In The American Gulag
Jeffrey R. MacDonald, M.D.
with permission from Soldier of Fortune Magazine, July 2000
The charges against Captain Jeffrey R. MacDonald are not true.
It was late October 1970, and this finding of the Article 32 hearing,
until then the lengthiest in the history of the U.S. Army, proved
the claims against me to be false. Fort Bragg officials had charged
me with the 17 February 1970 murders of my pregnant wife, Colette,
and my two daughters, Kimberly, 5, and Kristen, 2, in our quarters
at 544 Castle Drive, Fort Bragg, N.C.
time I was a medical doctor, a captain, in the U.S. Army Special
Forces. The hearing officer, Colonel Warren V. Rock, after hearing
56 witnesses and reviewing more than 2,000 pages of evidence, saw
I was innocent and suggested the focus be turned toward a young
local woman, an undercover law enforcement asset named Helena Stoeckley.
He officially recommended that appropriate civilian authorities
investigate her whereabouts and actions on the day of the murders.
investigation had been far-reaching and efficient. Since he also
wanted to hear from others besides defense psychiatrists, he even
sent me to Walter Reed Army Hospital for an intensive two-week evaluation
by the three top Army psychiatrists. He then went to the crime scene
with his legal officer and reenacted some events, determining that
the CIDs theory of a "staged" crime scene was false.
His 90-page report explicitly detailed the reasons why the charges
against me were "not true." With the hearing over, I was
released from "restriction to quarters", having been locked
in my BOQ and guarded by five armed MPs for seven months.
as I know them are: I had been sleeping on the couch that night
because my younger daughter had wet my side of the bed in the master
bedroom. I was awakened by the screams of both my wife and older
daughter, and was immediately confronted and attacked by three men
accompanied by a female with long blonde hair and a floppy hat.
The black male carried what seemed to be a baseball bat; he was
wearing E-6 stripes on a field jacket. He used the bat on my head.
Two white males in civilian clothes were simultaneously attacking
me from the front.
and court records substantiate that I was knocked unconscious, received
17 stab and puncture wounds from knives and an ice pick, and suffered
blunt trauma to my head, left shoulder and arm. My right lung collapsed
from one of the stab wounds and required two surgical procedures.
Yet, the CID claimed, and still claims, that my injuries were self-inflicted.
arriving MP, Specialist Ken Mica, gave me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Once revived, I described my assailants. Mica immediately suggested
that someone "Check the female in the floppy hat", an
individual he and his partner had spotted a few blocks away, at
0355 on that cold, rainy, murder morning, as they sped to my home
in response to my emergency call. However, testimony later revealed
that First Lieutenant Joe Paulk never issued an order for someone
to investigate the mystery woman. Instead, Mica was ordered by his
superiors not to mention that he had seen her standing in the winter
rain on the desolate street corner.
Airborne Corps commander, Lieutenant General John Tolson, wanted
the grisly post crimes resolved. But because the Criminal Investigation
Division (CID) had focused immediately and solely on me as responsible,
my acquittal suddenly became an embarrassment. Targeting me meant
that at least four violent murderers were roaming free on post,
the streets of Fayetteville, or points beyond.
Francis B. Kane, my CO in the 6th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
and an astute political observer, was certain that the CID would
persist in a vendetta against me.
Jim Williams had been at the crime scene early that terrible morning,
and he had also testified on my behalf at the hearing. It had been
Williams who pointed out to everyone that Fort Bragg military doctors,
myself in particular, were viewed by drug-using troops as "snitches."
It wasnt until years later that Helena Stoeckley told an ex-FBI
agent that her group had gone to my house that night "to teach
the arrogant captain a lesson about what happens when youre
late spring of 1971, now a civilian and just before I was to start
a residency at Yale, I was offered a position in Long Beach, Calif.,
by former Captain Jerry Hughes, another former Special Forces physician.
I accepted his kind offer and began practicing and teaching in the
then-new specialty of Emergency Medicine.
the exhaustive inquiry by Col. Rock did not deter the CID. After
my military discharge, I criticized the lead CID investigators on
national television, calling them perjurers, and, along with my
ex-father-in-law, I lobbied Congress to investigate the CID's handling
of the case.
response was to come after me with a vengeance. I was now a civilian,
no longer subject to military jurisdiction. Under the Posse Comitatus
Act, it was illegal for the CID to investigate me, but they ignored
the law and monitored my every movement, my mail, my phone records,
and my bank statements; also, my remaining family, friends, and
my civilian attorney, Bernard Segal, of San Francisco.
"reinvestigation" took all of 1971, and part of 1972.
Ironically, when the CID conclusions were first presented to the
United States Department of Justice by an Army lawyer, Capt. Brian
Murtagh, the Department refused to take the case because of the
amount of exculpatory evidence that remained in my favor.
however, with evidence being manipulated and withheld, I was indicted
by a federal grand jury in 1975, and tried in 1979. I was convicted
and am currently serving my 20th year of a triple-life sentence.
trial was a travesty. The defense had been prevented from doing
any laboratory testing on evidentiary material or conducting any
minute examinations - an unimaginable event in most murder trials.
We made 24 motions to allow examinations, and were denied all 24.
In contrast, the prosecution won seven of their eight evidentiary
until four years after trial that ex-FBI agent Ted Gunderson, found
a possible reason behind Judge Duprees rulings: Dupree was
the father-in-law of former Assistant U.S. Attorney Jimmy Proctor,
in Fayetteville, a key engineer of the 1971 reinvestigation. Both
men later admitted that this case was the most important case "in
their respective careers."
years later we discovered how the defense, the jury, and the judge
were prevented by prosecutors from seeing the extensive evidence
of outside assailants collected at the crime scene as revealed in
CID laboratory notes. This critical material - my entire defense,
if you will - remained hidden. As later proven in documents acquired
through the Freedom of Information Act, the critical CID lab notes
had been carefully collected by prosecutor Murtagh, who left the
Army to build his career on my case. He had kept the lab notes in
his briefcase in the courtroom throughout my seven-week trial.
fellow prosecutor, James Blackburn, repeatedly told the court, "Where
is the evidence of outside assailants? Where is the evidence that
Helena Stoeckley was ever inside 544 Castle Drive?"
exam of government lab experts about evidence analyzed from the
crime scene was hamstrung by the courts refusal to let us
see their notes. In essence, the jury was given an edited and false
picture of the so-called scientific evidence of hair, fibers, and
blood. To make it worse, the powerful psychiatric evaluation - including
the three favorable exams from the governments own Walter
Reed Army Hospital - were ruled inadmissible by Judge Dupree, who
also ruled inadmissible Col. Rocks report and the testimony
of seven witnesses who were in court to tell of Helena Stoeckleys
statements of watching the murders.
Colonel Rocks belief that she might be implicated. Dupree
ruled Stoeckley "unreliable", as though reliability was
a criterion for committing murder.
late 1990s we learned the full, sour truth of the governments
deception. There are now upwards of 40 witnesses who placed Stoeckley
and her boyfriend, Greg Mitchell (an ex-82nd Airborne trooper and
heroin addict), and their accomplices in the vicinity of my home
on the murder morning. Some of the assailants were even seen in
bloody clothing and boots shortly after the murders in a Bragg Boulevard
doughnut shop; and later that morning in a Murchison Road grocery
store. Several other persons, including Greg Mitchells own
niece, heard him confess soulfully to taking part in the murders.
Stoeckley (who died in 1983) was the daughter of a retired Army
lieutenant colonel, and a drug user, and drug dealer. William Ivory,
the lead CID investigator, was closely acquainted with her. (Read
Fatal Justice, co-authored by Jerry Allen Potter and retired SF
Sergeant Major Fred Bost. W.W. Norton, 1995, hardcover; 1997, updated
located an ex-CID agent who had been a former partner of Bill Ivory
at the time of the murders. The ex-agent told Potter of how investigators
from the very beginning were talking about Helena Stoeckley possibly
being involved; of how he and Ivory sought out Stoeckley and took
her to a safehouse for questioning, and how Ivory questioned her
alone, just two days after the murders, the results of which have
never been disclosed.
heard Stoeckley tell of wearing a blonde wig that night, and of
being worried the rain would ruin it. Twenty-two-inch and 24-inch
synthetic blonde wig fibers were found in a hairbrush at the murder
scene, their existence kept hidden. Long-suppressed CID lab notes
now confirm the presence of black wool fibers on Colettes
mouth, her shoulder, and on a splintered club used as one of the
murder weapons. No one in my family was wearing black wool; no matching
black wool was found in my quarters.
dissimilar to my hair, was found clutched in Colettes hand
along with a splinter from the club. Even more important, hairs
were found under the bloody fingernails of my daughters. The CID
tried to match these hairs to me; when that failed, they promptly
hid the hairs existence.
I work daily on my case while in federal prison in Sheridan, Ore.,
awaiting DNA tests which the courts finally ruled were my right
under law. (We had asked to test all the biological exhibits - perhaps
50 - but the court saw fit to limit us to 15.)
Mr. Murtagh has delayed and obstructed these tests - tests which
were ordered by the court two-and-a-half years ago.