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Jeffrey MacDonald murdered his family and tried to blame drug-crazed hippies

Mugshot of Jeffrey MacDonald
Despite maintaining his innocence, former Captain Jeffrey MacDonald has spent over 40-years in prison for killing his family. Pic credit; North Carolina Dept. of Corrections

People Magazine investigates the controversial case of Jeffrey MacDonald, which has captivated the public for 50-years and has spawned multiple books, TV series, podcasts, and webcasts.

In 1970, Jeffrey MacDonald was a 26-year-old army officer and doctor when he was found stabbed, but still alive at his home at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

His wife, 26-year-old Colette McDonald, and their daughters Kimberley, 5, and Kristen, 2, were dead. They had been hacked to death with a scalpel and an ice-pick.

Military police discovered the pregnant Colette’s corpse and her husband MacDonald, suffering from a deflated lung, on their bedroom floor lying in a pool of blood. The two children had been beaten and stabbed to death in their beds.

MacDonald told investigators a tale of drug-crazed hippies who had broken into his home and conducted the massacre. He described the attackers as two white men, a black man, and a white woman. He claimed the woman had chanted “acid is groovy; kill the pigs,” as he had tried to fight them off.

Detectives were immediately suspicious of MacDonald’s story. For one thing, there was no sign of forced entry, and secondly, Colette and the children had been stabbed multiple times. Colette alone had been stabbed 16 times with a knife and 21 times with an ice pick. MacDonald appeared to have gotten off too lightly.

Jeffrey MacDonald tried to make the crime look like the Manson murders

Investigators concluded that MacDonald was the culprit and that he tried to make the crime look like a home invasion.

He wrote the word “PIG” above their bed to make it look more like the Manson murders, which had occurred six months previously. The police believe he then stabbed himself to make his story of a home invasion more believable.

MacDonald was finally convicted of the murders in 1979, but he continues to maintain his innocence and has lodged numerous appeals, all of which have failed. In 2018 he was denied a new trial. He is due for a parole hearing in May 2020.

In 1983 MacDonald asked author Joe McGinniss to write a true crime book that would prove his innocence. However, while working on the book, McGinniss became convinced of the former army officer’s guilt.

More from People Magazine Investigates

Follow the links to read about more murders profiled on People Magazine Investigates.

One day in October 2018, Cheryl Coker left her home in Riverside, Ohio, and vanished without a trace. She had just filed for divorce her husband Bill Coker, which made him an instant suspect, but the pair had had an open marriage, so there was no shortage of potential murderers.

James Pierson had an abusive and incestuous relationship with his 16-year-old daughter Cheryl. At her behest, classmate Sean Pico, murdered Pierson to help his “friend escape a life of torment.”

Jeffrey MacDonald: People Magazine Investigates airs at 8/7c on Investigation Discovery.

Jerry was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, but is now based in the UK. He specializes in true crime and entertainment news stories. When... read more
Jerry Brown

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