A Wilderness of Error

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Morally Indefensible Key Art

"There was a gleam in his eye, and I always knew that a gleam in Joe's eye was a good sign that something big was going to happen."
- Nancy Doherty, Joe McGinniss's widow.

Morally Indefensible

Chapter 1 | FEBRUARY 17TH, 1970

Jeffrey MacDonald was the all-American boy. A green beret doctor with the perfect family. Joe McGinniss was a literary sensation - the youngest journalist to ever make the New York Times bestseller's list. A bloody night in... Read More
Jeffrey MacDonald was the all-American boy. A green beret doctor with the perfect family. Joe McGinniss was a literary sensation - the youngest journalist to ever make the New York Times bestseller's list. A bloody night in 1970 would bring them together, and change both their lives forever...
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"There was a gleam in his eye, and I always knew that a gleam in Joe's eye was a good sign that something big was going to happen."
- Nancy Doherty, Joe McGinniss's widow.

All Episodes

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Episode 01 Thumbnail

Episode: 01

Episode Date: 08/18/2020

Episode Duration: 31:11 mins

FEBRUARY 17TH, 1970

Jeffrey MacDonald was the all-American boy. A green beret doctor with the perfect family.

More Details or Play Episode "FEBRUARY 17TH, 1970"


Episode 02 Thumbnail

Episode: 02

Episode Date: 08/18/2020

Episode Duration: 34:35 mins

THE TRIAL

At Doctor Jeffrey MacDonald's murder trial, journalist Joe McGinniss comes face to face with the evidence.

More Details or Play Episode "THE TRIAL"


Episode 03 Thumbnail

Episode: 03

Episode Date: 08/25/2020

Episode Duration: 26:19 mins

PEN PALS

Joe heads home to write his book about Jeff’s case while Jeff sits in prison serving three life sentences.

More Details or Play Episode "PEN PALS"


Episode 04 Thumbnail

Episode: 04

Episode Date: 09/01/2020

Episode Duration: 26:53 mins

THE CONFESSIONS

Jeffrey MacDonald's new lawyers uncover some startling new evidence.

More Details or Play Episode "THE CONFESSIONS"


Episode 05 Thumbnail

Episode: 05

Episode Date: 09/08/2020

Episode Duration: 22:02 mins

FRIENDS BECOME ENEMIES

Joe McGinniss's book finally comes out. It's called Fatal Vision.

More Details or Play Episode "FRIENDS BECOME ENEMIES"


Episode 06 Thumbnail

Episode: 06

Episode Date: 09/15/2020

Episode Duration: 28:36 mins

HOW MANY LIES WOULD YOU TELL TO GET TO THE TRUTH?

Jeffrey MacDonald finally gets his day in court... civil court, that is.

More Details or Play Episode "HOW MANY LIES WOULD YOU TELL TO GET TO THE TRUTH?"


Episode 07 Thumbnail

Episode: 07

Episode Date: 09/22/2020

Episode Duration: 28:55 mins

MORALLY INDEFENSIBLE

Joe McGinniss takes a page from Jeffrey MacDonald's playbook and invites famous journalist Janet Malcolm to write about the lawsuit.

More Details or Play Episode "MORALLY INDEFENSIBLE"


Episode 08 Thumbnail

Episode: 08

Episode Date: 09/24/2020

Episode Duration: 31:33 mins

THE FINAL WITNESS

After more than thirty years in prison, Jeffrey MacDonald is granted a new hearing to present evidence that may finally set him free.

More Details or Play Episode "THE FINAL WITNESS"


Episode Transcript

CHAPTER 1: FEBRUARY 17TH, 1970

[SFX: Tape deck loading. Play, fade into tape]

[SFX: Tape deck loading. Play, fade into tape]

Janet Malcolm: It's cold here. Is it cold in your cell too like this?

Janet Malcolm: It's cold here. Is it cold in your cell too like this?

Jeffrey MacDonald: Yeah. And they won't give us jackets.

Jeffrey MacDonald: Yeah. And they won't give us jackets.

Janet Malcolm: They don't?

Janet Malcolm: They don't?

The voice you’re hearing is a journalist named Janet Malcolm. She’s in a federal prison in California interviewing a man named Jeffrey MacDonald.

The voice you’re hearing is a journalist named Janet Malcolm. She’s in a federal prison in California interviewing a man named Jeffrey MacDonald.

Janet Malcolm: That seems unnecessary doesn’t it?

Janet Malcolm: That seems unnecessary doesn’t it?

Jeffrey MacDonald: In 1987? I mean this is ridiculous.

Jeffrey MacDonald: In 1987? I mean this is ridiculous.

Jeff used to be a doctor, a captain in the Green Berets. Now, he’s inmate 131177.

Jeff used to be a doctor, a captain in the Green Berets. Now, he’s inmate 131177.

[POST]

[POST]

Janet’s here to talk about a fellow journalist named Joe McGinniss, an old friend of Jeff’s.

Janet’s here to talk about a fellow journalist named Joe McGinniss, an old friend of Jeff’s.

Janet: And you said when you first met him...

Janet: And you said when you first met him...

Jeff: I liked Joe. We talked about the same things, the New York Knicks, the Yankees and the Mets, football.

Jeff: I liked Joe. We talked about the same things, the New York Knicks, the Yankees and the Mets, football.

Years before, Jeff had asked Joe McGinniss to write a book about him, and in the process, they became close.

Years before, Jeff had asked Joe McGinniss to write a book about him, and in the process, they became close.

Jeff: And at the time, it seemed to me it was unmistakable that we were best friends.

Jeff: And at the time, it seemed to me it was unmistakable that we were best friends.

[Prison door slam]

[Prison door slam]

[MUSIC]

[MUSIC]

[Fade prison, bring up birds chirping, crossfade into tape]

[Fade prison, bring up birds chirping, crossfade into tape]

Janet Malcolm also visited Joe McGinniss... on his front porch in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Janet Malcolm also visited Joe McGinniss... on his front porch in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Janet: It’s awful pretty here. That’s part of your--

Janet: It’s awful pretty here. That’s part of your--

Joe: This little house back here is, yeah. Carriage house.

Joe: This little house back here is, yeah. Carriage house.

She wanted to talk about the relationship between journalists and their subjects. And specifically… about how Joe had befriended Jeff.

She wanted to talk about the relationship between journalists and their subjects. And specifically… about how Joe had befriended Jeff.

Joe: It was my purpose to spend as much waking time with him as I possibly could. The more time you spend with a subject, the more used to you they get. You become like a friend.

Joe: It was my purpose to spend as much waking time with him as I possibly could. The more time you spend with a subject, the more used to you they get. You become like a friend.

That friendship… didn’t last.

That friendship… didn’t last.

Joe: If someone said to me what is one word that describes Joe McGinniss, I’d say a liar. He is a consummate liar.

Joe: If someone said to me what is one word that describes Joe McGinniss, I’d say a liar. He is a consummate liar.

[Recorder stops]

[Recorder stops]

[TV Turns on]

[TV Turns on]

Wallace: Reporter Joe McGinniss spent 3 years investigating Jeff MacDonald who granted him total access so that McGinniss might write the definitive book about him. It is called Fatal Vision.

Wallace: Reporter Joe McGinniss spent 3 years investigating Jeff MacDonald who granted him total access so that McGinniss might write the definitive book about him. It is called Fatal Vision.

Wallace: He has all of these friends who’d say this is a gentle, caring, giving man.

Wallace: He has all of these friends who’d say this is a gentle, caring, giving man.

Joe: That’s all true. I’m not in any way attempting to deny that he’s any of those things.

Joe: That’s all true. I’m not in any way attempting to deny that he’s any of those things.

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

Joe: All I’m saying is that there’s no question that this gentle, caring, giving man also beat and stabbed to death his pregnant wife and his two young daughters.

Joe: All I’m saying is that there’s no question that this gentle, caring, giving man also beat and stabbed to death his pregnant wife and his two young daughters.

In Fatal Vision... Joe said that Jeff was a psychopath.

In Fatal Vision... Joe said that Jeff was a psychopath.

Wallace: Thumbnail sketch of Jeffrey MacDonald.

Wallace: Thumbnail sketch of Jeffrey MacDonald.

Joe: Absolutely ruthless… and beyond morality.

Joe: Absolutely ruthless… and beyond morality.

And Jeff said Joe’s book was filled with lies...

And Jeff said Joe’s book was filled with lies...

Jeff: I never physically assaulted anyone in my life, and certainly not my wife and my two children.

Jeff: I never physically assaulted anyone in my life, and certainly not my wife and my two children.

...an epic feud began... between a journalist who wrote a true crime bestseller and a subject, who felt betrayed...

...an epic feud began... between a journalist who wrote a true crime bestseller and a subject, who felt betrayed...

Larry King: When you learned of this betrayal...?

Larry King: When you learned of this betrayal...?

Jeff: I was devastated. He was going to my mother and saying, don’t worry when the book comes out this will all be righted. What he did was awful.

Jeff: I was devastated. He was going to my mother and saying, don’t worry when the book comes out this will all be righted. What he did was awful.

This feud drew the attention of Janet Malcolm. Her interviews with Joe and Jeff became a book called The Journalist and the Murderer. And her conclusions were scathing.

This feud drew the attention of Janet Malcolm. Her interviews with Joe and Jeff became a book called The Journalist and the Murderer. And her conclusions were scathing.

Janet (VO recre): Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible.

Janet (VO recre): Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible.

She portrayed Joe McGinniss as a backstabber.

She portrayed Joe McGinniss as a backstabber.

Janet (VO recre): He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people's vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.

Janet (VO recre): He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people's vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.

That portrayal would follow Joe to his grave.

That portrayal would follow Joe to his grave.

Reporter: Joe McGinniss died this week leaving behind a dual legacy as both journalistic hero and villain.

Reporter: Joe McGinniss died this week leaving behind a dual legacy as both journalistic hero and villain.

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

My name is Marc Smerling. Two years ago, I started making a TV doc series about the MacDonald murders and I wanted to interview Janet Malcolm. We talked on the phone, but she wouldn't go on camera. But I'd read about these tapes she’d made... So I asked her if I could hear them...

My name is Marc Smerling. Two years ago, I started making a TV doc series about the MacDonald murders and I wanted to interview Janet Malcolm. We talked on the phone, but she wouldn't go on camera. But I'd read about these tapes she’d made... So I asked her if I could hear them...

[recorder on]

[recorder on]

Joe: Where did my relationship with MacDonald go beyond that of author and subject?

Joe: Where did my relationship with MacDonald go beyond that of author and subject?

She told me she burned these tapes.

She told me she burned these tapes.

Janet: I mean look, do you have any doubts about this yourself? Are you completely convinced in your own mind? That you wouldn’t change it in any way?

Janet: I mean look, do you have any doubts about this yourself? Are you completely convinced in your own mind? That you wouldn’t change it in any way?

Joe: I can’t think of any way that I would change this.

Joe: I can’t think of any way that I would change this.

Listening to these tapes now I’m left with so many questions…. Were Janet’s conclusions about Joe McGinniss fair? Did Joe expose a vicious murderer, or did he betray an innocent man? And one question stands above them all...

Listening to these tapes now I’m left with so many questions…. Were Janet’s conclusions about Joe McGinniss fair? Did Joe expose a vicious murderer, or did he betray an innocent man? And one question stands above them all...

[recorder off]

[recorder off]

Is what Joe McGinniss did... Morally Indefensible?

Is what Joe McGinniss did... Morally Indefensible?

[SFX: Raindrops, thunder]

[SFX: Raindrops, thunder]

Richard Tevere: There are things you never forget. I’ve put it in the back of my mind, but it’s something that I would never wish on anybody.

Richard Tevere: There are things you never forget. I’ve put it in the back of my mind, but it’s something that I would never wish on anybody.

[SFX: Raindrops, thunder]

[SFX: Raindrops, thunder]

[MUSIC IN]

[MUSIC IN]

Richard Tevere: My name is Richard Tevere. I was a military policeman stationed at Fort Bragg the night of February 17th, 1970. I was the first MP to enter the MacDonald home.

Richard Tevere: My name is Richard Tevere. I was a military policeman stationed at Fort Bragg the night of February 17th, 1970. I was the first MP to enter the MacDonald home.

[SFX RAIN]

[SFX RAIN]

Richard Tevere: It was an ugly night, cold, there was a torrential downpour and it was raining very heavily. Had been raining all evening. And we were in a jeep that did not have a great heater. Around the back of one of the shopping center areas, there was a tremendous heater and it would throw off exhaust that was very warm. So, we would sit behind the heater with our doors open and just relax.

Richard Tevere: It was an ugly night, cold, there was a torrential downpour and it was raining very heavily. Had been raining all evening. And we were in a jeep that did not have a great heater. Around the back of one of the shopping center areas, there was a tremendous heater and it would throw off exhaust that was very warm. So, we would sit behind the heater with our doors open and just relax.

Richard Tevere: That’s when we got the call.

Richard Tevere: That’s when we got the call.

[POLICE CHATTER]

[POLICE CHATTER]

Richard Tevere: We were asked to go to Castle Drive. They believed there was a domestic disturbance at that location.

Richard Tevere: We were asked to go to Castle Drive. They believed there was a domestic disturbance at that location.

Ken Mica: My name is Ken Mica. I was an MP at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. One of the first MPs at 544 Castle Drive.

Ken Mica: My name is Ken Mica. I was an MP at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. One of the first MPs at 544 Castle Drive.

Ken Mica: It was about 3:40 in the morning. We get to the call and everybody was banging on the front door. There was no answer. Tevere was already there.

Ken Mica: It was about 3:40 in the morning. We get to the call and everybody was banging on the front door. There was no answer. Tevere was already there.

Richard Tevere: I went around the back of the house. The screen door was closed but the inside door was ajar, you know. And I took one step into what was I guess the bedroom. There was blood on the wall. There was blood on the ceiling – drops of blood. I shined the light, I saw Colette MacDonald lying on the ground covered with blood and a male lying next to her who I didn’t know at the time was Jeffrey MacDonald. I saw them, I was startled and I ran back out of the house.

Richard Tevere: I went around the back of the house. The screen door was closed but the inside door was ajar, you know. And I took one step into what was I guess the bedroom. There was blood on the wall. There was blood on the ceiling – drops of blood. I shined the light, I saw Colette MacDonald lying on the ground covered with blood and a male lying next to her who I didn’t know at the time was Jeffrey MacDonald. I saw them, I was startled and I ran back out of the house.

Ken Mica: I started going around the side of the house and I met Tevere. And he’s yelling to get an ambulance ASAP.

Ken Mica: I started going around the side of the house and I met Tevere. And he’s yelling to get an ambulance ASAP.

Richard Tevere: We went back around the house. I pulled out my weapon and I put a round in the chamber not knowing if there was somebody still in the house.

Richard Tevere: We went back around the house. I pulled out my weapon and I put a round in the chamber not knowing if there was somebody still in the house.

Ken Mica: At first, I thought it was a homicide-suicide. But then Jeff MacDonald started to move.

Ken Mica: At first, I thought it was a homicide-suicide. But then Jeff MacDonald started to move.

Richard Tevere: I went down the hall. And I looked into the first smaller bedroom where one of his daughters was and I could see that she was lifeless, she wasn’t moving and there was a lot of blood.

Richard Tevere: I went down the hall. And I looked into the first smaller bedroom where one of his daughters was and I could see that she was lifeless, she wasn’t moving and there was a lot of blood.

Richard Tevere: And then I went into the second bedroom and I saw again a young, very young girl, lifeless, and there was blood dripping down the side of the bed, and there was a puddle of blood on the floor.

Richard Tevere: And then I went into the second bedroom and I saw again a young, very young girl, lifeless, and there was blood dripping down the side of the bed, and there was a puddle of blood on the floor.

Richard Tevere: I came back to where Jeff MacDonald was. He had been stabbed and Ken Mica was kneeling over him.

Richard Tevere: I came back to where Jeff MacDonald was. He had been stabbed and Ken Mica was kneeling over him.

Ken Mica: I was trying to keep him calm until we could get medical.

Ken Mica: I was trying to keep him calm until we could get medical.

Richard Tevere: Jeff started saying, “Hippies came into the house and they were stating, ‘Acid is groovy. Kill the pigs’. On the headboard sideways, someone had dipped their finger in blood and written pig.

Richard Tevere: Jeff started saying, “Hippies came into the house and they were stating, ‘Acid is groovy. Kill the pigs’. On the headboard sideways, someone had dipped their finger in blood and written pig.

Ken Mica: I said, “Who did this?” He starts describing, he says a black man…(overlapping)

Ken Mica: I said, “Who did this?” He starts describing, he says a black man…(overlapping)

Jeff (VO): A Black man and a woman with a floppy hat.

Jeff (VO): A Black man and a woman with a floppy hat.

Ken Mica: I had just seen a woman standing on the corner two blocks away.”

Ken Mica: I had just seen a woman standing on the corner two blocks away.”

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC IN]

[MUSIC IN]

[SFX: radio on, tuning, lands on:]

[SFX: radio on, tuning, lands on:]

Jeff Thompson (radio): Civilian authorities have joined military police in a community-wide search for young people described as hippies. Including a woman who was described as having long, blonde hair….

Jeff Thompson (radio): Civilian authorities have joined military police in a community-wide search for young people described as hippies. Including a woman who was described as having long, blonde hair….

Jeff Thompson: My name is Jeff Thompson, I was news director of WFNC Radio.

Jeff Thompson: My name is Jeff Thompson, I was news director of WFNC Radio.

[SFX Rain]

[SFX Rain]

Jeff Thompson: On the morning of February 17th, I immediately found my way to Castle Drive. A woman and two children were found dead. It was a big story.

Jeff Thompson: On the morning of February 17th, I immediately found my way to Castle Drive. A woman and two children were found dead. It was a big story.

Walter Cronkite: On the army post of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, some bizarre murders took place last night, reminiscent of the Sharon Tate case.

Walter Cronkite: On the army post of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, some bizarre murders took place last night, reminiscent of the Sharon Tate case.

Jeff Thompson: It came six months after the Tate-LaBianca murders in California. The Manson murders.

Jeff Thompson: It came six months after the Tate-LaBianca murders in California. The Manson murders.

Manson Newsclip: In a scene reminiscent of a weird religious rite, five persons were found dead at the home of Ms. Tate and her husband.

Manson Newsclip: In a scene reminiscent of a weird religious rite, five persons were found dead at the home of Ms. Tate and her husband.

Jeff Thompson: Similar situation. A pregnant woman, killed by a gang of hippies. Horrendous murders, you know stabbings and blood everywhere.

Jeff Thompson: Similar situation. A pregnant woman, killed by a gang of hippies. Horrendous murders, you know stabbings and blood everywhere.

Manson Newsclip: The word pig had been scrawled in blood on the door of the Belle Aire mansion.

Manson Newsclip: The word pig had been scrawled in blood on the door of the Belle Aire mansion.

Jeff Thompson: Made international news. As did MacDonald.

Jeff Thompson: Made international news. As did MacDonald.

Walter Cronkite: MacDonald told military police the murderers were three men and a woman who invaded his family quarters shouting acid is great, kill the pigs.

Walter Cronkite: MacDonald told military police the murderers were three men and a woman who invaded his family quarters shouting acid is great, kill the pigs.

Jeff Thompson: We kept it alive on the radio for 26 consecutive days.

Jeff Thompson: We kept it alive on the radio for 26 consecutive days.

Thompson (Radio): Authorities say no suspects have been identified in the murders of Jeffrey MacDonald’s family, but they continue to search for a band of hippies.

Thompson (Radio): Authorities say no suspects have been identified in the murders of Jeffrey MacDonald’s family, but they continue to search for a band of hippies.

Jeff Thompson: MacDonald had obviously been taken to the hospital, and he was a very prominent doctor, green beret. Couldn’t imagine that he could have done it. But we were all sort of amazed that he was the only one who would have survived. Why was he still alive, and the family murdered the way it was. It didn’t make sense.

Jeff Thompson: MacDonald had obviously been taken to the hospital, and he was a very prominent doctor, green beret. Couldn’t imagine that he could have done it. But we were all sort of amazed that he was the only one who would have survived. Why was he still alive, and the family murdered the way it was. It didn’t make sense.

Jeff Thompson: It all seemed to fall on Captain MacDonald...

Jeff Thompson: It all seemed to fall on Captain MacDonald...

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

BREAK ONE

BREAK ONE

[MUSIC IN]

[MUSIC IN]

A few months after the murders of his pregnant wife and two young daughters on Fort Bragg, the Army charged Captain MacDonald with the crime.

A few months after the murders of his pregnant wife and two young daughters on Fort Bragg, the Army charged Captain MacDonald with the crime.

Ken Mica: I was coming into the barracks and Tevere yells out the window that they’re locking MacDonald up. I go really?

Ken Mica: I was coming into the barracks and Tevere yells out the window that they’re locking MacDonald up. I go really?

Ken Mica was one of the first MPs to enter the house the night of the murders, so the army’s lead prosecutor wanted to talk to him.

Ken Mica was one of the first MPs to enter the house the night of the murders, so the army’s lead prosecutor wanted to talk to him.

Ken Mica: You sat sort of in the middle of the room and they just asked you questions. Background information and what you were doing that night.

Ken Mica: You sat sort of in the middle of the room and they just asked you questions. Background information and what you were doing that night.

And that’s when Mica told the prosecutor something he didn’t want to hear:

And that’s when Mica told the prosecutor something he didn’t want to hear:

Ken Mica: I bring the girl up and they’re like “What girl?” I said the girl I saw when I was responding. “The girl who was standing on the corner”.

Ken Mica: I bring the girl up and they’re like “What girl?” I said the girl I saw when I was responding. “The girl who was standing on the corner”.

On his way to the crime scene, Mica had seen a woman standing off the side of the road… wearing a floppy hat. She matched the description Jeffrey MacDonald had given of one of his attackers.

On his way to the crime scene, Mica had seen a woman standing off the side of the road… wearing a floppy hat. She matched the description Jeffrey MacDonald had given of one of his attackers.

Ken Mica: He goes, “I don’t know anything about a girl. Just keep it quiet because I can’t explain it and I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Ken Mica: He goes, “I don’t know anything about a girl. Just keep it quiet because I can’t explain it and I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

During an investigative hearing to examine the evidence against Jeffrey MacDonald... Mica testified for the prosecution… He didn’t mention the girl. But afterwards, it bothered him:

During an investigative hearing to examine the evidence against Jeffrey MacDonald... Mica testified for the prosecution… He didn’t mention the girl. But afterwards, it bothered him:

Ken Mica: At least a half a dozen people know that I saw this woman. Somebody’s gonna say something, it’s gonna be brought out. Whether she did it she didn’t do it it’s just not right they should know about it.

Ken Mica: At least a half a dozen people know that I saw this woman. Somebody’s gonna say something, it’s gonna be brought out. Whether she did it she didn’t do it it’s just not right they should know about it.

That’s when Mica decided to testify for the defense.

That’s when Mica decided to testify for the defense.

Ken Mica: As we approach the intersection I see a woman standing on the corner.

Ken Mica: As we approach the intersection I see a woman standing on the corner.

Lawyer (VO): And what did that woman look like?

Lawyer (VO): And what did that woman look like?

Ken Mica: Raincoat, boots, and a rain hat.

Ken Mica: Raincoat, boots, and a rain hat.

Ken Mica: So, that didn’t make the prosecution too happy, because it made them look like they were trying to suppress evidence.

Ken Mica: So, that didn’t make the prosecution too happy, because it made them look like they were trying to suppress evidence.

[MUSIC]

[MUSIC]

Cronkite: The army today cleared Captain Jeffrey MacDonald, a green beret physician, of charges that he murdered his wife and two young daughters nine months ago in their Fort Bragg, North Carolina apartment.

Cronkite: The army today cleared Captain Jeffrey MacDonald, a green beret physician, of charges that he murdered his wife and two young daughters nine months ago in their Fort Bragg, North Carolina apartment.

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

Jeff was set free.

Jeff was set free.

Dick Cavett: Oh dear, Jeffrey MacDonald. I’ve thought about it a hundred times since it happened.

Dick Cavett: Oh dear, Jeffrey MacDonald. I’ve thought about it a hundred times since it happened.

This is Dick Cavett. In the ‘70s, he was the king of late night TV. If you wanted to grab national attention, The Dick Cavett Show was your best shot. By the end of 1970, investigators had given up on looking for the hippy killers… and Jeff went on The Cavett Show to push the government to reopen the case.

This is Dick Cavett. In the ‘70s, he was the king of late night TV. If you wanted to grab national attention, The Dick Cavett Show was your best shot. By the end of 1970, investigators had given up on looking for the hippy killers… and Jeff went on The Cavett Show to push the government to reopen the case.

[Music: Fanfare]

[Music: Fanfare]

Announcer: The Dick Cavett Show!

Announcer: The Dick Cavett Show!

[Music: to muffled, backstage]

[Music: to muffled, backstage]

Dick Cavett: I remember standing face to face with him as I came down from upstairs, to the dressing room, to go on in the next forty seconds so we said hello.

Dick Cavett: I remember standing face to face with him as I came down from upstairs, to the dressing room, to go on in the next forty seconds so we said hello.

Dick Cavett: A lady on my staff who had spent the day with him was facing me. And over his shoulder, I saw, [mouthing] “I think he did it.”

Dick Cavett: A lady on my staff who had spent the day with him was facing me. And over his shoulder, I saw, [mouthing] “I think he did it.”

Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, Dick Cavett!

Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, Dick Cavett!

Dick Cavett: By the time I’d done the monologue, I had kind of forgotten to worry about this segment. And then brought him out...

Dick Cavett: By the time I’d done the monologue, I had kind of forgotten to worry about this segment. And then brought him out...

Dick Cavett: It’s a baffling story the more you begin to look into it and read about it. Incredible bungling on the army’s part seems quite likely in this case. It’s just a nightmare that this man lived through it, Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald.

Dick Cavett: It’s a baffling story the more you begin to look into it and read about it. Incredible bungling on the army’s part seems quite likely in this case. It’s just a nightmare that this man lived through it, Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald.

[MUSIC IN]

[MUSIC IN]

Dick Cavett: When he came out, he didn’t seem like a grisly murderer. He’s moviestar good looking. I kept thinking, this poor guy.

Dick Cavett: When he came out, he didn’t seem like a grisly murderer. He’s moviestar good looking. I kept thinking, this poor guy.

Dick Cavett: I call you Dr. MacDonald now don’t I?

Dick Cavett: I call you Dr. MacDonald now don’t I?

Jeff: That’s right. It’s ex-captain and doctor.

Jeff: That’s right. It’s ex-captain and doctor.

Dick Cavett: I hope this is not too painful for you. Could you talk about what happened on that night last February?

Dick Cavett: I hope this is not too painful for you. Could you talk about what happened on that night last February?

Jeff: Well, I can skim through it briefly. To get deep into it, it does produce a lot of emotion on my part.

Jeff: Well, I can skim through it briefly. To get deep into it, it does produce a lot of emotion on my part.

Jeff: My wife came home and we had a before bedtime drink, really, and watched the beginning of a late-night talk show. My wife went to bed. She was about four and a half months pregnant, and I went to sleep on the couch.

Jeff: My wife came home and we had a before bedtime drink, really, and watched the beginning of a late-night talk show. My wife went to bed. She was about four and a half months pregnant, and I went to sleep on the couch.

Jeff: I was awakened by my wife screaming. And as I sat up, there were some people in the room with me. And they immediately attacked me and I became unconscious.

Jeff: I was awakened by my wife screaming. And as I sat up, there were some people in the room with me. And they immediately attacked me and I became unconscious.

Jeff: When I awoke the house was quiet and the backdoor was open, and uh…

Jeff: When I awoke the house was quiet and the backdoor was open, and uh…

Dick Cavett: This guy saw his wife and his two little children hacked and stabbed to pieces. My impression at the time was he’s doing an awfully manful job about being able to not weep and have to be taken off the stage at the memory of all of this.

Dick Cavett: This guy saw his wife and his two little children hacked and stabbed to pieces. My impression at the time was he’s doing an awfully manful job about being able to not weep and have to be taken off the stage at the memory of all of this.

Jeff: It still, at times, seems like a dream. Nightmare is a very mild term really for that night.

Jeff: It still, at times, seems like a dream. Nightmare is a very mild term really for that night.

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

[SFX]

[SFX]

Dick Cavett: During a commercial break, I would look at him and think, “This poor guy, God, he really has been through holy hell.” And then we would come back and he was briskly talking again.

Dick Cavett: During a commercial break, I would look at him and think, “This poor guy, God, he really has been through holy hell.” And then we would come back and he was briskly talking again.

Jeff: There were people in the army who wanted a court-martial regardless of any evidence.

Jeff: There were people in the army who wanted a court-martial regardless of any evidence.

Dick Cavett: Could that just be because they have to find somebody?

Dick Cavett: Could that just be because they have to find somebody?

Jeff: Yes, that was a large part of it, I think. They realized that they had to do something.

Jeff: Yes, that was a large part of it, I think. They realized that they had to do something.

Dick Cavett: Where are these investigators now who did the original –?

Dick Cavett: Where are these investigators now who did the original –?

Jeff: Well, most of them have been transferred. It's the army way of handling things. If someone really fouls up, you either give them a medal or you transfer them. [Laughter]

Jeff: Well, most of them have been transferred. It's the army way of handling things. If someone really fouls up, you either give them a medal or you transfer them. [Laughter]

Dick Cavett: He seemed a bit inappropriate, in his manner. I watched him smile, almost giggle a couple of times.

Dick Cavett: He seemed a bit inappropriate, in his manner. I watched him smile, almost giggle a couple of times.

Dick Cavett: This must have cost you a fortune–

Dick Cavett: This must have cost you a fortune–

Jeff: Right. Well, aside from my family and whatnot somewhere in excess of $30,000.

Jeff: Right. Well, aside from my family and whatnot somewhere in excess of $30,000.

Dick Cavett: There he is now, sort of checking out the chicks in the front row. I thought I must be wrong.

Dick Cavett: There he is now, sort of checking out the chicks in the front row. I thought I must be wrong.

Dick Cavett: Do people look at you and say, 'How do we know he didn't do it?'

Dick Cavett: Do people look at you and say, 'How do we know he didn't do it?'

Jeff: Well, yes. I don't think I'm being paranoid when I say that there is certainly a flavor of suspicion in a lot of people's minds.

Jeff: Well, yes. I don't think I'm being paranoid when I say that there is certainly a flavor of suspicion in a lot of people's minds.

Dick Cavett: I started to think, “Gosh, it's possible that he is guilty and it's possible that he’s not. And I wonder which one it is.”

Dick Cavett: I started to think, “Gosh, it's possible that he is guilty and it's possible that he’s not. And I wonder which one it is.”

Dick Cavett: I'd like to know what you want to come out of this, what's gonna happen next because it's far from closed.

Dick Cavett: I'd like to know what you want to come out of this, what's gonna happen next because it's far from closed.

Jeff: Congress has to at least inquire into things.

Jeff: Congress has to at least inquire into things.

Dick Cavett: Not to mention the fact that the perpetrators of the crime are still free.

Dick Cavett: Not to mention the fact that the perpetrators of the crime are still free.

Jeff: Absolutely. There are at least four people running around who have murdered three people.

Jeff: Absolutely. There are at least four people running around who have murdered three people.

Dick Cavett: What a strange, strange enigma Jeffrey is.

Dick Cavett: What a strange, strange enigma Jeffrey is.

Dick Cavett: It will be fascinating to see what happens. Good luck to you after this brief message we’ll be right back.

Dick Cavett: It will be fascinating to see what happens. Good luck to you after this brief message we’ll be right back.

[Applause and fade audio until it sounds like it’s coming out of a TV]

[Applause and fade audio until it sounds like it’s coming out of a TV]

[SFX: Channel change static]

[SFX: Channel change static]

After that, the name ‘Jeffrey MacDonald’ was everywhere. And Jeff didn’t shy away from the spotlight.

After that, the name ‘Jeffrey MacDonald’ was everywhere. And Jeff didn’t shy away from the spotlight.

[Channels changing: all MacDonald clips]

[Channels changing: all MacDonald clips]

[MUSIC IN]

[MUSIC IN]

Around the same time, a little further down the dial, another young man was getting his first taste of fame. At just 26, Joe McGinniss became the youngest living writer to make the New York Times bestsellers list.

Around the same time, a little further down the dial, another young man was getting his first taste of fame. At just 26, Joe McGinniss became the youngest living writer to make the New York Times bestsellers list.

FROST: Now will you welcome the author of a new book that’s causing a great deal of a stir at the moment called, The Selling of the President, 1968. Would you welcome Mr. Joe McGinniss.

FROST: Now will you welcome the author of a new book that’s causing a great deal of a stir at the moment called, The Selling of the President, 1968. Would you welcome Mr. Joe McGinniss.

[Applause]

[Applause]

Here’s Joe on the David Frost show.

Here’s Joe on the David Frost show.

FROST: The book has caused a great deal of comment, Joe. The thing that must still stagger you is how you came to have all the access you did.

FROST: The book has caused a great deal of comment, Joe. The thing that must still stagger you is how you came to have all the access you did.

Joe: Well it was kind of a stroke of good luck.

Joe: Well it was kind of a stroke of good luck.

Joe had befriended the people running Richard Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign. And by doing that, he got an inside look at how Nixon won the presidency... He kept his head down and his ears and eyes open.

Joe had befriended the people running Richard Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign. And by doing that, he got an inside look at how Nixon won the presidency... He kept his head down and his ears and eyes open.

NIXON: I have received a very gracious message for winning the election...

NIXON: I have received a very gracious message for winning the election...

The Selling Of the President 1968 was published shortly after Nixon was elected. It showed how Madison Avenue ad man hired by Nixon’s campaign, turned Nixon into a product. According to Joe, they sold Nixon to the American public like a pack of cigarettes.

The Selling Of the President 1968 was published shortly after Nixon was elected. It showed how Madison Avenue ad man hired by Nixon’s campaign, turned Nixon into a product. According to Joe, they sold Nixon to the American public like a pack of cigarettes.

Joe: We never got a chance to vote for or against the man, but only for the image.

Joe: We never got a chance to vote for or against the man, but only for the image.

Joe’s first book embarrassed the new president.

Joe’s first book embarrassed the new president.

Joe: Mr. Nixon said he might have to go to the FBI to find out how I got my access.

Joe: Mr. Nixon said he might have to go to the FBI to find out how I got my access.

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

And conservative talk show host William F. Buckley had a problem with how Joe got his story.

And conservative talk show host William F. Buckley had a problem with how Joe got his story.

BUCKLEY: It is the fruit of a great deception, that is to say one cannot suppose that competent people would have confided to Mr. McGinniss if they had known that he intended to write such a book as he has written.

BUCKLEY: It is the fruit of a great deception, that is to say one cannot suppose that competent people would have confided to Mr. McGinniss if they had known that he intended to write such a book as he has written.

Joe never told Nixon’s advisors that his book would cast them in a negative light. So, when it came out, they felt betrayed. Readers loved it, though. The Selling Of the President became a smash hit.

Joe never told Nixon’s advisors that his book would cast them in a negative light. So, when it came out, they felt betrayed. Readers loved it, though. The Selling Of the President became a smash hit.

[party]

[party]

Doors began opening for Joe. Money was coming in. And TV appearances like this were making Joe a celebrity. There was excitement, and travel... and parties.

Doors began opening for Joe. Money was coming in. And TV appearances like this were making Joe a celebrity. There was excitement, and travel... and parties.

[SFX cork pop/party ambi]

[SFX cork pop/party ambi]

NANCY: Joe and I met in January of 1970.

NANCY: Joe and I met in January of 1970.

This is Nancy Doherty, Joe’s widow.

This is Nancy Doherty, Joe’s widow.

NANCY: I met him in the Warwick Hotel. I was working for Simon & Schuster, which published “The Selling of the President,” Joe’s book. And our eyes met across the crowded room and it was just one of those things.

NANCY: I met him in the Warwick Hotel. I was working for Simon & Schuster, which published “The Selling of the President,” Joe’s book. And our eyes met across the crowded room and it was just one of those things.

NANCY: He was incredibly tall and young and handsome. And it was just one of those magical moments. We both felt an instant attraction to each other.

NANCY: He was incredibly tall and young and handsome. And it was just one of those magical moments. We both felt an instant attraction to each other.

[MUSIC AND AMBI OUT]

[MUSIC AND AMBI OUT]

[SFX: NY soundscape]

[SFX: NY soundscape]

[MUSIC IN]

[MUSIC IN]

On their first date, Joe took Nancy to a writer’s hangout in Greenwich Village.

On their first date, Joe took Nancy to a writer’s hangout in Greenwich Village.

NANCY: He was kind of a star at that point. People would actually recognize him, which was amazing for a writer. So, that was kind of fun. One of the things we had in common was a great sense of humor. We laughed all the time. We just had a delightful time together. He was just sort of the perfect storm for me.

NANCY: He was kind of a star at that point. People would actually recognize him, which was amazing for a writer. So, that was kind of fun. One of the things we had in common was a great sense of humor. We laughed all the time. We just had a delightful time together. He was just sort of the perfect storm for me.

NANCY: We fell in love.

NANCY: We fell in love.

Many years later, Joe McGinniss would tell Janet Malcolm about the night he met Nancy. February 16th, 1970.

Many years later, Joe McGinniss would tell Janet Malcolm about the night he met Nancy. February 16th, 1970.

Joe: The first night that Nancy and I ever spent together, was the night of the murders.

Joe: The first night that Nancy and I ever spent together, was the night of the murders.

[SFX TV ON]

[SFX TV ON]

Cronkite (TV set SD): Some bizarre murders took place last night.

Cronkite (TV set SD): Some bizarre murders took place last night.

Joe: I remember seeing the headlines. You know an army officer’s wife and family.

Joe: I remember seeing the headlines. You know an army officer’s wife and family.

Cronkite: The wife and two young daughters of Captain Jeffrey MacDonald were stabbed to death.

Cronkite: The wife and two young daughters of Captain Jeffrey MacDonald were stabbed to death.

Joe: LSD. You know, hippies.

Joe: LSD. You know, hippies.

Cronkite: Acid is great. Kill the pigs.

Cronkite: Acid is great. Kill the pigs.

[SFX TV OFF]

[SFX TV OFF]

Joe: And paid no more attention to it. Had no idea what had ever happened. I forgot completely about Jeffrey MacDonald.

Joe: And paid no more attention to it. Had no idea what had ever happened. I forgot completely about Jeffrey MacDonald.

Nine years would pass before Joe would hear Jeffrey MacDonald’s name again.

Nine years would pass before Joe would hear Jeffrey MacDonald’s name again.


"There was a gleam in his eye, and I always knew that a gleam in Joe’s eye was a good sign that something big was going to happen."
- Nancy Doherty, Joe McGinniss's widow

BREAK TWO

BREAK TWO

By 1979, Joe McGinniss had moved to Los Angeles with his new wife Nancy and a new child. He had written three books since The Selling of the President. None had been as successful as his first. So to help make ends meet, he'd taken a job as a columnist.

By 1979, Joe McGinniss had moved to Los Angeles with his new wife Nancy and a new child. He had written three books since The Selling of the President. None had been as successful as his first. So to help make ends meet, he'd taken a job as a columnist.

Nancy: This gig in L.A. was just for three months. And Joe was dying to find the next book.

Nancy: This gig in L.A. was just for three months. And Joe was dying to find the next book.

[MUSIC IN]

[MUSIC IN]

[SFX: plates, coffee]

[SFX: plates, coffee]

One morning around the breakfast table, Joe was reading the newspaper. And he came across a name he recognized from the past.

One morning around the breakfast table, Joe was reading the newspaper. And he came across a name he recognized from the past.

Nancy: This guy named Jeffrey MacDonald, the doctor who was going back to North Carolina to stand trial for the murders of his wife and two daughters.

Nancy: This guy named Jeffrey MacDonald, the doctor who was going back to North Carolina to stand trial for the murders of his wife and two daughters.

The military had dropped the charges against Jeffrey MacDonald back in 1970. But they continued to suspect MacDonald had committed the murders. Now, almost nine years later, MacDonald was about to face trial in a civilian court.

The military had dropped the charges against Jeffrey MacDonald back in 1970. But they continued to suspect MacDonald had committed the murders. Now, almost nine years later, MacDonald was about to face trial in a civilian court.

Nancy: He thought oh my god, this is a great story.

Nancy: He thought oh my god, this is a great story.

Joe: I’ve never heard of a case where almost 10 years have passed. The guy had established his whole life and everything, and now, after all this time, he’s going to have to go back and stand trial? Definitely worth talking to this guy.

Joe: I’ve never heard of a case where almost 10 years have passed. The guy had established his whole life and everything, and now, after all this time, he’s going to have to go back and stand trial? Definitely worth talking to this guy.

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

[SFX: Car pulls up, door opens, beach]

[SFX: Car pulls up, door opens, beach]

The next day, Joe drives to Jeff's 350 thousand dollar oceanside condo. He notices a Citroen Maserati parked out front. License plate JRM-MD.

The next day, Joe drives to Jeff's 350 thousand dollar oceanside condo. He notices a Citroen Maserati parked out front. License plate JRM-MD.

Jeff answers the door, sporting a gold chain and rings. Handsome and fit, with greying blonde hair, and a deep tan.

Jeff answers the door, sporting a gold chain and rings. Handsome and fit, with greying blonde hair, and a deep tan.

[MUSIC IN]

[MUSIC IN]

After some small talk, Jeff and Joe jump in the Maserati to drive to a restaurant. Everyone seems to know Jeff. The waitresses are at his beck and call. Jeff orders brunch for the two of them, and wine. He starts talking. About the case. About the struggle he’s going through, knowing he has to go back and relive what happened to his family. Joe listens and he’s sympathetic, but...

After some small talk, Jeff and Joe jump in the Maserati to drive to a restaurant. Everyone seems to know Jeff. The waitresses are at his beck and call. Jeff orders brunch for the two of them, and wine. He starts talking. About the case. About the struggle he’s going through, knowing he has to go back and relive what happened to his family. Joe listens and he’s sympathetic, but...

Joe: There struck me as being something a little bit icy about him.

Joe: There struck me as being something a little bit icy about him.

Joe: I just said to myself, for 10 years, every time anybody meets this guy, he knows that the first question they’re asking themselves is, “Did he kill his wife and kids or didn’t he?” That could make you act icy, give you some kind of reserve.

Joe: I just said to myself, for 10 years, every time anybody meets this guy, he knows that the first question they’re asking themselves is, “Did he kill his wife and kids or didn’t he?” That could make you act icy, give you some kind of reserve.

But Jeff... he took to Joe immediately.

But Jeff... he took to Joe immediately.

Jeff: I liked his east coast manner, as opposed to the California laid back style. More cynical, more humor, sort of a biting humor, but he seemed perceptive about a lot of things.

Jeff: I liked his east coast manner, as opposed to the California laid back style. More cynical, more humor, sort of a biting humor, but he seemed perceptive about a lot of things.

[CROSSFADE TO BEACH]

[CROSSFADE TO BEACH]

Jeff: We had a common interest in running, so we went running on the beach, across the highway and we ran five miles down the beach together. Came back and had a couple beers, you know. It was a very pleasurable type-thing.

Jeff: We had a common interest in running, so we went running on the beach, across the highway and we ran five miles down the beach together. Came back and had a couple beers, you know. It was a very pleasurable type-thing.

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

Back in the condo, Jeff popped the question:

Back in the condo, Jeff popped the question:

Joe: And he asked me if I would be interested in writing a book. The trial is about to begin and for years, we’ve been looking for somebody to write a book who would tell the truth, who would tell the whole story.

Joe: And he asked me if I would be interested in writing a book. The trial is about to begin and for years, we’ve been looking for somebody to write a book who would tell the truth, who would tell the whole story.

Joe says he’ll think it over. As he’s leaving… Jeff gives him a file box of case materials to look through.

Joe says he’ll think it over. As he’s leaving… Jeff gives him a file box of case materials to look through.

Joe: I drove back up the freeway thinking what an interesting guy. I had no idea whether he was innocent, guilty. I didn’t know any facts.

Joe: I drove back up the freeway thinking what an interesting guy. I had no idea whether he was innocent, guilty. I didn’t know any facts.

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

Nancy: When Joe came back from having breakfast with Jeff, he was pretty excited. He was very charmed by Jeff. He described how handsome he was and he thought it was an amazing story that Jeff had to tell about what he’d been through. And he was very, very intrigued.

Nancy: When Joe came back from having breakfast with Jeff, he was pretty excited. He was very charmed by Jeff. He described how handsome he was and he thought it was an amazing story that Jeff had to tell about what he’d been through. And he was very, very intrigued.

[MUSIC IN]

[MUSIC IN]

Nancy: There was a gleam in his eye, and I always knew that a gleam in Joe’s eye was a good sign that something big was going to happen.

Nancy: There was a gleam in his eye, and I always knew that a gleam in Joe’s eye was a good sign that something big was going to happen.

That night, Joe goes through the file box Jeff gave him. And he finds newspaper clippings from 1970.

That night, Joe goes through the file box Jeff gave him. And he finds newspaper clippings from 1970.

[SFX: page flips, Joe’s internal voice]

[SFX: page flips, Joe’s internal voice]

Wife and children found slain at Fort Bragg… Massive search launched for killers… No motive found in the slaying of army family… 'MP Reports Seeing Girl Near MacDonald Residence'... Congressman Says Report Completely Clears Doctor...

Wife and children found slain at Fort Bragg… Massive search launched for killers… No motive found in the slaying of army family… 'MP Reports Seeing Girl Near MacDonald Residence'... Congressman Says Report Completely Clears Doctor...

And he finds a report from that military hearing, written by the officer in charge. The officer recommends the case against Jeffrey MacDonald be dropped...

And he finds a report from that military hearing, written by the officer in charge. The officer recommends the case against Jeffrey MacDonald be dropped...

...because the matters set forth are not true.

...because the matters set forth are not true.

Nancy: Joe basically bought the story that Jeff told him.

Nancy: Joe basically bought the story that Jeff told him.

Joe called Jeff. He would do the book -- but he had terms.

Joe called Jeff. He would do the book -- but he had terms.

Joe: I’ve never seen a book done from inside the defense in a major criminal trial.

Joe: I’ve never seen a book done from inside the defense in a major criminal trial.

Joe wanted the kind of insider access he’d had with the Nixon campaign when he wrote The Selling of the President.

Joe wanted the kind of insider access he’d had with the Nixon campaign when he wrote The Selling of the President.

Joe: I wouldn’t just want to go to North Carolina and sit there. I would want to actually live with you during the trial.

Joe: I wouldn’t just want to go to North Carolina and sit there. I would want to actually live with you during the trial.

Jeff agreed. But he had terms of his own. His legal fees were mounting. And with his freedom on the line, he needed money.

Jeff agreed. But he had terms of his own. His legal fees were mounting. And with his freedom on the line, he needed money.

So, they struck a deal: the writer and the accused murderer. Jeff would get a third of the proceeds from the book. And Joe would get his full access. Jeff signed a release. He’d have no creative control over the book. And he couldn’t sue. But at the last minute, Jeff’s lawyer added a sentence: “so long as the essential integrity of my life story is maintained.”

So, they struck a deal: the writer and the accused murderer. Jeff would get a third of the proceeds from the book. And Joe would get his full access. Jeff signed a release. He’d have no creative control over the book. And he couldn’t sue. But at the last minute, Jeff’s lawyer added a sentence: “so long as the essential integrity of my life story is maintained.”

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

Nancy: All Joe had to agree was that he would portray truthfully whatever he learned. That’s what wound up being signed. That was the agreement.

Nancy: All Joe had to agree was that he would portray truthfully whatever he learned. That’s what wound up being signed. That was the agreement.

Marc: What did you think?

Marc: What did you think?

Nancy: I mean the book sounded so fascinating that if this is the only way he can get to do it – I don’t know. You know, it’s hard to say now because I know what happened.

Nancy: I mean the book sounded so fascinating that if this is the only way he can get to do it – I don’t know. You know, it’s hard to say now because I know what happened.

[THEME]

[THEME]

Next week on Morally Indefensible, Jeffrey MacDonald heads North Carolina, to stand trial for the murders of his family.

Next week on Morally Indefensible, Jeffrey MacDonald heads North Carolina, to stand trial for the murders of his family.

In Long Beach, California Jeffrey MacDonald is an emergency room doctor, here in Raleigh, he’s on trial for murder.

In Long Beach, California Jeffrey MacDonald is an emergency room doctor, here in Raleigh, he’s on trial for murder.

Episode two of Morally Indefensible is available right now.

Episode two of Morally Indefensible is available right now.

If you want to know more about the night of the MacDonald murders, tune into our docu series, A Wilderness of Error on FX and streaming on FX on Hulu.

If you want to know more about the night of the MacDonald murders, tune into our docu series, A Wilderness of Error on FX and streaming on FX on Hulu.

Morally Indefensible is a production of Truth Media in partnership with Sony Music Entertainment.

Morally Indefensible is a production of Truth Media in partnership with Sony Music Entertainment.

This episode of Morally Indefensible was produced by Ryan Sweikert with help from Jesse Rudoy, Julia Botero, Zach Hirsch, Kevin Shepherd and Danielle Elliot.

This episode of Morally Indefensible was produced by Ryan Sweikert with help from Jesse Rudoy, Julia Botero, Zach Hirsch, Kevin Shepherd and Danielle Elliot.

Story editing is by me, Marc Smerling, and Danielle Elliot.

Story editing is by me, Marc Smerling, and Danielle Elliot.

Alessandro Santoro is our associate producer. Our archive producer is Brennan Rees. Scott Curtis is our production manager.

Alessandro Santoro is our associate producer. Our archive producer is Brennan Rees. Scott Curtis is our production manager.

Fact checking by Amy Gaines.

Fact checking by Amy Gaines.

Kenny Kusiak did the music and mix. Sound design by Kenny Kusiak, Ryan Sweikert and Kevin Shepherd.

Kenny Kusiak did the music and mix. Sound design by Kenny Kusiak, Ryan Sweikert and Kevin Shepherd.

Our title track is “Promises” by The Monophonics.

Our title track is “Promises” by The Monophonics.

Additional Music by John Kusiak and Marmoset.

Additional Music by John Kusiak and Marmoset.

Voice reenactments by Logan Stearns, Jesse Rudoy, Marie Lenzi, and Walker Vreeland.

Voice reenactments by Logan Stearns, Jesse Rudoy, Marie Lenzi, and Walker Vreeland.

Legal review by Linda Steinman and Jack Browning of Davis Wright Tremaine.

Legal review by Linda Steinman and Jack Browning of Davis Wright Tremaine.

Special thanks to Sean Twigg, Mae Ryan, Luke Malone, Brian Murphy, Joe Langford, Peter Schmul, Diana Decillio, Bob Stevenson, Christina Masawicz, Bob Keeler, and Errol Morris.

Special thanks to Sean Twigg, Mae Ryan, Luke Malone, Brian Murphy, Joe Langford, Peter Schmul, Diana Decillio, Bob Stevenson, Christina Masawicz, Bob Keeler, and Errol Morris.

If you liked this episode of Morally Indefensible, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. It really helps. And thanks for listening.

If you liked this episode of Morally Indefensible, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. It really helps. And thanks for listening.