The Jeffrey R. MacDonald Fatal Vision murders captivated our nation in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The doctor and Green Beret was convicted of stabbing his wife and young daughters to death in 1970. Now, 42 years later, new evidence may reopen the case and exonerate him after nearly half a century of pain.
The case was captivating because it was so horrific and tragic. A beautiful, pregnant woman murdered in the night in a savage and twisted way, her two daughters, Kristen, 2 and Kimberley, 5, also killed in the same savage way. It was too much to bear. MacDonald was also stabbed, but many maintained his stab wounds weren't consistent with his story. He told investigators his family was killed by drugged-up hippies chanting about acid. The word "pig" was written in blood above one of the beds.
The hearing on Monday will discern whether MacDonald gets a new trial. See below:
If he gets a new trial and if he is innocent, then MacDonald's entire life has been stolen from him. He has been made nationally known by the case, first through Joe McGinniss' book Fatal Vision and then by the miniseries with the same name. It's hard to imagine what that must have been like for a man who always maintained that it was hippies who broke into his home and savagely killed his family.
Cases like these always beg the question -- how can we possibly maintain a death penalty in this country when there is the chance of wrongful conviction? MacDonald was given three life sentences, but all the same, a court can wrongfully convict regardless of the sentence.
Pretty scary, no? MacDonald may or may not be innocent. But there is some strange evidence -- hairs that didn't belong to anyone in the family found on the bodies, MacDonald's own wounds, a strange woman fitting MacDonald's description of one of the "hippies." It's possible that he had read about the Manson murders and used those as his excuse. It's also possible no one listened to him because he was the easiest target.
If he gets a new trial, we may finally know the truth about one of America's most notorious murder cases, one that once gripped the nation.
Do you think MacDonald is innocent?