September 4, 1974
Testimony of Alfred Kassab
Scans of original transcript
I, Mary M. Ritchie, being a Notary Public and for the State of North Carolina, was appointed to take the testimony of the following witness, Alfred Kassab, before the Grand Jury, Raleigh, North Carolina, commencing at 2:45 p.m. on September 4, 1974. All Grand Jurors present.
Whereupon, Alfred Kassab, having been first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:
EXAMINATION BY MR. WOERHEIDE:
Q Would you state your name, please, sir?
A Alfred Kassab.
Q Where do you live?
A 22 Bonnie Lane, Stony Brook, New York.
Q And you are the husband of Mildred Kassab who was the preceeding witness before the grand jury?
A That's correct.
Q And you are the father of Colette MacDonald?
A Yes, sir.
Q And I take it, you knew Jeff MacDonald for a number of years before he and Colette were married?
Q And I'm not going to go into a great deal of detail, but, can you tell us about Jeff as a boy and about Colette as a girl, and tell us briefly how they were as a married couple.
A Best as I can tell when they were in the area of the junior high school age, fourteen, fifteen, they went, what the kids called, steady. Jeff was a nice boy from all I ever saw. He used to come over on the weekends and cut the lawn, this type of thing. And we compensated him for it, but he used to like to come and cut the lawn. And they went out together for -- first year that I remember, that is the first year that I had met him, and then something in there occurred. I don't know, had a fight or something, teenage type thing and they split up. This was about her senior year of high school. It happened about the senior year of high school. And by the time, I think the first year, somewhere in the first year of college, they went back together again, somewhere in that area. They got along very well to all outward appearances. There was a sort of restriction on how much going out they did, of course.
I'm a little on the old-fashioned type. For the first few years, while they were in junior high school they went out together, of course, naturally fifteen and sixteen, in there, I would take them wherever they were going and I would pick them up and bring them home.
When they started going back together again, we were very pleased. Mildred and I were very pleased because we liked Jeff, that they were going back together again. And then about in their second year of college, Colette told us that she was pregnant and that they wanted to get married. And we tried to talk her out of it from the point of view that Jeff was going to medical school, she had only put in two years of college. We wanted her to finish college and we wanted him to be able to finish medical school. And we assumed that being married, with a wife and child, that the finances -- he might not complete his medical school, and therefore, maybe ruin his career. We weren't against the marriage, but we only wanted it if it was absolutely what they wanted. And Mrs. MacDonald and her husband came in and talked to us. And we said, "We don't have anything against it. They should go ahead and get married if this is what they wanted." Which they did.
I think Jeff was going into his third year at Princeton. Somewhere in there. And they moved down to Princeton and lived there. We visited them. I don't know whether my wife visited them more than I did. She probably did, but I was down there twice or three times during the year. One time we stayed I think for a weekend or something like that. They had a fairly sizable house in Princeton where -- I don't remember how many beds there were in the house, but it was somewhere around -- it was over a dozen whereby the young girls who came down to visit the boys at Princeton, their boyfriends, over the weekend, Jeff and Colette acted as chaperons for the girls. And they made a small income from this which helped pay for the rent. And Colette babysat for other children and things like that. And they got along. We helped as best we could through college with whatever we could help with financially. Mrs. MacDonald to the best of our knowledge -- we were made to understand that she was sending Jeff money. However, Colette told us it wasn't so. Mrs. MacDonald was not sending money and we just couldn't understand it. However, they got along fair. They weren't starving. They didn't have a lot of money. Then they moved to Chicago and he went to medical school.
I can't say that at any time Colette ever complained about anything. The only time that I ever, I think ever noticed anything was for -- let's say in January and February of 1970. I called Colette during her whole married life probably -- maybe twice a week. And there is a reason for that. It wasn't that I was overly -- I was very attached to her, but you know this would sound a little bit ridiculous to somebody in Chicago and then down in Fort Bragg. But in my office we have what's known as a Watts line, it's an unlimited use of the telephone. There's no extra cost whether you use it or don't use it. So I called her quite often. The last month and a half there seemed to be a strain in her voice. I didn't really think about it at the time I noticed it and at this point I think that it was in my subconscious that perhaps she might have been a little annoyed at me somewhere along the line.
Perhaps during the last week before she left for Fort Bragg or somewhere in there I had become impatient perhaps with one of the children and scolded them, that type of thing. This was probably what was in the back of my mind and I didn't think about it too much until maybe three years ago when I was doing an extensive amount of thinking. And then I realized that there was definitely a strain there in her voice. I can't attribute it to anything. I don't know what caused it, but it was there. It was not Colette because she was a very outgoing person and she was very gushy. And we were very close. I couldn't have been closer to her if I had been her own father so, in fact, this is what someone thinks she was known for. If anyone called me her stepfather, she would jump all over them. She wouldn't allow it. She would say, "This is just my father."
So we went down there Christmas and when we went down there Christmas of 1969 -- the visit was an amiable one except for a little incident about Jeff insisting that the people next door come in and visit and Colette thinking that it was not appropriate because she didn't think that Mrs. Kalin and Mildred would get along at all. That they were two opposite type people completely. And besides that, Colette was preparing a gourmet Chinese meal, a fancy meal of some kind, kind of complicated, and to have to run in and out of the kitchen, I suppose, and take care of guests, Colette tried to talk him out of it, and he wouldn't be talked out of it. And I think there were a few words said at the dinner table about it and that was the end of the thing.
So, as a general picture, that's more or less the picture as I saw it between Jeff and Colette. I never had occasion to see anything wrong.
Q All right. February 17 you got a phone call.
A Well, the phone call came in, oh, I would say, within five minutes of five-fifteen. And the reason I know the time is because I wake up between five to five and five after five, a mental alarm clock sort of thing and I always get up at five o'clock. And I go in and put the coffee pot on and then I go back in and I shower and I shave. And I was in the bathroom showering when the call came in. Mildred answered the phone. And as best as I can recollect as she told it to me was that we were asked to come down to Womack Army Hospital on the base at Fort Bragg immediately. That something had happened and that we should call Mrs. MacDonald because they hadn't been able to get hold of her and ask her to come down as well. I dressed very quickly and the thought entered my mind, I don't know why it entered my mind, but people play pranks, so I decided that I would check on this phone call.
So I called the Womack Army Hospital and asked for information. And they couldn't give me any information at all. However, it was true. They confirmed that we were wanted down there immediately. So I rang Mrs. MacDonald's phone for quite a while and she finally answered the phone. I asked her -- told her what had been told to us and she came over to our house. We left from our house and drove to LaGuardia, took a helicopter to Newark and flew down to Fort Bragg. We arrived in Fayetteville somewhere around two or two-thirty in the afternoon. We were met by a Green Beret captain. He drove us to the hospital and took us up to the intensive care ward.
We walked in and Jeff was in bed in sort of a glass enclosed area of the intensive care ward. We walked into the room and his exact words -- I use the expression, he said that, "Four drug addicts broke into the house and killed them all." Now the question has been asked by my wife to me whether he really said the word broke in or didn't. That is -- but it's the general idea of the thing. Those were approximate his words that he used. And that one of the -- by the way, right at about this point, maybe a second or two later, or second or two before, Mrs. MacDonald, Jeff's mother, started to scream and I quick hustled her out of the area and turned her over to a doctor and went back in.
And he said that one of the men had a baseball bat and that he hit him over the head with it. And that the other fellows attacked him and that there was a girl who carried a lit candle and was chanting, "Acid is groovy, kill the pigs" and something about acid and rain, and somewhere either at that point or it could have been later on in the day, this idea of a girl, I had the picture in my mind of a girl walking with a candle lit. There was something wrong with it. See, it just didn't sit right somehow or other. I had visions of this girl. When did she light this candle? Did she light it outside, did she light it inside? Where do you find a match? If she's a drug addict, is she -- so I said to Jeff, "Are you sure it was a candle?" And he said, "Yes, I'm sure." I said, "Could it have been a flashlight." He said, "Well, yes, it could have been a flashlight, but I'm almost sure it was a candle." Of course, during this conversation that was taking place, off and on, he was in tears. When we talked about this little portion about the girl, Mildred was standing next to me looking out the window. And she said something to the effect that if she could lay her hands on this girl that she would tear her eyes out and her tongue out and turn her loose in the street. And she turned around and Jeff's mouth had dropped open. And he turned six shades whiter. Of course, at that time we just assumed -- Mildred felt very bad about it because she figured she was upsetting him and I guess she was with a statement like that. We seemed to think it was a shock of some kind.
The doctor came in and asked if we would leave him for a little while so he could give him another shot.
We went outside and sat in an anteroom for maybe an hour. I met an FBI agent and a CID agent in the hall who said they were waiting to talk to Jeff. I made the suggestion that perhaps I could be of some assistance and left it at that. They didn't seem to want that.
We went back in and spoke to Jeff for a couple more minutes. The conversation as best as I can recall was more or less a soothing thing. We didn't talk about the occurence itself. Then we left the hospital and we were assigned quarters.
Q Let me ask you -- let's go back to when you went in for a minute. When you went into his room were there any attendants there, doctor or --
A There were two doctors. One doctor or two. There was no doctor in the room, I don't think. He may have been standing right outside of the door. But, when I grabbed Mrs. MacDonald and hustled her out of this cubicle, I did it with the idea in mind that I didn't know what his condition was or how bad it was, and her screaming and not only that, we were in an intensive care ward. So I hustled her out and turned her over to this doctor. Whether there were others around -- I know there were nurses and doctors in the general area, but whether they were right in the room or not I couldn't say.
Q Now was he propped up in bed?
A At a slight angle, yes.
Q How much of his body could you see?
A He was naked to the waist, to below the belly button.
Q And were his lower extremities covered by a sheet?
A His feet?
Q Well, from his waist on down. Was there a sheet on him?
A I think there was some kind of covering there because I don't remember whether he had pajama bottoms on or not. But I know something covered him. This I know.
Q Now what did you observe about his physical appearance?
A I observed the same thing then as I did on all the other visits I made, which were puncture wounds, small puncture wounds in the left shoulder area. Of course, the thing that hit me when I walked into the door was the bruise over the left eye. There was a fairly, about the size of a dollar, bruise over the left eye. Which the bruise itself contained abrasions or scratches or whatever you want to call them. There were small puncture wounds here in this area. On this side somewhere in the upper area here there was a small cut. On the left side here somewhere there was a cut. There was a bandage right in here somewhere that covered an area that had a tube coming from it.
Q Was that the only bandage that he had?
A That was the only bandage he had, yes.
Q Now when you say small puncture wounds, what type of wound are you referring to?
A About the size, I would say, as the head of a pin. You know the head of the pin, not the point of it. About the head of a pin. About that size. There were -- had a small tiny scab on them. You could see them. They were there but only because we were looking. There was one cut on the left area in here somewhere.
Q Was there a scratch that could have been made by a fingernail?
A Yes, there were scratches in here. You say scratches. They were red marks and tiny little dots of blood, dry blood. But he was naked, as I said, to below his belly button and I assure you that there were no puncture wounds or cuts in his abdomen. None whatsoever.
Q The only bandage he had was --
A (Interposing) The one on the right side.
Q The area to the right side, under the breat, you might say.
A Yes. Somewhere in this general area.
Q Under the nipple.
A Of course, you have to remember that we were there most of the week, but it was in this general area, right in here somewhere.
Q Did he appear to be alert?
A The first visit in the morning he was what I would say --
Q You say in the morning or you talking about --
A When we went in there the first time when he told us the story.
Q You said you arrived in the afternoon.
A Well, I'm sorry. I say the first visit at two o'clock or two-thirty, whatever it was. I would say he was semi-alert. I think he was bright. He said -- one of the things he said to us when we walked into the door -- I think that second thing he said was that -- to Mildred or to both of us for that matter, I'm not sure. "You gave her to me and I couldn't take care of her." That was about the words he used. They may have been one or two words, more or less. He was semi-alert. I assumed, of course, that --
Q How was his color?
A I would not say that it was extremely pale. I would say that it wasn't a normal flush color or it was paler than you would normally see him. However, later that evening when I went back to visit again for the second time, late afternoon, whatever you want to call it, I don't remember exactly when it was. I went back to visit him. He had been moved into a private room and when I walked into the door he was eating his dinner and he was --
Q Would you say that he was rational, that he was oriented as to time and place, that he --
A I don't think --
Q That he knew what was going on?
A I don't think that he was ever irrational.
Q He identified you immediately.
Q Was he aware of the circumstances and the position he was in at that time?
A Yes. That's right. He had to give them my phone number.
Q Now besides -- or did he describe these four intruders aside from saying there was a woman with a candle?
A No. He said there was a black man. That was not the expression that he used, and two white men and a girl.
Q Did he describe the struggle that occurred?
Q Did he tell you where he was?
A Yes. He said, if I'm correct, I really can't swear that he said he was in the living room. But I think he said he was sleeping in the living room. I'm just not positive.
Q Did he explain why he was sleeping in the living room?
Q Did he say what happened?
A You talking about that first visit?
Q I'm talking about the first visit.
Q Did he tell you what happened as a result of the struggle?
A You mean when the kids and Colette were dead?
Q Did he say what happened to him?
A He said he had been stabbed and that his lung was punctured.
Q Stabbed in the chest by one of the intruders?
A That's right.
Q Did he say anything about an episode when he was unconscious?
A No. Some of these things come back to me and sometimes they don't. It was a pretty hectic visit, that first visit. When he was unconscious?
Q Yes. Did he mention there was a period of time after the intruders came in that he was stabbed and hit with this baseball bat that he was unconscious.
A Not that morning, I don't think. At least I don't remember it if he did.
Q Did he tell you that he had seen Colette and the children in the house?
A He said they were all dead.
Q What did he tell you about that?
A He didn't. He just said that they were all dead. He didn't explain it.
Q Now in the succeeding days, did he give you any more details about this incident?
A Very, very few. We got no details about the occurrences themselves. What these men were supposed to have done, except there was a big fight in the living room. He fought these people, but never anything, and we did not push him because we didn't want to get him overwrought. And he said he couldn't talk about it anyway. That it would upset him too much.
Q The reason I'm asking you, you have a copy of the Article 32 transcript, do you not?
Q And your wife, Mildred, has read this transcript.
Q And she seemd to recall that he had said something about the struggle in the living room, being unconscious, going down the hall, finding Colette, going to the different rooms, making a telephone call, I'm just wondering if this recollection comes from the -- her reading the Article 32 hearing or whether this was something that he actually said to you at the time.
A I don't recollect such a conversation. However, you must remember one thing. That I was not in that room all the time. I was in and out.
Q And there were times when Mildred was there.
A There were times when conversations occurred that I did not hear.
Q And there were times when Mildred was there and you were not.
A That's right.
Q And, of course, there were times when you were there and Mildred was not?
A Yes, on subsequent days, yes. Conversation about the murders was at that particular first meeting. After that, mostly the questions were have they found anybody? What's been done? What little information we got about certain people being picked up was the information that I related to him. The only thing that I think that -- conversation that was given -- a piece of information that was given to me by Jeff after that first day was the fact that next day he told me that his wallet had been found on the base and returned to him. And that the few dollars that was in it were gone, but that the credit cards were still there. He just didn't want to talk about it and we could understand. We figured the trauma -- he couldn't talk about it from a mental point of view, we assumed. So, therefore, we figured somebody else has got to tell us something, but nobody did.
Q How long did you stay in the Fort Bragg area?
A We went down on Tuesday and we returned on Sunday.
Q When was the ceremony in the chapel?
A On Saturday.
Q And did you make the arrangements to secure coffins?
A Yes. I think it was on Thursday. Jeff signed a release, a Power of Attorney, or something along this line, so that I could take possession of the bodies from the army base and taken them down town and arrange for funeral arrangements, coffins, and stuff like that. I did. I went down and made the arrangements and I instructed the mortician or whoever runs the place that I wanted the caskets kept closed and he said to me at the time, "If you want them opened, it can be arranged." And I said, "No, I don't want them opened." And, of course, I went back and told Jeff that I had made the arrangements and that I had asked that the caskets be kept closed. For some unknown reason this upset him. He wanted the caskets opened even though he wasn't going to be there. And I said, "No, the funeral director said it can't be left opened." It was a white lie, but that's the way Mildred wanted it and that's the way I wanted it. We figured we didn't want -- we were strangers in that area. Nobody knew us. We saw no reason for the caskets being in a funeral parlor at a public place with all the notoriety involved; why there should be people trespassing in and out of there like Grand Central Station. So then the army approached us on having a funeral service.
We asked that it be a completely private one with only the MacDonald family and ourselves and our son and daughter-in-law. And Jeff was very upset about this. He wanted it to be a big funeral. So we compromised by saying just his immediate company, not battalion, but company, a small group of men and we would consent to it on the provision that the army guarantee us that they would not allow newspaper reporters, photographers anywhere near the church, which they did. So we had the services and then that was on a Saturday and Sunday we flew them back to Long Island.
Q Jeff was released form the hospital for the service.
Q And then he returned to the hospital and was subsequently discharged.
A That's right.
Q Tell them about payment of the funeral expenses.
A Well, I spoke with Jeff about -- when I went down and told him I was going to take care of the funeral arrangements I was kind of -- not edgy about the thing, but I just assumed, if it was my wife and children that I would want to make the arrangements. So, therefore, I consulted with him on everything I did. I told him that I would take care of payment for everything and when he got on his feet and became a doctor and was up in the world, you know, he could pay me back if he wanted to. And that I would pay the whole thing with exception of a thousand dollars ($1,000). Colette had a thousand dollar policy ($1,000), life insurance policy on her life that Mildred took out on her when she was a little baby, one of those thousand dollar baby policies. And Mildred had always paid the premium on it up until the day Colette died. And when Colette got married I said to her, "Now, you've got a thousand dollar insurance policy and now that you are married, you've got a husband, you really ought to put the policy in his name and he should be the beneficiary instead of your mother and I."
So I had the papers drawn up and she signed them, and we changed beneficiary. And I told this to the funeral director, that he would get the thousand dollars ($1,000) from Captain MacDonald.
About three weeks after I left, the man called me on the phone. He said, "Mr. Kassab, I don't have my thousand dollars, yet." And I said to him, "I spoke to Captain MacDonald about it and he doesn't have the money from the insurance company, yet." And the man's very words were, "Mr. Kassab, being a funeral director is a business just like any other business. And there's a lot of money involved. And so, therefore, especially with insurance, we have to check." And he said, "I checked with the insurance company and Captain MacDonald got that check a week or ten days ago." He said, "He hasn't come anywhere near me."
Well, I just happened to know that if the man was telling me the truth, that since then, I had spoken to Jeff and Jeff told me he hadn't gotten it. So I called him back on the phone and I said, "Hey, the man's screaming for his money. He said you had it." And Jeff said, "Yes, I just got it this morning. I'll send my mother down with it tomorrow and she'll pay." Which she did. The money went down the next day, but it was a little --
And then, when we got up to Long Island, Mildred made the arrangements for the cemetery that has flat stones, no uprights. You know, bronze plaques on the ground. And Mildred selected the stones, the plaques. And then she figured, well, "Now, I should really tell Jeff what I am doing before I do it. Because essentially, if he wants to really pay for this thing, I really, even if he's going to pay for it later on, I shouldn't spend too much more money than he really wants to spend." She called him and said, "Well, now, the small ones that we can get are the least expensive of all. I think they will be fine." Jeff said, "How much are they?" And she said, "Three hundred and fifty dollars." And he yelled, "Three hundred and fifty dollars." He didn't really want to spend that. Mildred said, "That's the cheapest thing I can get. I can't buy it for less than that." So that was just a thing. But he has a thing about money. That was the extent of the funeral arrangements and the best that I --
Q Now, subsequently, you were notified that charges were being made against him. Is that correct?
A That's right.
Q And did you come to his support at that time?
Q And there was an Article 32 hearing.
A That's right.
Q And you testified at the Article 32 hearing on his behalf.
A Yes. I gave a character reference.
Q And you, in effect, said that he had been a nice boy. He was a good husband and father.
A That's right.
Q Now toward the end of the Article 32 hearing do you recall any telephone conversations with Jeff?
A Before the end or after the end?
Q Before the end. I'm thinking in terms of receiving visits from Captain Beale.
A Yes, of course. You must remember that during the Article 32 hearings, especially weekdays, it may have been a Sunday or so when I didn't, I spoke to Jeff every single night during the Article 32 and they went on for about five months. I spoke to him every night.
Yes, he did say to me, and that conversation was recorded, that he had just gotten a visit that afternoon from Captain Beale, who was a legal adviser to Colonel Rock. And that he had come down to visit him in his room, and he had brought his wife down to be examined.
Now, this was at a time when I was so strong in his corner. It elated me no end, because I immediately went on the assumption that if the legal adviser to Colonel Rock would come pay a man a social visit in his room, well, what better indication do you want than that what the verdict is going to be? This was what I assumed, anyway, at that time.
Q Do you recall any subsequent conversations in which he made any references to getting revenge and doing anything to assure you that he would get a revenge?
A No, except for that famous phone call that I got from him on November 17 and he said to me that he had something very important to tell me. And I said, "Well, if it's very important, wait until tomorrow." I was under the impression that my phone line was tapped. I said, "Call me at the office." I said, "We have eight phone lines in there and there's no telling which line it's going to come in on, and you can talk all you want then." So the next day I went to the office and Jeff called me, and he told me -- mostly his conversation he used the word "we." Every once in a while he would say "I," but he did use the word "we" pretty regularly in there -- that he had gone out on a hunt in Fayetteville looking for murderers. And that he had found one, I think, in a bar. And that they took this fellow out of there and they questioned him intensely, beat him, what have you. And by the time they were through with him they said he would have told on his own mother. However, he identified as having been in the house, hearing the screaming in the house, and that he participated in the murders. And I was elated and I said to Jeff, "Now, where is this guy now?" And he said, "He's six feet under. I killed him. What has to be done, has to be done." Those were his very words. And he said the Fayetteville police found the body. They think the motive was robbery. Anyway the guy was way out on drugs. He didn't even know his own name. And that's it. That's the end of it.
Q I have some letters here and I'll show you a copy of some of them. Here's a letter dated November 9, 1970. It's marked as Mrs. Kassab's exhibit #1. It says among other things that, "I will deny our phone conversation of today if anyone even asks. I am sure you can figure out why. What must be done, must be done." Is that in reference to that conversation?
A That's right. That's exactly. That was written the same day the conversation took place.
Q Now we have some subsequent letters. Did he, in the course of the subsequent letters, again, from time to time, refer to having eliminated one of the intruders?
A Yes. Because in one letter where I -- it was the only time I ever chastised him in writing -- about coming to Long Island from California and paying a visit and not even calling us on the telephone. I took him to task about it and the fact that he hadn't gone near the FBI or the CID to inquire as to what was being done. And he referred to it in the answer to that letter. I think his words were something like one down, three or four to go, or words to that -- they're in that letter. Among these letters here. He also claimed in that letter that he went to -- when he came south, went south from California, on a hunt for the murderers, again referring to something like hippie group #2, or something like that, and that the trip had cost him two thousand dollars and a broken hand. Well, of course, before that letter, long before that letter, about two months or so, somewhere in that area, I'm not sure exact time frame, because I believed the story that he originally started, that he told me. But as I sat down and thought about it, I realized that it had to be a ridiculous story. So, therefore, I got me on an airplane and came down to Fayetteville and checked the story out. I checked the Raleigh newspapers, the Durham newspaper, the Fayetteville newspaper. All of the newspapers. And found that there was only one murder that night and the fellow was shot five times in the back, and it was an army sergeant, and this was the only murder that night. Well now, with that in hand, I went to the CID and spun my yarn. I forget exactly what my yarn was, but I told them that I have been approached and somebody had given me information that perhaps this murder may have a connection with the murders of Colette and the children, and would they please check it out? They checked it out and came back and said absolutely not.
I said, "I understand that man was a drug addict." They said no, he was -- the sergeant was killed with no drugs, nothing involved with the history of drugs, anything. When I told him that then I was positive the story was a lie. So I told them, turned the story over to them, I told them everything and they checked it out again. And they came back to me and said the whole thing is a lie. Now I decided at that time that I didn't want to openly accuse MacDonald. I wanted to do it in my own fashion over a period of time. And my letter to him accusing him of not going near the FBI or CID or calling us when he was in Long Island, and that type of thing, was sort of a preliminary needling type thing. That's when he came back with the story about going down south and getting a broken hand, two thousand dollars spent.
And then I called the CID and asked them to check with the hospital in California. I said that there was nothing more obvious than a surgeon with a broken hand. You know, he couldn't walk into the hospital with a broken hand and nobody notice it. And they came back and said, "No, that's a fairy tale." However, he was in Florida on a medical convention of some kind.
Q After the telephone conversation and the first of these letters in which he alludes to having killed one of these intruders, he was discharged from the army.
A That's correct.
Q Do you remember him holding a press conference?
A Yes, I think one of his letters refer to it. I was all in favor of it at the time. He wanted to hold a news conference in Fayetteville because he said in his letter to me if he held the news conference in Fayetteville that the New York papers and the wire services would cover it. However, if some news conferences were held where I wnted it held, in New York, the Overseas Press Club, that the southern papers would not bother to cover it. And why he wanted the southern papers to cover it, I don't understand. However, this is what he wanted and this is the way he proceeded. I was very, very anxious for tremendous -- as much publicity as I could possibly get, because I went on the theory that once they dropped the charges against him the case would be shelved and that would be the end of it. We wouldn't hear boo from it anymore and I wanted to generate as much noise as I could possibly generate.
His press conference that he held, I don't know that he held one, I don't remember. But he made a statement to the press -- did not produce the desired results that were necessary, not for my purposes. And therefore, I drew up a very lengthy document, and I went to Washington and I accused the army of everything but spitting on the sidewalk. Because I assumed that if I went to Washington, and I did call on every congressman and every senator in the country, that if I accused the army or the government of not investigating the murders of my daughter and my grandchildren to congressmen and senators, I was going to get nowhere. But, if I accused the army of everything that I could this generated interest, and it did generate interest, and quite a few senators, the Armed Services Committee, and the Judiciary Committee asked the Department of Defense to conduct a new investigation, which was done.
Q Now do you recall in statements to the press when he was discharged from the army that MacDonald made statements to the effect that he was out for revenge?
A Yes, I think he made a statement somewhat along those lines.
Q Was this his idea or was this part of your idea?
A It was not my idea. I gave him, I seem to remember, an outline of what I thought he should say, and to the best of my knowledge, he said the opposite, not the opposite, but I said to him, and I'm being very frank, I said to him, "Don't go inkto a press conference and say what the army has done to you, how badly you've been treated. This guy perjured himself, this other guy this, this other guy -- stay away from all of that. Just stick to the fact that your wife and children were butchered and you want something done about it. And just stay away from everything else." But that's not the way it went.
Q Now how about his appearances on TV shows. He was on the CBS News Program, Walter Cronkite, Bob Schieffer interviewed him.
Q And he was on --
A (Interposing) Dick Cavett Show.
Q Dick Cavett Show. Tell us about that. Whose idea was this?
A They were all -- well, I introduced him to Congressmen. Congressman Lowenstein was interested in the case and said he would do whatever he could. So I introduced him to Jeff and Congressman Lowenstein took over from there and helped him as much as he could with the news media. Most of those that you are referring to were just spot news items. Some I saw. Some I didn't. But I did see the Dick Cavett Show and on that show -- when that show went on the air, when it was over with I was absolutely horrified. And my phone started to ring. It nearly rang off the wall all night, because people couldn't understand how the man could go on television and almost say nothing about his family and what was done to them, just complained about what the army did to him and how much money it had cost him. And I said to him, I wasn't very polite about it, as far as using swear words, "But what difference does it make how much money it cost you. First of all you don't have the money. You haven't paid the lawyers anyway. What difference does it make? It's only money." He said, "Well, maybe I did say the wrong thing." But he said, "You know you get into these places and you're upset, one thing and another, and the ball gets rolling and you just don't stop."
Q I'm curious to know. Was he forced into these interviews and was he a reluctant participant in these interviews?
Q Did you push him and shove him into it? Was it all your own fault? Did Segal do it?
A I never -- the only thing I ever engineered in all that period of time for Jeffrey MacDonald, and it was really for him, it was a rounded out picture where he had to be involved, was with Look magazine. Look magazine was very anxious to do a large article on -- and what they wanted to do was put two investigating reporters on the case and do an in-depth investigation the same way as, let's say, a police force would do it. And then they were going to write an article. Well, I called Jeff and told him about it. As a matter of fact the tape recorder is in my bag. That day I was kind of upset. Half of the conversations are recorded and half aren't.
I told him they were interested and he said, "Well, gee, we can get started right now." I said, "Well, I told them you weren't accessible because the Article 32 was over with but the decision had not been handed down and there is still a guard at the door." And he said, "Well, not really. People are coming in and out of there like the Grand Central Station. The whole thing is relaxed and they can spend the whole day with me either here in the room, my lawyer's office, or anywhere they want it." Fine. I said, "I'll call the man and tell him. Meantime, do you have the Article 32 transcript?" And he said, "I've got most of it." I said, "Fine. I'm coming down tomorrow morning to pick it up." And he said, "Well, you don't need to do that." He said, "I'll mail it to you." So I said, "No, I'm coming down. I want to pick up that transcript." And he said, "All right, make the reservations." And about five minutes later, not even five minutes later, I get another phone call right behind it. And he said, "Repeat what you just told me because I was half asleep and I want to get it clear in my mind." So I repeated it, went over the thing with him again and he said, "Boy, that's terrific. And do they know about the case? How much do they know?" And I said, "Well, I just went over it briefly with them but I've got tons of material that I've got here that they can have."
And toward the end of the conversation he kept -- of course, I talk too much a lot of the times, so the biggest part of the conversation is me talking, but he kept trying to get a word in there and every time he'd get in he'd say something. So finally he got it out. He said to me, "Did finances ever come up in this first conversation?" And I said, "Jeff, I never even thought of finances." I said, "I don't care. That's your department, not my department." So then the conversation ended. And then in about another few minutes later, I get a call from Dennis Eisman, one of his lawyers, and Dennis wanted to know all about this, too. I told him the same thing I told Jeff. And he said, "Now wait a minute, Freddy, you cannot release any written material to Look magazine, whatsoever." Of course, not only could I not, I didn't have any written material to release to them. I didn't have any. The only thing I had were newspaper clippings.
And I said, "I wasn't going to release anything to anybody. This is your department." He said, "The first thing you've got to do when these people decide for sure that this is what they are going to do, you have to turn them over to us because we have to make the financial arrangements. Because after all we have to protect Jeff's rights as far as money is concerned. Because he can sure use the money." I said, "Dennis, that is not my -- I couldn't care less -- I don't care about the money. I'm not interested in the money angle. I'm only interested in the other angle." That conversation ended. A few minutes later I get another call from Jeff, all excited. Jim Douthat, his military lawyer, he said had just called in and said absolutely not. I could not have the transcript. If they gave me the transcript they were both going to be court-martialed and they were going to go to jail. And I blew my stack at this point and I quit recording the rest of the conversation that evening. But, however, I got mad and told everybody off. And Dennis Eisman called back and I told him off. And I said, "I want that transcript." And he said, "Well, the decision, we think is going to be next week, and I'll guarantee you will have it by Thursday." And I said, "You had damn well better have it here on my desk." And the next conversation on that tape that night -- Mrs. MacDonald called my wife. She called me really, but I wouldn't talk with her. My wife spoke to her. And that wasn't recorded. And she was trying to pacify me through my wife.
And then, she finally got me the next morning. That's on the tape. And I said to her that absolutely I wouldn't stand for the statement that they could not turn over that transcript to me. That I wanted that transcript. And she said, well, she could understand maybe. They were in a precarious position until Jeff got out of the army. And then I laid it in to her, I didn't lay it in her, I didn't yell at her. I'm yelling at Dennis Eisman and this idea that they are going to take this transcript and they are going to take Look magazine or any other newspaper and they are going to make a gold mine out of this thing. And I said, "This is not a money making scheme. We are looking for murderers." And that was the long and short of that situation.
Q Do you recall the Cummins interview?
A The Cummins interview -- the only thing I know about the Cummins interview is that John Cummins told me that he'd done the interview and he told me two days before it appeared in the paper. And I read the complete article in the paper and I talked to John about it. And it wasn't until -- the only thing that struck me about the article, the story runs pretty close to Jeff's testimony in the 32 except for one point. He said to John Cummins at the end of the article or somewhere in the article that that first night when he was told that he was a suspect and the guard was placed at his door, that he paced up and down all night and looked at the pipes in the ceiling and what have you, and all of a sudden, he got the idea to commit suicide, that he was going to hang himself. And then he thought it over. He could get a chair and then kick the chair out from underneath him. But then he said he was afraid it wouldn't succeed and he would botch it up and then it would look terrible and that would be much worse. But when I picked up the transcript I discovered that the man had a pistol under his pillow for a long time after he was placed under arrest. Well now, we get a different picture here. Jeff MacDonald is not a stupid man. In fact, he's smarter than I am, well above average as far as intelligence is concerned. And I know damn well I'm not as smart as he is, but if I wanted to commit suicide and I had a pistol, that's the route I would take rather than take a rope and hang myself from the ceiling.
Q Mr. Kassab, you mentioned that when you were at the house at Christmas time of 1969 -- did you spend any time in the kitchen? Did you see any kitchen utensils?
A I don't think I spent any time in the kitchen, except to go in and out.
Q Do you know whether there was an ice pick in the house?
Q Then you wouldn't be able to identify a knife?
A No. In fact, I don't think I could identify a knife out of my own kitchen although I'm in there all the time.
Q Now, Mr. Kassab, you've mentioned that you gave tremendous support to Jeff from the time you were informed of the murders, all through the Article 32 hearing, you continued in touch with him thereafter, you had confidence in him, and you believed in him.
Q Now have you changed your views?
A Starting the day I read the transcript, the second time through, aside from that little bit about catching the fellow -- killing him that I wasn't quite sure about in there, reading -- when I started reading the transcript through the second time -- the first time I read it quite fast, and there were passages that bothered me, reading pathologist reports and exactly what his statements about what happened in the house, that bothered me a little bit. But then the second time I started to read that thing I read it very carefully and I read it the third time, the fourth time, and the fifth time, and so on and so forth. By that, I'm not talking about reading the whole transcript that many times. I'm talking about his testimony, the pathologist's testimony, important testimonies, not character witnesses. Those I only read through once, maybe. And I was sitting and thinking and I started to piece the thing together. It becomes just impossible in my mind that what he said happened in that house happened. It just could not have happened the way he said it did. And I would start and I'd list all kinds of lists of things he said from the transcript and they just couldn't be. I mean, you know, you could talk about --
Q Would you be specific?
A You take an item, start from the beginning and say, well here's a man that swears he was stabbed nineteen times in the living room and was clubbed four times. Now, first thing about that. I don't know of anybody that saw more than seven stab wounds. I don't know of anybody that saw more than one club wound. Now, to get back to the nineteen stab wounds. First, how does a man get stabbed nineteen times and not bleed? That can't be. You just can't get stabbed nineteen times and not bleed somewhere.
The second thing. He talks about the ten or twelve ice pick wounds across his abdomen. I never saw those ice pick wounds across his abdomen. And I saw his abdomen very clearly for five days, two or three times a day. And then one further point about the abdomen wounds. His claim was that he never got above a sitting position on that sofa and that he was leaning forward into his attackers at all times. Now, you can't get stabbed in the stomach if you're sitting down leaning forward and there are three people coming at you. You just can't get stabbed in the stomach. It's not possible. There's no way they can stab you.
The pajama top being torn and all shredded. There is not one thread or one fiber, according to the testimony that I'm going by, in that whole living room where this garment was torn and ripped off. But everywhere else in the house you find threads and fibers. In Kimmie's room and under one of Kristen's fingernails, some behind the headboard of the bed where the word "pig" is written in Colette's blood, all over the place. None in the living room. The pajama pocket is at Colette's feet. And the only way that pocket could have been torn off according to his description is from the front. There is one man standing by his side and two in front and nobody behind him. So, therefore, the pajama top had to be pulled from the front or somebody reached and pulled it. Now that pocket had to come off in the man's hand. Now, he surely didn't walk around with it in his hand. He had to drop it. Now you're talking also about a man who is fighting three men, but he's handcuffed. He's handcuffed by pajamas. This is what he claimed. He can't move his hands apart and yet he fends off three grown men, two with knives, or at least one with a knife and one with an ice pick and one with a club. The man with the club now stands there, he lifts his club up. Jeff's description is that the man's about five foot ten, lifts this club up, swings it down and hits him on the left temple. Well, I tried it in the house. It can't be done. I took a yardstick, held it in my hands down to about twenty-eight inches. I assumed -- I was told the club was about thirty inches, held the yardstick down to twenty-eight inches, tried to lift it above my head. I couldn't. It hit the ceiling. I was standing in front of the sofa, I tried to bring it, I hit the ceiling on the way back. Then the sofa -- the front of the sofa is thirty-two inches from the back wall, so a man with long arms is standing there trying to bring this club down. You can't do it. You hit the wall back there. You don't hit anybody sitting on the sofa. It can't be done. It just cannot be done.
Now, there are a lot of other things, if I can be permitted to just bring my list out, or would you rather --
Q I have several lists here. Do you recognize these as lists that you prepared at one time or another?
A That's right. Absolutely.
Q That includes your comments with respect to -- I have a total of five of them.
A Yes. This is the one.
Q They all seem to be different.
A The first item is that Jeff said during the hearings that he had volunteered in the army. It's a small lie, but that isn't what he told Colette. He told Colette he had been drafted.
He said that when he went into the bedroom the first time, somewhere around two o'clock, I guess it was, he said he went in there to go to bed, that Colette was lying in bed. Kristie was lying next to her under the blanket, that she had wet the bed, but he described Colette's position, which way she was facing. He said the lights were out. You can't see that good in that room to tell which way somebody is facing without lights on. Now when he said he went back into the living room because he carried Kristen back to her bed, he took an afghan with him. He said that he had done this several times before, that Kristen had wet the bed several times before. If this had been a first occurence this thing wouldn't have come to my mind, but since it was something that normally happens, every once in a while a child wets the bed, so he sleeps in the living room. I said to myself the normal thing -- you can always use a pillow. Why didn't he pick up a pillow and take with him. There was no pillow on the sofa. He didn't take a pillow with him. Just an odd occurrence.
Now going on the assumption from his story that Colette and the children were attacked first because he said that when he woke up he heard screaming. Colette was screaming, "Jeff, Jeff, Jeff, why are they doing this to me?" Kimmie was screaming, "Daddy, daddy, daddy." And never any doubt left that they were attacked first or in the story. However, when he woke and sat up, the four people were there. The man with the club is standing right there. Now Colette, especially Kimmie. Kimmie was severely beaten about the head with the club. There were a number of compound fractures. In fact, the whole side of her face was smashed in. But the club's in the living room. Kimmie could not have screamed after those club wounds. Never. Any doctor will tell you her whole face and the bad fractures she could never have screamed. Club's in the living room, though. How is she screaming? She's already been attacked and clubbed.
Colette, if her wounds were sustained prior to that, she had many throat wounds. In fact, the trachea was completely severed. She could not have screamed after those throat wounds. Not possible. So his story about Colette screaming in my mind is just something that just couldn't be, not the way he tells the story.
Now the next thing is about the club. I've already told you that.
Now when he said that this man hit him a severe blow with this club, he describes the blow as a severe one, that he saw stars, that it knocked him flat on his back. Now I guess there are a certain amount of gentlemen here who know that when you get punched and if you see stars, if you're knocked flat on your back, you're stunned for a little while. Let's say, let's minimize it and say fifteen-twenty seconds. That's a very small amount of time. Now my big question is these three guys, what are they doing while this man is lying flat on his back? Nothing, according to him. They just waited until he came back up again. And then they reattacked him. Well, I've been in a lot of fights and anybody fighting that type -- instinct would be to pounce the minute this man is down on the ground. They wouldn't just stand there and wait for how long it took him to come back up again.
Now, the knife wound that he described that caused the partial collapse of the lungs or the pneumothorax, best to my recollection the doctors described it as being somewhere in the area of a maximum, a five-eighths of an in depth. A famous psychiatrist in New York said not so very long ago that he cleans his pipe deeper than that.
The other wounds were, and I assure you, superficial. When I say superficial I'm not saying it in the terms that the doctors use where you are not quite sure whether it's an eighth of an inch or two inches, you know. They were definitely superficial wounds. Now, the man with the ice pick and the man with the knife attacking him, and he's handcuffed, he's seeing stars, and nobody is able to stick a knife in him, and yet he describes in his own words the attack as a "rain of blows.' That's right there in black and white. He says, "It's a rain of blows." But a rain of blows that doesn't produce anything. And yet, if you go back to Colette, Kimmie and Kristie, you'll find that the wounds are extremely serious and very, very deep wounds. And it's a very strange thing about the wounds to both children and Colette. I've been in a lot of fights, I've worked with the commandos, I've fought in the dark. When you are fighting in the dark, your wounds are all not directly into the body. You're slashing. Or if you're holding the knife from underneath, you're still slashing upwards. You get what are known as slash wounds. In other words, some of them could be straight in, but you do get a lot of cutting wounds. There are no cutting wounds. All wounds are directly into the body. The pathologist that performed all the autopsies say that all the wounds were directly into the body. Now you're talking about all of this occurring in the dark. People are slashing around, and mind you, if you're going by his story then you are talking about drug addicts who are not in possession of their wits. They don't really know what they are doing. But, yet, none of them are slash wounds. They are all direct wounds. Everything is a perfect stab wound.
Now, he described going into both children's rooms to give them artificial respiration and pulse -- taking pulses. From my observations in that house with the lighting as it was on that night, there is a very dim light, the lighting I should put it from the bathroom -- very dimly lights Kimmie's room. He said there was blood all over the place and what have you and where for. Well, he couldn't have seen that. It's just not possible. Now as far as Kristie's room is concerned, it was pitch dark in there. So he could not have seen what he said he saw.
Now, of course, I doubt it strongly -- I've been told since then that I'm wrong, but I doubt it strongly that a man with a punctured lung could give artificial respiration six times. But they tell me it can be done.
He takes more pulses in the groin area on both Kimmie and Kristie, gives them both mouth to mouth resuscitation either once or twice. Yet, both children, when the police walked in are covered to the neck. Kimmie is completely tucked in on one side. And Kristen has her baby bottle lying right up against the side of her face and she's lying on her side, too. They are both lying on their side. Well, you know, if you're going to give somebody mouth to mouth resuscitation and especially if you are a doctor, you're going to lie that person flat on their back in order to breathe in their mouth. I don't care what kind of situation you're in. But they weren't in that position. And, furthermore, some of you must have children -- if you walked into a child's room and if you have not gone through what these kids did, but let's just say, sick in the night, what is the first thing you do when you walk into the room? Turn the light on. He didn't turn any lights on. Not according to what he said. He didn't turn any lights on in the children's rooms. He just did this all in the dark. Kimmie -- artificial respiration. Now this could have been a slip. He said that he realized that bubbles were coming out of her chest from the wounds, so therefore, that he knew that in fact he could not resuscitate her because the air was coming out as he was breathing it in. There's only one thing wrong with that statement. She had no chest wounds. But as I said a moment ago she did have throat wounds which is in a close proximity. Well, you know. And he said he went into the bathroom and washed his hands and he grabbed a tissue of toilet paper to wipe his hands off on. Small thing, but I know damn well if I wash my hands in my own bathroom, there's a towel standing right there, I'm not going to use toilet paper to wipe my hands off with. I'll use a towel. Now that very piece of toilet paper from what I was made to understand had a sharp crease mark in it, on it, as though a knife had been wiped off on it.
MR. WOERHEIDE: Mr. Foreman, I know it's getting late and Mr. Kassab has written these things down, and we have one more witness who will not take long. And he's up here from Florida, and I would like to get him out of town. I wonder if it will be all right if we have each of these things that Mr. Kassab has prepared which presents his comments marked as an exhibit and I believe we pretty well covered our story with Mr. Kassab.
FOREMAN: You want to mark these as exhibits then and excuse him and go to the next witness?
MR. STROUD: They are accessible and a part of the record so that we can refer to them.
Q (Mr. Woerheide): We only have this one day. Mr. Kassab, we will mark these as exhibits and make them all available to the grand jury. Do you have any general comment to make regarding this matter?
A Yes. I am as adamant today that Jeff is guilty. In fact, I'm more adamant I think today that Jeff is guilty than I was that he was innocent. Because his innocence I based on the fact that I knew the boy. But, however, I knew absolutely nothing about what occurred that night nor did my wife. Nobody told us a thing. We were just going on the assumption that how could a man such as we knew do such a thing to his wife and baby children. And, of course, the worst thing of all would be to turn around and write in blood on the headboard of the bed. This is something that is just inconceivable. But when you sit down with the facts and you analyze them and you see that his whole story is a fabrication, when I say you, I mean me, I come to one of only two conclusions. Now why would a man lie about such a tremendous thing? Only two reasons. One, that he's guilty or two, that he knows who did it and he's covering up. Now if you don't have a shred of evidence that shows that there was an intruder in that house that night, and seven drug addicts could not have come in that house and do what was done and not leave a clue, then you are only left with the first conclusion.
MR. WOERHEIDE: Ms. Reporter, I have here, I have five separate, let's say memoranda or notes that were prepared by Mr. Kassab. And I am going to ask that these be marked as Mr. Kassab's exhibits 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 respectively. I'll just lay them in front of you.
A There is one document that outlines all of that that I put in the one barrel if you want it.
Q (Mr. Woerheide) Do you have it?
A Yes, sir. It's a little lengthier. It's an article I sent to both judiciary committees, but you can have it.
Q Make it available. I'll have a copy of it made and return the original to you.
A Yes. I'll appreciate it.
MR. WOERHEIDE: And this will be marked as exhibit #6 and I'll prepare a Xerox copy for marking purposes.
A I think a gentleman had a question for me.
JUROR: Yes. During the Article 32 you were all in favor of Dr. MacDonald and now you are all against him. You disbelieve everything he told you since then or you believe everything he told you during the Article 32?
A He told me nothing during the Article 32 but what happened that night in the house. At no time did he ever tell us what happened in the house that night. The only time that we found out was when we read the transcript. See. And up until that point I was positive, and so was my wife, the man was innocent. But then you are faced with this testimony as to what happened in that house that night and you read it and compare it with facts. It just can't be. It couldn't happen the way he said it happened. It's just not possible. That many outlandish personalities just do not fall into one place. I mean one or two things -- you can understand one or two things being completely freakish, but not the whole story. The whole story has to be a fabrication. It just can't have happened that way.
JUROR: When did you read the transcript?
A I asked the army and the army finally gave me a transcript. They said they would give me a copy provided Captain MacDonald would sign a release. I got a copy of that transcript sometime in January or February of 1971.
JUROR: I have a question. Since you believed in his innocence, did you instigate or do you know of any political pressure against the army to drop charges against him?
A No, ma'am. I know of no such thing. To drop charges against him?
JUROR: Yes. Not to pursue it. Any political pressure?
A No, I know of no such thing.
JUROR: I have one. When you were visiting in the home did Jeff show any favoritism to one child or the other?
A I don't think so. Not that I noticed.
JUROR: Like when he bought one of them something, would he buy both of them something similar?
A Yes, I think so, pretty well.
JUROR: Do you think the CID and the MPs did a good job or a relatively good job?
A No, sir, I don't. I never did. I think there were a lot of mistakes made. Mistakes were explained to me as being overworked people. They were overworked. They had too many cases to handle, but that's their problem, not my problem. You're talking about the original investigation, not the reinvestigation?
JUROR: The original.
A The original one is the one I'm talking about. The reinvestigation, I think, was handled very, very well.
Q (Mr. Woerheide) I think it's fair to say there was an emergency situation.
A That's right.
Q At the time they came into the house.
A That's right. You were dealing with a group of men that had never dealt with a crime of this type and I don't know from personal knowledge.
Q You're not imputing bad faith?
A No, no, no. I'm not imputing anybody bad faith. I'm just saying inexperience or what have you. That type of thing.
FOREMAN: Are there no further questions? All right, Mr. Kassab, you are excused. Thank you very much.
[MR. KASSAB'S EXHIBITS 1-6 MARKED FOR IDENTIFICATION]
[MR. KASSAB DISMISSED]