TOPIC: CID Reinvestigation

In my opinion, the seminal event in this case was the CID reinvestigation.  The reinvestigation bridged the gap between the perception that the CID botched the original investigation and the fact that the government had collected a mass of forensic evidence that pointed directly at MacDonald's guilt.

The CID reinvestigation began in the latter part of 1970 and was completed in 1972.  Colonel Jack Pruett and warrant officer Peter Kearns were provided with office space in the Federal Building in downtown Fayetteville.  They assembled a team of eight agents and went over the original investigation with a fine-tooth comb.  Pruett and Kearns concluded that while mistakes were made, the evidence collected at the crime scene was not contaminated by the MP's and medics that arrived at 544 Castle Drive the morning of February 17, 1970.

The first order of business for Pruett and Kearns was to interview Jeffrey MacDonald.  This interview took place in the library of the Philadelphia Bar Association, on March 20, 1971.  MacDonald's lawyer, Bernie Segal, was present at this interview and some important information was culled from MacDonald by Pruett and Kearns.  MacDonald was shown photographs of Helena Stoeckley, Cathy Perry, and the New York Four.  MacDonald stated that he did not recognize any of these individuals.  MacDonald also admitted that he had scratch marks on his upper left chest.  This was consistent with his admission at the Article 32 hearings that he had "some scratches on my left pectoral region, the upper left chest with some, again the same type of puncture wounds, two or three."

Pruett and Kearns then got the FBI to look at the evidence in this case for the first time.  CID agent William Ivory delivered several evidentiary items to the chief of the FBI's chemistry division, Paul Stombaugh.  Stombaugh analyzed all of the cuts and puncture holes in the pajamas worn by the MacDonald family, as well as the blood stain patterns on MacDonald's pajama top.  Stombaugh found that all the puncture holes in the pajamas worn by Jeffrey, Colette, and Kristen MacDonald were perfectly round with no ragged edges.  To Stombaugh, this indicated that the garments were stationary when punctured.  Stombaugh also concluded that the Old Hickory knife was responsible for all of the cuts in Colette's and Kristen's pajamas, while the source of the two cuts in MacDonald's pajama top was probably the Geneva Forge knife.  Most of the blood found on MacDonald's pajama top was Colette's and Stombaugh found four stains from Colette that were bisected.  Stombaugh concluded that the four stains were on the pajama top before it was torn.  William Ivory also removed a bed slat from under Kimberley's bed and subsequent microscopic examinations determined that the murder club was once part of this bed slat.

Pruett and Kearns then instructed their staff to investigate any individuals who could be deemed as suspects.  CID agents eventually interviewed suspects Helena Stoeckley, Greg Mitchell, Bruce Fowler, and Cathy Perry.  Mitchell, Fowler, and Perry denied any involvement in the murders, and Stoeckley waffled between being present when the murders took place, and having no memory of her whereabouts on February 17, 1970.  Head hair and fingerprint exemplars were obtained from each individual, and none of the exemplars matched any of the head hairs or prints found at the crime scene.  A CID polygraph examiner and CID Hall of Famer, Robert Brisentine, administered exams to Mitchell, Fowler, and Stoeckley.  Mitchell and Fowler passed their exams, while Stoeckley's exam was deemed inconclusive due to her history of severe drug use.

Interviews were also conducted with MacDonald's family, friends, and female liaisons.  The conclusions drawn from these interviews were as follows:

  • MacDonald was a respected doctor and well-liked by his co-workers.

  • MacDonald's best friend at Fort Bragg, Ron Harrison, confirmed that MacDonald owned an ice pick.

  • MacDonald had a vast social network and he often threw parties at his home.

  • MacDonald appeared to be a loving father to his two children.

  • MacDonald had at least eight affairs when he was married to Colette.  Pruett and Kearns suspected that MacDonald may have had up to 15 affairs from 1963-1969.

  • MacDonald, while confined to Bachelor Officers' Quarters, had an ongoing sexual relationship with a civilian woman.  During this same time period, the Article 32 hearings were underway, and the Kassabs were lodged at an army facility that was within shouting distance of MacDonald's quarters.

On June 1, 1972, the 10,000-page reinvestigation report was submitted to the Department of Justice.  The report was authored by Peter Kearns and it recommended that Jeffrey MacDonald be prosecuted for the murder of his family.  The reinvestigation report was beyond thorough as evidenced by the fact that 699 people were interviewed, leads were pursued in 32 states, and the evidence was reanalyzed by both the CID and the FBI.  Kearns also narrated and produced a film on this case which was eventually presented to the Department of Justice.  The CID reinvestigation report is an ominous cloud which continues to hover over the MacDonald defense team.  Since 1982, , they've hailed the Article 32 hearings as the ultimate truth and called the 1979 trial a travesty of justice, but nary a word is uttered about the CID reinvestigation.  Their silence speaks volumes.