Article 32 Hearing
August 13, 1970
(The hearing reopened at 1417 hours, 13 August 1970.)
COL ROCK: This hearing will come to order. Let the record reflect that those parties who were in attendance at the recess are currently in the hearing room.
Does the government have any material to present representing interviews with Mrs. Jan Snyder?
CPT SOMERS: Yes, sir, we do have an interview work sheet and it is now available to you.
COL ROCK: Thank you. A copy has been handed to the counsel for the accused and to the investigating officer.
MR. SEGAL: Sir, at this time I would like to have marked as an accused exhibit, the copy of the interview work sheet representing an interview with Janet Snyder, wife of Kenneth Robert Snyder, taken at 1055 hours on 17 February 1970, and have that marked as an accused exhibit, sir, and received.
COL ROCK: Accused's Exhibit 39, interview work sheet of Janet Snyder, 1055 hours, 17 February 1970. Does counsel for the accused have any further witnesses at this time?
MR. SEGAL: Yes, sir, Mr. Kassab, please.
(Mr. Alfred Kassab was called as a witness by the defense, was sworn, and testified as follows.)
Questions by MR. SEGAL:
Q Would you state your full name and address for the records?
A Alfred Kassab, 22 Bonnie Lane, Stoney Brook, New York.
Q Would you spell your last name please?
Q Would you state what relationship if any you are to Captain Jeffrey R. MacDonald?
A I am his father-in-law.
Q And are you the father of his wife, Colette MacDonald?
A Yes, sir.
Q Were you her natural father?
A No, I am her stepfather.
Q May I ask when you and Mrs. Kassab were married.
A Fourteen years ago.
Q And how old was Colette MacDonald at that time?
Q And how long did Colette MacDonald live in the Kassab family home with you and your wife?
A As long as we were married, fourteen years.
Q When did you first come in contact with Jeffrey MacDonald?
A Approximately fifteen years ago.
Q And at what age was Captain MacDonald at that time?
A About twelve, eleven, twelve.
Q How did you first meet Captain MacDonald?
A I met him in -- now, my wife -- she wasn't my wife -- I met him at her home as he was visiting my daughter.
Q And over the next few years did you have occasion to see him again?
A Oh, quite often.
Q What high school did your daughter attend?
A Patchogue High School.
Q Patchogue Long Island, New York?
Q And do you know what high school Captain MacDonald attended?
A He also attended Patchogue High School.
Q During the years that your daughter was in high school, did you have occasion to see Jeffrey MacDonald?
A Yes, quite often.
Q Would you describe to the investigating officer the circumstances and how you came to see Captain MacDonald during that period of time?
A Well, Captain MacDonald used to come and see my daughter and there was a period in there where they were on the outs and Captain MacDonald still used to come to our house and he used to mow the lawn in the summertime and shovel the driveway in the wintertime regardless of the fact that they weren't going together and he'd stop by every once in a while and leave her a gift on the back steps and leave.
Q How often would you say you saw Jeff MacDonald during high school years?
A About once a week, at least.
Q Was your daughter actually in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship with him part of that high school period or all of that period?
A Most of it yes.
Q Now you indicate that Colette and Jeff were on the outs at some of time, are you indicating that there were some arguments or strong disagreements between them?
A No, I think it's probably one of those teenage things that happen to most young people in their 15 to16 year age group, right in there some place.
Q Were there any violent arguments that were between them at anytime?
A Never to my knowledge.
Q Did you ever hear Jeff MacDonald raise his voice to your daughter in anger during that period of time?
A Never at any time.
Q Never at any time? Are you referring to the entire period --
A From that day to this day.
Q How well did you come to know your stepdaughter?
A Well, I would say that Colette and I were as close as any one could possibly be with his own natural daughter.
Q What was -- did your relationship with Colette include her discussing things that troubled her or problems that were on her mind?
A At times, yes.
Q Was she a child who shared her concerns or anxieties with you and her mother?
A Well, not completely. I would say no, she didn't. She -- if she had any problems that we didn't know -- well, I will say that if ever she had a problem and she didn't tell you about it, you could see it on her face. It would be apparent in her voice immediately.
Q Was she the kind of person who could hide things from you?
A Absolutely not.
Q I'm referring to her real emotions or --
A She was not capable of it.
Q Did she tend to try and suppress her real feelings about situations from you?
A No, I don't think so. I don't think it was a matter of suppression. I think it was that -- I have never known her to have any problems particularly, but I would venture to say that had she had a problem that as I said a few minutes ago, I would have known it immediately. But with her, it would have been a matter of if she had a problem she would have related it. She didn't like to -- if she had a problem say in school with her studies of that type she would not come out and say it, but you could tell that there was something wrong.
Q Now, were your stepdaughter, Colette and Jeff MacDonald of he same age?
A Yes sir, within a month I think.
Q What year was Colette born in?
A I -- I don't have it off the back of my head.
Q That's all right. Now when your daughter graduated from high school, what did she do with herself?
A She attended Skidmore College, Skidmore University in Saratoga Springs.
Q New York State?
Q Do you know what school Captain MacDonald went to?
A Yes, he went to Princeton University.
Q Did Colette and Jeff continue to have any contact during the period of time that she was at Skidmore and he was at Princeton?
A Well, I know from Colette that she had spoken to Jeff and corresponded with him the first year and the second year they were going together.
Q And you say in the second year that they were going together, what do you mean by that?
A They were boyfriend and girlfriend relationship.
Q Did Colette have occasions to come home to Long Island during vacations or on weekends at all?
A Yes, she'd always come home weekends, most weekends that she had -- when she felt she could come down and she could afford it.
Q And did Captain MacDonald ever visit your home during his early college years?
A Yes, sir.
Q And what was the nature of the relationship between Jeff and Colette at that time?
Q Now when did they marry? In what year of their college education?
A The second year after -- at the end of the second year if I am not mistaken. I may be wrong there. It could have been at the beginning of the third year. It was right in there.
Q And when they married where did Colette go to reside?
A In Princeton.
Q Did you have occasion to visit your stepdaughter and son-in-law while they were married and together at Princeton?
A Yes, sir, I did.
Q On more than one occasion?
A On two occasions.
Q Did they have occasion to visit with you?
A Yes, they came to visit with us. I couldn't say how many times, but I know I went to Princeton with my wife twice.
Q What did you observe about the relationship between Colette and Jeff when they were first married and living together at Princeton, New Jersey?
A Well, they were like a couple of pigs on ice. I'll put it that way as an expression. They had a home. Ah, since they were -- Jeff was struggling through college -- they rented this very large house and had maybe seven or eight bedrooms and they acted as chaperones for girls who came on the weekends to visit the boys at the University, and readied up beds and this helped to pay for their rent.
Q From what you are saying could you give us some indication of what their financial status was during this period of life?
A Well, it was very close for them, you know Jeff was getting loans from the bank to pay for his college education, and it is pretty hard for a man working his way through college all on his own.
Q In addition to the money they earned from renting out the beds in their house, was there any other way that either Colette or Jeff was earning money during that period of time?
A Well, Colette babysat for one, and Colette also typed papers for other students, and they earned money that way.
Q Now how long was Captain MacDonald at Princeton University after they were married?
A Three years.
Q No, after they were married?
A No -- it was over two years and not three years.
Q Then Captain MacDonald left Princeton after three years there?
A Yes sir.
Q And where did he go then?
A He went to Northwestern University in Chicago.
Q Did he go there as an undergraduate?
A Yes, sir.
Q Undergraduate school or medical school?
A Medical School.
Q And did Colette go with him and set up housekeeping there?
A Yes, sir.
Q Where did they live when they were at Northwestern?
A They took an apartment, the address I don't know.
Q They had an apartment in the Evanston area?
A I don't know this.
Q Did you have occasion to visit with Colette and Jeff while he was in medical school?
A Yes, sir.
Q Did the MacDonalds come to visit you in Long Island on any occasions?
A Yes, sir.
Q What did you observe about the nature of their relationship at that time while they were in medical school?
A It was no different at that time than it was at any other time. They were happy.
Q Had the MacDonald's children been born at the time they were in medical school?
A One was born, yes.
Q Which one was that?
A Kimmie, Kimberly.
Q And was the second child born while they were in medical school?
A Yes, sir.
Q Now, did the addition of the first child appear to add any stress or cause an emotional strain to show on Colette or Jeff?
A No, sir. Colette wanted five.
Q Wanted five children?
A That was always her statement.
Q What was her attitude toward her first child in terms of her feelings?
A For actually being a mother for the first time, I don't think anyone could have been happier. Let's put it that way.
Q Was the second child a child that was wanted at the time it was had?
Q Did you observe Jeff relating to his children while he was in medical school?
A Yes, sir.
Q Can you describe his attitude and conduct toward his children?
A Well, to the best of my knowledge -- let's put it this way. To the best of my knowledge, whenever I was present there he would spend more with the children than he did with either myself or my wife because of the fact that his time was completely taken up with studies and any time he was in the living room he would be playing with the children and at the same time talking to us.
Q Now after Jeff graduated from Northwestern Medical School, where did he go?
A He went to Columbia University to serve his in -- Columbia Presbyterian Hospital to serve his internship.
Q And did they live in the New York area?
A In New Jersey, local Jersey, right across the bridge from New York.
Q Did you and your wife have occasion to see Colette and Jeff during that period of time of the internship?
A Yes, and my wife more frequently than I. My wife would go over at a minimum of two to three times a week.
Q Did the MacDonalds have occasion to visit you at Patchogue on Long Island?
A Yes, sir.
Q What did you observe about their relationship during that period of time while he was interning at Columbia Presbyterian?
A It was as I said before, their relationship never changed at anytime that I ever noticed.
Q When you say it never changed, what was that relationship? How would you describe it?
A To the point where they were really an exceedingly happily married couple and with the second child they seemed to be happier yet.
Q Now when Jeff finished his internship at Columbia Presbyterian where did he go?
A The day he finished his internship he reported to the Army in Texas.
Q And do you know approximately how long he was in Texas?
A It seemed to me it was four weeks, but --
Q Thereafter, where was he assigned?
A In Georgia, I think at the jump school.
Q Fort Benning?
A That could be it. I'm not sure.
Q And following jump school where was he?
A He came here.
Q Fort Bragg?
A That's right.
Q Now, when did Mrs. MacDonald joined him, join her husband in the military service?
A I drove her here myself. If I am not mistaken it was in October of last year. The exact date --
Q October 1969?
A Yes, sir.
Q Did you maintain contact with Jeff and Colette when they were both together here at Fort Bragg?
A Yes, sir, I called on a minimum of once a week.
Q Did you speak with your stepdaughter during that period of time?
A Yes, sir.
Q Did you have occasion to visit them here?
A Yes, sir. Well, aside from the first time when I brought her down here with the children, my wife and I were both down here last Christmas, for Christmas.
Q December 1969?
A Yes, sir.
Q Did either Jeff or Colette have a chance to visit you on Long Island during the period they were here at Fort Bragg?
A Captain MacDonald did, yes, sir.
Q When was that?
A He came back for a weekend on business, personal business of some kind and he stopped in to say hello to us. But his wife was not with him.
Q How long were you here at Fort Bragg in December of '69 with Colette and Jeff?
A It was either three or four days.
Q And would you describe for the investigating officer how your daughter seemed to be in terms of her married life, married relationship?
A Well, I would say that even though I've used ecstatic expressions to prior terms, I think they were considerably happier here than they had ever been.
Q And why was that?
A Well, I would think that it would be the less financial problems, from the point of view that they had a home. They -- Jeff came home most nights which he's never been able to do before. He had more time with the children, more time to devote to Colette and they seemed to -- of course, you can imagine a wife with a husband in internship and medical school get to see not too much of her husband. Here she saw him almost every night and she was ecstatic about that.
Q Did anything of an unusual nature happen during your Christmas visit here at Fort Bragg?
A Yeah, this was well unusual. Christmas morning, at about six o'clock -- I'm an early riser -- I was up walking around and Jeff said to me, "I've got a surprise," he said for the kids for Christmas and I want you to come down and take a look. So he and I got dressed and left the house before my wife and daughter and grandchildren got up and we drove down the road three or four miles and he showed me a pony that he had bought for the children.
Q Did anyone know about that?
A No one but me.
Q No one in the house?
A No one in the household. I think, if I remember correctly, a fellow officer on the base helped them build the stall for the pony.
Q And what happened when you went down to visit the horse?
A Well, we went down to where the horse was being kept and when I saw the horse I thought it was terrific for the children. Pony, I should say, and then we went back to the house and Jeff preceded to tell Colette that he had ordered a gift for the children for Christmas and that since Sears & Roebuck fouled it up, that there was one in the window and if we'd all get in the car we'd go down to see this thing so at least they could see what they were getting for Christmas. And we drove down the road and then we turned off and Colette didn't understand why we were turning off the road and not going straight down to Sears & Roebuck and he said, "Well I got to stop here and pick something up." And we drove down to the corral and we all got out of the car and he said, "I want you to see something over here." And we took them over there and showed them the pony.
Q What was Colette's view of the gift for the children?
A To the best of my recollection, she cried for half an hour.
Q Now when did you leave your stepdaughter and son-in-law in December?
A It was the day after Christmas.
Q Did you -- what was her attitude as far as family relationship at the time you left her?
A They were very -- as I said, they were the happiest I've ever seen them.
Q When you indicated that Colette cried on seeing the horse, was that -- as far as you could tell -- was that because she was sad or disappointed?
A No, Colette being, always was a sensitive child, and anything that made her very happy, she cried.
Q Did you then have contacts with your stepdaughter and son-in-law between December and February 17, 1970?
A Yes, sir, I called, as I said before, a minimum of once a week, sometimes twice, and as a matter of fact, I spoke to her Friday prior to February 17th and on February the 15th, although I didn't actually talk to her, I was on the other phone while my wife was talking to her.
Q So you overheard the conversation?
A Yes, sir.
Q How did your daughter seem to you when you spoke to her on the very last date, that is February 15th -- Sunday evening?
A During the day sometime, yes. She sounded no different than she had ever sounded.
Q Did you -- did she give any indication that there was any marital problem between herself and Captain MacDonald?
A None whatsoever.
Q Did she give you any indication that she was having any difficulty with the children?
A No, sir.
Q Did she give any indication that she was suffering from a depression from her pregnancy?
CPT SOMERS: I object to this. He has -- he is leading much too much. I object to that question.
MR. SEGAL: It relates to a specific characteristic. I think we can understand what we are dealing with here.
CPT BEALE: The objection is overruled.
A No. Let me back up on that question and answer you from this point of view -- that I have stated previously that my daughter had expressed her wish for five children, and that this one was her third and she was ecstatic about the idea, even though she knew and I knew that her having children was a very dangerous thing.
Q Why was that?
A Because she'd had two prior Caesareans, and the last one in Chicago, if it hadn't been for Captain MacDonald she would have died in the recovery room.
Q Would you describe the incident to the investigating officer?
A Well, that incident was related to me by both my daughter and Captain MacDonald. I wasn't there, but she had been, the Cesarean had been performed and she was in the recovery room and since Captain MacDonald had access to the hospital as a medical student, he went to visit her in the recovery room, and upon entry he found that she had hardly any pulse and no blood pressure whatsoever, and he went quick and got the surgeon and they operated immediately again and saved her life. There had been -- something happened to one of the blood vessels, I'm not really being technical. I really don't know what happened, something along this line had happened.
Q Did Captain MacDonald ever have occasion to express to you his feelings about the marital relationship at the time you saw them in December, or in any way show you his feelings?
A Well, the man spent most of his time playing with his children all the time when he was home. Every time you turned around, he had one of the girls playing with him. At least, let's put it this way, more so that most people I know.
Q Did it ever appear to you that he was neglectful and not attentive to his wife, your stepdaughter Colette?
A No, sir, he spent -- well, he was the type of man that, who would come home at least once a week with a gift of some kind.
Q For whom?
A For my daughter, and I would say that he bought, personally all by himself, approximately 80 percent of her clothes as surprises for her.
Q What was Captain MacDonald's attitude towards the Army and his service in the Army?
A Well Captain MacDonald, to the best of my knowledge from talking to him and seeing his deportment, he was exceedingly proud of belonging to the Green Berets.
Q By the way, have you ever served in the Army, sir?
A Yes, sir.
Q What was your --
A I was in the Canadian Army in World War II.
Q How long were you in the Army sir?
A From September 3rd, 1939 until 1945.
Q What type of service did you have, sir?
A I was in the Canadian Intelligence, Military Intelligence.
Q Were you an American citizen or a Canadian citizen?
A I was a Canadian citizen.
Q And are you a Canadian citizen now?
Q I am an American citizen.
Q When did you become an American citizen?
A I moved to the United States in 1946 and became a citizen in 1948.
Q If Captain MacDonald was free to leave Fort Bragg today, would you accept him into your home, sir?
A Yes, sir.
MR. SEGAL: Cross-examine?
WITNESS: May I add one thing to that?
MR. SEGAL: Yes, you may.
WITNESS: If I had another daughter, I'd still want the same son-in-law.
COL ROCK: Let's recess for five minutes, I think.
(The hearing recessed at 1444 hours, 13 August 1970.)
(The hearing reopened at 1450 hours, 13 August 1970.)
COL ROCK: This hearing will come to order. Let the record reflect that those parties that were present at the recess are currently in the hearing room, including the witness. I advise you, sir, again, that you are under oath. Proceed, counselor.
Questions by CPT SOMERS:
Q Mr. Kassab, I'd like to say that I know this is difficult for you, and I won't draw it out long.
A Thank you.
Q Some of the things I'm going to ask unfortunately will be fairly personal, but I will try to keep it brief. Now, you've used the phrase which I don't really understand, and the phrase was "like pigs on ice," however, I think what you mean to say is that, in describing the relationship between Colette and Jeff that they were very happy together and devoted to one another. Is that what you are saying?
A Yes, sir.
Q When was Kimberly born? Do you know that, sir?
A I couldn't give you a date, no.
Q Could you estimate?
A Well, she'd be about six years old now, so it would be approximately '63.
Q And where was Jeff and Colette at the time?
A In Princeton.
Q As I understand it you have never heard Captain MacDonald raise his voice to Colette. Is that correct?
A No, sir.
Q You are saying -- never in anger?
A Well, that's what I mean.
Q Now let me say, before I ask you this question that I regret having to ask it, but it does bear directly on the relationship of Captain MacDonald and Colette. Under what circumstances did they get married?
A Could I have an explanation of that? What do you mean, sir?
Q Did they have to get married?
A No, sir.
Q How long after they were married was Kimberly born?
A Approximately seven months.
Q Now, sir, when was it that Captain MacDonald visited in New York for the weekend? I gather you say he did that sometime after June of last year?
A Oh, yes, it was -- it is very difficult for me to say exactly when it was. I really have no means of knowing, except that I do know that it -- it would have had been after Colette was down here, which would have been after October.
Q And before you visited?
A Yes, sir, between October and December, somewhere in there.
Q Did Mrs. Kassab have occasion to visit with the children after Christmas at any time?
A No, sir. You are talking about in person?
A No, sir.
Q Now, as I understand what you said, sir, you detected no change in the attitudes and relationship between Colette and Jeff in the phone conversations just prior to the deaths?
A That's correct.
Q And I presume then as an actual concomitant, you are saying that the relationship remained the same and remained happy so far as you can tell?
A Yes, sir.
Q What was the last contact you had with them, that is with Colette?
A Personal or on the phone?
Q On the phone.
A I spoke to Colette on the phone on the Friday prior to February the 17th. I was on the phone when she talked to her mother on Sunday prior to February 17th, however, I didn't talk, because I was on the phone, and I just listened and let her mother talk because I talked to her quite often so I just let her mother talk.
CPT SOMERS: I have no further questions.
MR. SEGAL: I have nothing further.
COL ROCK: I have a couple of questions, Mr. Kassab, very briefly.
Do you have any other stepchildren as a result of this marriage?
WITNESS: Yes, sir, one. A boy.
COL ROCK: Of what age approximately?
WITNESS: He's thirty-one, sir.
COL ROCK: Did Colette's real father die or was this the result of --
WITNESS: No, he died, sir.
COL ROCK: I have no further questions.
Mr. Kassab, you are requested not to discuss your testimony with any person outside of this hearing, other than counsel for the government or counsel for the accused. You are excused, sir.
WITNESS: Thank you.
(The witness departed the hearing room.)