January 17, 1975
Testimony of Alfred Kassab
Scans of original transcript
I, Manie P. Currin, being a Notary Public and Court Reporter in and for the State of North Carolina, was appointed to take the testimony of the following witness, ALFRED E. KASSAB, before the Grand Jury, Raleigh, North Carolina, commencing at 9:10 a.m. on January 17, 1975. All Grand Jurors were present with the exception of Juror Samuel Cannady who was permanently excused from all subsequent Jury duty by the Judge.
Whereupon, MR. ALFRED E. KASSAB, having been first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:
EXAMINATION BY MR. WOERHEIDE:
Q Mr. Kassab, are you the same Alfred Kassab who testified before this grand jury on September 4, 1974?
A I am.
Q Mr. Kassab, we have asked you to come back. The grand jury felt that it would be useful to have you appear before them again so they could ask additional questions. As you'll remember, when you were testifying here before things at the end got sort of short time wise and we did rather rush through a few things there at the end. So, I believe I'll just turn Mr. Kassab over to you all and let you pursue whatever is of concern to you and of interest to you.
FOREMAN: I believe that if I may speak for the grand jury, I think that we would like for you to continue going through the itemized events that you were explaining to us from, I think, from the Article 32 at the time that we had to adjourn that day?
MR. WOERHEIDE: Right.
FOREMAN: So, he can just briefly go through the ones that he covered and then continue.
MR. KASSAB: I forget where I left off.
FOREMAN: Why don't you just'start and go through the first --
MR. KASSAB: All right.
FOREMAN: -- part rather briefly and refresh our recollection?
MR. KASSAB: If I remember correctly, a question was posed as to what brought about my change of mind. That was the original question. And I had said at the time that it was originally started by Jeff's story about having gone out one night and caught one of the murderers and killed him.
Then immediately after that, I -- within a month and a half of that I received a copy of the transcript and I read it through fairly quickly. There were a couple of things that hit me but -- you know -- didn't quite gel on the first time around. And then I started to read it through the second time, and third, and fourth, and fifth, etcetera very carefully.
And in particular, his testimony as to what happened in that house that night, there were many things that I couldn't understand, I could not visualize.
I'd been in the house, I knew the house. The thing -- one of the things that stuck out were his claim to ten ice pick wounds approximately across the center of the abdomen.
I had seen him in the hospital right after it occurred and he was naked to the waist or just below the waist; and there were no abdomen wounds that I saw.
Then referring to the same abdomen wounds, his statement was that he never got above a sitting position with, I think, the left leg off the sofa and leaning forward into his attackers.
Now, from my thinking and trying to visualize this I realize that it is impossible to stab somebody in the stomach if they are sitting down and leaning forward into people. You just can't do it. That was one thing.
His story about Kimmy crying out on an analysis in my thinking, the doctors testimony, the pathologists testimony was that the club wounds occurred prior to the stab wounds. I read part of the autopsy report and it seemed to be quite evident that after Kimmy had been struck with that club it could not have been possible for her to cry out.
And as far as Colette was concerned after the knife wounds to her throat it would have been impossible for her to cry out.
He said that when he awoke there were four people standing there, three men and a girl behind them, and that the screams that woke him and he heard the screaming while he saw four people standing at the foot of the sofa.
Now, this would -- if the story were true -- there would have had to have been six or seven intruders in that house. Which means if you add them up, if there were six or seven intruders plus Kimmy and Colette in that small master bedroom all fighting in the dark, and yet, there's nothing in that bedroom that was upset at all except, I think, for a lamp shade that was crooked.
Now, this is just -- you know -- quite far out.
His claim was that he received a total of somewhere around twenty stab wounds and yet, there wasn't one drop of blood in the living room anywhere. Now, my question is, how does a man get stabbed twenty times and not bleed.
The variety of all the wounds Colette, Kimmy and Kristy especially Colette as compared to his wounds.
Now, here is a man who is far more able to defend himself, let's say than Colette. He has what has been referred to as superficial wounds.
I saw them and none of them even had bandages on them.
And yet, Colette and the children were so badly wounded.
And from my information that I read, all of their wounds were direct wounds into the body. There were no flesh wounds.
Now, anybody fighting with knives in the dark slashing or stabbing whatever you want to call it, is bound to slash and not hit completely and nothing but directly into the body. And I understand almost all the wounds are direct wounds into the body and this is all supposed to have occurred in the dark. Just not possible.
Q (Mr. Woerheide) Well, by the way, just let me interrupt for a very brief moment. In your background do you have some experience -- I'm referring particularly to wartime experience?
A Yes, I spent five years --
Q (Interposing) That gives you a little bit of expertise in --
A Yes, I spent five years with British intelligence and took some commando courses and investigative courses and things of that kind.
The club attack on Jeff in the living room. He was asked specifically at the Article 32 how the man swung the club.
The questions were very specific that did he swing it sideways, how did he do it, was the one hand involved, were two hands involved and his answer in his testimony was that the man swung the club over his head.
Now, you have been in the living room. That club cannot be swung by a man of average height over his head and hit somebody sitting on that sofa. You would hit the ceiling and far worse you'd hit the wall because you're about -- if you're standing in front of the sofa -- you're only about thirty-six inches.
Now, the length of a man's arm plus the length of the club, no way you can hit a man sitting on that sofa.
If you swung it sideways you might, but if you swung it sideways from the window in you would have hit the man in the back of the head. You wouldn't hit him in the front of the head. But he definitely stated that that club was swung over the man's head and down twice or three times, I think.
If I may get far afield, maybe some of these notes are not in succession.
Jeff's claim of having made that first phone call to the police, he stated that after he had made the first phone call and he dropped it because he didn't think he was getting the right answers; and then he went and he examined Colette; he went possibly and looked out the back door; then he proceeded and examined both Kimmy and Kristy in turn; and possibly gave one or both of them artificial respiration as well as taking their pulses; and then he went out into the hall and he was dazed and didn't know what to do; and then he remembered he had another phone in the kitchen; and he went down there and used the kitchen phone; and the operator was still on the line. Well, now, the supervisor of the telephone company stated under oath that a maximum of two minutes elapsed between the two phone calls. Now, you just -- can't do all that in two minutes. I mean, this is my opinion.
The ice pick he denies that there was ever a ice pick in that house.
Now, I personally did not see the ice pick. But my wife assures me there was an ice pick in that house and that she did use it on our Christmas visit. And she has no doubt about that whatsoever. The only thing she does not remember is what the ice pick looked like.
Now, I thought to myself if six or seven intruders came into that house they would have to have come in bent on murder under the influence of drugs. Would only three leave their weapons behind all in the same place? The man who used the club if he had to resort to using a club, I mean if he was coming bent on murder why did he come unarmed. And a good question is how did he find the club in the house? It was part of the household -- it was part of the household that, I think, was proven.
I mean -- you know -- so, therefore why did he come unarmed?
Now, Jeff described the attack on him, I think, in his words as, "a rain of blows." And to the best of my knowledge the doctors' reports were that there was only one wound that could have been serious. And it was his estimate that that wound was at a maximum of five-eighths of an inch deep.
Now, you have got three big men attacking one man that is handcuffed for X amount of minutes, and the deepest anybody gets to him is five-eighths of an inch which is, as you can realize, is very, very small.
And yet, it is "a rain of blows," not -- you know -- just people attacking it was "a rain of blows."
Now, without any lights on in either child's bedroom Jeff said that he went in and gave them artificial respiration and saw air bubbles coming out of their chest.
In Kimmy's case the autopsy report shows that she had no chest wounds. Air bubbles could not have been coming out of her chest.
There is a slight possibility of a small bit of vision in that room with the lights out. With some light coming from across the hall from the bathroom. But in Kristy's room which is on the left-hand side on the hall as you go down the hall, that room in the dark with just a bathroom light on around the corner with a little hallway there is pitch dark. I tried it. You can't see a thing in that room.
Now, as a parent -- automatically if you went into your child's room if the child was crying or something was terribly wrong in the house you'd automatically put a light switch on. Now, I don't know why no lights were ever put on in that house except the one in the master bedroom that he said held put on after he got up out of the floor of the hall.
No lights were put on. How he saw what he says he saw I don't know, especially in Kristy's room; it's just not possible.
He gave them both artificial respiration either once or twice, took pulses, took femoral pulses in the groin area, yet both children were found completely covered to their necks. Kimmy was tucked in completely on one side, Kristy was covered -- not tucked in but covered to the neck and her baby bottle was lying right up against the side of her face. This is not consistent with the story of somebody giving artificial respiration or taking pulses and then covering them back up again all in the dark.
The weapons -- the three weapons being found outside the back door all together seem to me to be very strange. As though -- you know -- all these people went out the back door and all at once dropped their weapons.
When Jeff said he looked out the back door on an analysis in my mind, I said to myself he must have gone to the back door to throw those weapons out. And the reason for stating that he went and looked out the back door would have to have been that he didn't know whether he left a bloodstained fingerprint on that back door, and, therefore, if it was there he would have had to account for it.
The pajama top I don 't think I have to go into. Which I think that's been covered.
I had a certain amount of knowledge about the pajama top and the series on it but I think that's been completely covered.
The crotch of his pajamas was torn during the so-called fight. Small item, but how did the crotch of your pajama get torn if you're sitting down all the time -- you know -- these are all notes I made as I was going along. So, therefore -- you know -- they are disjointed but they come together.
The lack of anything being disturbed in the house puzzled me greatly with the exception of just that coffee table in the living room being knocked over and the one crooked lamp shade in the bedroom. Now, if you have to visualize six or seven attackers drug crazy, running around in that small house and all that happens is a coffee table gets knocked over and one lamp shade gets pushed so it's slightly crooked -- you know -- this is almost inconceivable. It's not possible.
And as I said the last time, Jeff said when that fellow hit him that blow with the club, he literally saw stars. He fell back flat on his back. But what happened when he fell back on his back.
He said he was stunned. So, therefore, he was down there X amount of seconds, ten or fifteen seconds or whatever it takes, but these three big men with knives and ice picks they did absolutely nothing, they just stood there and waited for him to come back up again. This is not normal. If you're going to attack somebody you pounce on them after they are down.
After he was so-called -- had slipped off the sofa and either fell as he said or was pushed around the corner into the hallway, I mean, why didn't these people finish him off. There's nothing easier to kill than a man that's unconscious.
And the theory that they panicked and ran afterwards just does not hold water. Because of the fact that after the thing was over they had to -- someone if his story were to follow had to go back into that bedroom and take two or three minutes or how many minutes, as many minutes as it took to write the word -- the word "PIG" on the headboard of that bed.
It had to have been done after Colette was dead and lying on the floor.
Now, Jeff was an avid reader of mystery stories. I would say he read an average of one or two or perhaps three mystery stories a week. And yet, he claimed that when Mr. Grebner, the C.I.D. commander at Ft. Bragg, read him his rights before questioning him -- I think it was on April 6 -- he said he didn't understand what that was all about.
And anybody who has read a lot of mystery stories or watched television very much this reading of rights to people before they question them has been very, very highly publicized and there's not a chance in the world that he would not know about it.
The eye glasses. Jeff MacDonald in all of his waking hours went nowhere without his eye glasses. He wore them at all times with exception of when he went to bed. The spot of blood on his glasses -- the claim was made that it possibly got there the day before when he was working in the hospital.
Now, I only wear glasses to read, but I know one thing if I.got a spot of blood on my glasses I couldn't possibly go around for thirty-six hours with a spot of blood on my glasses, and read and watch television and what have you. This is just not -- just not possible. It's the first thing you do. If you get a speck of dust on your glasses, you take them off and wipe them off, never mind a spot of blood. But his claim is that he possibly went around for thirty-six hours with a spot of blood on the lens of his glasses.
He has told so many lies that it has come to me that not necessarily only as relates to this particular incident, but to everybody. He fabricated stories. He had fabricated stories that came back to me from his family that just -- you know -- by either myself or myself that were just completely untrue. We knew prior to this Jeff's -- what we considered a failing he had -- but we didn't put too much stock in it. And that is he has complete disdain for anyone and everyone that I have ever known him to know.
And his disdain is not in their presence. In other words, it's like the people chiding and the minute somebody walks out of the door that's who they talk about. But Jeff did have a habit of doing this at all times. He still does.
He is mentally in his mind superior to most people. This -- you know -- was the only thing that we ever knew about him that we didn't care for.
But what the hang -- you know -- we've all got our faults we assumed, so therefore we just overlooked this.
Now, Jeff described to an artist the four people who he claimed attacked him. He claims that in the photographs -- when the drawings were finished, when the composites were finished they were a fairly good likeness of two of the drawings and a good likeness of the other two.
Now, the only thing wrong with that, these people had their back to that light in the kitchen. They were facing the sofa, it was semi-dark in that room, and Jeff did not have his glasses on. In his words at the Article 32 if I remember them rightly that it was very dim in there and you could not discern completely.
In other words, it was very dim in there. I don't know -- I'm not -- I'm trying to think of his exact words and I can't. I have them down here somewhere. But anyway, what he said in effect was it was fairly dark in that room. And how he saw enough to describe their facial characteristics is really something.
Now, he did say that two of the drawings were not too good. But that the other two were good. Why he concocted that story to me about catching that fellow and killing him is just beyond anything that I can possibly comprehend.
Now, I just don't understand it. It was taken down out of thin air and why I will never know.
Q Well, if I may interrupt you for a moment?
Q Mr. Kassab, did you exert pressure on him in anyway that might cause him to fabricate such a story?
A I never -- it never entered my mind for the very simple reason that I have had a given amount of training in investigative work. I would never have attempted it for the very simple reason that without facts at your finger tips, without leads of any kind whatsoever a man just cannot go out into a town like Fayetteville and walk around and go from bar to bar and find a man. And he never would talk about that. Except on one instance when he came to our house, he came to our house I think a total of four times after he was released from the Army. And my wife sat him down at the kitchen table and she was adamant. She wanted to know something about that. And he just said, "I can't talk about it and -- you know -- it was just terrible, and that the man was so far gone on drugs he didn't know what happened that night, he didn't know what happened while I was questioning him." And Mildred said, "What about the girl?" And he said to her -- "the only thing that this fellow knew about the girl was that she was known as Willie the Witch." And he left it at that.
Now, in the letter to me that same day which I don't know, I know Mr. Woerheide has a copy, I don't know if you have seen it. He refers to that phone conversation in which he says if I repeat it to anybody he will deny it.
But in a further letter possibly a year later from California he states angrily when I accused him of not going to the C.I.D. or the F.B.I. for information that is the only thing that I chastised him about. Not being interested enough to go to the F.B.I. and the C.I.D. to inquire how much progress was taking place. And he said that was a lie that he had done that and that he had made several trips to the east coast to look for the murderers and he'd come down here to the south. And he referred to making investigations into hippie family number two. I mean these are dream words -- you know -- how do you dream up stories like this.
And that he had gone to Florida and that this trip to Florida had cost him two thousand dollars and in the process, he didn't explain how, but he had sustained a broken hand.
Now, when he said broken hand, I said to myself right away, well the man is a surgeon in the hospital; this ought to be easy to check out. Because a surgeon in the hospital with a broken hand, nobody is going to miss it.
So, I called the C.I.D. and asked them to please check it out and see if anybody at the hospital had ever seen him with a broken hand. And the answer I got back was no, that that was a complete fabrication. The story of him going to Florida was true that he had gone on a medical convention.
At no time, did I ever, ever instigate for him to go out and look for the murderers. To me, this is police work for people who know what they are doing. I believed his story, though; don't misunderstand me, I believed it sincerely until I really sat down and thought about it.
And then when I really sat down and thought about it, it came to me -- you know -- like a shock and I immediately put the C.I.D. on without telling him that they had told me that.
And they came back to me and said that man couldn't have had anything to do with the murders and so I came down here to North Carolina. I looked up the newspaper morgues, and examined the newspapers for the day he claimed he had committed that murder and there was only one murder within a hundred mile radius of Fayetteville that morning. And it was an Army sergeant who was shot five times in the back and who was not a drug addict; it had nothing to do with drugs.
And when I turned the thing over to the C.I.D. the truth of the story that they came back with and said that the murderer of that man was known and he was in jail and that Jeff MacDonald had nothing to do with any such thing.
Does anybody have any questions in their minds? Specifics -- you know -- I have just touched on a few things. I haven't touched on them all because there are so many things that went through my mind that I wrote down. I haven't touched on them all. The doctor's report of when he went into that hospital that morning, he was alert according to those doctors' reports, he was in full possession of his faculties, he could walk well. The man in the ambulance that drove that ambulance he was in made the statement, if I remember correctly, that he could have gotten up and run to the hospital, that he didn't stop talking all the way to the hospital.
Now, of course, this talking bit is -- could be -- you know -- nervousness or what have you.
But certainly when I saw him at two or three o'clock that same afternoon, he was overwrought, he was in tears but -- you know -- seemed in a fairly stable condition to me -- you know -- I mean stable. He was -- I didn't think he was on death's bed.
Now, he -- I don't know whether I told you this last.,time, but he gave an interview to a reporter from News Day relating the whole story of what had happened in that house according to him that night. The story basically matches his testimony at the Article 32. Only I noticed that in his interview with John Cummings and it was published he stated that the first night of April 6 when he was placed under guard that he went back to his room and worried about this business of his being charged. He was despondent, he walked up and down, he looked at the pipes on the ceiling, and then he decided to commit suicide by hanging himself with his belt.
And he said he thought about it. And he figured he'd get a chair and kick the chair out from underneath. But on further thought he decided, supposing it doesn't work. It's going to look bad. It's going to be worse. So, he decided against committing suicide.
But, however, when I read the Article 32 transcript I find that all that time and well after the time he was placed under guard he had a loaded pistol under his pillow.
Now, this is in the transcript. His story about hanging himself is in an article -- Mr. Woerheide has a copy of it, I have the original -- a man of his caliber of brains does not think of hanging himself by a belt if he's got a loaded pistol. It's -- you know -- it's just not reasonable.
All these things -- when I started to put all the things together and they didn't match. I got to changing my mind very fast.
Now, I don't know whether you people have seen a copy of the -- or seen this Dick Cavett interview that Jeff had. I watched television that night and Iwas absolutely mortified. And ! was still a full believer of his innocence. Only when that program was over my phone started ringing and rang for half the night with people calling me and saying -- you know -- this is terrible how can a man who has lost his wife and three children get on television. And the only thing he seems to be complaining about is what the Army did to him and how much money it has cost him.
I talked to him about that the next morning and he said, "Well, maybe I got -- you know -- all wrought up and didn't know what I was doing," and so on and -- you know -- that -- that -- I said, well you should never have gone on the show in the first place.
But he seemed to think -- Mr. -- I think it was Congressman Lowenstein had made arrangements for him to appear on that show. Jeff was all in favor of this and he was all in favor of the publicity that went with it. And I was all in favor of any publicity because my feeling was after the charges had been dropped against him, if we didn't move and move fast this case was going to go on the shelf and was going to stay there.
And, of course, the next night after that show Truman Capote was on the same show and he just so much as told Dick Cavett if you believe him you're crazy.
And Jeff went back the next two days later, I quess it was, and tried to see Truman Capote to try to straighten it out in his mind. But -- he never got anywhere with Truman Capote.
FOREMAN: Does anyone have any questions now?
JUROR: I have got one point I'd like for him to dwell on just a little bit. If you will, in one of the letters that Jeff wrote to you, I'm speaking about his personal affairs, now. I think he made mention that he was talking about his women friends and he said one that you know of. And then I believe a little later on you had a conversation on the telephone maybe something about some women in his life?
A Jeff MacDonald made the statement in one of the letters -- this my wife and I have talked over -- which is the most fantastic statement that anybody could possibly have made. Because you're making it -- maybe you are making it in writing but you are actually making it to the person and you're lying riqht in their face to something that you said you said to them.
Jeff MacDonald never at any time ever spoke to my wife or myself about any extramarital affairs that he had ever had or that we ever condoned them or even knew about them.
There is one instance that we knew about it that he told us about during the Article 32. Because he was afraid it was going to get into the papers, and that was the one girl that he was questioned about during the Article 32. The girl in Texas.
At the time, that was in the 32. And I read it and he knew I had read it. And his only answer when the prosecutor asked him, "Did you have intercourse with this girl?" Jeff MacDonald is a pretty cool fellow. He turned around and he said, "If you will define the word intercourse I will answer the question." That is what he said.
Now, this takes a lot of unmitigated gall. To turn around to a prosecutor and say to him -- you know -- if you'll define the word, I'll answer.the question. That was the only instance that Jeff MacDonald ever talked to us about any extramarital affairs.
We have found out since then about very, very many. But he never spoke to us about that. We never, never at any time.
JUROR: Do you suppose he might have gotten this idea from the fact that maybe Colette had talked with you or her mother?
A That's possible. But he never intimated, I don't think,such a thing. But it is a possible thought. Although, Colette, as I have stated before and I think as Mildred stated, never brought a problem to us at any time. We never knew anything was ever wrong. He could have thought that. But I have got no way of knowing. He never spoke to us about it.
Did you have something?
MR. WOERHEIDE: No.
JUROR: Well, if you know of anything that you know since then for a fact. I'd like to hear about it.
A Well, when I say know for a fact. The only thing I can say is all of a sudden the doors swung open. People started -- you know -- when we decided -- not when we decided but when it came to the public's knowledge that we were saying that Jeff had committed the murders then some of our friends started coming forward and saying to us -- the first instance the Carol Larsen thing.
A friend of ours, a very close friend of ours, came to us and said well, now, I think I ought to tell you this.
But in the fall of 1969 I was at the -- she was at the railroad station with her husband seeing her daughter off. And she saw Jeff and Carol at the railroad station kissing goodbye and Carol was crying.
Now, this woman -- I have known her many years. And she would no more tell a lie than she would jump out of this building.
She knew Carol from the time she was a small girl, she knew Jeff from the time he was a small boy because they all went to school together. Colette and Jeff and Carol and her children. And that was one instance.
Mildred's niece came to us and told us about an incident in Montauk when Jeff was in college and working as a construction supervisor in the summer. Where he and a girl had had an affair up there and had been caught in the act in one of the offices there, and the secretary that was involved in this got fired. We were given the girl's name. And she was a married woman, had just gotten a divorce and had gone somewhere when we got that information.
People -- even my sister told me that -- you know -- I never mentioned to you but she said I have friends who know the MacDonald family and said it was a well known fact that he was chasing around after everything he could lay his hands on.
Of course, all these things started coming out after we claimed that he no longer -- you know -- we didn't think he was innocent. We thought he was guilty.
The Carol Larsen one was the one that came specifically, directly to us and the girl at Montauk the others came to me by talks I have had with both Mr. Coolidge, the former United States Attorney here in North Carolina, talks with C.I.D. agents particularly in reference -- the one that is the most abhorrent of all to me -- there are a lot of people who chase around, men, women. There is a man who claims to be terribly distressed beyond repair at his wife and children being murdered. He is under guard technically with a guard standing at the door of his room. But he can come and go as he wants. But there is a guard standing there.
But during this period of time, he's got a girl going in and out of there. He's having an affair with a girl with a guard standing there at the door. While he is being -- going through an Article 32 proceedings which is the equivalent to a grand jury hearing to decide whether they are going to try him for murder or not. That's pretty raw.
JUROR: Did you talk to this girl?
A No, I have never met the girl. I was told this by investigating agents who had no reason to lie to me. I -- basically it's -- it only enters into the man's character. It does not enter into the murder itself. But it's -- it surrounds the whole thing with just -- you know -- how could anybody do such a thing -- you know -- you know -- you have heard, we have all heard people go out with other people and their spouses but not in a situation like this.
Anybody else have a question?
JUROR: Did you ever believe he was knocked out?
JUROR: Did you ever believe that he was knocked unconscious?
A My estimation of that bump on his head is in my opinion and I've got nothing to substantiate it with, would be that Colette hit him with that hairbrush. Because it was not a bad wound, and yet, there were tiny scratches in it -- you know -- but the skin wasn't broken. There was no bleeding or anything like that. This would be my opinion that she hit him with that hairbrush. But I've got nothing to base that on.
The hairbrush, of course, incident which for a long time went unresolved. Because Jeff MacDonald claimed that that hairbrush didn't belong in that house. And after the Article 32 when that hairbrush was shown to my wife she identified it as hers that she had forgotten there at Christmas time.
JUROR: Was Dr. MacDonald left-handed or right-handed?
A Best of my knowledge Dr. MacDonald was basically right-handed but ambidextrous. In other words he could use one hand as easily as he could the other.
JUROR: The reason I asked that question when we were at Ft. Bragg yesterday, and Mr.Ivory stated that that crepe myrtle bush which was -- has been trimmed -- you know -- I noticed the suckers were about this long (indicating) in the last five years. And whoever threw that knife and ice pick out the door in my opinion was as good with one hand as the other.
A Yes, sir, he is ambidextrous.
JUROR: On the statement he just made during this time of the year it was the wintertime so there would be no leaves on the bush.
JUROR: No, no leaves but the crepe myrtle hadn't been cut. It was in full growth.
A Right, but it was the same time of the year basically as this. The same basic time of the year. There is no law that says that a man could not take one or two steps out that door either, and no law says that the man that we are talking about could not have taken a step or two outside the door, no law that says -- you know -- that you'd have to stand in that door and pitch them out around the corner -- you know -- he could take a step or two outside the door. There's no reason for him -- you know -- basically speaking, yes, you see, a door that's open and with the screen door closed and you go to look out, I mean, that's as far as the story goes. But he also claimed to be shivering from the cold -- you know -- a reaction of shock or whatever he says this.
Now, if you did that on a cold night in February the first thing you'd do was to close the door. Why didn't he close the door? But he says he just looked out the screen door and that's all. But there's a good reason for that. Because if he opened that door to throw those weapons out that door his hand print maybe with blood on it could have been on the door.
It's like when he says that Colette screamed, "Jeff, Jeff, Jeff why are, they doing this to me." He didn't know but what somebody upstairs may have heard that. Those walls are very thin in that house. So, if you take just one word and change it from they to you, fits in pretty good.
JUROR: Did they have a habit of locking their doors? Or was it just -- don't you know?
A I have no way of telling -- you know -- really. His answer to that question is a reasonable one and that being most of the time you lock doors. But when you have got small children keeping up with them going in and out of the doors is sometimes pretty difficult -- you know -- it's -- you really can't tell. But I do know one thing. You went to the back of that house and you saw the window formation in the back of that house. Now, the windows are boarded up and covered over completely. But at that time they were not. The kitchen door only had a thin curtain on it. The bathroom window had a thin curtain on it. Anybody approaching the back door of that house in the back would have immediately seen the two big lights in the back of the house, one coming out of the kitchen one coming out of the bathroom. You assume somebody's up in that house with two big lights on shining out towards the back.
Now, are people going to enter a house with the light -- unless you're going to talk about this was a bunch of hippies that all got together and they were looking for Jeffrey MacDonald and his family.
The patrol that was patroling that area to the best of my knowledge stated that they passed that house between midnight and three a.m. a minimum of three times perhaps four times. Nobody saw anything. Nobody saw a bunch of people running away.
Of course, that story about the girl on the other corner away far away. I never believed that at any time that she had a connection with this case. I mean the mere fact that there was a girl who may have been standing on the corner may be so. But the theory of a group of itinerant murderers running into the house, and then running off and they leave the girl behind to walk, and she's standing on the corner waiting for a bus -- you know -- there may have been a girl standing there, yes, I believe she may have been standing there.. But I never for one second thought that she was the one who did it or had anything to do with it. I never did.
Can anybody else think of anything?
JUROR: Could you tell me what kind of temper Colette had?
A Colette had a slow boil. She was not fast tempered.
JUROR: How about if one of her children had been attacked? What do you think she would have done?
A I think that's an almost impossible question to answer. Would Colette -- she would defend that child -- I can tell you with her body, her life. What she would do if Jeff was going to -- you know -- spank a child is nothing -- you know -- but if somebody attacked one of her children she would be like a mother cat. And the proof of that is that she was in Kristy's room protecting Kristy lying almost across Kristy because Colette's blood is on that wall. Colette's blood is all over Kristy's bed. But there is none of Kristy's blood on Colette's pajama top. So, at that time when she went in there Kristy was alive and had not been touched. And she was in there protecting that child. And that child was untouched when she did it.
JUROR: You know you said you were down there at Christmas time before that happened. Well, was there a dog tied out in the back next to the house anywhere that you remember?
A Not that I remember. The only thing I remember reading was that there were two dogs in a very close vicinity and one was a German Shepherd and they are, of course, large dogs. But I saw dogs running around. I did not personally see a dog.
JUROR: Don't you think a German Shepherd tied there, if anyone strange would come up he'd start barking.
A Oh, yes, I do remember one thing. I think if I'm correct that Mrs. Pendlyshok who lived immediately cater-cornered there stated that her dog did bark. And that her child woke and cried. And she heard a child crying. But she said her dog barked. But she had a small dog -- you know. I think any German Shepherd -- a bunch of people running around in the back yard would bark the place down -- you know. But I can't even hazard a guess there.
FOREMAN: You stated that you never personally, yourself, saw an ice pick?
A That's right.
FOREMAN: But did you ever go through or spend anytime -- you know -- like a couple of minutes in that utility room off the master bedroom?
A Oh, I'd say I went in there probably to -- you know -- look. I may have even used the bathroom which is right next to it.
FOREMAN: You didn't see the club that is purported to be the weapon, did you?
FOREMAN: You never saw it?
A I never saw anything that looked like that. To the best of my knowledge there was no loose pieces of stick lying around the house.
JUROR: What did you think of Lt. Harrison as being one of Jeff's friends or did you ever meet Lt. Harrison?
A Lt. Harrison struck me -- this is only a personal opinion of a man who had come back from overseas and had seen a given amount of action and taken that particular given amount of action and multiplied it by one thousand times. Anybody who makes an awful lot of noise about what they did, and how many people they killed, and how they killed them, and that sort of thing to me is making a lot of noise. Because the people that really did the doing are not overly anxious to talk about it.
JUROR: Well, as far as you know, did Jeff associate with that type of people when he was in your vicinity or wherever vou may have known him?
A Yeah, he -- one time we came down and visited with him during the Article 32. My wife and I went down there. He was in a group of fellows that were in his BOQ -- you know -- while he was under guard there who were all just more or less back from Viet Nam. And with a lot of talking going on about -- you know -- what was done, and what could be done as far as the war was concerned. Fighting -- from a fighting angle. Jeff, of course, always in -- intellectually in his mind -- you know -- was -- you know -- way above the rest of the people. The minute they would walk out of the door, I mean, I will give you a perfect example.
He always criticized Bernie Segal. Dennis Eisman,his other attorney, he thought was a fool. And what he thought of his Army lawyer, I think you will find that probably if you saw all those letters that he wrote me, he refers to his wife as something or other and he is a "southern bigot." I mean this is the way he refers to a man who spent six months knocking his brains out defending him.
And Dennis Eisman -- he had contempt for everybody. Out of their sight though. He never would criticize anybody to their face. And never had the guts to do it. He never fought me to my face. He never came back when I started accusing him of all this stuff. And confronted me with anything, or -- you know -- said, "Just how could you come to such a conclusion." Never, never and he knew about it.
Prior to that time because I got to the point where I sat his mother down in my kitchen after he moved to California. I said I think there are a few things you ought to know. And I explained to her as I put it, "a few facts of life." Of course, I never saw her after that. But I did not do it with any venom in mind. Because I felt that it's not her fault.
But he, therefore knew about my thoughts that night. And that's going way back to right after he moved to California. He never called me and said, "What's this all about." He wrote me a couple of letters and said -- you know -- "I'm out here doing fairly good."
FOREMAN: . Anyone else?
JUROR: I was wondering, Mr. Kassab, how old was Colette when you married her mother?
A Let's see, Colette was about thirteen, I think, somewhere in that area. About thirteen, twelve or thirteen right in there.
JUROR: Mr. Kassab, we heard that during one of Jeff's visits with you and Mrs. Kassab that Mrs. Kassab made a statement one evening at the dinner table in reference to her other grandchildren that she wished it had been them killed instead of Colette's.
A That's a good statement. Can you imagine anybody saying such a thing?
JUROR: Personally, no.
A Well, we have a son who has two children, a boy and a girl. In all candor, we were much closer to Colette for the very simple reason that, I think, that a lot of women can understand, that they are closer with their daughters because when a daughter gets married she still comes home all the time more than she goes anywhere else. A son gets married he tends to go more to his in-laws with his wife. I mean, this is -- unless they all happen to live close together -- you know -- and what have you. But perhaps -- not perhaps; we were closer to Colette and her children than we were with Bobby and his children. But that statement -- you know -- is just a little too much.
FOREMAN: Then you deny that that statement was ever made in your presence?
A Oh, yes, absolutely.
JUROR: Is Bobby your child or stepchild?
A No, they are both Mildred's children.
JUROR: How was Colette in respect to the childrens's dental habits? Did they have a regular routine of brushing their teeth before they went to bed?
A Got me. I really couldn't answer that question. I really don't know. See, my -- the extent -- well, the extent of my contact with Colette and the children at the same time would be times maybe when she visited us for a week or I visited them. But I never -- I don't think that I know whether they brushed their teeth before they went to bed, or not.
JUROR: How were Colette's dental habits as she was growing up? Did she make or did she --
A She went -- as far as I know, she went to the dentist pretty regularly maybe once every two or three months.
JUROR: Did she have a special thing about brushing her teeth before going to bed or maybe she could, or maybe sometimes she didn't?
A I would say that would be more so. Maybe she did and maybe she didn't.
MR. STROUD: To follow up what this gentleman was getting to about the children brushing their teeth in the bathroom -- and it's still there and the pictures show it -- is a small stepladder.
A Unh-hunh (yes).
MR. STROUD: -- leaning up against the front of the bathroom sink. Now, do you recall that when you were there?
A Absolutely, the children used it to climb up to the sink. That was the only way they could get there. The only way they could brush their teeth, or wash their hands. The ladder was there for -- especially for Kristy -- you know -- to get up there high. That is why it was there.
JUROR: So, it was a normal thing for the ladder to be in the bathroom?
A Yes, it was there when I was there.
JUROR: What is Jeff's lifestyle now, do you have any idea?
A None whatsoever, none whatsoever.
JUROR: Mr. Kassab, knowing Jeff better, I guess, than anybody we have talked to does really, can you tell us what you think happened that night?
A I think Colette came home. I think when she came home they probably talked about her school or whatever things were normal. My theory, the reason for that is that I feel very strongly that Colette would not have had the one or two cordials that she did have.
Now, the autopsy report shows that she had a small amount of liquor in her body in her blood.
Now, Colette would not have been the type to take one or two cordials if she was in a distress situation. She wasn't a drinker even if she had been a drinker, which she wasn't, the automatic thing would have been to -- you know -- to get a shot -- not a cordial -- you know. So, it's a social drink.
I'm assuming up to that point until she took the anti-nausea pill and the sleeping pill that you do as a normal thing, that up to that point everything was all right.
Now, something happened that caused an argument. It does not necessarily have to have been an argument that started in the living room. It probably never did. It probably started in the bedroom.
But what it was was an instantaneous thing because I have said to people who said to me, what motive. I said well if you and I are in a room or you're in a room with your wife and she says something to make you extremely mad and you haul off and hit and that blow is a major blow, remember Jeff MacDonald is a strong boy, he's a boxer, he played football, what have you. That blow is so strong that it causes some kind of cosmetic damage and maybe this is more than one blow; maybe there's two or three.
Now, you've got his medical career on the line and he just keeps on going. Kimmy is there or Kimmy comes in the room. He swings around and attacks Kimmy and the thing just got out of hand. This -- it's the only explanation that I can give.
But I have that -- that area is a dark area. But it -- you don't necessarily have to have a black and white motive for someone like this. People get angry and slash out and hit. He may have socked her and she may have picked up the hairbrush and hit him back. And that just sent him into a blind fury, to be hit by a woman.
How people react -- you know -- yeah, there could have been many things. Some dame could have called him on the phone. Or he could have been on the kitchen phone and she picked up the bedroom phone.
Nobody will ever know because I assure you Jeff MacDonald will never tell you.
FOREMAN: Anyone else?
FOREMAN: Mr. Kassab, I think our visit to the apartment yesterday helped us better to question you and understand your testimony. When you first began your testimony, we had no mind's-eye view of what the circumstances were down there at the site. And we appreciate your coming back very much.
A That's why I'm so glad that that house has been kept under seal all of these years. Because if you look at the floor plan you cannot -- from the floor plan you look and there's the living room. Looks like it's thirty feet long because there is two rugs in there. But when you walk into that room you realize this is not as big as it looks on the floor plan. And when you visualize that master bedroom with anywhere from seven to nine people fighting in there. That place would have been a shambles.
FOREMAN: I think I have just one more parting question.
FOREMAN: There's been a lot of accusations about the Army handling of the situation. Both the investigation before and after the Article 32. And you have probably had some very close contact. But I would like to get your personal feeling on errors of omissions or commission that the Army may have had in investigating this murder?
A I would say that the errors that were made -- the worst ones, of course, were right in the beginning. The first morning of the murders.
I don't excuse it but I understand it. If you get eight or ten M.P.'s that are eighteen years old, nineteen years old, twenty years old coming into a scene such as this in the dark house. People were bound to touch something, move something. Even an experienced M.P. sergeant -- you know -- picks up the telephone.
There were many things that were done during the investigation that to my estimation were not done thoroughly enough. But I hold no grief. I was told at one point, we've only got X amount of investigators on the base,and they can only do so much work, and each man has sixty cases, and I got very nasty. And I said, "That's your problem, not my problem." I think that more experienced hands should have had a hand in the investigation. I think that the reinvestigation was handled calmly by far more experienced men. But then again they had greater numbers of men at their disposal. They had the funds I suppose at their disposal too to do the job.
I was satisfied up to a point with the reinvestigation. Of course, you have got to remember that a lot of my dissatisfaction with the original investigation came from a lack of knowledge of the facts.
I was being told a given amount of things by Jeff MacDonald that just sent me right through the roof. Not directly concerned with the murders but -- you know -- as I said I called him every night on the phone. And I mean I get stories like a C.I.D. man gets on the stand and says that he's got seventeen years police experience and to the best of his knowledge he didn't know that the F.B.I. examined fingerprints.
Now, when Jeff MacDonald told me that and he told me that the man swore to that, I went -- just about went through the roof.
Of course, the problem is it was taken out of context. I didn't know that. But -- you know -- it was part of a larger story. What the man had actually said was that the F.B.I. do not take fragments of fingerprints for a total identification of a given individual. They will take a fragment for comparison with another fragment. But not a fragment of a fingerprint to identify two persons. Am I correct?
MR. STROUD: To some extent, yes.
A But, there were many things. I was getting fed a lot of wrong information. Jeff was telling me what he wanted me to know. As far as what was going on at the 32 and the investigation itself.
But -- and this was all on the telephone. I only went down there after we originally went down the first time, I only went down there twice. Once with my wife to visit him during a recess in the 32 and once to testify at the 32.
All of my -- anything I got in the way of information was from Jeff MacDonald. And a lot of it was just not -- I was not going to say -- I'll not say they were out and out lies but they were taking the truth and bending it.
And, of course, it's the same operation that Bernie Segal used with the newspapers.
They fed the newspapers what they wanted the newspapers to know and that was it. That was the extent of it.
That's why I was raising so much hell at the time and dissatisfied.
FOREMAN: Now, anyone else?
FOREMAN: All right, thank you, sir.
A Okay, thank you very much.
FOREMAN: Let's take a coffee break. It's 10:20, let's say twenty minutes.
MR. STROUD: Very good.