Trial Transcripts

July 27, 1979

Elizabeth Ramage

MR. BLACKBURN:  Your Honor, we call Elizabeth Krystia Ramage.  I'm not sure how you pronounce her name, it's R-a-m-a-g-e.

(Whereupon, ELIZABETH KRYSTIA RAMAGE was called as a witness, duly sworn, and testified as follows:)

D I R E C T  E X A M I N A T I O N  12:13 p.m.

Q  Would you please state your name for the court, please?
A  Yes, can you hear me?
Q  No, I'm afraid we can't.
A  Elizabeth Ramage.
Q  Miss Ramage, where do you now live?
A  Victoria, British Columbia.
Q  How long have you lived there?
A  Eight years.
Q  Did you ever have an occasion to live at Fort Bragg, North Carolina?
A  Yes, I did.
Q  And when was that, please?
A  It was in the late 1968, I believe I went there.  And I left in 1971.
Q  Where, at Fort Bragg, specifically, if you can recall, did you live?
A  I lived in a housing development on Fort Bragg.  It was Corregidor Courts, I believe it was called, on Spear Drive.
Q  How close to Castle Drive was that?
A  I think it was about a block and a half.  It intersected Castle Drive, I believe, the street did.
Q  What was your husband doing at Fort Bragg?
A  My husband, at the time, was a captain in Headquarters Special Forces.
Q  Now during this period of time, did you come to know an individual by the name of Colette MacDonald?
A  Yes, I did.
Q  If you can recall, approximately when did you first meet her and under what circumstances?
A  It was around the end of January, maybe early February, 1970, and we were taking a night school course in the University of North Carolina on base, in child psychology.
Q  Did you all meet at class, is that how you met?
A  Yes, we did.
Q  When did the class meet -- on what days is what I'm getting at?
A  I believe it was on Monday and Thursday evenings.
Q  Do you recall the approximate time that the class met?
A  It was about 6:30 in the evening, and it ended around 9:30 in the evening.
Q  Now as a result of your meeting Colette MacDonald, did you ever have an occasion to travel to class together?
A  Yes, we shared a ride on several occasions.
Q  By sharing a ride, do you mean the two of you went together?
A  Yes, yes; we did.
Q  In which one would drive one time, and another would drive another time?
A  Yes.
Q  Now approximately prior to the 16th of February, how many times had you all driven to class together, if you recall?
A  I believe it was about three, maybe four times that we went to class together.
Q  Now, directing your attention to the 16th of February, 1970, did you have an occasion to go the child psychology class that night?
A  Yes.
Q  And with whom did you go?
A  I went with Colette.
Q  Who drove that night?
A  She did.
Q  About how long does it take from where you lived to get to the place where the child psychology class was being taught?
A  I think it took about ten minutes to get there.
Q  Now during this trip, what, if anything, did you say to her that you can recall?
A  On the way to the class?
Q  Yes.
A  I don't recall on that particular evening what conversation we had on the way to the class.
Q  Well now, during any of the conversations, during any of the trips to or from the class, what conversations, or what statements, if any, can you recall that you and she had together?
A  I don't believe I know what you want -- what kind of a question?
Q  Well, did there ever come a time when you discussed -- you were expecting a child at that time, were you not?
A  Yes, I was.
Q  Did there ever come a time when you discussed your pregnancy and that of Colette?
A  Yes.
Q  And what, if anything, did Colette say about that?
A  That was not on the way to the class, though.
Q  When was it?
A  It was sometime before class one evening we were talking.  We were around the same -- pregnant about the same amount.  I was due in June and I believe she was due around the beginning of the summer, sometime.  In the conversation -- I can't recall exactly how it came about -- but anyway, she told me that she got pregnant by mistake.  She forgot to take a birth control pill, and I sort of, you know, made a joke about it because you hear about that, but not very many people really have that happen to them that you know.
Q  Did she ever say anything to you concerning her husband, Jeffrey MacDonald?
A  Yes, his name cane up in conversation.  It was that evening, but I can't remember at what time the conversation took place -- about her husband.  She had mentioned that he had been moonlighting the night before in a small town nearby and he was really tired that night when she left for class.  She said the people had been really nice to him at this place where he had moonlighted.  I believe she told me he had been asleep when she left to come to class because he was so tired from working the night before and then working at the hospital on Fort Bragg the next day.
Q  Now you spoke a moment ago about Colette's pregnancy.  Did she ever say anything to you concerning any possible apprehension of that pregnancy?
A  No, I don't remember that she did.
Q  Do you recall whether or not she ever made any statement concerning whether or not her husband would be present when the child was due?
A  I don't remember.
Q  Did Colette ever say anything to you concerning her husband's involvement with the boxing team at Fort Bragg?
A  We were talking one evening about being separated from our husbands for various reasons.  She had told me when her husband first went into the Army, that he had gone for training somewhere -- I think it was Sam Houston, or one of the army posts down south -- and she had been separated and she didn't like it.  She indicated that there was going to be a separation coming up in the future and I can't remember if it was for the boxing team, but she said something about his going away somewhere.
Q  Now, directing your attention to the night of the 16th, you attended that class?
A  Yes.
Q  What, if anything, did Colette say that night at class?
A  We were having a discussion in the class.  She asked the question, "What would happen if someone had a child that liked coming in bed with the parents?"  Apparently, the two-year old child had been coming into bed with the mom and dad, and I believe the little girl wanted the mother to leave the bed so she could stay with the dad.  The mother, Colette, would leave the bed and go and sleep on the couch some nights.  She didn't seem to feel very happy about doing that.
Q  Now, during the time that you and Colette were in class together, how many other times did Colette ever speak up or ask questions?
A  I don't recall that she ever brought up any subject for discussion in class.
Q  After Colette asked the question or made the statement in the class, what, if anything, happened?
A  Well, we had a class discussion.  We just used it as sort of a subject discussion after that, and the class concensus was that the little girl should be put back to bed and told, "This is your bed, and this is mommy and daddy's bed.  We stay here and you go into your own bed." She appeared to be quite happy with that.
Q  Now, after the class ended, did you and Colette go straight home?
A  We went straight home except we did stop off at a small shopping center on post.  I think it was Mallonee Village.  I am not sure.  It is a little commissary just across from where we lived.  It was raining that night, so she went into the commissary by herself and came back out to the car.  I stayed in the car.
Q  About what time did you get home?
A  It is hard to say.  It was between quarter till 10:00 and 10:00 o'clock, I believe.  We were just a few minutes late coming because we stopped.
Q  Is that the last time you saw Colette?
A  Yes, it was.
Q  During the brief time that you knew Colette, in your own opinion, would you describe her as loud-spoken or soft-spoken?
A  Very soft-spoken.

MR. BLACKBURN:  No further questions.  Defense may cross-examine.

C R O S S - E X A M I N A T I O N  12:24 p.m.

Q  Ms. Ramage, as far as you know, you were the last person besides Dr. MacDonald to see Colette on the night she died?
A  Yes.
Q  Before she dropped you off at your home, did you have some occasion to talk between you about how you felt about your respective marriages?
A  I don't think so.
Q  Well, did Colette talk about how she felt about Jeffrey MacDonald?
A  She appeared -- she felt proud of him.  The only conversations that we had about Jeff were really concerning his work.  We didn't go into how we felt about our husband conversations, but she spoke to me about some incidents that he had told her about working in the hospital, and, you know, I got the feeling that she was proud of what he was doing.
Q  Did you ever hear anything from Colette MacDonald to indicate that she was anything other than very much in love with her husband?
A  She never said anything about that.
Q  Did you have the impression that she was fond and happy with her husband?
A  I think so.  It is hard to tell.  People don't tell their emotions very well.
Q  To the extent that anything was revealed to you, did you ever get the impression that Colette and Jeffrey MacDonald were not getting along with each other?
A  I did not get that impression.
Q  To the contrary, whatever you did hear about it indicated that she was proud of her husband?
A  Just what she told me, yes.
Q  Didn't you and she talk about the fact that your husbands were both officers with the Special Forces at Fort Bragg?
A  Yes.
Q  As a matter of fact, Colette MacDonald said that she was quite happy being a wife of a person in the Army?  In other words, she was happy with Army life?
A  I think -- I don't know.
Q  Let me ask you something and see whether it refreshes your recollection.  This is a long time ago.
A  Yes.
Q  Do you recall a conversation with Colette in which you were both talking about the fact that your husbands were with the Special Forces?
A  Uh-huh.
Q  In fact, you kidded about the fact that they got such a great deal of pride out of wearing the Green Beret?
A  Yes.
Q  You do remember that conversation?
A  Yes.
Q  Do you recall Colette telling you that Jeff had volunteered for the Special Forces and was very proud to be with the unit?
A  Yes, I believe so.  I think all of them had to volunteer to be Special Forces.
Q  Right.  Dr. MacDonald was a physician rather than a combat soldier per se.  You knew that; didn't you?
A  Yes.
Q  Was there not in that conversation that Colette said that she found that she was quite happy being an Army wife, if I can use that expression; do you recall that now?
A  Yes, I believe so.
Q  Do you recall Mrs. MacDonald saying to you that Jeff and she had struggled because of financial problems of his going to medical school?
A  Yes.
Q  That was in that same conversation that she said that now that they were in the Army, things were going much better for them financially?
A  Yes.
Q  The burdens that they had of supporting themselves during medical school, she told you were behind them?
A  Yes.
Q  Mrs. MacDonald talked to you about her pregnancy because you and she were both sharing pregnancies; is that right?
A  Yes.
Q  When was your child due?
A  He was due, I think, about the 20th of June.
Q  The same month that Mrs. MacDonald was due with her third child; isn't that right?
A  Yes.
Q  Now, she did tell you that the pregnancy was not a planned one, but that it was because of some miscalculation in taking the birth control pill?
A  Yes.
Q  But it is correct that she was in no way unhappy about this pregnancy so far as you knew?
A  I did not get an impression that she was unhappy about it.
Q  The class that you were attending, how many sessions had you and Colette actually been together to that class?
A  Where we had known each other --
Q  (Interposing)  Yes.
A   -- I believe about four, but I am not sure.
Q  Four sessions?  About how many students were in that class if you can recall, approximately?
A  Oh, I would say probably about 20.
Q  Had you, yourself, spoken up in that class?
A  Probably.  I can't remember, but I usually do.
Q  Had all the other students in the class had something to say in the first few weeks of the class?
A  I don't know if they all had.  There were certain ones that were more talkative than others.
Q  So, it was not an extraordinary thing that Mrs. MacDonald had not said something prior to talking on this night of February 16th?
A  I did not feel it was extraordinary because it was a very relaxed class, and we had a very good rapport with the man that taught it.
Q  Tell us again how she raised the question if you will, please?  What was the subject that she wanted to get some kind of feedback on from the class or her instructor?
A  It seemed to me in the beginning that she brought it up as if she were talking about someone else -- "What if someone said such and such?"  It eventually came around that it was her own situation that she was talking about.

THE COURT:  Will this last much longer?  If it will, we will go to lunch.

MR. SEGAL:  I think so, Your Honor.

THE COURT:  Very well.  We will take our Friday lunch recess now, and we will come back  today at 1:30.  Don't talk about the case.

(The proceeding was recessed at 12:30 p.m., to reconvene at 1:30 p.m., this same day.)

F U R T H E R  P R O C E E D I N G S  1:30 p.m.

(The following proceedings were held in the presence of the jury and alternates.)

THE COURT:  Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen.

(Whereupon, ELIZABETH KRYSTIA RAMAGE, the witness on the stand at the time of recess, resumed the stand and testified further as follows:)

C R O S S - E X A M I N A T I O N  (resumed)

Q  Mrs. Ramage, before the luncheon break, you indicated you know, having some difficulty remembering some of the events that happened nine years ago; am I correct in that regard?
A  Yes.
Q  You did testify, as a matter of fact, as a witness that I called nine years ago at the Article 32 proceedings; do you remember that?
A  Yes, I did.
Q  Would it help you today if you could have and read your own testimony from 1970?  Would that be useful to you?
A  Yes.
Q  Now Mrs. Ramage, I have just given you what is all of the transcript of your testimony, when I called you as a witness in 1970, in front of you.  I would like to, perhaps, ask you a series of questions and answers from the transcript and ask whether you remember them or whether you accept that the stenographer got down your words and my words correctly; is that all right?
A  Yes.
Q  I am not going to ask you some things that have already been brought up by direct examination.  If the Government wants to do it, they are certainly welcome to it.  I would like to ask you to turn, say, just to the second page of your testimony.  That would be page 1178.  I will read the question and if you wouldn't mind reading the answer.  Would that be all right with you?
A  Yes.
Q  About the middle of the page, the question I asked you, "Was there any particular circumstance or circumstances to cause you to be drawn to Mrs. MacDonald or her to you that just brought about your friendship, and resulted in your driving back and forth to class?"  Do you recall what the answer was there?
A  It says, "Well, yes, we were both pregnant and we were both due in June, at approximately the same time."
Q  "June of 1970?"
A  "Yes."
Q  "Did you have your child in June, 1970?"
A  "Yes, I did."
Q  "As a result of this, did it cause you to establish some relationship with Mrs. MacDonald?"
A  "Yes, we seemed to have not only that in common, but we seemed to have interest in children in common and our interest in our families."
Q  "Did you ever know Captain Jeffrey MacDonald prior to today?"  That meant today, in 1970, when you were testifying at the military proceedings?
A  "No, I didn't."
Q  "Had you ever seen Captain MacDonald prior to today?"
A  "No."
Q  "Your entire knowledge of the MacDonald family was through your meetings with Mrs. MacDonald?"
A  "Yes, it was."
Q  "In regard to Mrs. MacDonald's pregnancy, did she indicate to you that she had any other children?"
A  "Yes, she spoke of having children."
Q  "Did she ever indicate to you any anxiety concerning fright, nervousness, or fear over this pregnancy that she was in at the time you first met her?"
A  "No."
Q  "Did Mrs. MacDonald ever discuss her husband, Captain MacDonald, in your presence or with you?"
A  "Yes, she did."
Q  'What was the attitude that she manifested were her feelings toward her husband?"
A  "Well, she showed she had a great deal of respect for what he did, and she indicated that she cared for him very much from what she said."
Q  "Were there any specific things that caused you to arrive at that conclusion that she may have said or done in your presence?"
A  "She told me she felt her husband was dedicated to his work because I had complained about the treatment I had gotten at the OR Clinic, and she said -- I said I felt the doctors weren't very interested in their patients.  She had said her husband seemed to enjoy his job and he took an interest in all patients."
Q  Now I'm going to skip some material, there is an objection, and we will move to where the next page was after the objection was ruled on.  The question by me: "Did she ever indicate her feelings whether her husband took an interest or was concerned about her?"  Then there was an objection, which was overruled, so I repeated the question.  "Did Mrs. MacDonald ever indicate to you or do anything in your presence that would indicate that she felt her husband was concerned or interested in her welfare and her well being?  Let me put it another way, if I may.  What, if anything, caused you to hold the opinion that Mrs. MacDonald had respect for her husband and held him in some regard?"
A  "Well, she bragged about his moonlighting and said that, well, she was telling me about one time that weekend, or the night before the class that I had seen her last in, that they had gone to this little village that he was going to work that weekend, and that he showed her the hospital and everything, and then when he had come home, he told her about the staff of the hospital -- the respect they had.  They treated him like a lord, because he had come and helped them."
Q  "And her talking about her husband in that fashion, what, if anything, did that indicate to you?"
A  "It indicated to me that she felt proud of what he had done, that she was enthusiastic because he had enjoyed going there."
Q  "Now at the class on February 16th, 1970, was there some discussion in that class which involved Mrs. MacDonald?"
A  "Yes, she brought the question to the class, in general, and to the professor of what to do about their youngest child coming into bed with them in the night."
Q  "And what, if anything, transpired as a result of the questions she put to the class?  Did she say anything further after she heard their comments, or the professor's comments?"
A  "We discussed it on the way home from the class and the professor had suggested that they return the child to her own bed after reassuring the child, talking to it a wee bit, and putting her back into her own bed, because she shouldn't be encouraged to stay in bed with them."
Q  "Did Mrs. MacDonald indicate that she was satisfied with that advice, or attempted to follow that advice?"
A  "Yes, she did."
Q  "Did she indicate that she and her husband had any disagreement over the subject of what should be done about the child, when she crawled in her bed?"
A  "No, she didn't."
Q  "Did she indicate that she had been confronted with this particular problem at any other time?"
A  "Yes, she said that when their first child was about the same age, or a little older maybe, and they were expecting the second child, that the first child crawled into bed with them."
Q  "Did she indicate that had caused any disagreement or argument, or anything unpleasant between herself and her husband7"
A  "No, she didn't.  They were just a wee bit concerned about the child coming into bed with them.  They didn't think it was a good idea."
Q  "On the trip from the class, how would you characterize Mrs. MacDonald's attitude and her feelings at that time?"
A  "She seemed relaxed and calm."
Q  "Did she seem depressed or unhappy in any way?"
A  "No, not at all."
Q  "Did she ever indicate to you that she felt her husband's attitude, or what was her husband's attitude toward his service in the United States Army?"
A  "Yes.  She said that he enjoyed the Army life, and she even said at one point that they had never had so much money as they had in the Army."
Q  "Had she indicated any special feeling on the part of Captain MacDonald about his being a member of the Special Forces, the Green Berets?"
A  "Yes, she said that he was proud of being a Green Beret.  In fact, that was one of the things I noticed about her the first evening in class, was when we were talking about how people felt about their jobs.  She volunteered that her husband was a Green Beret, and that he felt proud of that fact that he was, and wore a special uniform and was in a special service."
Q  "Now on that trip home from the class, what time did you leave the University on February 16th?"
A  "Between 9:20 and 9:30."
Q  "p.m.?"
A  "Yes, p.m."
Q  "Did you proceed directly home, or did you make any stops?"
A  "We stopped at the little shopette and she went into the little shopette and got some things.  She said she got milk because their family drank a lot of milk."
Q  "Did you do any shopping?"
A  "No, I stayed in the car because it was raining."
Q  "Did she bring one or more packages to the car?"
A  "She brought one bag."
Q  "After that stop, did you proceed on home?"
A  "Yes."
Q  "When Mrs. MacDonald left, was it your car that you were driving?"
A  "No, it was her car."
Q  "When you left her car, did you say anything to her, or did she say anything to you as you left?"
A  "We just said good night."
Q  "Was there any indication that you observed of any unhappiness or sadness on her part as she departed from you?"
A  "No."
Q  "Was there anything at all out of the ordinary in her conduct or behavior which you observed that evening in your prior experience?"  There is an objection; it is overruled and I repeat the question.  "What is your answer?  Was there anything different or unusual about her behavior when you left her on the night of February 16th than you have noted before?"
A  "I would say I didn't observe anything different."
Q  "How would you characterize her frame of mind that night?"
A  "She seemed to be in a fairly happy frame of mind."
Q  "Did you have any plans in regards to seeing Mrs. MacDonald after February 16th?"
A  "Yes, in regard to her question about the little girl coming in to bed, I had some psychology books at home and I had planned to go within the next day or so and take the books over, and just talk about it."
Q  "Did Mrs. MacDonald ask you to bring those books over to her?"
A  "No.  I told her when I was in the car with her that I had some books she might be interested to read, and she expressed an interest in reading the books."
Q  "Were you interested in pursuing your relationship with Mrs. MacDonald?"
A  "Yes, I was."
Q  "Why was that?"
A  "I felt we had a lot of things in common, and we were both interested in child psychology, and that is one of my big interests -- is children -- and she seemed to be very interested in children and problems with children.  Also, she was experienced in being a mother, and I wasn't, so I wanted to talk to her."
Q  Now, skipping down to where it says "Question by Captain."  I want to also bring out the questions that the Government counsel, Captain Somers, might have asked you.  If we can proceed, Ms. Ramage, the same way.  "You say at the class on the 16th, Colette MacDonald spoke of a problem with the children or a child getting in bed with them; is that correct?
A  "Yes."
Q  "Would you explain that to me?  Precisely, what was the problem?"
A  "Well, they were concerned because the younger child, Kristen, came into bed with them at times, and she wanted to crawl up next to her daddy and push mommy out -- this sort of thing."
Q  "And it was with reference to this problem that you were going to lend her some books on child psychology; is that correct?"
A  "Yes."
Q  "You said that she seemed happy with respect to her pregnancy; is that correct?"
A  'Yes."
Q  "Did she ever indicate to you whether this was a planned pregnancy?"
A  "Yes, she did."
Q  "What was her indication?"
A  "It wasn't planned.  She said that she had forgotten to take her pill all the time."
Q  I guess that should be "at that time"?
A  Yes.

MR. SEGAL:  I think that is all the questions that Captain Somers asked you then, and I think that is all the questions I have today.

MR. BLACKBURN:  Your Honor, we have just one or two questions.

THE COURT:  All right.

R E D I R E C T  E X A M I N A T I O N  1:43 p.m.

Q  Ms. Ramage, in February of 1970, what was your last name?
A  Krystia.
Q  Was that a married name that you were using?
A  Yes.
Q  You have subsequently divorced and remarried; is that correct?
A  Yes.
Q  Now, during this time in February of 1970, were you having any marital problems yourself?
A  Yes.
Q  Did you relate any of those marital problems to Colette?
A  No.

MR. BLACKBURN:  No further questions.

MR. SEGAL:  Thank you very much, Ms. Ramage.  I have nothing further, Your Honor.

THE COURT:  All right.

(Witness excused.)

MR. BLACKBURN:  May this witness be excused?

MR. SEGAL:  Yes, thank you very much.
Webmaster note: 
The original stenographer's misspelling of Melonee was corrected to Mallonee in this transcript.