Jeffrey MacDonald

The Case of the Convicted Killer

Jeffrey MacDonald with Sunglass Handle in His Mouth
Jeffrey MacDonald with Sunglass Handle in His Mouth. Bettmann/Getty Images

On February 17, 1970, a horrific crime took place outside of Fort Bragg in North Carolina. An army doctor's wife and two children were savagely killed and the doctor wounded. The facts of this crime deviated with each legal hearing and opinions have been drawn like a dual at sunrise.

High School Sweethearts

Jeffrey MacDonald and Colette Stevenson grew up in Patchogue, New York. They knew each other since grade school and began dating while in high school. Their relationship continued when each went off to college. Jeffrey was at Princeton and Colette was attending Skidmore and by fall of 1963, just two years into college, the two decided to marry. By April 1964, their first child, Kimberly, was born and Colette became a full-time mother while Jeffrey continued his education.

Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald Joins the Army

After Princeton Jeff attended Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago. While there the couple had their second child, Kristen Jean, born May 1967. Times were tough for the young family but the future was bright. MacDonald graduated from medical school the following year and after completing his internship at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City he decided to join the Army and the family relocated to Fort Bragg, NC.

Life Is Good for the MacDonald Family

Advancement came quickly for MacDonald and soon he was appointed to the Special Forces (Green Berets) as a Group Surgeon. Colette was busy being a mother but had plans to eventually return to college and become a teacher. She announced to friends during Christmas 1969, that Jeff would not be going to Viet Nam, that life was normal and happy, and that she was expecting a new baby boy in July. But within two months all of Colette's hopes and happiness came to a tragic end.

The Military Police Respond to a Call

On February 17, 1970, an emergency call was forwarded from an operator to the military police at Fort Bragg. It was from Captain Jeff MacDonald who was pleading for help and for an ambulance to come to his home. When the military police arrived at the MacDonald residence they found 26-year-old Colette, along with her two children, five-year-old Kristen and two-year-old, Kim, dead. Lying by Colette was Jeff MacDonald, his arm stretched over her. He was alive but wounded.

The Horrendous Crime

Kenneth Mica was one of the MP's who first arrived at the MacDonald home and discovered the bodies of Colette and the children. Colette was found lying on her back with part of her chest covered by a torn pajama top. Her face and head were battered and she was covered in blood. Kimberly's head had been battered and she had stab wounds on her neck. Kristen had been stabbed multiple times in her chest and back.

MacDonald Is Found Alive

Mica turned his attention to Jeffrey MacDonald who appeared to be unconscious. He began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on MacDonald and when he awoke he complained of not being able to breathe and said he needed a chest tube. MacDonald then attempted to push Mica away from him, shouting to him to go tend to his children and wife. Mica asked MacDonald what had happened and MacDonald told him that three men and a hippy-type woman with a floppy hat had attacked him.

The Woman in the Floppy Hat

Kenneth Mica remembered seeing a woman which fit the description MacDonald gave outside in the rain by a street near the MacDonald home when he was in route to answering the emergency call. When Mica informed his superior about having seen the woman he felt he was ignored. Instead his superior stayed focused only on what MacDonald was saying.

MacDonald Is Hospitalized for Seven Days

At the hospital, MacDonald was treated for wounds to his head, various cuts and bruises on his shoulders, chest, hand and fingers, plus several puncture wounds around his heart and on other parts of his body. A knife wound had punctured his lung causing it to collapse. MacDonald remained in the hospital until Feb. 25, except when he left to attend Colette and the girls' funerals.

MacDonald Is Charged With Murder

On April 6, 1970, MacDonald underwent an extensive interrogation by Army investigators. They decided that MacDonald's injuries were superficial and self-inflicted and the story about the intruders was a fabrication created to cover-up the fact that MacDonald was responsible for murdering Colette and the children.

On May 1, 1970, the Army formally charged MacDonald with the murder of his family. Five months later, Colonel Warren Rock, the presiding officer over the hearing recommended that the charges be dropped.

MacDonald's Released

MacDonald was released and received an honorable discharge in December and by July 1971 he was in Long Beach, California working at the St. Mary Medical Center. Colette's parents, Mildred and Freddie Kassab, fully supported MacDonald and believed he was innocent up to the time that he moved to California. What prompted the Kassabs to change their mind was a phone call that Kassab said he received from Jeffrey in November 1970, during which Jeff stated he had hunted down and killed one of the intruders.

The Kassabs Turn Against MacDonald

Believing MacDonald to be the killer, the Kassabs teamed up with the CID and worked feverishly to bring MacDonald to justice. But justice was moving too slowly for the aging couple and in April 1974, they filed a citizen's complaint against MacDonald. In August a grand jury convened to hear the case in Raleigh, NC and MacDonald waived his rights and appeared as the first witness. 

The MacDonald Case Web Site
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