The Crazy Life of James Wallace McDonald


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She held a flickering light in front of her face that appeared to come from a candle, and she was chanting, "Acid is groovy, kill the pigs. As MacDonald began to rise, the black man brought a club crashing down on his head.

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A second later, MacDonald felt a sharp pain on the right side of his chest; looking down, he saw the glint of an ice-pick blade. Hands pulled at him as he struggled up, yanking his pajama top over his head and onto his wrists.

He used the top to fend off some of the blade thrusts, but the black man kept clubbing, and, finally, MacDonald went down on the steps of the hallway that led to the bedrooms. When he awoke, MacDonald found Colette sprawled on the master-bedroom floor, the handle of a knife sticking out of her chest. On the headboard of the bed, someone had used a finger to write PIG in blood. MacDonald pulled the knife out and laid it aside before giving his wife mouth-to-mouth.

Then, covering Colette's half-naked chest with the pajama top, he went to check on the kids. Both were lying bloody in their bedrooms.

The Crazy Life of James Wallace McDonald

Arriving M. Colette had been stabbed with a knife a total of 16 times in the chest and neck—and 21 more times in the chest with an ice pick driven in to the hilt. She'd also been hit at least six times in the head with a club, and had had both her arms broken, apparently while holding them up to shield herself. In terms of sheer horror, the children were even worse.

Kimberly had been struck in the head with a club at least six times. One blow shattered her skull; another—to the left side of her face—was delivered with such force that it splintered her nose and cheek, leaving a piece of bone sticking through the skin beneath her eye. While near death, she'd also been stabbed in the neck with a knife several times, so closely and precisely that a pathologist could only estimate the number of wounds at 8 or Kimberly's sister, baby Kristen, whose finger was cut to the bone by one wound suggesting she'd been holding up her hand to protect herself , had a total of 33 stab wounds: 12 in the back, 4 in the chest, and one in the neck by knife; 15 more by ice pick in the chest.

The sole survivor was Jeffrey MacDonald, who was found lying with his arm around Colette. By the time the sun had risen, the army's Criminal Investigation Division C. There were a number of things that bothered year-old William Ivory, the first C. Apart from a tipped-over plant and a top-heavy coffee table lying on its side a position it would never assume in subsequent tests , the tiny living room was undisturbed. Odder still, given all the supposed blade thrusts directed at MacDonald, just a single fiber from his pajamas could be found.

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In the bedrooms, however, there were dozens, including several found beneath Colette, others under Kimberly's sheets, and two more in Kristen's room—one lodged under her fingernail. The trouble was, MacDonald said that he hadn't been wearing the pajama top when he went to his daughters' rooms—he'd already laid it over Colette. The blood in the house was also suspicious. There were buckets of it in the bedrooms including Kristen's, where a bloody footprint matching MacDonald's was found exiting the room , but none on the living-room floor and only a drop too small to be typed on the hallway steps.

MacDonald's glasses, located near the living-room drapes, did have a speck on the front of one of the lenses.

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But testing would match the blood to Kristen's. That was very odd, since MacDonald had said he wasn't wearing the glasses when he went to her bedroom. Ivory later found the tips of surgical gloves beneath the headboard where PIG had been written in blood; they would eventually be judged identical in composition to a supply in a cabinet beneath the kitchen sink. On the floor alongside the cabinet, Ivory had also discovered drops of blood—the same type as Jeffrey MacDonald's. Outside, near the back door, there was another find: an ice pick, a sharp-edged Old Hickory—brand kitchen knife, and a bloody piece of wood the size of a baseball bat.

All, testing would find, had been used in the murders. All, it would also be determined, came from the MacDonald apartment. O ver the next six weeks, more evidence pointed in MacDonald's direction—not least his own statements. Three times shortly after the murders he'd said, "Be sure to tell the C. I took the knife out of my wife's chest.

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Their wonder deepened when tests indicated that the knife had never been in Colette's chest. MacDonald's injuries raised eyebrows as well. According to a staff surgeon, MacDonald's most serious wound was a "clean, small, sharp" incision in the right chest, which caused an easily remedied partial deflation of a lung. There were some other, comparatively minor things, but no sign of any ice-pick punctures. His spirits did not appear to have been damaged much, either.

Colette's stepfather, a New Jersey egg salesman named Freddy Kassab, learned that, while hospitalized, MacDonald had enjoyed a bottle of cold duck with some Green Beret buddies. What MacDonald did not know then was that he and the members of his family all had different blood types—a statistical anomaly that allowed C.

The scenario they put together had the fight beginning in the master bedroom, the likely trigger being some assault on MacDonald's masculinity. Colette, they speculated, got in the first blow, whacking her husband in the forehead with a hairbrush. As MacDonald retaliated by clubbing her with a piece of lumber recently used for some household chores Colette perhaps swiping back with the bent-bladed knife , Kimberly—whose brain serum was found in the doorway—was struck, possibly inadvertently.

Believing Colette dead, MacDonald carried his mortally wounded daughter back to her room, with no choice but to finish the job. After stabbing and bludgeoning her Kimberly's blood was discovered on the pajama top MacDonald said he hadn't been wearing while in her room , he went to Kristen's room, intent on disposing of the last remaining witness.

Before he could do so, Colette—whose blood was found on Kristen's bedcovers and on one wall of the room—regained consciousness, stumbled in, and threw herself over her daughter. After killing them, MacDonald wrapped his wife's body in a sheet and carried it back to the master bedroom, leaving a footprint of Colette's blood on the way out.

Then, the C.

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First, he fetched a disposable scalpel blade from a supply in the hallway closet. He then went to the adjacent bathroom and carefully stuck himself between his seventh and eighth ribs, an area with little sensation. Putting on the surgical gloves, he proceeded to the master bedroom, where, after dipping his finger in Colette's blood and writing PIG on the headboard, he laid his pajama top over his wife's chest and repeatedly stabbed through it with an ice pick. Finally, with the gloves still on, he used the master-bedroom and kitchen phones to summon help; threw the club, the ice pick, and the Old Hickory knife out the back door; messed up the living room; and flushed the gloves and scalpel blade down the toilet or threw them in the garbage, which the C.

It all seemed very tidy. The C.

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There was a miasma of errors—from failing to seal off the crime scene 26 people tramped through before it was finally secured, including an ambulance driver who stole MacDonald's wallet , to losing the blue fiber found beneath Kristen's fingernail and a piece of skin taken from beneath one of Colette's nails, to letting a doctor turn over Colette's body and move the pajama top.

Incredibly, investigators also allowed 40 sets of fingerprints to be destroyed the bloody footprint was lost, too, in the process of removing it and potentially critical pieces of physical evidence to be discarded. Even the significance of the Esquire articles—which, according to investigators, contained 18 similarities to the murders, including a blonde, candle-carrying hippie woman—wasn't realized until various C. Hoping a confession would make up for the miscues, the C.

He displayed strikingly little emotion about his family during questioning, but did agree to take a polygraph.


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Ten minutes after leaving C. Within hours, the army put him under armed guard. It would be three months before an "Article 32" hearing was convened—the army's equivalent of a grand jury. MacDonald's mother hired a civilian attorney, a former A. Segal, to defend her son. Like the C.


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Only when MacDonald talked of discovering Kristen was there even a flicker of feeling. Guessing that the flatness was MacDonald's doctor-trained way of dealing with horror, Segal had him evaluated by a psychiatrist, who found "possibly some latent homosexual conflicts," as well as "some narcissistic need to be famous or infamous.

His conclusion was one of the centerpieces of Segal's defense, which also focused on the Inspector Clouseau—like aspects of the C. The latter was attested to by a parade of witnesses, led by Freddy Kassab. Shortly thereafter, a year-old deliveryman named William Posey went to Segal with an amazing story. While living in the hippie district of nearby Fayetteville, Posey said, he'd had a neighbor he knew only by the name "Helen. About two weeks later, Posey went on, Helen mentioned that she was going to have to leave town because the police had been "hassling" her about possible involvement in the MacDonald killings.

The trouble, Helen said, was that she'd been so high on mescaline and LSD that night that she couldn't remember what she'd done. Posey told something else to Segal as well: Helen had been in the habit of wearing a floppy hat and blond wig, but after February 17 he never saw her in them. The daughter of a lieutenant colonel who'd thrown her out of the house for using drugs, Stoeckley, then 18, struck William Ivory as "a space cadet.

Neither time did she say anything useful—just that she no longer had the floppy hat or wig.

The Crazy Life of James Wallace McDonald The Crazy Life of James Wallace McDonald
The Crazy Life of James Wallace McDonald The Crazy Life of James Wallace McDonald
The Crazy Life of James Wallace McDonald The Crazy Life of James Wallace McDonald
The Crazy Life of James Wallace McDonald The Crazy Life of James Wallace McDonald
The Crazy Life of James Wallace McDonald The Crazy Life of James Wallace McDonald
The Crazy Life of James Wallace McDonald The Crazy Life of James Wallace McDonald
The Crazy Life of James Wallace McDonald The Crazy Life of James Wallace McDonald
The Crazy Life of James Wallace McDonald The Crazy Life of James Wallace McDonald

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