Martin MacNeill: Was his wife Michele's death accidental or was it murder?

Published: Saturday, Dec. 4 2010 3:00 p.m. MST

Karen Wright, now 56, was the first woman to call Rachel. She claims Martin took advantage of her 14 years ago when she was his patient at the BYU Health Center.

Wright had eight children and told Martin she was recently divorced and an "emotional basket case." She remembers Martin telling her he was not only a doctor but a lawyer and that he drove a Jaguar. He said he didn't have a good sexual relationship with his wife and that she was beautiful.

"He manipulated me," Wright told the Deseret News, "but he managed to do it in a seductive way. I didn't tell anyone because I thought it was my fault. I think he knew I wouldn't report it. That's why he made me think I was so attractive."

Wright said Martin also had sexual relations with her a second time in his office shortly thereafter. She said these assaults had a profound effect on her life. She was wracked with guilt until she found Rachel's contact information on the Internet and learned more about Martin and his history with other women.

But the alleged abuse wasn't just outside the family. Martin also has a case pending in court for sexual abuse of Alexis.

"Alexis stated there had been two incidents where she had been fondled by her father" within three months of her mother's passing, a police report states.

Martin admitted in a recorded phone call with Alexis that he inappropriately touched her while she was sleeping because he thought Alexis was his wife.

"Mr. MacNeill was reported to have told his daughters that even though his wife is dead, he is still a sexual person and has desires that need to be met," according to Pleasant Grove police records.

Alexis wants to protect her family and others from her dad. "I don't want him to hurt anyone else."

Questioning everything

Each new discovery about Martin causes family members to question memories and statements they had never wondered about just three years ago. For example, Alexis said her father worked with Dr. Jack Kevorkian for a little while either during or right after he was in medical school.

Her father used to joke that Kevorkian did not start killing people until after he worked with him.

She also remembers her dad pulling out his medicine book when she went with him and her mother to the pre-surgery appointment in Layton. She said she had never seen him use that book before, but he looked through it then when he was suggesting to the doctor what to prescribe her mother.

"He knows medical things that people don't know," Alexis said. "He also had access to medication."

She also remembers that for several months before her mom passed away, her dad kept all his work on the computer "very secretive." She said he erased all of his e-mails and his searches.

Neighbor Hernandez said she and Michele and two other women from their LDS ward called themselves the Ya-Ya Sisters after seeing the movie "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" together. They would have lunch every so often, but the last two times before her death, Michele was unable to make it. She remembers in March 2007, Michele was sobbing on the phone that Martin had kept her too busy and she couldn't come to a planned birthday lunch.

"But I really need my Ya-Ya Sisters," Hernandez remembers her saying through tears.

Hernandez has only thought about this since everything has come out about Martin. She thought she knew him pretty well and remembered the time he organized people to help her move and paint her basement.

But she also recalls being afraid to call the MacNeill house phone because Martin might pick up and he was "very intimidating."

Many family members and friends immediately felt that something wasn't right when Michele died and some suspected Martin.

"It's in his nature to be finished with people," Cluff said of her brother-in-law. "He was on to bigger and better things and Michele was in his way and starting to figure him out."

She believes Martin thought a divorce would be too messy and pricey. Over the years, the family tried to forgive and forget and get along with Martin, but he would often twist situations to make his wife believe her relatives were against her. "Everybody was afraid of Martin."

And toward the end of Michele's life, her voice betrayed that she wasn't happy, Cluff said.

But Michele never spoke negatively about Martin and wouldn't let anyone else, either.

It's hard for Helen Somers though, when the loss of her daughter is often in her mind.

She still remembers her little Michele secretly collecting soda cans for months to raise money to buy her a brown teapot for hot chocolate, which still sits in her kitchen.

Michele was always service-oriented, always trying to help people, she said. Martin must have played off of her goodness.

"I sure do miss her," Somers said. "I hope Martin is in jail forever."

e-mail: slenz@desnews.com; bwest@desnews.com

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