh, the prosecutor who had refused to turn over those lab notes at trial, emerges as the proud victor in this dark new arena. It was a miracle that MacDonald's supporters found the new evidence at all, so well was it hidden, but because they found the evidence "too late" according to the new rules, there would be no evidentiary hearing to see if the black wool was cotton pajama fiber, and there would be no hearing to determine if the 24 inch blond wig hairs were from a blond wig, and there would be no new trial to prove that the prosecution had finessed hordes of other evidence as well. MacDonald would be in prison for the rest of his life.
Suppressed Hairs in the Hands of Each Victim
After eight years of research and interviews, W. W. Norton published our book in 1995, twenty five years after the murders, and nearly sixteen years after MacDonald's conviction. The book shows in detail exactly how each major piece of evidence had changed during that period between the army hearing in 1970 and the grand jury hearing in 1975, and in whose possession it changed. Using those long hidden lab notes and other documents, we clearly see that not a single piece of the circumstantial evidence presented against MacDonald at trial was presented as the army found it. As Segal had tried to show at trial, the lab notes now prove that the FBI lab had performed the key exhibit, the pajama top experiment, only after disposing of their own previous studies of such things as fiber directionality in the fabric holes, width of fabric holes compared to depth of wounds in Colette's chest, and other things. With the government's handwritten notes and other suppressed reports now in hand, there is no doubt that the evidence had been finessed. In fact, the documents now prove that the entire case had been, from front to back, "jimmied" by the prosecution.
While our book was being printed, Fred Bost decided to go back into the lab notes to prepare an easily accessible data base of all the evidence. While reading army lab notes he had read before, he came upon something that stunned him, something he had missed, probably during some bleary eyed, wee hours session years earlier. Recall that the defense team had learned that the army had found a brown hair clutched in Colette's hand, had suppressed knowledge of it? Recall, too, that they had even changed their report on it during the army hearing. Now, Fred Bost, going through handwritten lab note R 11, began cataloging its cryptic reference numbers and symbols about some evidence not matching some other evidence, and he learned that the army investigators also had found "fine brown hairs" under the bloody fingernails of both MacDonald children who, like their mother, had fought their attackers, actually gouging hair from their killers' persons.
Homicide investigators know that the most important evidence in any violent murder is usually trace evidence found on the bodies, and especially in the hands of the victims, and even more importantly, under the victim's fingernails when those victims have grappled with their murderers. Whose hairs were these? For the donors of these grisly hairs were almost certainly the killers. MacDonald was their suspect. On the day of the crimes they had assured their bosses and the CID command in Washington that MacDonald was guilty. So the army investigators collected hair samples from him, and their lab tech attempted to match them to the hairs found under his murdered children's nails. But she found no match between these brown hairs and samples of Jeffrey MacDonald's blond hair. They weren't Jeffrey MacDonald's hairs! Please understand, the woman actually tried to match these critical hairs to sample hairs taken from all points of MacDonald's body. Did she then dutifuly report her explosive new knowledge to the defense, which most certainly would have freed MacDonald, and would have wrecked her bosses' nationally public proclamation that MacDonald was guilty? Not only did she fail to report it, she actually comforted her bosses at the end of the note by detailing specifically how she would handle these finds, ". . . since they are not going to be reported by me."
True to her promise, when the official report was typed, there was no mention of these foreign hairs. So it happened, that even while army investigators were charging MacDonald with three brutal murders, even while he was recovering from wounds and two surgical procedures for his collapsed lung in the hospital, even while they brought MacDonald into a pre court martial hearing, they were hiding evidence of his innocence and knew they were hiding it.
A Bloody Handprint
Fred's new evidence database helped him to join two apparently unrelated government exhibits, a report about a handprint on the footboard of the MacDonald bed, and a lab report on a test of some blood stains. Fred closely examined the laboratory code on these two items and learned they were one and the same. The adult handprint in this key location in the bedroom had been made in blood. The army tried to match it against the palm prints of Colette MacDonald who might have grabbed the bed as she fell, but it wasn't hers. They tried to match it against MacDonald, who might have touched the bed with bloody hands. It wasn't his. Even though the trial record has an army lab man saying during his testimony that they'd found a print that might have been in blood, that testimony had been gravely devoid of the man's knowledge that it was indeed in blood, and that it didn't match their suspect.
So, again, government knowledge of key evidence, in this instance a bloody palm print which matched someone else, not Jeffrey MacDonald, was found at the crime scene and not factored into the government case against their targeted suspect.
DOJ Responses To Our Book
Several people approached their Senators or Congressional Representatives after reading our book and learning from our television appearances that we'd found the hairs under the children's fingernails. In each instance, the petitioned Congressman called upon the Department of Justice to speak to our specific finds. In each response, however, DOJ officials failed to address the key issues, claiming, in effect, that there was nothing wrong in the MacDonald prosecution (just as the DOJ and FBI have claimed in every recent investigation that later brings the roof down upon them). The DOJ told the Congressman that their constituents' critical views on the case are based upon erroneous media reports, or upon popular literature, specifically citing our book. The DOJ says that the government's claims were well grounded in the court records. They did not admit, though, that the court record is by definition logically devoid of the suppressed evidence. That's what "suppressed" means! And of course they didn't admit that the court record in this case is based upon incomplete evidence. They tiptoe gingerly around the central, dangerous truth that serious evidence of MacDonald's innocence was indeed denied the jury and has never been examined in any evidentiary hearing. Of course the wig hair and black wool and the hairs under the children's fingernails aren't in the court record! The government went to great pains to see that they weren't presented at trial.
A few readers have tried, in vain, to reach Janet Reno herself, to ask her personally to look into this case, but each time, someone below her has intercepted the attempt and has sent back the same baseless claims, that this case has been up and down the court system and has been justly handled. One of our readers actually sent a copy of our book to Ms. Reno, but it was returned by an aid with a note to the effect that it would be unethical for Ms. Reno to accept a "gift" of this value.
Silverglate and his team are now trying to find a way back into court using the unmatched brown hairs in the victims' hands and using their new knowledge that the government misrepresented facts to the court during the "wig hair" and "black wool" appeal, but they are not hopeful because McCleskey is now strenghtened even further by the recent Anti Terrorism Bill. The bars against second and subsequent habeas proceedings have been raised even higher. Although the Court has promised that evidence of true innocence may be allowed a hearing, it has not happened in the MacDonald case, and the Supreme Court itself told MacDonald's lawyers after the "wig hair" appeal not to come back to court with this case again.
This, then, is the now obvious danger of the new status of habeas corpus. The new rules make it too easy for the court to rule against a possibly innocent defendant without so much as an evidentiary hearing to establish the merits of his evidence. The judges themselves, without being held to an open exploration of the evidence, are now the final, sometimes all too casual arbiters and sometimes in tiresome cases judges turn mean spirited. This is why MacDonald has little chance of winning in the judicial arena today, even though he now has this explosive new evidence, suppressed foreign hairs in the hands of each victim.
So it was that the prosecution has been allowed to lie repeatedly from the very first moments of the case by claiming that no evidence existed to support MacDonald's story about intruders. They lie in principle while presenting evidence they had whittled down to their needs; and they continue to lie in spirit by claiming today that "the court record" is the case. I can only conclude that when Justice doesn't want justice to work, it simply doesn't work.
Something is very wrong here. The DOJ told one of it's recent petitioners that all the evidence in this case has already been adjudicated. What truly has been adjudicated is that the suppressed evidence in this case will never be adjudicated.
After a decade in the MacDonald files, Fred Bost and I would be hard pressed to mention a single important item that had not been somehow manipulated to throw suspicion away from intruders who left substantial evidence in the home, in the victims' hands, and on and around the bodies. The army said the crime scene was well protected. It was not. They said it was competently searched. It was not. They said they could prove the scene could only have been staged by MacDonald, yet Colonel Rock himself proved it need not have been. They said neighbors didn't see or hear anything suspicious that night. They did. The army and the government said nothing was found to support the presence of intruders at the crime scene. That was grossly false. Now that we know about the bloody palm print, the hair in Colette's hand, the hairs under the childrens' fingernails, the multiple bloody gloves, the "lost" piece of skin, the blond wig hair, and the black wool fibers, this was the most grotesque lie of all.
Like Colonel Warren Rock in 1970, Fred Bost and I found the government's charges to be "not true." Like Colonel Rock at the army hearing, we suggest a real investigation of the murders by examiners who did not themselves take part in the earlier systematic whitewash of CID wrongdoing. And we request, again echoing Colonel Rock, that the authorities finally take the time to probe the activities of Helena Stoeckley and her troubled young friends on the night the MacDonald family died.
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