Born into a poor family Jeffrey MacDonald was the middle child of 3 siblings. His father demanded obedience and was very strict with his children and wife. During his time at Patchogue High School MacDonald was voted most popular, most likely to succeed and prom king by his peers.
MacDonald’s high school grades were good enough for him to earn a 3-year scholarship to Princeton University, he enrolled in premed. During his second year at Princeton MacDonald reunited with his high school girlfriend Colette Kathryn Stevenson but since they would only see each other on the weekends MacDonald would date other girls without Stevenson knowing. In 1963, Stevenson fell pregnant and the couple decided to marry. Their daughter Kimberley was born on April 18th, 1964.
After MacDonald finished his scholarship at Princeton he moved his family to Chicago where he was accepted at Northwestern University Medical School. Then on May 8th, 1967 the couples second daughter Kristen was born. After MacDonald graduated from
Medical School in 1968, he moved his family to New Jersey so he could complete a one-year internship in thoracic surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center.
On June 28th, 1969 MacDonald decided to enlist in the United States Army and was sent to Fort Sam, Texas to undertake a six-week basic training course. After volunteering he was assigned to be a special forces physician. MacDonald was then assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia where he completed a paratrooper training course. Then he was assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina where he served as a surgeon, this was also where his wife and kids were reunited with him and they all lived in the barracks that were for married couples.
On February 17th, 1970 at 3:42 am Fort Bragg dispatchers received a call from MacDonald where he said “Help! Five forty-four Castle Drive! Stabbing! … Five forty-four Castle Drive! Stabbing! Hurry!”. Ten minutes later the military police arrived and found a dark house with the front door locked, they walked around to the back of the house when there was no answer at the front door and they found the back door open. The sergeant entered the house and found a pregnant Colette MacDonald on the floor of the bedroom floor, she had been brutally beaten, stabbed 21 times in the chest with an ice pick and stabbed 16 times in her neck and chest with a knife. The word “PIG” was written in Colette’s blood on the couple’s headboard.
Laying next to Colette was her husband Jeffrey MacDonald who was wounded but still alive and he told the military police to check for his kids who he said he heard crying. Police then searched the rest of the house for the children and they found a lifeless 5-year-old Kimberley in her bed with a fractured skull and 10 stab wounds to her neck. Across the hall police found a lifeless 2-year-old Kristen in her bed with 33 stab wounds from a knife to her chest, neck, hands and back, she also had 15 shallow stab wounds from an ice pick with 2 of the knife wounds penetrating her heart.
After being resuscitated Jeffrey MacDonald was taken to hospital where the extent of his injuries was revealed and suspicious to doctors. MacDonald had cuts, bruises and scratches to his face and chest, he also had a mild concussion and a single stab wound to his torso between two ribs which caused his lung to partially collapse. A doctor would later describe this stab wound as a “clean, small, sharp” incision.
After nine days in the hospital, MacDonald was questioned by police as to the events of the evening his pregnant wife and two daughters were murdered. MacDonald said he was woken up by his daughters screaming and when he went to help them he was attacked by two white men, one black man and a white woman.
The murder weapons were found the morning after the attack
just outside the back door of the home. The weapons found included a knife, ice pick and a 31-inch piece of timber. Police discovered that all three weapons had come from the MacDonald household and had been wiped clean, Jeffrey MacDonald denied ever seeing any of the weapons before.
Army investigators soon started to become suspicious of MacDonald’s account, especially since he was trained in unarmed combat. Also, the home didn’t show any real signs of a struggle. Police then questioned MacDonald’s neighbours who reported that they heard no yelling or commotion coming from the home.
Further forensic testing found that it was highly likely that MacDonald was telling the truth. Colette’s blood was found in Kristen’s room and Kimberley’s blood was found in the master bedroom which seemed unusual since all 3 were found in separate rooms. Investigators also found fibres from MacDonald’s pyjama top under Colette’s body, under her nails and in both daughters bedrooms.
On May 1st, 1970 MacDonald was formally charged with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder. After the completion of an army hearing, it was recommended on October 13th, 1970 that the charges against MacDonald be dropped due to insufficient evidence. Later that same month the charges were formally dropped.
On April 30th, 1974 MacDonald’s stepfather in law Alfred Kassab along with his attorney Richard Cahn and criminal investigation agent Peter Kearns presented a citizen’s complaint to the US Chief District Court Judge Algernon Butler, requesting the assembly of a grand jury to indict MacDonald for the three murders. A month later Justice Department attorney Victor Woerheide ruled that the case should be prosecuted.
On August 12th, 1974 a grand jury was assembled in North Carolina before U.S. District Judge Franklin Dupree. Seventy-five witnesses testified including MacDonald himself whose testimony lasted five days, he also refused to take a polygraph test to back up his version of events. Five months later on January 21st, 1975 MacDonald was recalled to testify in front of the grand jury once again, he was reportedly arrogant and sarcastic during questioning.
On January 24th, 1975 the grand jury formally indicted MacDonald on three counts of murder and he was arrested within an hour. He was released a week later on a $100,000 bail which was raised by his friends and colleagues. MacDonald was arraigned on May 23rd, 1975 where he pleaded not guilty to all three charges.
After years of legal battles from MacDonald’s defence attorneys his trial finally began on July 16th, 1979 then on August 29th, 1979 after six and a half hours of deliberations the jury returned with their verdict. Jeffrey MacDonald was found guilty of the first-degree murder of his daughter Kristen and he was found guilty of the second-degree murder of his wife Colette and daughter Kimberley. MacDonald was given three life sentences by Judge Dupree.
In 2002, MacDonald married Kathryn Kurichh after the two met when Kurichh sent MacDonald a letter offering to help him with his case and after forming a friendship it then turned romantic and they decided to wed. MacDonald had his parole rejected in May 2005. It’s unknown if he applied for parole in 2020 but in March 2021 MacDonald applied for released from prison on compassionate grounds with his attorney arguing that he will only have three years left to live once he starts kidney dialysis.
Rest In Peace Colette, Kimberley and Kristen.