January 10, 2014

The MacDonald Case: The Living Room

According to Jeffrey MacDonald's account of the night of February 16-17, 1970, the living room is where he struggled with four assailants and fought for his life, as well as the lives of his wife and children.  If you've read about the Manson murders or seen the crime scene photos, you will notice furniture askew and, most importantly, not just the large areas of blood directly under the bodies but footprints, hand prints, castoff blood and spatter from the victims who attempted to escape.  None of these things were found in the MacDonald living room despite this room being as cramped with furniture and items as the dining room. 

The sofa remained in what appeared to be its normal position.  No investigative reports mention marks or indentations in the wall where the sofa may have been pushed or rammed as you would assume during a struggle between a Green Beret and three male intruders.  Pillows and an afghan remain relatively neatly on the sofa.  An end table with candles and several items on it, including a lamp that looks to be top-heavy, remained in place.  The lampshade isn't even askew.  A picture hanging directly above the sofa is still straight and even. 

The coffee table is overturned and lying on its side.  Magazines and children's games rest underneath it.  An upturned plant is on the floor, going toward the front door, a relatively large distance from the table.  Its flowerpot is upright and next to the table.  Interestingly, one of MacDonald's bedroom slippers rested on top of the leg of the overturned table.      

An expensive stereo system, on the wall adjacent to the dining room, is untouched.  Breakables in the stereo cabinet and resting on top of the stereo speakers, are undamaged.  Pictures on these walls remain in place. 

MacDonald's reading glasses were found on the floor, directly underneath one of the windows.  Both sides that go over the ears were found upright.

Blood was found in only two locations in the living room, both in very small quantities.  The first location was a blood smear found on the cover of the Esquire magazine featuring an article on the Manson murders.  The second was a speck of blood, typed as Kristen's, found on the outer lense of MacDonald's eyeglasses.

That is the sum total of the disarray to the living room. 

Despite MacDonald alleging that one of the intruders tore his pajama top in a struggle on the sofa, not one pajama top fiber was found in any location in the living room. 

Despite MacDonald claiming to have been struck with the club that beat both Colette and Kimberley, not one drop of their blood was found in the living room, either on the floor (from blood dripping from the weapon) or in cast-off marks on the walls.

Despite MacDonald claiming to have been struck with the club, no scrape marks were found on the living room ceiling. 

Despite MacDonald's claims that his feet were bound up in the afghan when he fell off the sofa to the floor during the attack, the afghan was found on the sofa. 

Quite a struggle. 

Pictures:  www.thejeffreymacdonaldcase.com

January 8, 2014

The MacDonald Case: The Dining Room

Area of the MacDonald dining room, showing Colette's handbag and the clear handled hairbrush on the sideboard, as well as a portion of the rug.  Marks where blood smears leading into the kitchen were found are visible.

When investigators arrived at 544 Castle Drive early on the morning of February 17, 1970, they found the dining room area of the apartment remarkably untouched. 

A table with four chairs was positioned in the middle of the room.  There was a buffet table with Valentine's Day cards placed atop it, all cards still standing upright.  Several sidechairs jockeyed for space.  None of  the furniture was broken or displaced.  A rug that was easily scuffed and moved remained flat on the floor.  Colette MacDonald's handbag sat on the sideboard, untouched, along with a clear handled hairbrush, with a few strands of hair.  Blood smears led from the dining room floor to the kitchen doorway. 

Just feet away, Jeffrey MacDonald allegedly fought with at least four murderous intruders who, according to him, had already slaughtered his family or were in the process of slaughtering his family, and were intent on killing him.  MacDonald was a 26 year old Green Beret, physically fit.  Despite having been woken from sleep on the sofa, according to his account, he claimed to be fighting for his life and the lives of his wife and children. 

So wouldn't you expect for the fight to spill over into the adjoining dining area?  Wouldn't you expect for the table and chairs to be shoved around?  For the cards on top of the relatively unstable buffet table to fall down?  (In fact, Freddy Kassab upon his revisit to the crime scene stomped his foot several times and the cards fell down).  For the cabinet itself perhaps suffer broken glass?  For the rug to be bunched up and moved around?  For the sidechairs to be pushed aside, knocked over?

Close up of Colette's handbag and the infamous clear handled hairbrush.
Wouldn't there be some evidence of intruders, especially if blood was found anywhere in that room - - even in minute quantities?  The victims' blood being found there would indicate that either a victim or victims bled in that room or their killer or killers were in that room in a bloody state. 

Since the blood found was in small quantities, that rules out direct bleeding by a victim.  It's likely the blood was transferred from or smeared by a weapon or a piece of clothing or fabric.  An intruder, having just committed murder, and walking around the apartment in the dark (per MacDonald's testimony of no lights being on in the living room, dining area or kitchen) would very likely stumble into a piece of furniture, don't you think?  Or leave fingerprints on said furniture or walls. 

So why was blood found there?  I believe it's from the bloody bedsheet that was used to transport Colette's bloody and bleeding body into the master bedroom and Kimberley's body into her bedroom.  I think the killer, in an attempt to clean up and stage the crime scene, planned to take the bedsheet to the kitchen, where the washing machine was located, to launder it and in doing so, left those marks.

Below are more pictures taken of the dining room on the morning of February 17.  Note how close the room is to the living room, where the life and death struggle supposedly took place.  Note how cramped the space was.  Now imagine a minimum of four intruders fighting with a Green Beret and what that room should look like.

Photos: www.thejeffreymacdonaldcase.com

The MacDonald Case: Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and Castle Drive circa 1970

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.
February 17, 1970 was also a mere seven months after the gruesome Manson murders - - murders committed by "hippies" against the white establishment they deemed "pigs".