In order to fully dissect the crimes and study the evidence, I think you need to have a good idea on the background of the location.
Fayetteville, North Carolina (as well as the U.S. in general) was very different back in 1969 and 1970. Home to the Army's Fort Bragg, there were major changes during the 1960s - - from the Vietnam War to politics to segregation (still alive and well in that era).
Fort Bragg did not send many large units to Vietnam but from 1966 to 1970, more than 200,000 soldiers trained at the post before leaving for the war. Many of them would return to Fayetteville (if they were fortunate enough to survive) broken, disillusioned and addicted to drugs.
At the time the MacDonald family arrived in September of 1969, Fayetteville was not so affectionately known as "Fayettenam" due to the large number of soldiers discharged from the Army who had seen action in Vietnam. The drug culture was at its height, along with the omnipresent hippies who made Hay Street in the downtown Haymount District their crashpad.
Fort Bragg at the time was an open post, meaning that there were no guards, no gated entry, no military ID or pass required. While there was Military Police (MPs) on a constant patrol, anyone could drive on or off base and without any record or notation.
544 Castle Drive was on-post military housing which, in 1970, meant that you couldn't dial "0" for assistance (911 had not come into being yet). You had to contact the Military Police on base. The home was set out like a duplex from the exterior, with the front doors being side-by-side but the MacDonalds' neighbors actually living above them. The apartment itself consisted of a living room, dining area, kitchen, utility room, bathroom, master bedroom and two additional bedrooms. In viewing the floorplan, you can see how relatively small the apartment was.
|The exterior of 544 Castle Drive. The area outlined in red is the upstairs neighbors' apartment. The MacDonald front door and apartment are to the right in the photo.|