Analysis of the Investigation of the Jeffery MacDonald Murder Case
This report analyzes the crime committed at the MacDonald Residence on February 17th 1970. At around 3:3oam an operator received a call from Captain Jeffery MacDonald requesting an ambulance. At the scene, Collette MacDonald, Kimberley MacDonald and Kristen MacDonald were all found dead, and Jeffery MacDonald had sustained injuries.
Jeffery MacDonald, the only survivor gave this statement about the event:
MacDonald stated that after a nightcap, Collette went to bed. At 2:00-2:30am he went to the bedroom and found Kristen had wet his side of the bed. He returned her to her room and slept in the living room.. He was awakened by his wife and oldest daughter’s screams and simultaneously attacked by a black man with a baseball bat and by two other men. He saw a woman with blonde hair wearing a floppy hat, boots and a short skirt carrying a lighted candle and chanting “acid is groovy, kill the pigs”. They attacked him tearing his pajama top over his head. He was hit on the head and fell unconscious. He came to on the hall floor, he went to the master bedroom where he found his wife with a knife sticking out of her chest. He removed the knife and tried CPR but could not revive. He went to look for the children but could not help them. Before calling the ambulance he went to the bathroom to inspect his own injuries. MacDonald called the ambulance and returned to his wife where he was found shortly after by police.
This statement and all the evidence have all been considered in reanalysing the events of February 17th 1970.
To avoid repetition, analysis of both blood and fibres using modern techniques is shown below, unique techniques will be mentioned for relevant evidence below this.
Analytical Techniques for Blood:
- Combur3 test benzidine strips or Kastle-Meyer phenolphthalein test confirm the trace is blood and precipitin tests corroborate it is human blood (Pokupcic, K. 2017,1-3).
- SGM, Identifiler, NGM or Mini kits used to determine DNA profiles of the donors of blood (Gill, P. 2014, 81-83).
Moreover, a study determined that dry blood stain analysis in conjunction with liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry can represent an alternative to conventional techniques, responding to some of the present issues concerning the different forensic toxicology applications (Salder Simões et al.. 2018, 634-644). As Jeffery MacDonald was not tested for amphetamines or other drugs this could be used to help gather evidence.
Analytical Techniques for Fibres:
Extent to which fibres of different origins can be discriminated—is directly related to the analytical methods used in their analysis
- Polarized light microscopy for initial identification and comparison of fibres (Farah et al.. 2015, 785-796).
- FT‐IR spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and X‐ray fluorescence spectroscopy can be used to further distinguish unidentified fibres(Farah et al.. 2015, 785-796).
- UV–vis microspectrophotometry (UV–vis) to identify dyed fibres such as those of Jeffery MacDonald’s pajamas (Farah et al.. 2015, 785-796).
A new study showed when absorbance spectra are broad and featureless, like those that have gone through the was multiple times or have been worn out, calculating the first derivative can provide more points of comparison and can aid interpretation of results (Wiggins et al.. 2007,9 -18). This is helpful when thin-layer chromatography cannot be used (Wiggins et al.. 2007, 9-18).
Differential thermal analysis can be used to determine different wax mixtures and match them to those in the family home (Sharpe, R.W.L & Wheals, B.B. 1972, 453-456)
The Crime Scene
The MacDonald’s Residence, 544 Castle Drive, Fort Bragg
Living Room/Dining Room
– Bloody smudges found on the dining room floor (Collette and Kimberley’s blood)
– Blood spot on outer lens of Jeffery MacDonald’s Glasses (Kristen’s blood)
– Wax found on the coffee table in the living room
– Blonde synthetic hair in hairbrush (Modacrylic fibres matching wig worn by Collette).
– Blood on closet door (Jeffery’s blood)
– Trail of blood spatter from master bedroom entrance ending at Kimberley’s room (Kimberley’s blood group)
– 1 fiber originating from pajama top of Jeffery Macdonald
– Stains on the master bedroom carpet
– Spatter on sheet of the master bed
– Stains on the blue bedsheet and multi-colored bedspread
– Spatter found inside the closet in the master bedroom
– Streaks found on the master bedroom ceiling
– The word “PIG” on the headboard in the master bedroom
Six-inch circle of blood found inside the entrance to the master bedroom (Kimberley’s Blood)
79 total fibres, originating from Jeffery’s pajama top (60 threads and 19 yarns)
– 22 pajama fibres found on top sheet of the master bed
– 6 pajama fibres found on the pillow
– 24 pajama fibres found under Collette’s body
– 3 fibres found near the left corner of the footboard
– 1 fibre found near the headboard
– 23 fibres found on the floor near Collette’s body
Small pieces of surgeons glove found near body and in bedsheets
19 total fibres (14 threads and 5 yarns)
– 14 threads found under Kimberley’s bedcovers
– 20.5 inch yarn found on Kimberley’s pillow
– 1 yarn found under Kimberley’s pillow
– 3 yarns found on Kimberley’s bed
Cast-off spatter found on the north wall (Collette’s Blood)
– Spatter found on the ceiling
– Spatter found on the wall
– Wax on the purple bedspread
– Was on chair
– Direct bleeding stains on Kristen’s pillow and bed
– Blood on the side of Kristen’s mattress
– Pool of blood on the floor next to Kristen’s bed
– Two direct bleeding stains found on Kristen’s bed
– Blood spatter found on Kristen’s wall next to her bed
– Formation of Jeffrey MacDonald’s left footprint found exiting room
– Transfer stain found on a bedspread
– 2 total fibres (1 thread and 1 yarn)
– 1 thread found under Kristen’s bedcovers
– 1 yarn found under Kristen’s bedcovers
A right footprint and a partial left footprint were found inside Kristen’s room. A partial left footprint was found in the middle of the hallway outside the entrance to Kristen’s room.
– On sink in the hallway bathroom
– Stepladder in the hallway bathroom
– Blood stain found on the bathroom wall to the left of the sink
– Five drops of blood, each the size of a dime, found on the kitchen floor in the front of the sink
- Multiple stab wounds of chest, neck, and head
- Fracture to arms and skull
- Pregnant 4-5 months
- Bladder full. Toxicology: Benadryl and Ethanol
- Blood Group A
Cause of death fracture to the skull and subsequent stabbing of neck.
- Multiple contusions, lacerations and fractures on face
- Multiple cerebral and cerebellar contusions
- Multiple laceration and penetrating incisional wounds of right neck
- Bladder Empty (urine analysis of master bed shows antigens from Kimberley not Kristen)
- Blood Group AB positive
Cause of death stab wounds to heart, massive hemorrhaging.
- Multiple stab wounds of chest, neck, and back
- Multiple incisions on both hands
- Abrasions and contusions to neck, chin and buttocks
- Blood Group O Negative
- Partially collapsed lung, caused by stab wound to right lung. 1cm break in skin
- Superficial laceration of abdomen and upper left arm
- Contusion on forehead
- Blood Group B
- Not tested for toxic substances
No cuts in MacDonald’s pajama top matched the wound which caused the pneumothorax.
Sequence of Events
Pieced together with the fact that each of the members of the MacDonald family had a different ABO blood group, the evidence suggests a sequence of events like so.
A. Jeffery hits Collette. Her blood from the hit is transferred to Jeffery when she rips his pajama top down the left front seem, shoulder and sleeve resulting in fibres in the master bedroom. Jeffery thrusts 31” Wooden Club into Collette’s chest, bruising her chest.
B. Kimberley enters the room and Jeffery hits left side of her face. Her blood is spattered on the doorframe of the Master Bedroom. 6” pool of blood near the Master Bedroom door indicates that her body had fallen to the floor.
C. Collette having gotten the Geneva Knife slashes Jeffery’s abdomen, resulting in the cuts in his top across the abdomen.
D. Jeffery hits both sides of Collette’s head knocking Collette unconscious. Splattering her blood inside the closet, on the carpet and on the master bed.
E. Jeffery strips the blue bed sheet of the master bed, leaving 22 fibres from his top on the bottom sheet of the bed. He picks Kimberley up and Kimberley’s blood is transferred to the bedsheet and Jeffery’s pajama top. Her blood drips in the hallway as he takes her to her room.
F. Jeffery puts Kimberley back in her bed, 14 fibres from his top fall on her bed and 1 is lodged under her pillow. Jeffery strikes Kimberley twice with club. The blood splatter on the wall is from both Kimberley and Collette, indicating this happened after the initial attack on Collette. Blood on the ceiling comes from Kimberley from blows to her face.
G. Jeffery goes to the Kitchen to get the Hickory Knife, leaving traces of blood in kitchen. He gets surgeons gloves out from under the kitchen sink, resulting in blood from his abdominal wound dripping near sink and on cupboards.
H. Jeffery goes to Kristen’s room and stabs her in the chest, she blocks his attacks resulting in the cuts on her hands. Jeffery pulls her over the bed and stabs her in the back 12 times.
I. Jeffery takes the blue sheet to the launder, but leaves it in the dining room outside the kitchen door. Jeffery finds Collette in Kristen’s room, she had touched Kristen’s body resulting in the transfer of Kristen’s blood to Collette’s hands. Jeffery clubs Collette and attacks again but she blocks his strikes resulting in fractures to both her arms. Jeffery hits Collette again resulting in her blood splatter on the walls. She bleeds directly onto Kristen’s bed. Kimberley’s blood is transferred onto Kristen’s bedsheet when Jeffery rests the club on the side of the bed.
J. Jeffery stages the break-in in the living room, leaving glasses by window and retrieving the bedsheet from the dining room floor causing a smudge of blood to be left outside the kitchen door.
K. Jeffery gets the multicolored bed spread from the master bedroom and places it on the floor of Kristen’s room. Jeffery places Collette’s body on the bedsheet. When he does this blood from Collette drips into Kristen’s body outline.
L. Putting the blue sheet over Collette he picks her up. Direct bleeding from Collette onto both the blue and multicolored bedspread, blood from Jeffery and Collette’s pajama cuffs imprints onto the bedspread. Upon the bedsheet are two bloody handprints, a chin impression and a shoulder impression. As Jeffery exits Kristen’s room with Collette’s body he steps on the sheet with her blood and leaves 3 footprints, 1 prominent in the hallway.
M. Jeffery puts Collette’s body in the master bedroom on top of 24 fibres left from the struggle earlier. Removing the bedsheets part of his glove tears off, he leaves the sheets at the other side of the room. He clubs Collette again resulting in the laceration on her hairline and the blood splatter on the ceiling.
N. Jeffery goes to stab Kimberley with the Old Hickory knife, and stabs Kristen again with the icepick.
G. He wipes and tosses the weapons out the back door. He writes “Pig” on headboard of master bedroom leaving 1 fibre behind.
H. Getting rid of the gloves and obtaining a scalpel from the hallway closet he stabs his chest above the bathroom sink.
I. He calls police at 3:40 and 3:42 and is found unconscious near wife’s body by police.
- Farah, S., Kunduru, K.R., Tsach, T., Bentolila, A., and Domb, A.J. (2015), Forensic Comparison of Synthetic Fibers. Journal of Polymers for Advanced Technologies., 26, 785–796.
- Gill, P. 2014. National DNA Databases, Strength of Evidence and Error Rates. Misleading DNA Evidence. : Academic Press Elsevier , pp. 81-83
- Masewicz , C. 2004. The Jeffery MacDonald Information Website. [Online]. [12 December 2018]. Available from: http://www.thejeffreymacdonaldcase.com/index.html
- Pokupcic, K. 2017. Blood as an Important Tool in Criminal Investigation. Journal of Forensic Science and Criminal Investigations. 3(2), pp. 1-3.
- Sharpe, R.W.L & Wheals, B.B. 1972. Characterization of Candle-Waxes by Differential Thermal Analysis. Journal of Forensic Science Society.12(3), pp. 453-456.
- Salder Simões, S., Castañera Ajenjo, A., & Dias, M.J. 2018. Dried blood spots combined to an UPLC-MS/MS method for the simultaneous determination of drugs of abuse in forensic toxicology. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis. 147(1), pp. 634-644.
- Wiggins, K., Palmer, R., Hutchinson, W., & Drummond, P. 2007. An investigation into the use of calculating the first derivative of absorbance spectra as a tool for forensic fibre analysis. Science and Justice. 47(1), pp. 9-18.
- Zubakov, D., Chamier-Ciemińska, J., Kokmeijer, I., Maciejewska, A., Martínez, P., Pawłowski, R., Kayser, M. (2018). Introducing novel type of human DNA markers for forensic tissue identification: DNA copy number variation allows the detection of blood and semen. Forensic Science International. Genetics, 36, 112–118.