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

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

"I don't know why I did it," Martin later told a court psychiatrist. "I didn't want the stuff. I didn't need the stuff."

Martin told police he got the idea after watching a "60 Minutes" episode about how check forgers worked. He told friends he could do it better and with fewer risks.

Somers wanted to learn more about her new son-in-law. She obtained records about his crimes and soon learned that Martin was discharged from the military for schizophrenia after hearing voices.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he killed her some day," Somers remembers telling two of her other daughters 31 years ago.

Now, three and a half years since Michele's death at her Pleasant Grove home, Utah County investigators believe Martin murdered his wife, then covered it all up, according to an affidavit filed in 4th District Court.

An autopsy concluded that the mother of eight died suddenly due to natural causes, including myocarditis (an inflammation of the heart), cardiovascular disease and hypertension. However, the Deseret News has learned that investigators just recently convinced the Utah State Medical Examiner's Office to change the manner of death to "undetermined" and "suspicious."

But Michele's mother, four of her five siblings, and now Martin's own children — who grew up idolizing their father as a well-respected doctor and attorney in Utah County — have told the Deseret News they believe the cause of death should be homicide.

The family believes, and investigators from the Utah County Attorney's Office wrote in an affidavit, that Martin had the know-how to kill his wife and make it look like an accident.

Some even suspect Martin may have killed others.

Early years

Michele was a tomboy growing up in Concord, Calif., but she later picked up the violin, participated in theater, became a cheerleader and even won homecoming queen in high school. She excelled at everything she did, was a straight-A student and was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She later became a model and participated in four beauty pageants — culminating in being crowned Miss Concord in 1976.

Everyone seemed to like Michele, Cluff said, especially the boys. She always had more guy friends than girlfriends. Shortly after she returned home from being an exchange student in Switzerland, a Swiss boy came to California to visit her.

Right after this, Michele met Martin at an LDS young adult activity and they "went into a whirlwind of dating," a family member said.

Michele's relationship with her family became somewhat strained after she eloped in 1978, and even more after the family learned of Martin's criminal behavior.

Four months after tying the knot, Martin served a six-month jail sentence for his forgery, theft and fraud charges. Their first child, Rachel, was born the next year.

The young family lived in Mexico in 1980 while Martin attended a semester of medical school, then moved to California, New York and later to Utah, where Martin obtained his medical license in 1987. By this time, the couple had added three other children to their family.

Martin worked part time at the BYU Health Center while earning a law degree. He graduated from BYU's law school in 1990 and worked as a physician at the Health Center for some time before taking a position as director of Medical Law Comp in Washington and then returning to Utah.

A few years later, the couple adopted five more children — four from the Ukraine. One of those adoptions was later terminated, making a family of eight children: Rachel, Vanessa, Alexis, Damian, Giselle, Sabrina, Elle and Ada.

Friends and family describe Michele as one of the most kind, generous, loving people they had ever met. She devoted her life to her family, said daughter Alexis, who called her mom her best friend.

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