Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald

Cumberland County, North Carolina
Date of Crime:  February 17, 1970

(Federal Case) Army Captain Jeffrey MacDonald was convicted of the murder of his wife Collette, 26, and the murders of two daughters, Kimberly, 5, and Kristen, 2. According to MacDonald, he and his family were attacked by intruders to their home at 544 Castle Drive in Fort Bragg, a U.S. military base. MacDonald survived with wounds including a collapsed lung. MacDonald was acquitted of the murders at a Ft. Bragg Army hearing and probably would not have been tried again had he not angered the prosecution by criticizing them during interviews on national TV. MacDonald's Army acquittal meant that he could not be court-martialed, but he could still be tried in federal court and he was. Before his federal trial MacDonald invited author Joe McGinniss on his defense team to write a book and hopefully help to establish his factual innocence. At that trial MacDonald was unfortunately convicted.

Author McGinniss, who prior to publication acted like he was MacDonald's best friend and biggest supporter, revealed his personal morality by writing a best-seller Fatal Vision in which he portrayed MacDonald as a monster. MacDonald sued McGinniss. At the lawsuit trial McGinniss had famous authors like Joseph Wambaugh and William F. Buckley defending journalists right to lie or tell “untruths” to people in order to obtain information that they would not get if they behaved honestly. Jurors, uneducated in such rationalizations, were appalled. McGinniss ended up paying the imprisoned MacDonald, $325,000 to dismiss the suit.

Two of the intruders to MacDonald's home are known but the Army refused to investigate them because one is the daughter of a retired Army colonel. She is also a known drug user and an informant for the Ft. Bragg military police. MacDonald's in-laws were overwhelmed by the tragedy and wanted him to visit the graves every day. Some time after the Army hearing, MacDonald was offered a job in California, which his in-laws insisted he not take. They threatened him in front of witnesses, “If you move you'll live to regret it.” When MacDonald moved, his father-in-law turned against him and said he became convinced of MacDonald's guilt. MacDonald is pursuing DNA tests and hopes that such tests will exonerate him.

Proceedings prior to MacDonald's trial and the trial itself were a mockery of justice in the suppression of evidence favorable to the defense. At trial, the prosecution argued that there was no evidence of intruders in the MacDonald household, but it was later shown that there was plenty of evidence. A second book was written about the case, which is pro-defense, entitled Fatal Justice.  [7/05]


References:  Crime Library, www.themacdonaldcase.org, American Justice, 48 HoursJustice: Denied

Posted in:  Victims of the State, North Carolina Cases, Intruder Murders, Wife Murder Cases, Triple Homicide Cases, Double Jeopardy Cases