Chapter 1: The Murders
We were young at the start.
MacDonald, the murderer; Murtagh, his nemesis; and me.
Now we are old. And still the case won’t die.
It is the longest-running criminal case in U.S. history, United States of America v. Jeffrey R. MacDonald. It has lasted forty-two years and remains at least three or four years from closure.
If you know about the case, at least some of what you know is probably wrong. If you don’t know about it, you should, because it’s a story that reveals as much about America—the best and the worst of it—as any other you’ll hear.
At 3:42 a.m. on February 17, 1970, military police at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, near Fayetteville, responded to an emergency call placed by a man requesting assistance at 544 Castle Drive, in a section of the base that housed married officers.
Arriving at the address within ten minutes, military policemen found three bodies awash in a sea of blood. Twenty-five-year-old Colette MacDonald had had her skull fractured by a club. She’d been stabbed nine times in the neck and seven times in the chest with a knife, and twenty-one times in the chest with an ice pick. Both of her arms were broken.
Her five-year-old daughter, Kimberly, had had her skull, cheekbone, and nose fractured by a club. She’d been stabbed eight to ten times in the neck with a knife. Her two-year-old daughter, Kristen, had been stabbed twelve times in the back, four times in the chest, and once in the neck with a knife, and approximately fifteen times in the chest...