December 4, 1974
Testimony of Ronald Harrison
I, Mary M. Ritchie, being a Notary Public in and for the State of North Carolina, was appointed to take the testimony of the following witness, Ronald H. Harrison, before the Grand Jury, Raleigh, North Carolina, on December 4, 1974. All Grand Jurors present.
Whereupon, Ronald H. Harrison, having been first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:
EXAMINATION BY MR. WOERHEIDE:
Q Will you state your full name, please, sir?
A Ronald Howard Harrison.
Q And where do you live, Mr. Harrison?
A I live at 1317 San Blanco Drive, Salinas, California.
Q Are you in the military service?
A Yes, sir.
Q Will you give us your military address?
A Operations Officer, Fort Ord Leadership Academy, Fort Ord, California, 93941.
Q And directing your attention to the year 1969 and 1970, were you stationed at that time at Fort Bragg?
A Yes, sir.
Q Will you give us your -- a little brief outline of your background? Tell us where and when you were born, generally what your education is and your military service.
A I was born in Astoria, Oregon, in 1943. My father was a navy fighter pilot during World War II. My mother was a school teacher. And we moved around from place to place, but this was during the war. I was raised the early part of my life in West Virginia, small town in the center, as a matter of fact, called Sutton. And we moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where my mother had a teaching position. My father was killed by the Japanese after the war was over. And my mother got a teaching position in Cleveland, Ohio. We moved there. Then subsequently to Columbus, Ohio. And I finished school there in Columbus High School. And I attended Ohio State University off and on between bouts with the military as an enlisted man. And when I finished college, I applied for a commission and received it in April of 1969. And at that time I went on active duty and went to Fort Bragg. And I ended up in the fall of 1969, after some officer's training, at Fort Bragg in the Third Special Forces Group.
Q How much military service had you had prior to this time?
A If you -- Active and reserve time, I don't even know how they count that, the periods of time I was on active duty. I enlisted the seventh of August 1962 and I would say I had about two years, two and a half years active military service. And the rest was reserve time.
Q Your father being a fighter pilot, did you have an aspirations to step into his shoes?
A Yes. I always wanted to fly. And I couldn't see well enough to be a fighter pilot so I said, well, I wanted to see the world. And I said if I couldn't fly them then I decided I'd jump out of them. So I enlisted in a unit which would allow me to parachute jump. And I did until I got it out of my system I guess, about last year.
Q You said you had about two and a half years of active duty I take it and the rest in reserves prior to the time you received your commission in 1969 and you were assigned to special forces. This was active duty as a what, as a parachute man or --
A I was a parachute rigger and I also attended some special forces schooling to get qualified.
Q Have you always had an interest in special forces work?
A It was developed after I found out what it was. I had no idea what it was until I got into it, really. I was interested only in free falling.
Q Well, tell us what it is or what it was.
A Free falling?
Q The special forces.
A Okay. Special forces. All right.
Q What particularly attracted you to this line?
A Special forces was the kind of offspring of units in World War II, OSS, which operated behind enemy lines in France, Burma, Red China, etc. And the knowledge that these people had and their capabilities attracted me, plus I wanted to serve my country and I thought I could make a contribution in this direction. So it kind of became my hobby as well as my vocation so to speak.
Q Now, you say "the knowledge that these people had and their special capabilities." Would you be a little more specific in that respect, sir?
A Their capabilities with weapons, demolitions, medicine, communications, operations in intelligence. That's what I was interested in. I admired them because during the war they had contributed a great deal. Eisenhower assessed the value of the French Marquis on D-Day -- They believed they tied up fifteen German divisions with their underground activities. Partisans in Russia made -- attempted fifty thousand rail cuts one night to stall Hitler's offensive; forty-two thousand, I believe, were effective. And, as you know, the Russians triumphed against Hitler and this offensive.
Q So, essentially this means people operating either in uniform or ostensibly as civilians behind enemy lines, engaged in sabotage, espionage --
A Sometimes. But, espionage -- Well, there's a fine line here. All right. They are the leasers of guerilla groups and sometimes all these things were involved.
If I say "espionage," it's kind of more sophisticated than these people actually were. Although we may want to credit them with extreme sophistication. They led these people. They trained them in very simple things. The use of demolitions. May of the guerillas couldn't even shoot. They trained them to shoot. And etc., etc. It was on a low level.
That's my impression of it. And I know there were intelligence nets and very dramatic things that probably happened once in a while. But most of the time they were grubbing around at a low level and did a very difficult job I think. And my hat was off to them.
Q Arriving in Fort Bragg, did you soon thereafter meet Jeff MacDonald?
A Yes, sir.
Q Tell us about it. How did you meet him? What was your relationship?
A I met Jeff in the fall of 1969. And the first time that I ever met him we were all going to and officer's call. And it's one of these get together type things where you, everybody goes to a club and you have a few drinks, you know, and so we did. And I was sitting across from Jeff, as I recall, and he invited me home for dinner. And at first I declined and I said, "No, I..." I really, you know, I didn't want to be any trouble and I thought maybe it was a spurious invitation. And he insisted. He said, "No. Come on home. I really want you to meet my wife and family. And she'll be delighted. We will both be glad to have you." So I went.
Q And thereafterwards you say you became good friends, you saw one another frequently?
A I would say we became friends.
Q And you saw one another rather frequently?
A I would say so. Once or twice a week. I usually stopped by the house or called or saw Jeff at work and said -- You know, either passed the time of day -- Hi! How are you? Or, Come on over to the house Tuesday night and, you know, just have a drink and we'd like to talk to you. So that's the relationship.
Q I take it you got along well with Colette.
A Yes. I'm sure I did.
Q And tell us about Jeff's family life as you observed it.
A I thought it was great myself. I like children and I don't have any of my own yet, you know. But I enjoyed playing with the kids and I thought they had a nice family.
Q Any problems?
A Not that I ever saw.
Q What would you and Jeff and to the extent that Colette participated in the conversation talk about on these occasions, these social contacts? What interests did you have in common with one another? He was in special forces, I take it.
A Yes, sir. He was.
Q You might talk shop quite a bit.
A We talked shop a little bit. He had questions about parachute jumping and questions about the military. And we talked about the military. We talked about sports and whatever the news topics of the day were, we discussed these. And just a casual conversation. That was it.
Q Was he especially interested in, oh, the same things that you were interested in? Do you remember any conversation about his father-in-law?
A I also was interested in medicine. Okay. I would have these little medical questions because I always wanted to go to the SF medical training which was fifty-one weeks long. And when a person comes out of there, he is very, very capable as a medic. In fact, I've taken physical exams -- no reflection on doctors -- but I've taken physcial exams that have been given to me by the enlisted medicas and they caught things that were wrong with me that doctors never caught, to this day haven't caught. Okay. So I admired their skill and I thought that this might be a useful thing to know in event of a car accident or something.
So I did discuss occasionally medical things with Jeff.
And you asked about Jeff's father-in-law, Mr. Kassab. We got onto the Intel business one day. And Jeff said, "Well, you know Colette's father was in intelligence in World War II." And I said, "Oh, that's very nice." And he said, "Yes, he went to bars occasionally and would listen for people and he could hear conversations in remote corners of these bars." And I thought, Oh, that's very nice, you know.
Q This was behind enemy lines in Europe?
A No, sir. At this time I believe it was in England. This is the impression I got. But it has been a long time. Okay.
And he just causually mentioned this and this subject was dropped.
Now, later I did meet Mr. Kassab. And he told me he was in the first special service force which was also one of the forerunners of my organization. And I, you know, I was impressed by it and it stuck in my mind because it was kind of my hobby.
Q Do you remember anything about their having bought some hi-fi equipment, TV, things like that?
A Sir, I remembered that they bought a -- I don't even know how to describe it. Okay. It was a set that had wood parts and it also had stainless steel legs. And it stretched, it was about, I would say, six feet high, a wood cabinet beneath and a record player up on top. And it had, well, stainless steel supporting members. And Jeff said something to me one day about -- "Hey," he said, "I..." put his hand on it and he said, "I saw this and I had to have it." Or something like this, like he really felt that this was essential to the house, you know. And he gave me the impression that it was an expensive thing but that it would be worth it in satisfaction.
Q Do you remember any comments by Colette about it, about the cost of it or anything?
A No, sir.
Q Remember anything about a pony?
A Yes, I do. I remember that a few weeks before Christmas Jeff decided that he would get a pony for one of the children -- and I can't even remember which one at the time. And he from time to time as I would see him during the day, he would give me a pony report. And say, "Hey, I'm not having any luck looking for the pony." Or, something like this.
Well, about I would say two weeks before Christmas I ran into him. He was sitting in the car and he said, "I saw an ad and I talked to the guy on the telephone that owns a pony. And I'm going to go out and take a look at it. And if this pony is breathing I'm going to buy it because my daughter will really like it come Christmas morning." You know. As I remember it, that was the pony incident. And then he did get it.
Q Now, directing your attention to a little bit earlier. I'm speaking in terms of Thanksgiving. Do you remember being a guest for Thanksgiving?
A Yes, sir, I do.
Q At the MacDonald house?
A Yes, sir.
Q Tell us about that.
A At Thanksgiving time they had a meal and they had a few people over. And we had drinks and a meal and that was it.
Q Was his mother there?
A Yes, sir.
Q Do you remember who the other guests were? If you can recall the names?
A I remember, I believe, that Rick and Judy Thosen were there. And I don't remember if Sern Violetti was there or not. I remember Jeff and Colette and Jeff's mother. And --
Q Do you remember any neighbors from upstairs coming down or participating in this at all?
A No, sir. But I could easily have missed it.
Q Well there is a warrant officer by the name of Kalin who was their neighbor. I'd say he is of medium height and sort of stocky. And she is on the short side.
A Sir, I don't believe that I've ever met them at all. Although I might have and said, how do you do, and left and forgotten them.
Q All right. On this Thanksgiving occasion, do you remember that drinks were served and there was a problem with the ice? Tell us about that.
A Well, as I recall there was a plastic bag of ice which was on a washing machine in the kitchen -- I think it was a washing machine. Or, it might have been a dishwasher. I don't really remember. But anyway this ice was all melted together. And, as I recall, Jeff asked somebody -- Colette, maybe -- "Where is the ice pick?" He was the host and couldn't find it right away. So I went out in the kitchen and looked at the ice and the top couple of cubes seemed to me could be knocked loose and the bottom of it looked to be pretty frozen. So I slammed it a couple of times around and hit it with my hand a couple of times and did knock a few of the looser cubes off of the top. And I think I used -- I had a pocket knife which I think I picked a few times at it with my pocket knife. And still the ice pick was I don't know where. And then we opened a drawer, as I recall, and got a screwdriver out and used the screwdriver to pry the ice apart, chip it away.
Q So apparently someone had mislaid the ice pick at that time and a search was made and it didn't turn up.
A Sir, I don't remember if they ever found the pick or not.
Q Okay, did you go out and see the pony?
A I believe that one evening we had dinner and we did stop by. It was cold. And we did see the pony. And that was the time that I did see it.
Q That would be sometime after Christmas? Probably in January?
A After Christmas sometime. On Christmas day I didn't bother them.
Q Was it a nice pony?
A Sir, I can't remember. It was a small pony. Brown, I believe. A pony is a pony. A pony is a pony, to me.
Q What did colette think of the pony?
A I presume she liked the pony.
Q She didn't make any specific remarks to you about it?
A Oh, no, sir.
Q Now, getting back to -- I think it would probably be on a Saturday, the 14th of February, 1970, I'm trying to place a date. Do you recall being over in Jeff's house on or about that time?
A I'm sure that you are referring to the last time that I was in the house before the incident.
A I was in the house, yes, one of those evenings. And I can't remember the date. But I remember that it was shortly before the incident happened.
Q You are familiar with the house from having been in it frequently. Did they keep magazines?
A Yes, sir.
Q And they kept some books around?
A Yes, sir.
Q The books would be medical books and novels and things like that.
A (Nods affirmatively.)
Q Do you remember your attention being called to a magazine?
A Yes, sir, I do.
Q And is that an issue of Esquire magazine?
A Sir, I looked at the coffee table and called their attention to the magazine.
Q I see. Well, tell us about it.
A In the evening -- I can't recall what time, seven-thirty maybe. If I give you a time it would be conjecture. And we were having a conversation. And I looked over at the coffee table, which I believe was on my right, and at the top there was a photograph of Lee Marvin and if you had asked me I would have said it was Look magazine. But it was Esquire all right. And it said on it something to the effect: Evil lurks in California. Lee Marvin is afraid. And I said, "Well, that's interesting." And I reached for the magazine. And Jeff said, "Yes, take a look at that. That is wild."
And so -- Now, I don't mean to leave you with the impression that he thought it was approvable -- I'm searching for words. Okay. He just thought it was very bizarre. Okay. Out of the ordinary.
I picked the magazine up and I looked through it. And at the end of the -- When I had looked through it, at the end of our conversation about this magazine, we all agreed that there was a bunch of kooks and very unstable people in California. And that was the substance of the magazine business.
Q Remember there were articles about witchcraft and sorcery and a woman with a swan?
A Yes, sir. There were articles about that. I remember that.
Q And about the Sharon Tate-Charlie Manson matter?
A Now that you bring that up again, I remember that there were. I think I remember the Sharon Tate thing in there.
Q Did Colette make any comment about --
A I can't recall. I think she shared her husband's opinion that it was a very bizarre thing and that there were a lot of people that were walking around that were mentally unstable. This is the impression I was left with. That's still my impression. Anybody involved in that is really bizarre, a bizarre person.
Q Now, how did you learn what happened on the night of February 16, February 17? The morning of February 17 that Jeff was brought into the hospital?
A I got up as usual and I was on my way to work. And on my way to work, I usually turn the radio on just to see what was happening. Tuned to the news sometimes and this morning I did happen to hit the news. And it said something about an incident in Corregidor Courts which was where Jeff lived. And I registered the thought at that time, ah, that's in Corregidor Courts where Jeff lives. Ha! Ha! Gee, I wonder if they know anything about it. And I don't recall what detail they went into there on the radio. Not very much, not enough to tip me off at the time. I went on to work. I stood formation in one area where they counted everybody to make sure that they had everybody. And they were all present and accounted for. And then I reported for work in another place. And I can't remember who I talked to. But anyway I got the idea that I should call up the house, the MacDonald house, and talk to Colette and make sure that they were okay. And I think I tried the house first using the phone there in my office. Maybe it was not my office; maybe it was the group surgeon's office. I cannot recall which office I was in. It's been a long time ago. But anyway I tried to call the house and I didn't get ahold of anybody there. So I tried to call Jeff's office or talk to somebody in Jeff's office, talk to Jeff. And they said, "He won't be in this morning. He is in the hospital." And I said, "Is it his house? Is it him?" And they said, "Yes." And I -- I took my beret off and threw it on the floor. And I was extremely overcome. And I slammed the phone down I believe. And then I heard that I was supposed to go over to the hospital. A message came from somebody higher that I was supposed to go over to the hospital, that Jeff wanted to see me. So I told my people that I worked with there that I was going. Anyway, I went. I got over there.
Q All right. Now, when you got to the hospital I take it that you saw Jeff?
A Yes, sir.
Q How was he?
A Sir, he was, even though under sedation, he seemed to be under a great deal of mental stress or some kind of stress. Okay. I don't know. He was moving his head back and forth like this. He was in the hospital bed which was cranked up under the knees and under his back so that he was in a position pretty much like this, I guess. He had tubes a couple of places in his body. I think one in his side here. And in his arm he may have had them. And I can't remember anyplace else.
He had blood flecks, marks. I remember one cut -- maybe more, but one for sure. Looked like it was inflicted by a knife.
And I remember a bruise I think here that just crept out of the corner of his hairline like so and it wasn't a dark bruise. It was just a dark, a dark tan. Okay. It was not a black and blue bruise. But it seemed to be a bruise where he could have been hit or a bruise that you might sustain if you fell against something.
That's conjecture on how anybody would get a bruise like that. I don't know. But it seemed to be a dark area here. Okay.
And I think I said in my statement that he seemed to have bumps and bruises on the back of his head here, but I can't remember anything about that now. And he tossed his head like this, like so.
Q Well, he had a tube here, he had a, I guess sort of a bandaid here. How many injuries were you able to observe altogether that you can recall right now? He had a bruise on his forehead, the tube here, a bandaid here and what else?
A Oh, I didn't say...Okay. A paring knife wound I recall. I don't know if it is a paring knife wound. Okay. A knife that -- It looked like a wound, a longitudinal wound like this, that looked like it could have been inflicted by a kitchen paring knife. Okay. With a blade not more than three-quarters of an inch wide. Someplace in this area, I believe. A multitude of blood flecks on his chest, a couple on his neck and a few on his arms. And they could have been blood flecks from some place else. Or, they could have been ice pick wounds. And altogether he did not look like he was in healthy state.
Q Well, he had -- Do you recall something on his left arm?
A I don't really, sir.
Q Just little flecks of blood like a little piece of dried blood. Is that it?
A As I recall, sir.
Q What did he say to you?
A He -- He greeted me. I don't know if he -- I think he did recognize me. I'm sure he did. But he grabbed my arm. I can't remember which arm it was. I was standing next to the bed. And he grabbed it with an extremely strong grip. And I, of course, I did -- I was trying to present a strong front. Okay. And I said, "How are you doing, Jeff?," chin-up type of remarks, you know, everything is going to be all right, one of those numbers, even though I think I knew better at the time. Somebody told me that he didn't know that Colette was dead yet or one of the children was dead or something. In other words, he knew that somebody was dead, but he didn't know the full extent of it yet. This was my impression. When I went in there, I wasn't going to say anything about it except, you know -- I didn't know if he might die or not. He didn't look healthy when I saw him there.
So, he twitched his head like this, like he was under a great deal of stress.
Q Specifically now, what did he say?
A He said, as he grabbed my arm so hard that it left marks on my arm through my shirt, he grabbed my arm and he said, "Ron, I couldn't get to her. I couldn't get to her." And he flipped his head from side to side like this, his head and his body. And I -- Even under sedation. And I was trying, you know, "Calm yourself, Jeff. Calm yourself." I don't know if he might have ripped a tube out or something, anything with this type of a movement. He says, "I couldn't get to her, Ron." And, as I recall, he said, "They clubbed me. I couldn't get to her." And he broke down a couple of times during the course of this. And I -- I don't recall any other specific comments about -- I think he asked about one of his children. And then he asked me something else which was if I would contact a character --
Is this what you were referring to?
Q Yes, I'd like to hear about that.
A In the course of our military talk, all right, we had spoken of a fellow that had been in special forces in the early sixties and served in Vietnam several times off of Okinawa. And he was a kind of a daring special forces individual. And we got many chuckles about talking about this guy and his stunts that he pulled. And as I recall I was told that one time he went out with a thousand rounds of ammunition and came back with six, went out with fifty Vietnamese rangers and came back with two, and sustained several wounds and was -- He did his best for his country.
Q And he was a very tough --
A And he was a hard little character and a capable little individual who believed in -- Well, I guess, you know -- Well, he believed in direct action himself and he could handle any situation that came up. He is a tough little customer.
And Jeff asked me if I would contact this individual. And Jeff never knew him. And neither did any of my friends at Fort Bragg ever know this character.
Jeff asked me that morning if I would contact this individual and have him come down to Fort Bragg for the purpose of revenge on whoever perpetrated this crime on his family. And I said, "Right, Jeff. Yes, Jeff. Oh, sure, Jeff." I think I did at that time, although later I told other people who asked me the same thing. In fact, they asked me if they could help out in this manner. And I said, "I think we'd just better, gentlemen, let the FBI and everybody handle this mess, don't you believe?" And I cooled it with those remarks because, well, it seemed to me to be a far-fetched idea but one that somebody that was in a great deal of stress might clutch at immediately. And that seemed to me to be the whole thing to that incident.
Q Did he describe in any way the intruders into his home?
A Yes. Yes. As I recall, he said that the intruders were four in number: one girl, tall, blonde, white boots, a floppy hat, with a candle; one Negro, male with a military field jacket; two white males. I don't remember any other descriptive terms.
Q In other words, you got more of a physical description of the girl than you do of the two males; that is --
A It sticks in my mind more. I don't remember exactly if he told me -- The thing that came out of his mouth first, I believe when we were talking was the description of the girl, as I recall.
Q Tall, long hair, floppy hat?
A Floppy hat.
Q Boots and a candle?
A Boots and a candle.
Q Was she saying anything?
A Okay. Now, I can't separate at this point what Jeff told me and what I heard or read in the newspapers. I just can't remember if he told me if she said anything. I think they almost certainly did say something there, you know, but I can't recall that he told me anything at the time.
Q Well, he has testified here that the girl was saying, "Acid is groovy. Kill the pigs."
A Now, I remember that statement, sir. I do remember that statement. But I can't remember if Jeff told me that or if I read it in the newspaper later that he said it. I can't recall it.
Q Do you remember him saying anything about being initially startled from sleep by the screams of his wife or his children?
A No. I can't remember. I can't remember if he said he was startled by the screams or if he said he was awakened by these people around the coffee table with these chants and beating on him, punching him. I don't remember which it was that he told me. I don't remember which way it happened.
Q Did you thereafter visit Jeff regularly at the hospital?
A As regularly as I could. Yes, sir.
Q He was a good friend and you felt very solicitous towards him?
A I felt he was a friend in need, sir.
Q And after he was discharged from the hospital, did you continue to see him on occasion?
A Yes, sir.
Q And ultimately when he was confined to the BOQ, you were on his list of permitted visitors, were you not, sir?
A I believe so, sir. I did go in to see him. I'm sure I was on the list.
Q Well, as matters developed, there was an investigation, of course, in progress. Ultimately he was called in and questioned by the CID agents. Certain people involved in the investigation were Colonel Kriwanek and Mr. Grebner and several others. Did he discuss these developments with you?
A From time to time, yes, sir, he did. And it was -- Well. I was a listener. I didn't know anything about Kriwanek or Grebner or any of these other folks. I can't even remember who talked to me in the CID. Anyway, it doesn't make any difference.
Jeff really did not like these people. He thought that they were bungling and incompetent. And he was -- Jeff is a very bright person. Many times I would be explaining something to him that he had no knowledge of at all. Before I could finish my sentence, he would have the solution already figured out. So Jeff was very impatient with what he said were bungling efforts of Kriwanek and Grebner to solve the case. And this is how it came across to me.
Q There was an occasion -- and the date is April 6, 1970 -- when he was called before the CID and questioned. He was questioned in the morning and he was questioned in the afternoon. And there was some talk about the possibility of his taking a lie detector, commonly referred to as a polygraph examination, or submitting to a sodium amytal examination, sodium amytal being sometimes referred to as a truth serum.
Dikd he talk to you about this?
A Well, I don't remember at what time the lie detector incident arose. As I remember it, he said to me that he would take a lie detector test but that his lawyer had advised him against it. And so that's all I remember. And I don't remember it in connection with that same day that he was told that he was a suspect and confined to his BOQ.
Q Then later there was an occaions when he gave an extensive interview to a reporter which was -- I think the reporter's name was Cummings. And he was a reporter in Long Island, but it was serialized and it was printed in the newspapers around Fayetteville. Do you recall that, sir?
A There were so many newspaper articles and maybe, you know, magazine articles and things. And I don't remember Mr. Cummings. But if I saw him maybe I would remember him.
Q Well, I'm curious to know if Jeff discussed these things with you and explained perhaps the circumstances under which he had given the interview, which was quite an extensive interview.
It told his story in considerable detail in the form of questions and answers.
A Sir, I don't recall anything about any specific interview. I remember hearing later, after I went overseas, that Jeff was on one of the talk shows. And then there was a thing in Time Magazine, too, but I don't remember any specific interview.
Q Do you recall when you were assigned overseas?
A Yes, sir.
Q When was that?
A It was in July 1970, sir.
Q Was it about the middle of July, latter part of July?
A The date: 9 July, sticks in my head for some reason. I hope that's it.
Q Well, that very likely is. And do you -- It was just about that time that the Article 32 proceedings were initiated.
A Oh, yes. I came from Holabird TDY to Fort Bragg, spent several days down there during the time that the Article 32 investigation was going on all around me, and I sat there and occasionally I talked to somebody. And at the end I gave a disposition and I left. I said, "Look, gentlemen, I'm really not doing anybody any good here. And, if it is all right with you, I'd like to just go ahead and sign my dispostion and go on to the war." And so they agreed and said, "Fine." And away I went. But I never appeared in that Article 32 at all.
Q You just gave a statement, a signed statement, and that was it.
A Yes, sir.
Q What contact have you had with Jeff MacDonald since that time?
A Only letters, Christmas cards, things like this. And it's during the time I was in Vietnam Jeff wrote me maybe, maybe once a month, maybe once every two weeks. He wrote me one time, "Harrison, why are you letting the air force colonels smoke pot?" One of these things, you know. It was like I could do something about it. He was aware of the dope situation overseas. And he wrote a little thing. And he would enclose sometimes news of the proceedings. All of this I read and I've forgotten. And then I met friends in Vietnam that I had known there and they said, "Have you heard anything from Jeff?" And I said, "Well, occasionally I do, but it has fallen off." And they said, "Well, we think he just wants to forget about everybody involved with it." And I said, "Fine. I don't want to stir up any memories or anything like that." And so an occasional Christmas card. Not even one every year. I think either the year before last or last year we got a Christmas card signed Jeff. No note, no nothing. And I believe that was from Huntington Beach, California.
That's -- So that's our contact.
Q What sort of man is Jeff MacDonald?
A I thought he was a good man. I thought he was a very intelligent person. He was full of zip, you know, full of life. And very bright. He was an athletic person.
Q Did you play -- participate in athletics with him to any extent?
A No, sir. I think we played volley ball one time. And that was it.
Q He kept himself in good shape. He was muscular and he was strong. You say when he gripped your arm, he gripped it with great strength.
A He did.
Q When he spoke to you about the -- what is the name of this man, the special forces man?
A I don't believe Jeff ever knew his name.
Q You know his name.
A But I know his name. His name was Dies.
Q How would you spell it?
A D-e-i-s or D-i-e-s. I can't recall which.
Q He was speaking in earnest, I take it.
A Sir, who knows what somebody says under sedation. At the time -- who knows? Who knows? Who knows if he was in earnest? I knew that I was in earnest not to ever contact this individual.
Q Did he bring it up on subsequent occasions?
A I don't recall that he ever did. He might have. But I don't recall it right now. I think it was a product of a great amount of stress right at the time. I know if a rattlesnake bit you, you would do your best to stomp on it or shoot it or something. And it was a striking back type of a thing, you know. And he was, as I said, under a great amount of stress at the time.
Q During the occasions when you were visiting him at the hospital or later when he was discharged and was in the BOQ, you remember a conversation about his glasses?
A Let's see -- where were we?
Q We were talking about his glasses.
A Right. In the hospital, the very first morning that I went there Jeff asked me if I would retrieve his glasses for him -- and we're speaking now of the horned rim glasses that he had. And he said something about would I get his horned rim glasses for him. And I said, "Yes, Jeff, I will." And I fully intended to get the glasses but I was beat to the draw by a guy by the name of Williams who went over and got a set of glasses but not the ones that Jeff asked me for. The glasses Williams got, I believe, and brought back were a set of wire rimmed glasses either with hexagonal or octagonal frames, but angular frames, as I recall at that time. Gold.
Q Now, you mentioned meeting Kassab. Was that when Jeff was still in the hospital?
A I think he was. Yes, sir. It was a great influx of people came in from relatives, friends, from everywhere. And I believe that among them was Mr. Kassab.
Q Well, you being a good friend and a frequent visitor of Jeff, I assume that you met many of his friends and his relatives.
A I would say so. Yes, sir.
Q Met his mother?
A Yes, sir. I did. Met his sister.
Q Met his sister and his brother?
A Yes, sir.
Q Tell us about that.
A About meeting them?
Q Yes. What you observed so far as any interpersonal relationships in the family. What Jeff had to say to them. What they had to say to Jeff.
A Oh, sir, I think it's a normal type of greetings, you know, and, of course, everybody was trying to keep up his courage at the time. And they made their little -- I recall them as his sister making jokes and that's all.
Q They were giving him support?
A Yes, sir.
Q Keeping his spirits up and building up his morale and doing the best for him?
A I think so, sir. That's the way it struck me. That everybody was trying to keep a stiff upper lip at the thing and to encourage Jeff too.
Q Do you remember an occaions when Jeff asked you to obtain some -- Well, let's say refreshments?
A Referring to the wine, the cold duck at this time?
Q Yes. Cold duck.
A I sure do. I remember it. He asked me -- I said, "Jeff..." -- I was getting ready to leave at some time. I said, "Jeff, is there anything that I can do for you?" And he said, "Yes." He said, "I would like a bottle of cold duck," or a bottle of wine. I don't know if he specified cold duck. And I said, "Can do easy. I'll take care of that." And then to obtain it, I had some errands to do and I went over to the Class Six store, which is a liquor store for those that haven't been in military installations, and I got some liquor and among them was this bottle of cold duck. And so I went back to the hospital and I was in the waiting room there and among the people in the waiting room was Jeff's mother. So I had to go someplace or do something and come back. And I gave her all this liquor here and I said, "Here." Okay. And so she took this bottle into the room with Jeff and when I got there I think they were passing cups around and they were having a little snort of it. Okay. And I've been asked by people, "Well, what's the matter with you? Were you afraid to take this into the hospital room?" Or, "Why didn't you take it in?" Or, "Are you lying to us about taking it in?" Ridiculous. She was there. I set the bottle down. She took the bottle in. If I took the bottle in, I would say, "I took the bottle in." Now, I didn't mean to make a big thing about that right here, you know, but it is something that kind of stuck in my craw at the time, you know, because the idea that I would be worried about taking some liquor into one of my friends is ridiculous.
Q Was this just before he was discharged from the hospital?
A As I recall it, it was. It was when he was recovering.
Q I take it, one could infer it was a little celebration of the fact he was getting out of the hospital?
A Sir, I didn't think of it in a celebration type of thing. I thought of it as a friend of mine asked me for something and I took it to him. And what the reason that he wanted it was, I don't know. He never asked me. He wanted it. And I took it to him. And then I drank a little bit of it. And then subsequently the bottle was discovered and a big to-do was made about it in the newspapers and every place else.
Q When Jeff was describing these people to you, the girl with the floppy hat and the boots and the candle, a black male with a club and the two white males --
A I didn't remember that he had the club, that anybody told me that he -- I'm not trying to nitpick. Okay. But I'm just telling you where my memory stands. Okay?
Q I don't want to put words in your mouth. But when he was describing these people, did he refer to them as hippies or hippy-types?
A Yes, sir. He did. He definitely used the word "hippies." Yes, sir.
Q Do you recall about what time it was that you got to the hospital, sir?
A I said, I believe, between seven-thirty and eight-thirty, I suppose. It was the first thing in the morning, as soon as I could get down to my place of business and get organized and make my telephone calls and get in my car and move up there.
Q Do you remember at the time you were proceeding to Jeff's room that a CID agent was leaving the room?
A I remember him being in the AO, there in the area. Okay. Excuse my military abbreviations there. Okay. And I recognized him as a man by the name of Connolly.
Q What would you say Jeff's -- so far as his emotional status is concerned was as you observed it?
A Sir, do you mean that morning, sir? That very morning?
A Distraught. Extremely -- very, very disturbed.
Q Well, let me ask you this. He knew where he was. He was in the hospital. Is that a reasonable statement?
Q He knew where he was?
A Yes, sir. I'm sure he did. He knew where he was. I couldn't hear very well. I'm sorry.
Q And he knew you. Did he recognize you right away?
A Sir, I think he did.
Q Can you recall --
A I can't recall if he ever called me by name, but I think he did.
Q He recalled a conversation you had had in the past, referring to this man Dies?
A Yes, sir. He did. He did do that.
Q And what he said to you was appropriate to the circumstances? What you said to him was appropriate to the circumstances?
A Sir, you are right. Yes.
Q You had no problem communicating with him or he with you excepting that he was upset?
A Except that he was very distraught and he, at times, his conversation didn't hang together at all, didn't make sense. It was bits and pieces. In other words, he might start a sentence right in the middle. But I -- I don't know. I'm not an English instructor. He just -- It was not a coherent, fully coherent all the time.
Q How long did you stay on that first visit?
A I would say half an hour, twenty minutes to a half an hour. Something like that.
Q And thereafter, as the opportunity afforded, you did come back as a friend and visit him and give him support?
A Yes, sir.
Q Offer your assistance?
A (Nods affirmatively.)
MR. WOERHEIDE: Mr. Foreman, do the Grand Jurors have any questions of Ron Harrison?
JUROR: I have one. Since you were such a close friend, if not Captain MacDonald's best friend, were you the first person that he requested to see?
A Ma'am, I don't know. I know that I was there early and I think that I -- I must have been the first one in, of his friends. And as to who he requested, ma'am, I don't know. I'm sorry.
JUROR: Did you ever, as a friend, seek to try and find these perpetrators yourself?
A No, sir. I never did. I would like to see them brought to justice. But I realize my inadequacies as far as an investigator of this crime. There are many, many other people with much more information and many more resources than I have. And I've never investigated it myself.
Q (Mr. Woerheide) Let me ask you this. When he was writing to you, you say it tapered off after a while, but going to about the period of December 1970, when the Article 32 proceedings terminated -- I think it was early in the month of December, possibly even late November -- going into January, did he write you anything along the line that he was investigating this matter himself, that he was pursuing his efforts to identify the people?
A Sir. Sir, I don't recall that Jeff ever said anything about this. He -- Perhaps he did. I heard that Mr. Kassab was pursuing it. That I remember more clearly than this other -- I don't recall Jeff ever telling me, or contacting me, or ever hearing that he pursued this investigation himself.
Q Who would have been the source of your information about Kassab pursuing the matter?
A I think the same source. I think Jeff might have said something about it.
MR. WOERHEIDE: Mr. Foreman.
JUROR: I have one. In your reference to the Christmas cards or the letters later on, of his, you referred to "we." Who is the "we"?
A My wife and I.
JUROR: But you were not married at the time of your acquaintance with the MacDonalds?
A Not at the time of the incident.
JUROR: When were you married?
A In January of 1971, ma'am.
FOREMAN: Going back to April when he was being interviewed by the CID, which took part of a day, or maybe a whole day, or maybe a day and a half?
A Sir, I don't know, but he was being interviewed. Yes, sir.
FOREMAN: I think you testified he never made any mention to you concerning a lie detector examination forthcoming as a result of this April interview. Is that correct? The only lie detector you ever heard about was from his attorneys' advice not to take it?
A Sir, the only reference that I remember to a lie detector examination was the one that I stated before where he told me that he was going to take -- as I remember this thing. It sticks in my mind -- was going to take a lie detector examination at some point in the proceedings. But his attorney told him not to. Now, the very day, sir -- not to interrupt you -- the very day that he was -- I don't know -- the proper legal terminology for his situation at the time escapes me. Okay. I'm not a legal person. When he was informed that he was a suspect, I was not in Carolina at the time. I was in Virginia. And I didn't get back until three or four days. I didn't come back and see Jeff until several days later. And then at the time -- I believe that's the time but I can't say for sure that that's the time when I heard about the whole lie detector incident.
FOREMAN: The newscast that you heard -- I believe you testified that you heard a newscast on the radio at the time you were going to work that morning relating to some incident in Corregidor Courts?
A Yes, sir.
FOREMAN: Do you recall what time that was?
A Sir, it would have had to have been between six-thirty and seven o'clock in the morning, sir.
FOREMAN: But it wasn't anything with any detail. Is that right?
A Sir, it wasn't of any detail. It was not enough detail to arouse me, to even make me think about the family at that time being involved. It was only later -- I just -- I wanted -- First, I felt curiosity. Okay. I don't mean to get all bogged down in this thing. I felt curiosity. Ah, that's where the family lives, you know. I felt, that's where Jeff and his family live.
FOREMAN: But did they describe on the news broadcast what had happened, that there had been a murder or homicide?
A As I recall they did say -- but I can't clearly recall what the radio said at that time, sir. As I remember it in my mind now, okay, there was -- An incident had occurred in Corregidor Courts, which was near to where Jeff lived. And there was excitement about it. That's all I recall.
FOREMAN: They did make some reference to a death or deaths?
A My memory is so bad. I can't remember. But, if I -- I think -- I think that they did. I'm sorry to be such a dummy, but I can't remember what they said on the radio. Something had happened there that was an incident. Okay. It aroused my curiosity because it was in the same neighborhood. As far as what they said exactly, I don't remember.
FOREMAN: Anyone else? Mr. Stroud?
MR. WOERHEIDE: May Mr. Harrison be excused?
FOREMAN: Yes. Thank you very much.
Webmaster note:The original stenographer's misspellings of Graebner and Connally were corrected to Grebner and Connolly, respectively, in this transcript.