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

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

"She made everything and everyone not just look — but feel — beautiful," said her oldest daughter, Rachel. "She was an angel walking among us."

"She told us we were her princesses," Elle said during her mother's funeral.

Neighbor LoRene Hernandez considered Michele her mentor and said Michele was always serving those around her.

"It's still hard for me to drive by her house," Hernandez said. "There is just such a void. Not a day goes by that I don't think about her and her kids."

Not so perfect

In 2000, Martin was appointed by then-Gov. Mike Leavitt as clinical director of the American Fork Training School.

Alexis remembers wanting to go to his clinic for her birthdays and following her dad around all day. Growing up, she wanted to be a doctor and make people feel better. She finished medical school earlier this year.

Alexis thought just a few years ago that her family was pretty normal and that her dad loved her mom and her family.

"I thought he was rough around the edges but sweet," Alexis said.

Hernandez said she, too, thought Martin was a good guy. She thought the MacNeills had "the perfect family." What most people didn't know was the couple was struggling the last few years before Michele's death.

Martin threatened to kill Michele and himself with a butcher knife after she caught him looking at pornography in August of 2000. After hearing screaming and seeing what was going on, a friend at the house called police. The MacNeills' son was able to get the knife away from his father shortly before police arrived, and Martin spent the night at Wasatch Mental Health.

A few years later, Alexis said her father became verbally and mentally abusive to her mother and threatened to leave the family. She remembers him saying that he no longer loved Michele and didn't want the adopted daughters anymore. Michele expressed concerns that her husband was having an affair.

The family moved from their Orem home to a smaller one in Pleasant Grove about a year before Michele's death, and Michele told two of her daughters she was afraid it was in preparation for a divorce.

The suspicions of an affair heightened about six weeks before Michele's death, and she began confronting her husband more and more.

One woman Michele suspected was Gypsy Willis, whose number had shown up repeatedly on Martin's phone bill. Just days before her mother's death, Alexis remembers her parents arguing over the allegations of an affair and her mother telling her father that she was not going to let the issue die.

After Michele's death, several women came forward with information about affairs and even accusations of rape against Martin.

Michele's last days

Michele underwent plastic surgery just eight days before her April 11, 2007, death. Alexis said her mother had talked to her about wanting to lose weight before getting the face-lift, but said her father insisted that she have the operation immediately and even set up the appointment for her with a doctor in Draper.

The surgeon prescribed Lortab syrup, Ambien, Oxycodone and Valium. The doctor told investigators he had "never prescribed the combination of drugs listed above to a patient and would not have in this case had it not been for the recommendation of Martin MacNeill, and then only on the condition that Mr. MacNeill monitor the administration of the substances as a physician."

The first night after the surgery, Alexis remembers her father forcing her to leave her mother's side to go to bed. The next morning, she found her mother "listless and unresponsive." When she confronted her dad, he said he may have overmedicated her mother but wouldn't elaborate. She didn't leave her mother's side after this.

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