Saturday, September 19, 2020

Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, In His Own Words

Back in the 90's when Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald was in the federal correctional institution in Sheridan Oregon, Fatal Justice author Jerry Allen Potter went to visit him. In this excerpt you hear about the case laid out in his own words.

"You want me to explain it all again?” I told him to go ahead. He had it down by heart by now, but sometimes during my interviews he’d get started and flash on another dark irony, which always pleased him.

“That morning,” MacDonald said, “I awoke to my wife and daughter’s screams and I saw a black man wearing a field jacket with E-6 stripes on it, and two drugged-out white guys and a white woman with blond hair. I saw a light flickering on the woman’s face I thought it was a candle. Then, lo and behold, an MP actually sees a woman with a floppy hat what ungodly hour?" "3:55 A.M., I believe." "Yeah, just moments after I phoned. And, hey, she’s standing on a street corner, where? You got it three blocks away. And then we find a woman who actually has a black friend wearing a field jacket with E-6 stripes. What a coincidence! The guy’s real. And we learn later that the son-of-a-bitch walks around with what? A God damn baseball bat. Ah, but we then learn that the young woman has other friends in the drug trade and some of them had actually kidnapped and attempted to murder a fellow user-dealer who snitched on them. And, what do you know, the young woman just happens to have a cheap blond wig which she wore that very night, and a floppy hat which she wore that night, and boots she wore that night. And she had no alibi for, guess what, just those few hours in question — hey, big surprise. And, poor thing, she even thinks she was in my house that night, watching Colette struggling with Greg Mitchell, and Mitchell’s a, guess what? A brown-haired, left-handed guy and the experts say Colette was killed by a left-handed guy. And Stoeckley’s neighbor sehttps://jpmyersdomain.comes her arrive home that morning in, guess what, a blue Mustang like the one Prince Beasley saw her in the night before, and like the Mustang my neighbor saw drive by my house the night of the murders. And when this Helena Stoeckley’s neighbor presses her she says she didn’t kill anybody, hey, she loves children, but she might have held the light while someone else murdered them. Jesus! Then they find fresh candle wax, and not just anywhere, mind you. 
They find it where? On the coffee table, and in Kimmie’s room. And, guess what else? Another one of my neighbors saw people carrying candles toward my house. Candles! A guy at Dunkin’ Donuts sees a woman and a black man come in to wash blood off their hands that very morning. A newspaper woman sees a young woman she identified as Stoeckley in the company of a black man in a grocery store across the street from a trailer where Prince Beasley would find drugs later that day. And guess who told Beasley the drugs would be in the trailer Yeah, Stoeckley. Also that morning a carhop at a drive-in restaurant sees someone dressed like Stoeckley, with, guess who, a black man and a white guy, and the woman tells the carhop MacDonald’s family are dead and he’s hurt and in the hospital. And Stoeckley’s friends, who aren’t questioned for a year, mind you, have no alibis either. But Stoeckley doesn’t just admit her involvement to her neighbor, Mr. Posey. She also tells a cop, Prince Beasley, who calls the CID. Ah, but they don’t come get her and her friends and break the case. Too busy. But they do go get her, secretly, mind you, and Ivory talks to her. Then instead of bringing her in when she professes no alibi, and admits she wore a blond wig, boots, and a floppy hat that night, or instead of going after her murderous God damn friends, they fail even to make a report about her, or even take notes about the interview with her. Then they give her, or somebody gives her to the FBI under an alias without telling the FBI that the CID agents themselves, and a city cop, think she’s the woman I saw, and the FBI use her as an informant to give them names of people who Stoeckley absolutely knows weren’t there that night. Now, the army lab techs find a bloody syringe, a piece of skin on Colette’s fingernail, four bloody gloves, blond wig hair, all kinds of unmatched fingerprints, and a hair in Colette’s hand that isn’t mine, hey a brown hair, by the way, and I’m blond, but they cover all this up, tell the MP to keep his mouth shut about seeing the woman in the floppy hat, then the army CID agent makes up this bullshit staged-scene theory and accuses me, but Colonel Rock sees through it when they change the report about the brown hair in Colette’s hand.”

At this point MacDonald, who had already done twelve years in prison over this, started laughing. “Jesus, this isn’t funny,” he said, “but the assholes were so bad!” MacDonald abruptly stopped laughing, and said, “Wait. It gets worse!” “I know, but it’s not — “No, wait, listen, it gets really bizarre.”

Tired of it after nearly eight years in this myself, I let him go anyway, knowing it’s the stuff his faith is built upon. Someday, he always says, people are going to know.

He continued his litany of horrors. “While the army CID is under fire for screwing up the investigation and covering up Stoeckley, guess what happens? That’s right! An army lawyer, mind you, working for the CID who screwed me in 1970, this weird little guy named Murtagh, takes this box of jimmied evidence to the Justice Department. Now, guess what? There’s a head hair from Colette, wrapped around a what? A pajama fiber! It’s brand new, wasn’t there when the CID looked at it time and time again. How creative! And the foreign hair they found in Colette’s hand, the one thing that clobbered them in the army hearing, has now become nothing. Somebody had cut it till it’s too small to test. Who did that? Somebody did it, but who? The CID had even written notes on how different it looked from other hairs they checked. But now, surprise, surprise, not only is it too little to lab-test anymore, they hide the fact that this was the hair they tested against me so Segal can’t challenge them at trial! Say, bye bye to still another piece of evidence. Wonder who set that up? Wonder who carried the evidence up to Stombaugh? You got it, Murtagh himself. But you can’t prove Murtagh changed the evidence. Can’t prove anything until you can get your hands on it, and get him on the stand in an evidentiary hearing, which they aren’t going to let me have."

“So,” MacDonald says, his eyes tearful, “now they get a grand jury hearing, then an indictment, then a trial in which we can’t lab-test the evidence, can’t even see the ‘damned lab notes. And Dupree won’t allow the Rock report, or psychiatric evidence, or the seven Stoeckley confession witnesses. I’m convicted because the jurors, who still don’t 
believe I did it, ask to see the blood chart, and, what did Murtagh arrange? The chart he gives the jurors shows no blood in the hallway. Hey, MacDonald must be lying, these twelve people say. Murtagh couldn’t be lying; he’s the God damn government.” MacDonald’s voice cracks, and I realize there really is no fun in this for him.

“So I’m convicted,” he says, softly. “Then four years after trial we finally get the FOIA material, but we were all excited about Stoeckley’s confessions then, thinking she would send me home, and we didn’t take time to figure it all out and analyze every line in the lab notes until after we had filed the Stoeckley appeal. That Stoeckley appeal was turned down because we had ‘no corroboration’ at the crime scene, corroboration they had actually lost or destroyed or just kept quiet about! And now, by the new McCleskey rule, it’s too late to use it in court, even though by this time we’ve found four people who heard Mitchell confess, and Cathy Perry confessed, and we now learn that Stoeckley even confessed to the FBI and to Murtagh himself.” MacDonald let out a hollow laugh. “And do you know the most macabre irony in the entire case?” “Go ahead.” “Murtagh said we should have known about the black wool and wig hair sooner." “Yeah." “We’re supposed to have known about it, then he claims that he didn’t even know about it. So I go back to jail — go directly to jail, do not collect the hundred dollars. Think about that."

"How am I supposed to know about something, under penalty of s
pending my life in here, when he says he didn’t even know about it, and when it’s locked away in his own files! Good God! Is that insane?" 

"Why do you think the courts-continue to rule against you?” “Joe McGinniss convinced the world that I’m not only guilty, but I’m nuts, like some hideous monster. I loved my wife and children. I did not kill them. But the power of the printed word, in the form of Fatal Vision appears to legitimize my conviction, and in so doing, I believe, legitimizes the court’s refusal to allow an evidentiary hearing. I find it horribly humorous, macabre, in fact, that the only way Joe could convince the world that I was guilty, even with the conviction, was to convince them that I was on drugs and committed the mayhem and overkill that only a drug-wasted mind could have committed. He t"How am I supposed to know about something, under penalty of spending my life in here, when he says he didn’t even know about it, and when it’s locked away in his own files! Good God! Is that insane?" otally ignored Stoeckley, Colonel Rock’s request to investigate her, and all her murderous friends. Then, to convince his readers that I was on drugs he went to ridiculous lengths, made up doctors’ opinions, misquoted medical books, and, in short, invented a theory which he finally admitted, under oath, mind you, that he didn’t even believe himself. Kafka would have had a field day with this. “So next stop congress,” I said. “The courts won’t listen, so, hell yes, it’s going to take an act of Congress.” “But the Supreme Court isn’t made up totally of conservatives. There’s still a chance.” “Forget that,” MacDonald said, “they’re the ones who wrote the McCleskey decision In the first place.” “You have absolutely no hope in the Supreme Court?” 

MacDonald was right. On November 30, 1992, the Supreme Court released a statement that it wouldn’t review the case. They turned him down, without comment. Other attempts in court were made during all these years but Dr. MacDonald is still in jail in Cumberland Maryland.

- JP Myers

Fatal Justice is the best book on the case in my opinion. You can get a copy on Amazon for as little as $2. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

New Connections in the Manson Murders 50 Years Later

In the book that came out in June 2019, Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties By Tom O'Neill and Dan Piepenbring you learn many new things about the Manson murders. Vincent Bugliosi, when confronted in a in-person interview with the author about new questions he dug up didn't have any answers or said "it must have got passed me".

I can't write about this book any better than is written on the inside book cover:

Over two grim nights in Los Angeles, the young
followers of Charles Manson murdered seven
people, including the actress Sharon Tate, then
eight months pregnant. With no mercy and seem-
ingly no motive, the Manson Family followed their
leader's every order-- their crimes lit a flame of
paranoia across the nation, spelling the end of the
sixties. Manson became one of histories most infa-
mous criminals, his name forever attached to an era
when charlatans mixed with prodigies, free love
was as possible as brainwashing, and utopia-or
dystopia-was just an acid trip away.
Twenty years ago, when journalist Tom O'Neill
was reporting a magazine piece about the mur-
ders, he worried there was nothing new to say.
Then he unearthed shocking evidence of a cover-up
behind the "official" story, including police careless-
ness, legal misconduct, and potential surveillance
by intelligence agents. Every discovery brought
more questions:

• Who were Manson's real friends in Hollywood,
and how far would they go to hide their ties?
Why didn't law enforcement agents, including
Manson's own parole officer, act on their many
chances to stop him?
• And how did Manson-an illiterate ex-con-turn a
group of peaceful hippies into remorseless killers?
The product of two decades of reporting,
hundreds of new interviews, and dozens of never-
before-seen documents from the LAPD, the FBI,
and the CIA, Chaos mounts an argument that
could be, according to Los Angeles deputy district
attorney Stephen Kay, strong enough to over-
turn the verdicts on the Manson murders. This is a
book that will forever alter our understanding of a
pivotal time in American history.


Helter Skelter by Vince Bugliosi has been the most popular true-crime book ever. But O'Neill found big holes in the book. Big contradictions, omissions, discrepancies in police reports. O'Neill has found troves of documents, never before reported and a 60 page bibliography to prove it. In it's over four hundred pages he goes very very deep and provides massive examples and angles on this story. Nobody will ever read Helter Skelter again. I listened to the audio book that ran 16 hours. Audible narrator Kevin Stillwell did an amazing job. The book is a commitment to a long read but it will blow your mind.

- JP Myers