A Wilderness of Error

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Morally Indefensible Key Art

"People don't like ambiguity. Ambiguity sucks. We want certainty. We want an answer. We want something definitive."
- Errol Morris, Filmmaker and Author

Morally Indefensible

Chapter 8 | 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. The prosecution calls to the stand... Joe McGinniss.
After more than thirty years in prison, Jeffrey MacDonald is granted a new hearing to present evidence that may finally set him free. The prosecution calls to the stand... Joe McGinniss.
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"People don't like ambiguity. Ambiguity sucks. We want certainty. We want an answer. We want something definitive."
- Errol Morris, Filmmaker and Author

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 8 | THE FINAL WITNESS

Throughout this episode of Morally Indefensible, you’ll hear dramatic recreations of notes Jeffrey MacDonald wrote for his lawyer soon after the murders, as well as recreated excerpts from Joe McGinniss’ book Final Vision. Some selections have been condensed for clarity.

Throughout this episode of Morally Indefensible, you’ll hear dramatic recreations of notes Jeffrey MacDonald wrote for his lawyer soon after the murders, as well as recreated excerpts from Joe McGinniss’ book Final Vision. Some selections have been condensed for clarity.

[SFX: Garage door]

[SFX: Garage door]

[MUSIC IN]

[MUSIC IN]

Marc: Holy moly cazoli.

Marc: Holy moly cazoli.

I’m in Onalaska, Wisconsin. In the garage of Christina Masewicz. She’s a part-time true crime writer, and a long-time true crime fan.

I’m in Onalaska, Wisconsin. In the garage of Christina Masewicz. She’s a part-time true crime writer, and a long-time true crime fan.

Christina: I hope I do get some credit for providing…

Christina: I hope I do get some credit for providing…

Marc: Oh yes.

Marc: Oh yes.

Christina has been following the MacDonald case since the murders in 1970, and it shows. Her garage is filled with boxes full of case files and court transcripts.

Christina has been following the MacDonald case since the murders in 1970, and it shows. Her garage is filled with boxes full of case files and court transcripts.

Christina: These are all the volumes that whatchamacallit sent me from the Department of Justice. (laughs)

Christina: These are all the volumes that whatchamacallit sent me from the Department of Justice. (laughs)

And all this stuff…. It’s a testament to a life spent searching for the truth.

And all this stuff…. It’s a testament to a life spent searching for the truth.

[AMBI TAIL OFF]

[AMBI TAIL OFF]

Christina: There was something about this case that kept digging at my heartstrings. I could not imagine the pain that that family suffered, and they did nothing wrong. And the very person that was supposed to be protecting them, was the one that was hurting them.

Christina: There was something about this case that kept digging at my heartstrings. I could not imagine the pain that that family suffered, and they did nothing wrong. And the very person that was supposed to be protecting them, was the one that was hurting them.

Christina: I guess, mainly, I wanted to know why.

Christina: I guess, mainly, I wanted to know why.

Interviewer: Why?

Interviewer: Why?

Christina: Why the murders?

Christina: Why the murders?

If Jeffrey MacDonald killed his family, why did he do it? For 50 years, that question has dogged this case. And as long as the answer is unknown, people like Christina won’t rest.

If Jeffrey MacDonald killed his family, why did he do it? For 50 years, that question has dogged this case. And as long as the answer is unknown, people like Christina won’t rest.

Christina: That will always haunt me. I want to know why.

Christina: That will always haunt me. I want to know why.

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

And according to Christina, only one person has ever gotten close to the answer.

And according to Christina, only one person has ever gotten close to the answer.

[GARAGE AMBI]

[GARAGE AMBI]

Christina: Joe McGinniss. Joe McGinniss… Look how young Joe was.

Christina: Joe McGinniss. Joe McGinniss… Look how young Joe was.

Danielle: Oh, wow.

Danielle: Oh, wow.

Christina: I have read Fatal Vision--I cannot tell you how many times I’ve read that book. That was a book that was hard to put down because for the first time, I was reading my beliefs.

Christina: I have read Fatal Vision--I cannot tell you how many times I’ve read that book. That was a book that was hard to put down because for the first time, I was reading my beliefs.

Christina reached out to Joe when she was writing her own book about the case. They became friends.

Christina reached out to Joe when she was writing her own book about the case. They became friends.

Christina: And when I was going to write things, many times I’d run it by Joe. He was an easy person to talk to. That was Joe.

Christina: And when I was going to write things, many times I’d run it by Joe. He was an easy person to talk to. That was Joe.

Christina: But then I felt so bad when he got the cancer.

Christina: But then I felt so bad when he got the cancer.

[MUSIC IN]

[MUSIC IN]

In May of 2012, Joe was diagnosed with cancer. The prognosis wasn’t good. And around the same time, his old friend was back on television.

In May of 2012, Joe was diagnosed with cancer. The prognosis wasn’t good. And around the same time, his old friend was back on television.

[SFX: TV ON]

[SFX: TV ON]

Reporter: The former army doctor convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters, Jeffrey MacDonald has maintained his innocence for 42 years.

Reporter: The former army doctor convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters, Jeffrey MacDonald has maintained his innocence for 42 years.

Megyn Kelly: A court hearing weighing potential new evidence in the infamous murder case of Jeffrey MacDonald. This guy might be getting out of jail folks.

Megyn Kelly: A court hearing weighing potential new evidence in the infamous murder case of Jeffrey MacDonald. This guy might be getting out of jail folks.

Jeff’s lawyers had finally gotten a hearing to examine new evidence they said proved that Jeff didn’t kill his family...because someone else did.

Jeff’s lawyers had finally gotten a hearing to examine new evidence they said proved that Jeff didn’t kill his family...because someone else did.

Helena Int (reverb): I had a floppy hat that I used to wear all the time...

Helena Int (reverb): I had a floppy hat that I used to wear all the time...

You might remember from episode four, that Jeff’s legal team had gotten a confession from a woman named Helena Stoeckley.

You might remember from episode four, that Jeff’s legal team had gotten a confession from a woman named Helena Stoeckley.

Helena: Helena: At the time of murders, I was involved with a satanic cult...

Helena: Helena: At the time of murders, I was involved with a satanic cult...

And Jeff’s lawyers would call others witnesses who said Helena had confessed to them as well… From his home in Massachusetts, Joe McGinniss watched as the story spread across every channel.

And Jeff’s lawyers would call others witnesses who said Helena had confessed to them as well… From his home in Massachusetts, Joe McGinniss watched as the story spread across every channel.

Commentator: ...and other exculpatory evidence....which tends to prove innocence…

Commentator: ...and other exculpatory evidence....which tends to prove innocence…

He would write about it later, in his memoir.

He would write about it later, in his memoir.

Joe actor: As with one giant mouth, the mainstream media swallowed whole the fish story being peddled by MacDonald’s lawyers.

Joe actor: As with one giant mouth, the mainstream media swallowed whole the fish story being peddled by MacDonald’s lawyers.

Pundit: What was thought to be a clear cut case might not be so clear.

Pundit: What was thought to be a clear cut case might not be so clear.

Commentator: He’s maintained his innocence from the very very beginning. Where is the motive?

Commentator: He’s maintained his innocence from the very very beginning. Where is the motive?

Reporter: No motive.

Reporter: No motive.

Commentator: No evidence of mental illness, no evidence of drug use. Why would he do this?

Commentator: No evidence of mental illness, no evidence of drug use. Why would he do this?

To win their case, federal prosecutors needed to answer that question. So they added to their witness list someone who had been at Jeff's murder trial...who had studied all the evidence......who knew this case inside and out.

To win their case, federal prosecutors needed to answer that question. So they added to their witness list someone who had been at Jeff's murder trial...who had studied all the evidence......who knew this case inside and out.

[typing]

[typing]

Joe’s Memoir: I would be the prosecution’s final witness. Probably the last person who will ever testify against Jeffrey MacDonald in a court of law.

Joe’s Memoir: I would be the prosecution’s final witness. Probably the last person who will ever testify against Jeffrey MacDonald in a court of law.

[AMBI: EXT COURTHOUSE]

[AMBI: EXT COURTHOUSE]

Reporter: Mr. McGinniss, we’re all here waiting for you.

Reporter: Mr. McGinniss, we’re all here waiting for you.

Reporter: How surprised are you after all this time, Jeffrey MacDonald’s back in court.

Reporter: How surprised are you after all this time, Jeffrey MacDonald’s back in court.

Joe: Well I’m not surprised that he’s back in court he’s always been back in court. He has no remorse. No conscience. And he’s a pathological narcissist who knows he’s the smartest person on earth. He’ll never admit that he’s wrong, he’ll never admit defeat. This is Jeffrey MacDonald’s last gasp.

Joe: Well I’m not surprised that he’s back in court he’s always been back in court. He has no remorse. No conscience. And he’s a pathological narcissist who knows he’s the smartest person on earth. He’ll never admit that he’s wrong, he’ll never admit defeat. This is Jeffrey MacDonald’s last gasp.

Christina: I finally got to meet him in person in 2012. And he said, “I’m dying and I know it.” I’m not gonna take their bullshit anymore.

Christina: I finally got to meet him in person in 2012. And he said, “I’m dying and I know it.” I’m not gonna take their bullshit anymore.

[THEME]

[THEME]

[TITLES TBD]

[TITLES TBD]

Wallace: Thumbnail sketch of Jeffrey MacDonald. The man you know.

Wallace: Thumbnail sketch of Jeffrey MacDonald. The man you know.

Joe: Absolutely ruthless and beyond morality.

Joe: Absolutely ruthless and beyond morality.

Fatal vision is number one on the bestseller list

Fatal vision is number one on the bestseller list

Nancy: How could you be sued by a murderer?

Nancy: How could you be sued by a murderer?

*JANET ACTOR*: 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 ACTOR*: 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.

WGBH: She slanders the whole profession, in a way that I as a reporter since I was 22 take uh to heart as baloney.

WGBH: She slanders the whole profession, in a way that I as a reporter since I was 22 take uh to heart as baloney.

WGBH: It was a devastating critique that clung to McGinniss.

WGBH: It was a devastating critique that clung to McGinniss.

Keeler: But whether he told him an out and out lie... I don’t know how much of that he did...

Keeler: But whether he told him an out and out lie... I don’t know how much of that he did...

Nancy: It’s a tragedy. It’s not like murder, but. It’s the murder of a reputation.

Nancy: It’s a tragedy. It’s not like murder, but. It’s the murder of a reputation.

I’m Marc Smerling, and this is Morally Indefensible.

I’m Marc Smerling, and this is Morally Indefensible.

Chapter 8: The Final Witness

Chapter 8: The Final Witness

Reporter: Jeffrey MacDonald and the gruesome murders of his family became infamous partly because of the bestselling book Fatal Vision, which portrayed MacDonald as a killer. Today the author is set to take the stand.

Reporter: Jeffrey MacDonald and the gruesome murders of his family became infamous partly because of the bestselling book Fatal Vision, which portrayed MacDonald as a killer. Today the author is set to take the stand.

[MUSIC IN]

[MUSIC IN]

After decades away from the spotlight of the MacDonald case, Joe McGinniss was heading into a federal courthouse in Wilmington, North Carolina, clutching a well-worn copy of his book, Fatal Vision.

After decades away from the spotlight of the MacDonald case, Joe McGinniss was heading into a federal courthouse in Wilmington, North Carolina, clutching a well-worn copy of his book, Fatal Vision.

Reporter: Well first of all, your thoughts going in-- I noticed that you tweeted that you were gonna sleep well last night.

Reporter: Well first of all, your thoughts going in-- I noticed that you tweeted that you were gonna sleep well last night.

Joe: Oh yes. I sleep well every night.

Joe: Oh yes. I sleep well every night.

Reporter: Let’s talk about Joe McGinniss. He’s on the stand today. Controversial author.

Reporter: Let’s talk about Joe McGinniss. He’s on the stand today. Controversial author.

Reporter: I was pretty shocked that the author of the book was a witness for the prosecution. Is he considered a credible witness in all of this?

Reporter: I was pretty shocked that the author of the book was a witness for the prosecution. Is he considered a credible witness in all of this?

Joe: I’m looking forward to doing what I came here to do. Whatever questions they ask me, I’ll answer.

Joe: I’m looking forward to doing what I came here to do. Whatever questions they ask me, I’ll answer.

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

No one really knew why Joe McGinniss had been called by the prosecution... but it would soon become clear...

No one really knew why Joe McGinniss had been called by the prosecution... but it would soon become clear...

[Courtroom Ambi]

[Courtroom Ambi]

[SFX GAVEL]

[SFX GAVEL]

John Bruce: Your honor, we’re ready for our next witness. We’ll call Joe McGinniss.

John Bruce: Your honor, we’re ready for our next witness. We’ll call Joe McGinniss.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Bruce questioned Joe first.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Bruce questioned Joe first.

Bruce: Would you state your name please?

Bruce: Would you state your name please?

Joe: Uh Joe McGinniss.

Joe: Uh Joe McGinniss.

Bruce: Mr. McGinniss. At the conclusion of all of your work in this case, you wrote a book.

Bruce: Mr. McGinniss. At the conclusion of all of your work in this case, you wrote a book.

Joe: Yes sir.

Joe: Yes sir.

Bruce: Your profession is journalism.

Bruce: Your profession is journalism.

Joe: That’s correct.

Joe: That’s correct.

Bruce: And you were writing this book as a journalist.

Bruce: And you were writing this book as a journalist.

Joe: That’s right.

Joe: That’s right.

Bruce: Not a novelist.

Bruce: Not a novelist.

Joe: Not a novelist. Nope.

Joe: Not a novelist. Nope.

[MUSIC]

[MUSIC]

Joe’s wife, Nancy, was in the gallery.

Joe’s wife, Nancy, was in the gallery.

Nancy: This time Jeff was sitting there shackled and handcuffed in prisoner's khaki jumpsuit.The way Joe thought he should be. Joe was up in the witness chair, Joe kept staring at him.

Nancy: This time Jeff was sitting there shackled and handcuffed in prisoner's khaki jumpsuit.The way Joe thought he should be. Joe was up in the witness chair, Joe kept staring at him.

Joe would later describe this moment on a local radio station.

Joe would later describe this moment on a local radio station.

Joe: All the time that I sat up there I would continually look over at him, just to see if he would ever once look me in the eye.

Joe: All the time that I sat up there I would continually look over at him, just to see if he would ever once look me in the eye.

Joe: He would not.

Joe: He would not.

Bruce: Under oath would you say that your book is accurate?

Bruce: Under oath would you say that your book is accurate?

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

Joe: Yes I would.

Joe: Yes I would.

In the long history of the MacDonald case, prosecutors had never offered a viable motive, an answer to the question of why. But Joe did... in his book Fatal Vision... Because of his access to Jeff, Joe had discovered a piece of evidence that had never been presented in a court of law… until now.

In the long history of the MacDonald case, prosecutors had never offered a viable motive, an answer to the question of why. But Joe did... in his book Fatal Vision... Because of his access to Jeff, Joe had discovered a piece of evidence that had never been presented in a court of law… until now.

Bruce: Alright… Now while you were staying at Jeffrey MacDonald’s condominium, did he give you pretty much the run of the place?

Bruce: Alright… Now while you were staying at Jeffrey MacDonald’s condominium, did he give you pretty much the run of the place?

Joe: Oh yeah, absolutely.

Joe: Oh yeah, absolutely.

You may remember that on a trip to California to visit Jeff in Prison, Joe stayed in Jeff's condo… where he found all of Jeff’s legal files. And Joe wrote about that trip in his book. In court, Prosecutor Bruce asks Joe to read from his copy of Fatal Vision...

You may remember that on a trip to California to visit Jeff in Prison, Joe stayed in Jeff's condo… where he found all of Jeff’s legal files. And Joe wrote about that trip in his book. In court, Prosecutor Bruce asks Joe to read from his copy of Fatal Vision...

[MUSIC IN]

[MUSIC IN]

Joe: On my last day at the condominium, I found pages of notes in Jeffrey MacDonald’s handwriting.

Joe: On my last day at the condominium, I found pages of notes in Jeffrey MacDonald’s handwriting.

Joe: The heading said “Activities: Monday 16 February, 5:30p.m. - Tuesday, in hospital, 17 February.”

Joe: The heading said “Activities: Monday 16 February, 5:30p.m. - Tuesday, in hospital, 17 February.”

[SFX: Beach, page turn]

[SFX: Beach, page turn]

Joe: With the warm southern California sun of late November shining brightly through the sliding glass doors, I started to read.

Joe: With the warm southern California sun of late November shining brightly through the sliding glass doors, I started to read.

These were Jeff’s handwritten notes that he gave to his lawyers - a timeline of events leading up to the murders.

These were Jeff’s handwritten notes that he gave to his lawyers - a timeline of events leading up to the murders.

Joe: We ate dinner together at 5:45 p.m.

Joe: We ate dinner together at 5:45 p.m.

[Crossfade into: voice of Jeff]

[Crossfade into: voice of Jeff]

Jeff: It is possible that I had one diet pill at this time. I had lost 12-15 pounds in the prior 3-4 weeks using 3-5 capsules of Eskatrol.

Jeff: It is possible that I had one diet pill at this time. I had lost 12-15 pounds in the prior 3-4 weeks using 3-5 capsules of Eskatrol.

[Crossfade back into Joe in court]

[Crossfade back into Joe in court]

Joe: Dextro-amphetamine.

Joe: Dextro-amphetamine.

Jeff: Speed.

Jeff: Speed.

Bruce: After you read this, did you do some additional research on Eskatrol?

Bruce: After you read this, did you do some additional research on Eskatrol?

Joe: I wanted to learn more about it. It’s a mixture of an upper and a downer, speed and a tranquilizing agent. The manufacturer took it off the market sometime not long after February 1970.

Joe: I wanted to learn more about it. It’s a mixture of an upper and a downer, speed and a tranquilizing agent. The manufacturer took it off the market sometime not long after February 1970.

Joe: It was particularly dangerous in terms of side effects. Insomnia, restlessness, nervousness and dizziness. Rage reactions. People would suddenly have uncontrollable bursts of rage after taking Eskatrol.

Joe: It was particularly dangerous in terms of side effects. Insomnia, restlessness, nervousness and dizziness. Rage reactions. People would suddenly have uncontrollable bursts of rage after taking Eskatrol.

Joe: Psychosis, insanity, may occur with large doses.

Joe: Psychosis, insanity, may occur with large doses.

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

BREAK 1

BREAK 1

[MUSIC IN]

[MUSIC IN]

[COURT SFX]

[COURT SFX]

Back in the courtroom at Jeffrey MacDonald’s evidentiary hearing, Joe McGinniss is testifying about a note he found in Jeff’s condominium. In the note, Jeff wrote that leading up to the murders, he had lost a significant amount of weight. And he had lost that weight by taking 3 to 5 capsules of an amphetamine called Eskatrol.

Back in the courtroom at Jeffrey MacDonald’s evidentiary hearing, Joe McGinniss is testifying about a note he found in Jeff’s condominium. In the note, Jeff wrote that leading up to the murders, he had lost a significant amount of weight. And he had lost that weight by taking 3 to 5 capsules of an amphetamine called Eskatrol.

Bruce: He doesn’t say three to five per day, is that right?

Bruce: He doesn’t say three to five per day, is that right?

Joe: That’s right. He doesn’t say 3 to 5 per day. He doesn’t say 3 to 5 over three to four weeks. He just doesn’t say.

Joe: That’s right. He doesn’t say 3 to 5 per day. He doesn’t say 3 to 5 over three to four weeks. He just doesn’t say.

But Joe had a hunch that this note might answer the question of why… why had Jeff killed his family...

But Joe had a hunch that this note might answer the question of why… why had Jeff killed his family...

Joe: Three to five eskatrol spansules over a three to four week period would not have accounted for the weight loss. Three to five per day, however, could have had a marked effect.

Joe: Three to five eskatrol spansules over a three to four week period would not have accounted for the weight loss. Three to five per day, however, could have had a marked effect.

If Jeff was taking 3-5 capsules of Eskatrol a day, he was overdosing. And there would have been side effects.

If Jeff was taking 3-5 capsules of Eskatrol a day, he was overdosing. And there would have been side effects.

Joe: ….Tenseness and irritability, hyperactivity, confusion, and quote the most severe, psychosis.

Joe: ….Tenseness and irritability, hyperactivity, confusion, and quote the most severe, psychosis.

In order to figure out whether Jeff was overdosing on Eskatrol, Joe needed to know if Jeff exhibited any of those side effects the night of the murders. So he talked to the doctors who treated Jeff at Womack Army Hospital.

In order to figure out whether Jeff was overdosing on Eskatrol, Joe needed to know if Jeff exhibited any of those side effects the night of the murders. So he talked to the doctors who treated Jeff at Womack Army Hospital.

Joe: All reports from Womack hospital indicate that Jeffrey MacDonald, in the first moments after his arrival had felt a powerful urge to get up and walk about and that he appeared to be in a state of high agitation.

Joe: All reports from Womack hospital indicate that Jeffrey MacDonald, in the first moments after his arrival had felt a powerful urge to get up and walk about and that he appeared to be in a state of high agitation.

Jeff was so agitated that the doctors eventually gave him a powerful sedative to calm him down. But one thing the doctors did not do was test his blood for amphetamines.

Jeff was so agitated that the doctors eventually gave him a powerful sedative to calm him down. But one thing the doctors did not do was test his blood for amphetamines.

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

In his notes, Jeff wrote a lot about Eskatrol. He wrote that he had never told the police that he’d taken the drug. And he was worried that it might show up in routine hospital lab tests.

In his notes, Jeff wrote a lot about Eskatrol. He wrote that he had never told the police that he’d taken the drug. And he was worried that it might show up in routine hospital lab tests.

JEFF NOTES: If I did take the pill, it is conceivable that my urine and blood at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday would still have some residue.

JEFF NOTES: If I did take the pill, it is conceivable that my urine and blood at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday would still have some residue.

This diet pill was clearly on Jeff's mind.

This diet pill was clearly on Jeff's mind.

Joe: And when he had sat down to write his first account of the night’s events, his consumption of a drug, which is capable of triggering psychotic rage, had been the thing he had felt it necessary to mention first.

Joe: And when he had sat down to write his first account of the night’s events, his consumption of a drug, which is capable of triggering psychotic rage, had been the thing he had felt it necessary to mention first.

Bruce: Is that why you included this in your book?

Bruce: Is that why you included this in your book?

Joe: Yes ...the fact that he was so... worried. It was clear that this was a major concern to him.

Joe: Yes ...the fact that he was so... worried. It was clear that this was a major concern to him.

Bruce: The actual notes themselves were much more lengthy than that, is that right?

Bruce: The actual notes themselves were much more lengthy than that, is that right?

Joe: Oh, they were, yes sir. It was a complete account of his activities, up until the time of the murders.

Joe: Oh, they were, yes sir. It was a complete account of his activities, up until the time of the murders.

[MUSIC IN]

[MUSIC IN]

Jeff: CID asked me what I did Sunday. I told them I worked 24 hours at Hamlet Hospital and probably told them I didn’t work real hard. They never questioned me extensively about Sunday, or about how much sleep I had.

Jeff: CID asked me what I did Sunday. I told them I worked 24 hours at Hamlet Hospital and probably told them I didn’t work real hard. They never questioned me extensively about Sunday, or about how much sleep I had.

Jeff told army investigators he'd been moonlighting at a hospital off base. Sunday, he worked a 24 hour shift, and then on Monday, he worked a full day at Fort Bragg. That evening he came home to babysit. His wife, Colette, was taking a class at a local college.

Jeff told army investigators he'd been moonlighting at a hospital off base. Sunday, he worked a 24 hour shift, and then on Monday, he worked a full day at Fort Bragg. That evening he came home to babysit. His wife, Colette, was taking a class at a local college.

[SFX: little girls playing in reverb]

[SFX: little girls playing in reverb]

[SFX: writing ]

[SFX: writing ]

Here’s Jeff’s account of that night from his notes.

Here’s Jeff’s account of that night from his notes.

Jeff: We ate dinner together at 5:45 p.m. It’s possible I had one diet pill at this time. I do not remember, and do not think I had one, but it’s possible. The reason I could’ve taken a pill was twofold. One, to eat less in the evening when I snacked the most, and two, to try to stay awake after dinner since I was babysitting.

Jeff: We ate dinner together at 5:45 p.m. It’s possible I had one diet pill at this time. I do not remember, and do not think I had one, but it’s possible. The reason I could’ve taken a pill was twofold. One, to eat less in the evening when I snacked the most, and two, to try to stay awake after dinner since I was babysitting.

Back in court, Prosecutor Bruce has Joe read another section of Fatal Vision…

Back in court, Prosecutor Bruce has Joe read another section of Fatal Vision…

[SFX: Thunder and rain mirroring ep. 1]

[SFX: Thunder and rain mirroring ep. 1]

Joe: When Colette MacDonald had left for her psychology class that cold and rainy February evening, her husband had been so exhausted from having worked a 24-hour emergency room shift that he was lying down falling asleep next to his daughter Kimberley on the rug at Seven O’Clock that night.

Joe: When Colette MacDonald had left for her psychology class that cold and rainy February evening, her husband had been so exhausted from having worked a 24-hour emergency room shift that he was lying down falling asleep next to his daughter Kimberley on the rug at Seven O’Clock that night.

[SFX: TV: Laugh In, getting fuzzier.]

[SFX: TV: Laugh In, getting fuzzier.]

[SFX: door open]

[SFX: door open]

When Colette came home around 9:30, Jeff was wide awake. They had a drink and watched tv together. Collette went to bed around midnight. But Jeff stayed up.

When Colette came home around 9:30, Jeff was wide awake. They had a drink and watched tv together. Collette went to bed around midnight. But Jeff stayed up.

[SD: Carson, warped, buzzing]

[SD: Carson, warped, buzzing]

Joe: He was exhausted and then at 2 o’clock in the morning he’s up washing dishes.

Joe: He was exhausted and then at 2 o’clock in the morning he’s up washing dishes.

Jeff then laid down on the couch to finish a detective novel.. And finally, he went to bed.

Jeff then laid down on the couch to finish a detective novel.. And finally, he went to bed.

Jeff: Kristy had crawled into my side of the bed, as usual, and had wet the bed.

Jeff: Kristy had crawled into my side of the bed, as usual, and had wet the bed.

And then, something happened. Something... Joe says, set Jeff off. Over the years, some have said the bedwetting could have triggered an argument with Colette. No one really knows. But by 4 a.m., everyone in the house had been bludgeoned and stabbed to death, except for Jeffrey MacDonald. Joe summed up his theory in his book, Fatal Vision...

And then, something happened. Something... Joe says, set Jeff off. Over the years, some have said the bedwetting could have triggered an argument with Colette. No one really knows. But by 4 a.m., everyone in the house had been bludgeoned and stabbed to death, except for Jeffrey MacDonald. Joe summed up his theory in his book, Fatal Vision...

Joe: He had lost fifteen pounds in three weeks while taking a drug that can cause insanity. He was suffering from short-term physical exhaustion and longer term emotional stress.

Joe: He had lost fifteen pounds in three weeks while taking a drug that can cause insanity. He was suffering from short-term physical exhaustion and longer term emotional stress.

Joe: Would it be too much to suggest that in that one instant, a critical mass had been achieved, a fission had taken place, and that by 3:40 a.m. on February 17,1970, the ensuing explosion of rage had destroyed not only Jeffrey MacDonald’s wife and daughters, but all that he had sought to make of his life.

Joe: Would it be too much to suggest that in that one instant, a critical mass had been achieved, a fission had taken place, and that by 3:40 a.m. on February 17,1970, the ensuing explosion of rage had destroyed not only Jeffrey MacDonald’s wife and daughters, but all that he had sought to make of his life.

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

But millions of people took Eskatrol in those days. None of them brutally murdered their families. Why Jeff? In Fatal Vision, Joe had an answer for that question too.

But millions of people took Eskatrol in those days. None of them brutally murdered their families. Why Jeff? In Fatal Vision, Joe had an answer for that question too.

Joe: Rage reactions are not uncommon in individuals who are abusing amphetamines, particularly when the period of abuse involves sleep deprivation, outside stresses, and most notably, any predisposition toward psychological instability.

Joe: Rage reactions are not uncommon in individuals who are abusing amphetamines, particularly when the period of abuse involves sleep deprivation, outside stresses, and most notably, any predisposition toward psychological instability.

[MUSIC POST]

[MUSIC POST]

Bruce: Let me put government exhibit 6075 on the screen, please.

Bruce: Let me put government exhibit 6075 on the screen, please.

A psychiatric report appears on the screen at the front of the courtroom. Back in 1979, during his murder trial, Jeff had been evaluated by a psychiatrist.

A psychiatric report appears on the screen at the front of the courtroom. Back in 1979, during his murder trial, Jeff had been evaluated by a psychiatrist.

Bruce: Just read the first paragraph.

Bruce: Just read the first paragraph.

Joe: Dr. MacDonald is in need of continuous psychiatric attention. He has the faculty to manufacture and convolute circumstances.

Joe: Dr. MacDonald is in need of continuous psychiatric attention. He has the faculty to manufacture and convolute circumstances.

Cronkite: MacDonald told military police the murderers were three men and a woman…

Cronkite: MacDonald told military police the murderers were three men and a woman…

Jeff: She’s saying acid is groovy, kill the pigs. Acid is groovy kill the pig.

Jeff: She’s saying acid is groovy, kill the pigs. Acid is groovy kill the pig.

Joe: A sociopathic individual, he seeks attention and approval.

Joe: A sociopathic individual, he seeks attention and approval.

Cavett: My next guest is Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald. *Applause*

Cavett: My next guest is Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald. *Applause*

Joe: He gives evidence of secretiveness with questionable moral standards.

Joe: He gives evidence of secretiveness with questionable moral standards.

Larry King: Did you have affairs?

Larry King: Did you have affairs?

Jeff: Yes. I was not proud of it. I never lied about it. Well, first of all, I never had affairs, I had what were called one night stands.

Jeff: Yes. I was not proud of it. I never lied about it. Well, first of all, I never had affairs, I had what were called one night stands.

Joe: A man who seeks freedom and emancipation, only for personal removal from constraint.

Joe: A man who seeks freedom and emancipation, only for personal removal from constraint.

Christina: He told the psychiatrist he had a sense of relief that Colette and the girls were gone. How do you have a sense of relief that your wife and children were murdered?

Christina: He told the psychiatrist he had a sense of relief that Colette and the girls were gone. How do you have a sense of relief that your wife and children were murdered?

Joe: Dr. MacDonald seems self destructive, naive and even illogical at times.

Joe: Dr. MacDonald seems self destructive, naive and even illogical at times.

Pauley: Why would he cooperate in such a damning book?

Pauley: Why would he cooperate in such a damning book?

Joe: For thirteen years he has believed that all he had to do was tell his story, and whoever heard it would believe in his innocence.

Joe: For thirteen years he has believed that all he had to do was tell his story, and whoever heard it would believe in his innocence.

[MUSIC SHIFT]

[MUSIC SHIFT]

Wambaugh: He’s a sociopath. Violent. Dangerous. He doesn’t feel empathy. The conscience is absent.

Wambaugh: He’s a sociopath. Violent. Dangerous. He doesn’t feel empathy. The conscience is absent.

Back in the courtroom, Joe finishes reading the psychiatric report.

Back in the courtroom, Joe finishes reading the psychiatric report.

Joe: In the view of this therapist, Dr. MacDonald may well be viewed as a psychopath. A sociopathic individual subject to violence under pressure.

Joe: In the view of this therapist, Dr. MacDonald may well be viewed as a psychopath. A sociopathic individual subject to violence under pressure.

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

Bruce: No further questions on direct your honor.

Bruce: No further questions on direct your honor.


"People don't like ambiguity. Ambiguity sucks. We want certainty. We want an answer. We want something definitive."
- Errol Morris, Filmmaker and Author

BREAK 2

BREAK 2

[SFX: Courtroom]

[SFX: Courtroom]

So far, in the hearing to decide the fate of Jeffrey MacDonald, Joe McGinnis's testimony was as damning as the book he had written. But now... it’s Jeff's turn.

So far, in the hearing to decide the fate of Jeffrey MacDonald, Joe McGinnis's testimony was as damning as the book he had written. But now... it’s Jeff's turn.

Judge Fox: Cross.

Judge Fox: Cross.

[MUSIC IN]

[MUSIC IN]

Williams: Yes sir, thank you your honor.

Williams: Yes sir, thank you your honor.

Jeff's lawyer, Keith Williams had entered Joe’s letters to Jeff Into evidence. Now, he handed one to Joe ...

Jeff's lawyer, Keith Williams had entered Joe’s letters to Jeff Into evidence. Now, he handed one to Joe ...

Williams: If you would please read the yellow portions for us.

Williams: If you would please read the yellow portions for us.

Joe: God damn Jeff one of the worst things about this is how suddenly and totally all your friends, self included, have been deprived of the pleasure of your company.

Joe: God damn Jeff one of the worst things about this is how suddenly and totally all your friends, self included, have been deprived of the pleasure of your company.

Williams: Moving on.

Williams: Moving on.

Joe: Thats--

Joe: Thats--

Williams: I’m sorry did you want to say something else?

Williams: I’m sorry did you want to say something else?

Joe: Oh I thought you wanted me to read more or stop there.

Joe: Oh I thought you wanted me to read more or stop there.

Williams: That’s fine. Thank you.

Williams: That’s fine. Thank you.

This time, Joe wasn’t embarrassed about those letters.

This time, Joe wasn’t embarrassed about those letters.

Joe: I felt genuine affection for him at that time. I still thought he was a genuine if troubled guy. He’d been trying to con me from the first day. I didn’t understand about him being a psychopath until probably fall of ‘80 or 1981 when I had a conversation with Joe Wambaugh.

Joe: I felt genuine affection for him at that time. I still thought he was a genuine if troubled guy. He’d been trying to con me from the first day. I didn’t understand about him being a psychopath until probably fall of ‘80 or 1981 when I had a conversation with Joe Wambaugh.

Williams: We’re gonna move next to testimony that you gave before in a civil case in which Dr. MacDonald had sued you. You were sworn in to testify, is that correct?

Williams: We’re gonna move next to testimony that you gave before in a civil case in which Dr. MacDonald had sued you. You were sworn in to testify, is that correct?

Joe: That’s correct.

Joe: That’s correct.

Williams: Sworn to tell the truth.

Williams: Sworn to tell the truth.

Joe: That’s right.

Joe: That’s right.

Williams: You were asked the question, “Are you convinced today that he killed his wife” -- that is Dr. MacDonald--”that he killed his wife and children.” And what was your answer?

Williams: You were asked the question, “Are you convinced today that he killed his wife” -- that is Dr. MacDonald--”that he killed his wife and children.” And what was your answer?

Joe: Yes I am.

Joe: Yes I am.

Williams: You were asked the question did you ever communicate to Dr. MacDonald the fact that you had formed that opinion by the end of the trial. What was your answer?

Williams: You were asked the question did you ever communicate to Dr. MacDonald the fact that you had formed that opinion by the end of the trial. What was your answer?

Joe: No I didn’t.

Joe: No I didn’t.

Williams: You knew that MacDonald was gradually growing aware of the fact that the book wasn’t necessarily gonna be his way. That that could be a problem for you.

Williams: You knew that MacDonald was gradually growing aware of the fact that the book wasn’t necessarily gonna be his way. That that could be a problem for you.

Joe: I knew that he would break off contact the minute he found out that the book wasn’t gonna be what he had hoped for.

Joe: I knew that he would break off contact the minute he found out that the book wasn’t gonna be what he had hoped for.

Williams: You also said he was your subject. Did you say this, he was still my subject and I was still the author. I felt I had a professional duty to maintain as close a relationship with him as I could. Did you say that?

Williams: You also said he was your subject. Did you say this, he was still my subject and I was still the author. I felt I had a professional duty to maintain as close a relationship with him as I could. Did you say that?

Joe: Absolutely. Yep.

Joe: Absolutely. Yep.

Joe: Here’s a guy who’s killed his wife and kids and he’s lying to me consistently. And my goal then is to try to keep him talking to learn as much as I possibly can about what kind of psychopath he really is.

Joe: Here’s a guy who’s killed his wife and kids and he’s lying to me consistently. And my goal then is to try to keep him talking to learn as much as I possibly can about what kind of psychopath he really is.

[MUSIC SHIFT]

[MUSIC SHIFT]

Williams: All right. Let’s move next and talk about your Eskatrol theory. How much he might have been consuming will forever be a dark area. Is that right?

Williams: All right. Let’s move next and talk about your Eskatrol theory. How much he might have been consuming will forever be a dark area. Is that right?

Joe: Yes sir. But the logical inference would be it wasn’t just one pill a week.

Joe: Yes sir. But the logical inference would be it wasn’t just one pill a week.

Williams: Did you ever ask Dr. MacDonald how much sleep he had the night before the assault? And what was your answer...

Williams: Did you ever ask Dr. MacDonald how much sleep he had the night before the assault? And what was your answer...

Joe: Not that I recall. There came a point in time where I recognized that he was being untruthful in all of his answers to me. There was no point in asking him a question if I just knew he was just gonna lie.

Joe: Not that I recall. There came a point in time where I recognized that he was being untruthful in all of his answers to me. There was no point in asking him a question if I just knew he was just gonna lie.

Williams: If you knew he would do things like quote source material inaccurately.

Williams: If you knew he would do things like quote source material inaccurately.

Joe: What I said was lie.

Joe: What I said was lie.

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

Joe: This lawsuit was about MacDonald being angry that I actually wrote a book that told the truth, instead of writing a book that would tell the lies that he wanted me to tell.

Joe: This lawsuit was about MacDonald being angry that I actually wrote a book that told the truth, instead of writing a book that would tell the lies that he wanted me to tell.

Williams: Bigger picture, sir. Talking about your books. You first published Fatal Vision the hardcover in 1983.

Williams: Bigger picture, sir. Talking about your books. You first published Fatal Vision the hardcover in 1983.

Joe: That’s correct.

Joe: That’s correct.

Williams: Later came out in a paperback.

Williams: Later came out in a paperback.

Joe: Yes… The following year.

Joe: Yes… The following year.

Williams: And a new and bigger print edition is on the way?

Williams: And a new and bigger print edition is on the way?

Joe: It’s actually here.

Joe: It’s actually here.

Williams: One final question for you sir. Would you agree that there is no one who has profited financially more off of this story than you?

Williams: One final question for you sir. Would you agree that there is no one who has profited financially more off of this story than you?

Joe: I can’t think of anyone who would because no one’s done the work I’ve done.

Joe: I can’t think of anyone who would because no one’s done the work I’ve done.

Williams: Thank you, your honor.

Williams: Thank you, your honor.

[MUSIC IN]

[MUSIC IN]

Bailiff: All rise.

Bailiff: All rise.

Reporter: So, why did you portray him the way you did in your book?

Reporter: So, why did you portray him the way you did in your book?

Joe: I portrayed him as he is. I got to know Jeffrey MacDonald probably as well as anyone ever has. And that portrayal, every dimension of it, is totally accurate.

Joe: I portrayed him as he is. I got to know Jeffrey MacDonald probably as well as anyone ever has. And that portrayal, every dimension of it, is totally accurate.

He and Nancy went back to their home in Massachusetts. And he sat down at his computer to write about the hearing. It would be the last thing he would ever publish about the MacDonald case. He called it Final Vision.

He and Nancy went back to their home in Massachusetts. And he sat down at his computer to write about the hearing. It would be the last thing he would ever publish about the MacDonald case. He called it Final Vision.

[SFX: computer keyboard]

[SFX: computer keyboard]

Joe: It could easily be 2016 at the earliest before the case of United States of America v. Jeffrey R. MacDonald is finally closed. That will be forty-six years after the murders. MacDonald will be seventy-two.

Joe: It could easily be 2016 at the earliest before the case of United States of America v. Jeffrey R. MacDonald is finally closed. That will be forty-six years after the murders. MacDonald will be seventy-two.

MacDonald and I were young men when this began. Now we’re old. The

MacDonald and I were young men when this began. Now we’re old. The

case has been a presence in our lives for forty years. But at least we’ve been able to

case has been a presence in our lives for forty years. But at least we’ve been able to

live our lives. That’s a privilege Jeffrey MacDonald denied his twenty-five-year-old

live our lives. That’s a privilege Jeffrey MacDonald denied his twenty-five-year-old

wife, his five-year-old daughter, his two-year-old daughter, and his unborn son.

wife, his five-year-old daughter, his two-year-old daughter, and his unborn son.

In his closing argument at trial, Jim Blackburn asked the jurors “If in the future you should say a prayer, say one for them. If in the future you should light a candle, light one for them. If in the future you should cry a tear, cry one for them.” It’s still not too late to do that.

In his closing argument at trial, Jim Blackburn asked the jurors “If in the future you should say a prayer, say one for them. If in the future you should light a candle, light one for them. If in the future you should cry a tear, cry one for them.” It’s still not too late to do that.

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

Nancy: And that was it. Joe felt that that was going to be the last time that there would be a hearing in the Jeff MacDonald case. And certainly, that was the last time Joe was ever gonna be there because he died two years later.

Nancy: And that was it. Joe felt that that was going to be the last time that there would be a hearing in the Jeff MacDonald case. And certainly, that was the last time Joe was ever gonna be there because he died two years later.

Marc: Yeah… This story has really put a big scar down a lot of lives.

Marc: Yeah… This story has really put a big scar down a lot of lives.

Nancy: Yeah it has.

Nancy: Yeah it has.

Marc: If you had to sum up the impact Jeff had on Joe’s life, how would you do it?

Marc: If you had to sum up the impact Jeff had on Joe’s life, how would you do it?

Nancy: Hm. I wouldn’t do it. I really can’t do it. Joe lived big. He went into these things with his eyes open. So if it’s big and bad it was also big and good so might as well do something big.

Nancy: Hm. I wouldn’t do it. I really can’t do it. Joe lived big. He went into these things with his eyes open. So if it’s big and bad it was also big and good so might as well do something big.

[MUSIC]

[MUSIC]

Christina: I think Joe McGinniss did an excellent job and I think his book, Fatal Vision, will go down as one of the top crime books in history.

Christina: I think Joe McGinniss did an excellent job and I think his book, Fatal Vision, will go down as one of the top crime books in history.

This is Christina Masevitch again...

This is Christina Masevitch again...

Interviewer: Do you think that Joe McGinniss betrayed Jeff MacDonald?

Interviewer: Do you think that Joe McGinniss betrayed Jeff MacDonald?

Christina: I don’t think he did anything that any other journalist would not do or have not done. Joe was at a point he needed to get as much as he could get. Be it right or wrong? That’s not for me to say.

Christina: I don’t think he did anything that any other journalist would not do or have not done. Joe was at a point he needed to get as much as he could get. Be it right or wrong? That’s not for me to say.

Christina thinks Joe got as close to the truth as possible, but in the end, what he came up with was a theory. It wasn’t proof.

Christina thinks Joe got as close to the truth as possible, but in the end, what he came up with was a theory. It wasn’t proof.

Christina: I’m never gonna know, and nobody else is ever gonna know the real truth of what happened because Jeffrey MacDonald will never tell us.

Christina: I’m never gonna know, and nobody else is ever gonna know the real truth of what happened because Jeffrey MacDonald will never tell us.

Jeff is 76. He’s been in prison for almost 40 years. At this point, if he admitted to the murders, he would likely be granted parole. And still...he maintains his innocence.

Jeff is 76. He’s been in prison for almost 40 years. At this point, if he admitted to the murders, he would likely be granted parole. And still...he maintains his innocence.

Jeffrey MacDonald: I didn’t commit any crimes. I’m not going to tell two or three bureaucrats that I am sorry for something I didn’t do. I did not murder my family.

Jeffrey MacDonald: I didn’t commit any crimes. I’m not going to tell two or three bureaucrats that I am sorry for something I didn’t do. I did not murder my family.

It’s enough to make you feel dissatisfied. Enough to make you think that maybe there’s something here, in these reams of paper and boxes of evidence, that you’re missing.

It’s enough to make you feel dissatisfied. Enough to make you think that maybe there’s something here, in these reams of paper and boxes of evidence, that you’re missing.

[Boxes Shuffle]

[Boxes Shuffle]

[Marc + Christina talking]

[Marc + Christina talking]

Christina: “I wanted to know what happened. Why did this take place?” After so many years, I finally came to the decision – I have to remove that question mark from the end of that sentence and I have to place a period there.

Christina: “I wanted to know what happened. Why did this take place?” After so many years, I finally came to the decision – I have to remove that question mark from the end of that sentence and I have to place a period there.

Christina: But I will just keep going. I will find everything that I can. Maybe one day, I’ll reach the end. I don’t know.

Christina: But I will just keep going. I will find everything that I can. Maybe one day, I’ll reach the end. I don’t know.

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

Errol Morris: What’s really interesting about the MacDonald case is how many many many people have gone back over this. Why? Because they’re not satisfied.

Errol Morris: What’s really interesting about the MacDonald case is how many many many people have gone back over this. Why? Because they’re not satisfied.

This is filmmaker and author Errol Morris.

This is filmmaker and author Errol Morris.

Errol Morris: People don’t like ambiguity. Ambiguity sucks. We want certainty. We want an answer. We want something definitive.

Errol Morris: People don’t like ambiguity. Ambiguity sucks. We want certainty. We want an answer. We want something definitive.

Marc: It’s sort of why people are so fascinated with true crime, is this desire to know the end of the story.

Marc: It’s sort of why people are so fascinated with true crime, is this desire to know the end of the story.

Errol Morris: Exactly. The desire for the period at the end of the sentence.

Errol Morris: Exactly. The desire for the period at the end of the sentence.

Back in 2012, right before Jeff’s hearing, Errol published his own book about the MacDonald case, called A Wilderness of Error. He hoped to put the period at the end of the sentence.

Back in 2012, right before Jeff’s hearing, Errol published his own book about the MacDonald case, called A Wilderness of Error. He hoped to put the period at the end of the sentence.

Interviewer: Wilderness feels a little like a journey to try to figure out the truth. Or at least, that was the impetus for it. But it didn’t up that way for you, did it?

Interviewer: Wilderness feels a little like a journey to try to figure out the truth. Or at least, that was the impetus for it. But it didn’t up that way for you, did it?

Errol: I went into it with the hope that if I worked hard enough and thought hard enough, that I could come to some kind of conclusion.

Errol: I went into it with the hope that if I worked hard enough and thought hard enough, that I could come to some kind of conclusion.

Errol came to a very different conclusion than Joe McGinniss. He found that the government botched the case from the very beginning. And that Jeffrey MacDonald didn’t receive a fair trial. But his book didn’t exonerate Jeff.

Errol came to a very different conclusion than Joe McGinniss. He found that the government botched the case from the very beginning. And that Jeffrey MacDonald didn’t receive a fair trial. But his book didn’t exonerate Jeff.

Errol: Do I believe he’s innocent? I do, but I can’t prove it.

Errol: Do I believe he’s innocent? I do, but I can’t prove it.

Now he’s asked me to come with him, to take a fresh look at this story, to see if we can finish what he started, and find the truth.

Now he’s asked me to come with him, to take a fresh look at this story, to see if we can finish what he started, and find the truth.

Errol: Either Jeffrey killed his family in that house, or someone else did. And shouldn’t we be able to go back into time, and figure it out.

Errol: Either Jeffrey killed his family in that house, or someone else did. And shouldn’t we be able to go back into time, and figure it out.

Interviewer: If I go through this process of talking to 40-50 people who are still around and I can’t come to a conclusion about exactly what happened in that house, will you be disappointed?

Interviewer: If I go through this process of talking to 40-50 people who are still around and I can’t come to a conclusion about exactly what happened in that house, will you be disappointed?

Errol Morris: I’m gonna have you killed.

Errol Morris: I’m gonna have you killed.

Interviewer: Okay, and if I come to the conclusion that Jeffrey committed these crimes, are you gonna have me doubly-killed?

Interviewer: Okay, and if I come to the conclusion that Jeffrey committed these crimes, are you gonna have me doubly-killed?

Errol Morris: No. If you’ve convinced me.

Errol Morris: No. If you’ve convinced me.

[CREDIT MUSIC]

[CREDIT MUSIC]

[CREDITS]

[CREDITS]

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 Zach Hirsch, Jesse Rudoy, Kevin Shepherd, Danielle Elliot and Julia Botero.

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

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 Ryan Sweikert and Kenny Kusiak.

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

Additional Music by John Kusiak and Marmoset.

Additional Music by John Kusiak and Marmoset.

Our title track is “Promises” by The Monophonics.

Our title track is “Promises” by The Monophonics.

Voice reenactments by Logan Stearns, Marie Lenzi-Sperling and Jesse Rudoy .

Voice reenactments by Logan Stearns, Marie Lenzi-Sperling and Jesse Rudoy .

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’d like to continue the conversation online, find us on Instagram and Facebook @morallyindefensible and Twitter @morallyindef m-o-r-a-l-l-y-i-n-d-e-f.

If you’d like to continue the conversation online, find us on Instagram and Facebook @morallyindefensible and Twitter @morallyindef m-o-r-a-l-l-y-i-n-d-e-f.

We put a lot of work into this show, and I want to thank you for listening through to the end. If you liked it, tell your friends. And write a review on Apple itunes to let us know what you think. Keep your ears open, because we’ll be back....

We put a lot of work into this show, and I want to thank you for listening through to the end. If you liked it, tell your friends. And write a review on Apple itunes to let us know what you think. Keep your ears open, because we’ll be back....