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The Railroading of Dr. Jeffrey R. MacDonald
By Ken Adachi <E-mail>
October 1, 2005
I first learned of the horrendous injustice inflicted upon Dr. Jeffrey R. MacDonald in a talk given by retired FBI Senior Special-Agent-In-Charge Ted Gunderson on the night of July 7, 1999 in Garden Grove, California. I didn't know Ted personally at the time, but I did know of his efforts to expose the role of satanism (and the CIA) in the abuse of young children who are kidnapped, sexually assaulted, prostituted, sold at auctions, mind controlled, and sacrificed in satanic rituals. I had a vague memory of reading about the infamous "Green Beret" murders somewhere in the 1970's in Newsweek or Time magazine and I remember seeing the trailers on TV in the 80's advertising the mini series about the Green Beret murders (which I did not watch), but I had no firm recollection of the specifics of the case, other than the fact that it was a notorious crime and generated a lot of press.
MacDonald had already served twenty years in prison while I was listening to the details of his ordeal from Ted Gunderson. A couple of months after Ted's talk, I was invited by Brian Desborough to the home of a lady in Los Angeles who had arranged for Brice Taylor and Ted Gunderson to give a joint talk at a hotel in Pasadena on October 26, 1999. Somehow I got roped into being part of the staff that oversaw the logistics of that presentation and I had the opportunity to chat at length with both Ted and Brice at the home of the sponsor. I began to learn more from Ted of the many complexities overlaying the MacDonald case. There were many villains to consider and numerous twists to the plot.
In less than ten days, I was to find myself spending two weeks in Las Vegas in a house rented by Brice Taylor. I was there to help her care for her daughter Kelly, who needed 24/7 supervision due to her mind control programming which impelled her to attempt to injure herself. It was a tiring job and I came to appreciate just how devoted a mother Brice Taylor is. Since Ted lived in Las Vegas, he came over to the house just about every day and we got to talk about many things, but the Jeff MacDonald story held more interest for Ted than any other of his law enforcement career. I was becoming more interested in the details surrounding the MacDonald case because I was beginning to realize just how thorough was the cover-up that accompanied the MacDonald railroading, let alone the frame-up of an innocent man.
One day, Ted brought over three large boxes that were loaded with documents, reports, files, and folders bulging with handwritten notes. Ted told me that the boxes contained some of his research on the MacDonald case and that I could look through them and make a copy of anything that I wanted. Ted also told me that he had an additional 15 boxes in storage just like these and that I could go through them too! We went down to Kinko's the same day and I copied everything in those boxes. I would later get to look over the contents of other boxes on the MacDonald case when I was asked by Ted to hold on to some of them for safe keeping because his file boxes were being surreptitiously removed from his Las Vegas condo when he was away on speaking engagements (we later found out who was responsible for those thefts-Stewart Anthony Webb, the same guy who calls himself Stew Webb of www.stewwebb.com).
By pouring through the contents of those boxes, I was able to glean a great deal of information that is not covered in either of the two best known books associated with the MacDonald murders: Fatal Vision published by Joe McGinniss in 1983 and Fatal Justice, published by Jerry Potter & Fred Bost in 1995, and updated in 1997. Helena Stoeckley, especially, was the key individual who revealed to Ted what actually occurred in the MacDonald home on the night of the murders and why MacDonald's persecutors were striving so doggedly to pin the murders on him. It's a mind boggling and complex web of corruption and illicit activity that involves the army, the Justice Department, and many powerful individuals both in the military and in the civilian sector. What has happened to Jeffrey MacDonald goes way beyond the indignities endured by Alfred Dreyfus in 19th century France, yet the railroading of an innocent man by corrupt military elements seems to be a tale which repeats itself anew with each passing century.
Dr. Jeffrey R. MacDonald
Dr. Jeffrey R. MacDonald was falsely convicted in August, 1979 of the murder of his wife, Colette, and two young daughters (5 year old Kimberly, and 2 year old Kristen MacDonald) in a bloody and grisly satanic style murder scene that took place in their home in the early morning hours of Feb. 17, 1970 on Ft. Bragg Army base in North Carolina. The murders were committed by a local satanic cult of drug users (referred to as "hippies" in the newspapers at the time) which included five active duty enlisted army men who had targeted the MacDonald family because Dr. MacDonald was perceived by this group of drug users as a "snitch"; as MacDonald was adhering to the base commander's new policy of reporting the names of Army personnel who were being admitted to the Emergency Room for overdosing on heroin or other serious drugs .One of those cult members (Greg Mitchell) had even threatened a pregnant Colette MacDonald, Jeff's wife, at the Ft. Bragg college learning center where she was taking a course in psychology on the very evening of her murder.
The Army CID
Investigators from the Army's Criminal Investigation Division (CID), from the very beginning of their 'investigation' of the crime scene at the MacDonald home, were intent on setting up MacDonald to take the fall for the killings. It wasn't until some years later that the reasons behind the CID's mishandling of the crime scene, their concealment of key evidence (that would have proven the presence of other people in the MacDonald home at the time of the murders), and their "losing" of physical evidence under their control (which would have allowed MacDonald to establish his innocence), would begin to emerge.
Initially, MacDonald was exonerated of all charges following a long (nearly four months) Article 32 military hearing in the Summer of 1970. While the CID was trying their best to hang the murders on MacDonald, the fortuitous presence and oversight of a straight shooting Army hearing review officer by the name of Colonel Warren V. Rock saw through the devious machinations of the CID investigators and declared MacDonald innocent of the charges. Rock ruled that the CID charges against MacDonald were simply "nor true". But MacDonald made the mistake of publicly lambasting the vendetta prone CID investigators during an interview on the Dick Cavett television show in December of 1970 and that set in motion a decision to go after MacDonald with all of the advantage, might, and authority available to government prosecutors.
Despite the utter lack of legal authority and a violation of the Posse Commitatus Act, the same Army CID investigators who tried to frame MacDonald at the Article 32 Army hearing now launched into a 're-investigation' of MacDonald; following him into civilian life after he was discharged from the Army. This eventually led to a 1975 indictment and a 1979 jury trial (spearheaded by ex-CID investigator turned US Justice Department prosecutor Brian Murtaugh and North Carolina state prosecutor James Blackburn) that resulted in a conviction for MacDonald and the imposition of three consecutive life term sentences (the death penalty was outlawed at the time). Attorneys Alan Dershowitz and Harvey Silverglate have called the MacDonald railroading one of 'the worst cases of prosecutorial misconduct' in the history of United States jurisprudence.
MacDonald's fate was further sealed by the betrayal of writer Joe McGinniss when he published Fatal Vision in 1983. In early 1979, MacDonald was looking for an author to write his story and hoped that revenues from the book would cover some of his burgeoning legal expenses. McGinniss, whose national reputation had grown considerably following the publication of his NY Times best seller The Selling of The President, seemed suited for the job and was anxious to be in on the ground floor of MacDonald's expected acquittal at trial. The sale of yet another best seller, the accolades that would flow from appearances on television/radio talk shows, and the made-for-TV movie that would surely follow, were powerful incentives that the publicity hungry McGinniss couldn't pass up. The unexpected conviction of MacDonald, however, changed everything for McGinniss. He now had the problem of a book publisher -who had already given McGinniss an advance of $250,000- that now wanted his money back because he didn't anticipate selling too many copies of a book that portrayed McDonald as a nice guy who was wrongly accused, when the newspaper headlines following the trial blasted MacDonald as the most heinous monster since Jack the Ripper. So McGinniss made a little deal with the publisher-a quiet little deal. He would re-title the book from Acid and Rain to Fatal Vision and also restructure the plot from an innocent Jeff MacDonald being railroaded by vendetta--driven prosecutors to a guilty Jeff MacDonald, Psychotic Killer of the Century (see how easy it is to "fix" these things when your personality is barren of integrity and character? )
Stringing MacDonald along for nearly four years, McGinniss led MacDonald to believe that the book would help exonerate him. MacDonald had opened up his life completely to McGinniss and gave him access to anything he desired. McGinniss had repeatedly reassured MacDonald that the book would help turn the tide in his favor, but when it came out, the book portrayed MacDonald as a cold blooded psychotic killer who inexplicably went berserk one night, after "overdosing" on diet pills (a fabrication invented by Joe McGinniss and later proven in court in a lawsuit against McGinnis), and viciously slaughtered his entire family (as well as stabbing himself multible times and clubbing himself into unconsciousness) based on the ludicrous motivation that MacDonald's youngest daughter, Kristen, had "wet the bed."
Predictably, the characterization of MacDonald as a psychotic killer was firmly seared into the minds of millions of American TV viewers when a TV mini series of the same title was aired a year or two following the publication of Fatal Vision. MacDonald has never been able to free himself of the diabolical public perceptions created by the treacherous and deceitful betrayal of Joe McGinniss. Following MacDonald's civil lawsuit against McGinniss in 1986, McGinniss' lawyers eventually agreed to pay MacDonald a $325,000 out-of-court settlement for the distortions, fabrications, and omissions he presented in his book, but that civil victory did nothing to aid MacDonald in his exoneration or his release from prison. .
The MacDonald case, however, goes much deeper than a revenge killing against an emergency room physician viewed by a local drug/satanic cult as a "snitch" who refused to "help" drug addicts hooked on heroin. Ted Gunderson, with the indispensable assistance of Fayetteville police detective, Prince Beasley, was able to elicit a series of signed and videotaped confessions from Helena Stoeckley, one of the cult members who was in the MacDonald house on the night of the murders. Stoeckley was the mysterious "woman in the floppy hat" spotted by MP Kenneth Mica standing on a street corner just 3 blocks from the MacDonald residence at 3:30AM on that rainy night while he and his MP partner were enroute to the MacDonald home to investigate a report of a "domestic disturbance". Stoeckley later revealed information in her confessions that not only corroborated details of events that occurred on the night of the murders, but also laid out details of a huge drug pipeline running from Vietnam into Ft. Bragg (and other US military bases) utilizing the body cavities of dead soldiers being returned to the U.S. for burial.
Stoeckley had implicated some members of Fayetteville police, local attorneys, Ft. Bragg Army brass (including a General, several colonels, and other high level officers), some members of the Army's CID- including the lead investigator first on the scene following the murders- as being involved in drug sales and distribution.
Stoeckley repeatedly maintained that she would "blow" Ft. Bragg wide open and provide much greater detail and would name names if given immunity by government prosecutors, but the FBI, the US Justice Department, and James Blackburn, the state prosecutor, didn't want to hear anything that Helena Stoeckley had to say about the murders that occurred at 544 Castle Drive in the early morning hours of Feb. 17, 1970. Quite the opposite. They made several threatening statements, notably by the FBI and James Blackburn, to intimidate her into silence. The presiding judge, Judge Franklin Dupree, was also dismissive towards Stoeckley and characterized her testimony as "unreliable" and prone to "psychosis". Ted Gunderson, however, arranged for Helena to be evaluated by psychiatrists at UCLA and their certified evaluation report described Stoeckley as well adjusted, intelligent, and psychologically normal in all regards. Helena had also taken two polygraph tests to validate the accuracy of her statements concerning the murders: one test was conducted by an Army investigator named Bresintine (sp?) in 1979 and another test was arranged with a private polygraph expert hired by Ted Gunderson. Helena passed both tests.
Authors Jerry Potter and Fred Bost finally set the record straight on the unconscionable injustices inflicted upon Jeffrey MacDonald by the Army's Criminal Investigation Division, Federal prosecutors, state attorney James Blackburn, and Joe McGinniss in a masterful and extremely well researched book titled Fatal Justice, first published in 1995 and updated in 1997. I've included an except from the book here to give you a chance to examine the crime scene as seen through the eyes of MPs and others who first arrived at the MacDonald residence at approximately 3:30 AM on Feb. 17 . I'm also linking an article here which I wrote describing my reaction to a true-crimes TV show, 48 Hours Mystery, which had devoted their entire hour long, November 5, 2005 show to the MacDonald case. In that article, I appended a second except from Fatal Justice which describes Helena Stoeckley's pivotal role in exposing what actually happened on the night of the murders and provides a framework to begin to understand why the CID was so anxious to make Jeffrey MacDonald the patsy. .
Since 1997, MacDonald has been trying to get DNA analysis tests performed on the remaining physical evidence held by prosecutors, but the same former CID investigator turned Justice Department prosecutor (Brian Murtaugh) who oversaw the conviction of MacDonald in the 1979 trial, continues to thwart MacDonald's attorneys every step of the way. You simply have to ask yourself: why, if the evidence against MacDonald- as Murtaugh has often publicly claimed-is so damming and conclusive?
Important Update- February 2006:
A stunning new development has occurred in the MacDonald case: A former deputy U.S. Marshal, Jimmy B. Britt, has filed an affidavit with the North Carolina, Wake County courthouse on November 3, 2005, wherein he states that he was witness to a conversation between Helena Stoeckley and state prosecutor James Blackburn in Blackburn's office on the eight floor of the Federal Courthouse at 310 New Bern Avenue in Raleigh, North Carolina during the trial of Jeffrey MacDonald in 1979. According to Britt's statement, Blackburn began to interview Helena Stoeckley and in the course of that interview, Stoeckley revealed to Blackburn many things including details of the MacDonald home such as the rocking horse with the broken spring (only known to crime scene investigators) in order to prove to him that she was there. She told Blackburn that she and others were in MacDonald's home on the night of the murders and that they had gone to the MacDonald home to 'get drugs'. After Stoeckley gave Blackburn the history of her time spent in MacDonald's home, Blackburn told her:
"If you testify before the jury as to what you have told me or said to me in this office, I will indict you for murder."
Blackburn directly threatened Stoeckley with murder prosecution if she told the truth concerning the events that happened in the MacDonald home in the early morning hours of February 17, 1970. For a state prosecutor to intimidate, threaten, or coerse a witness to withhold or change testimony in order to suit the state's case is obvious obstruction of justice, but to prosecute a man for murder when direct witness testimony has been presented that implicates others as responsible for the crime, is prosecutorial malfeasance at its worst.
Attorney Wendy P. Rouder was a clerk to MacDonald defense attorney Bernie Segal in 1979 when she was sent to see Helena Stoeckley at the Journey's End Motel in Raleigh on the weekend of August 18, 1979. Stoeckley told Rouder in her motel room that she was in the home of Dr. MacDonald on the night of the murders and that she could name the people who killed MacDonald's family. When Rouder asked Helena why she was telling her this when Stoeckley had just denied her involvment on the witness stand, Helena responded: "I can't, I'm afraid". Rouder asked Helena why she was afraid and had expected Helena to say that she feared retribution from the other cult members involved, but was surprised to hear that Helena was fearful of "those damn prosecutors sitting there". She then added: " They'll fry me".
A colleague of Jimmy Britt, retired U.S. marshal Lee W. Tart, has also submitted an affidavit in which he affirms that Jimmy Britt had told him about the Stoeckley/Blackburn conversations in 2003 while traveling on a trip together to Oxford, Mississippi.
Additional affidavits were also presented to the court from people who were acquainted with Greg Mitchell prior to his death in 1982. Mitchell had admitted to his participation in the MacDonald murders to a number of people including Everett Morse, Bryant Lane, and Donald Buffkin. Despite Mitchell's reputation for dangerous behavior at the time of the killings, he eventually came to feel remorse in later years and was burdened with the guilt of the murders and seeing MacDonald taking the rap for his crimes. Mitchell told his friend Bryant Lane that he was high on four different drugs when "things got bad", and that 'you don't realize what you're doing' when you are so high on drugs." Lane also reported that Mitchell had told him that Jeff MacDonald was simply 'lucky' because the group ' didn't know what they were doing' and 'didn't mean to kill anyone'.
MacDonald's defense attorneys filed a 50 page motion to vacate MacDonald's sentence "based on newly discovered evidence" with the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Fourth Circuit. Of course, Brian Murtaugh (undoubtedly known as Tomas de Torquemada in an earlier life), and his fellow persecutors at the Justice Department filed a 50 page motion in opposition to MacDonald's motion, but thankfully, Judge James C. Fox, Senior U.S. District Judge of the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division, on January 27, 2006 saw no justification for denying MacDonald's 'relief' and ordered the U.S. Attorney to file "his answer, motion, or other response" before March 30, 2006.
Is it possible that Jeffrey MacDonald, after 26 years of unjust imprisonment, could finally be set free or get a new trial?
Miracles do happen. Stay tuned.
For more information about the McDonald case, visit Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald's authorized web site at http://www.themacdonaldcase.org
It should be noted that there is a web site called http://www.thejeffreymacdonaldcase.com/ maintained by Christina Masewicz who is genuinely grieved by the deaths of Colete and her two young daughters in February of 1970. The web site contains a large repository of court transcripts, photos and statements from many involved in the case-especially from the prosecution's side, but Christina's attempt to appear non-judgmental about MacDonald's guilt is belied by her many warm and fuzzy e-mail exchanges with prosecutor James Blackburn and other members of the MacDonald Railroading team. While you can obtain many revealing documents at Christina's site, know up front that she is totally convinced of MacDonald's "guilt" and is therefore biased towards that perception. .
Related Articles on the Jeffrey MacDonald case:
Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald Murder Case & DNA Results (May 28, 2007)
Revelations Surface in 1970 Slayings [Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald Case] April 20, 2007
On-Scene Detective Identifies Cult Members Responsible for 1970 MacDonald 'Green Beret' Murders & Army/Police Complicity in Cover-up (Mar. 28, 2007)
The MacDonald Case & Ted Gunderson-Shilling for the Prosecution: Brian's Story (Jan. 25, 2006)
Fatal Justice, The Continuing Persecution of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald & The Woman in the Floppy Hat (Nov. 5, 2005)
The Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald Case: Fatal Conviction? by Resa LaRu Kirkland (July 8, 2003)
Misplaced Justice: The story of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald (Spring 2002)
Adrift In The American Gulag by Dr. Jeffrey R. MacDonald (July 2000)
Court Transcript of Jeffrey MacDonald's Testimony on August 23, 1979
The MacDonald Defense Fund
The MacDonald Defense Fund is a non-profit entity with 501c status, designed by supporters of Jeffrey MacDonald, to defray the administrative and related costs associated with working to overturn his wrongful conviction. Now, with the motion for a hearing of all the evidence being granted by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, funding for all that is involved in preparing for such a major undertaking is our primary need. Aside from administrative and legal costs, the defense will also require funding for experts, research, travel for witnesses and meetings, and a myriad of other necessities in order to to be fully prepared for this complex task. Our attorneys hope for Jeff's sentence to be vacated, or for a re-trial to be granted. All contributions are tax exempt.
The recent passage of The Justice For all Act (Oct 2004), demonstrates that our nation is recognizing the plight of the wrongly convicted, and taking initiatives to correct those grave injustices.
It is difficult to quantify a person's freedom. To those of you who have generously supported Jeff MacDonald in the past, we thank you for continuing to help us in this literal fight for justice.
To contribute, please send your money order or check, payable to the MacDonald Defense Fund to:
The MacDonald Defense Fund
PO BOX 5304
Arlington VA 22205
**Please note that certain tax-exempt organizations, including The MacDonald Defense Fund, are not required to file a Tax Form 990. Thus, the non-profit's "assets" may appear as "0" on various websites that use 990 forms as the basis for their data regarding income, such as Melissa Data, and others. Such websites only reflect that there were no donations contributed via a filed 990 form, not that there were no donations made.
Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald & Victims of SEE (Aug. 27 2008)
Blaming the Victim: The Jeffrey MacDonald Case (May 25, 2008)
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