Errol Morris tackles the Jeffrey MacDonald case

But as wily as [Errol] Morris is, I was worried when he told me about his latest obsession: the Jeffrey MacDonald murder case. ‘Oh my God, no,’ was my measured reaction, ‘Not that!’

For the past four decades the MacDonald affair has been a toxic swamp that has drawn in some of journalism’s best and brightest writers.

‘Yes, that,’ Morris replied, telling me that MacDonald is the subject of his next book, titled A Wilderness of Error. In fact, he said, the book is the culmination of 20 years of fascination with the case, going back to a time in the early ’90s when Morris and his wife visited wig shops in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to investigate the wig-fiber evidence at the MacDonald crime scene. He is not a MacDonald partisan in that he doesn’t necessarily believe prosecutorial errors are proof of innocence, rather evidence of uncertainty.

If Errol Morris is that excited about the MacDonald case, it’s a sign we can’t say ‘Case closed.’

-from “Errol Morris: The Thinking Man’s Detective,” by Ron Rosenbaum. In the March 2012 issue of Smithsonian magazine. As a documentary filmmaker Errol Morris has focused his camera on former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, physicist Stephen Hawking and Texas death row inmate Randall Adams. His book on Jeffrey MacDonald is slated for publication in August.

11 thoughts on “Errol Morris tackles the Jeffrey MacDonald case”

  1. Oh please…survey those who grew up with MacDonald and ask if they are convinced that he was capable and committed this horrific crime. In my opinion Mrs Kasab was the only one correct as to motivation

  2. Philip, you are obviously a lunatic MacDonald supporter. You think Colette’s 56-58 year old mother drove from Long Island to North Carolina to stab her baby granddaughters to death?? Sorry, the forensic evidence is overwheming. Jeffrey MacDonald is exactly where he belongs.

  3. I don’t think so, L. There is no other explanation other than Helena Stoeckley’s. I sure wish the government would have given her immunity, she would have spilled all the beans! But they had a particular interest in keeping it all hushed up and were happy with what they got away with! There is no explanation for MacDonald’s injuries and collapsed lung other than he was assaulted by the people Helena described and said were in the house.

  4. I just saw this site and thought I would chime in. Unless Errol’s obsession with Macdonald includes experiments with mind control by some segments of the gov’t.,
    then his project is doomed.
    Rather than state the MacD. is guilty of murder one, I’d say he is not innocent due to having been unwittingly involved in a project far greater than one can imagine. The cold war at the time, along with the Vietnam conflict, saw great experimentation with “mind control.” The old movie “Jacob’s Ladder” touches on this topic.
    Having been involved in this case until about 1999, I continued my research well after leaving that “encampment of tired souls” as I have come to call it. The outcome of it all raises more questions than it answers. All involve:
    Jerry Hughes (past and present)
    Dr. James Brussel
    MacD’s forthcoming assignment as m.d. for Army Boxing team in Russa trip
    Why his mother allowed him to live with another family (Jeff and the son of that family) for one year in Texas at the age of 13? (The mother of MacD’s friend introduced him to “intimacy”)
    Why does the gentleman, who was the little boy MacD. held over the water from the boat, not want to have anything whatsoever to do with MacD.’s search for vindication?
    and a few more topics.
    In my view, MacD. is pretty much a done turkey. He has become institutionalized, shallow, an even more narcissistic. He has defrauded his own brother. He is nothing more than a convict who cries “innocent” at every turn. The guy who would NEVER EVER seek parole, is desperate to get out. He will reach for anything and everything. But then, what if he does get out either on parole, or whatever…what then? He is no longer a doctor and how long can 15 minutes of fame actually last? Maybe he should get himself a ball and write “Wilson” on it!
    Note to Errol: This will never be a “thin blue line,” Errol…but rather a smear of innocent blood. MacDonald is to be pitied, not vindicated or liberated. He played most dangerous games with those closest to him–all about ego.

  5. MacDonald may very well be guilty of the 1970 murders but the conviction was based on circumstancial evidence. MacDonald may be conceided and narcissistic and may have been a unfaithful husband and an uncaring father. However, this does not mean he is a murderer. Wrongly convicted people are not necessarily saints ! The fact that he describes four people and there are three documented confessions (Helena Stockley, Greg Mitchell and Cathy Perry) makes MacDonald very lucky if he is indeed guilty !

  6. As long as somebody proclaims their innocence for long enough and they were not filmed commiting the crime then there will always be people willing to believe anything!Forget overwhelming blood and fiber evidence and numerous other peices of evidence that point the finger to the correct person.Who cares when they say they didn,t do it!!We can,t always know everything about a crime but we should not discount all the piles of evidence just because it is deemed cercumstantial.Jeffrey Macdonald was guilty in 1970 and he is guilty now!He was lucky he had ten years of freedom before justice prevailed.His crimes were monstrous but his denials and posturing over forty some years is almost on a par with the original crime!He needs to die in prison which is the only place he belongs along with all the other innocents like O.J.Darlie routier and Scott peterson to name just a few!!

  7. I don’t know how anyone who has read Fatal Vision in detail can doubt Mr MacDonald’s guilt. But regardless of the merits of that book, criminals are convicted on circumstantial evidence all the time. Under the law, circumstantial eveidence is just as good as direct evidence. In arson trials , for example, most prosecutions rely entirely on circumstantial proof.

  8. L. I am the furthest thing from a supporter of this sociopath. My reference to Mrs. Kassab is her theory as to why he committed the crime. Do a little research and you’ll find what she felt his motivation was.

  9. I can’t believe that this case still drags on in the courts. People that think he’s innocent don’t take the time to know why he was convicted in 6 hours. The blood, hair and fiber evidence proved that who ever wore the blue top that night slaughtered a pregnant women and two little girls. That’s what the case comes down to. 3 sliced and battered bodies of 3 helpless people. And all the evidence points toward that blue pajama top. Did one of the so called hippies come in the house in the middle of the night, find weapons that were in the house, stab and club everyone, find surgical gloves and put them on, move bodies, take it back off and give it back to MacDoanld? Please…for the people that think he’s innocent take the time to read and learn the evidence. If you do you’ll see that his entire story is a lie.

  10. everyone that has made a comment on this blog does so not from personal experiance, but on responding to published material about the case.

    I was fourteen years old when it happened and lived in Fayetteville. The word was on the street that Stoeckley and others did it. I knew a family that also was more involved in activity coming from the street. They too, also confirmed this, that is until their CID husband-father came home from a tour in VN. After that the arguments were sensless.

    In addition, I was showed a canvas bag, after these events, that was sitting on a back porch by a fellow younger than myself. In that bag was an ice pick and butcher knife with dense dried blood caked on them. This house belonged to a detective. The murder weapons were never seen in court. BTW; Helena was known to have carried a canvas bag with an ice pick in it.

    So, go ahead and discuss your press dominated arguments based on news media spin.

  11. All the proff that Jeff killed them is there people. Just pay attention to facts rather than fling for what i call “the bs” factor. The ability to charm
    And well…. BS there way thru anything.

    So lets look at facts. Not areas that were possibly tainted… But facts.

    The kids were found laying on their sides all tucked in their beds.
    Yet… We have proof the older childs brain serum was on the wall in the master bedroom. so.. Pretty sure a child was not hit hard enough to splatter her brain serum on the wall, then walk back to her bed and get all comfortable.

    Then mr Jeff hills elf says he tried to perform CPR on his family… Not once but TWICE. His words. Look up the trial transcripts. So tell me how this occurred? Are u aware CPR requires… Hard surface on a body’s back?!?!?

    Hmmm

    Yet the kids were in bed on their sides?!?

    So Jeff must have lied about trying to save his family. His kids? A dr, green beret? Trained to deal with trama.. Yet he didn’t. He lied. This we know.

    If he tried to do CPR… Pulling the kids to the floor (hard surface) and tilting head back, opening moth(lots of blood) well then facts ONLY. There would be mass blood on the floor. On Jeffs hands, arms… Which in a panic saver family’s lives would then be on the walls, the hall, EVERYWHEREx.

    But… It’s not, it’s absent from those places? Why?!?! Did he NOT try to save their lives?!? Against a normal Parents INSTINCT, a drs instinct? He let them lay there.. In their beds…. Dying?’!???

    On their sides (blood stains proving this). Yet didn’t attempt to save his own children?

    Proof Isin the blood. He didn’t.

    So ask yourself why. You would! Why didn’t he?

    Cause he killed them.

    There’s nothing else that says otherwise.

    He then didn’t try to get justice like a normal person would to these “people” who butchered his family… He just moved to California and enjoyed life.

    That’s normal, right?

    Nope. Sorry. This man killed them. Showed relief and quickly moved on.

    Yes we all deal with trauma different.

    Those with no heart, soul smile and move on and are happy.

    Those that loved and had a soul are forever heart broken.

    FACT!

    Jeff even was smiling on the Dick Cavet show a few months later. An evil “I killed them and got away with it smile”

    This world is quick to beleive the physco! But it’s time to pay attention.

    Otherwise… Like Drew Petersons 3RD WIFE…. Ur the next “missing person”

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