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

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

During a phone conversation when he later announced the new nanny's name, Gypsy Willis, Alexis told him she knew that name because her mom had believed he was having an affair with her. Because of that conversation, Martin held a family meeting and told her adult siblings that Alexis was no longer a part of the family and she was not allowed to talk to her four younger siblings.

Within a couple of weeks, Willis moved in with the family.

The daughters later learned Willis was not the only woman their father was involved with sexually before their mother's death.

Surrounded by suicides

One of these women — who said Martin was planning on moving away with her — told investigators she believes Martin is a "serial killer."

She claimed Martin confessed he'd killed people before and even tried to kill his mother when he was young, "but his sister had called 911 and the medical personnel were able to revive her," an affidavit states.

The woman claimed he also told her he'd killed his brother, Roy MacNeill, who "had repeatedly attempted suicide for attention, and had become an 'embarrassment.' He claimed he found his brother in the tub and that both of his wrists were bleeding in an apparent suicide attempt. Martin told (the woman) that he pushed the head of his brother under the water and drowned him," the affidavit states.

The Utah County Attorney's Office confirmed Roy MacNeill was found dead in the family home when the family lived in New Jersey.

However, at his wife's funeral, Martin said his mother found Roy deceased with a needle still in his arm. "Ten nickel bags were his ticket out," Martin said during the funeral.

He also told those at the church service that his oldest brother "drank himself senseless," had a stroke at age 50 and died 20 years later in a nursing home. Another brother died in 2006, but his body was ravaged from years of booze and heroin, he said. Another brother took his own life just two months before Michele died. A sister died in her early 20s after strangling herself.

His only living sibling, a sister, declined requests to be interviewed.

"MacNeill has a whole history of people dying around him," Witney said.

The woman who said they planned to run away together also claimed Martin once even offered to kill her husband "to relieve her of an abusive relationship."

She admitted both loving and fearing Martin, and told investigators she had sent the information about Martin to Pleasant Grove police after learning of his wife's death, but police later told prosecutors "that communication was never forwarded through the proper channels."

The woman told investigators Martin also considered killing another family "embarrassment," when shortly after Michele's death one of his daughters approached him about her drug addiction problems, and Martin's solution reportedly was to suggest they both commit suicide.

Martin's only son, Damian, committed suicide in January 2010 by overdosing on prescription drugs.

At first, the family wondered if Martin had been involved with the death. Alexis believes it was probably her younger brother's own doing, but still thinks her father's actions influenced the act. "No matter what, my dad was involved, even if it was a suicide," she said.

During the last six or seven months before his death, Alexis said her brother had turned to her father for unknown reasons. Damian was the only sibling who said he did not believe his dad killed his mother.

In an e-mail to the Deseret News two months before his death, he wrote: "Some people are quick to infer that because of my father's actions following my mother's death, he had to also be involved somehow in the death itself. This seems ludicrous to me."

Spencer, Martin's attorney, said his client was devastated over the death of his son.

Rachel remembers her father threatening to commit suicide many times. She said she now realizes that around the time of each of those threats, her father was doing things he could have gotten in trouble for — whether by his wife or by the police.

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