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

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

One such incident occurred in 1994, about the same time he was accused of having sexual relations with one of his patients at the BYU Health Center. Rachel said her father threatened suicide then and again after Michele caught him looking at pornography in 2005.

Poisonous plots

The relationship between Martin and Willis had been "heating up" prior to Michele's death. Her two roommates told investigators Willis even talked to them about poisoning Martin's wife or cutting the brake lines of her car. Willis also told them she had been stalking Michele, and once broke into the MacNeill home in Pleasant Grove and stole a photo of her.

Michelle Savage also recalled that the first time she met Martin was when he came over to the North Salt Lake apartment she shared with Willis and gave her $200 to get lost for a few hours so Willis and Martin could have the place alone.

The roommates also said Willis told her she and Martin would secretly have relations — including a time when Martin and Michele were at an event and Willis and her roommates were also there. Willis pointed out Martin to the younger roommate and told her Martin would tell his wife he was going to the bathroom, then had sex with Willis in a closet while his wife remained at the table.

Savage described Willis as turning "dark and violent" after she started taking methamphetamines to lose weight for Martin. When Martin said they might have to break off their relationship for a time because his wife was suspicious, that is when Willis started contemplating ways to get rid of Michele, Savage said.

The roommate said she remembers once watching a TV show with Willis about a doctor who poisoned his wife with a drug. The next day, she said Willis "demanded that (she) give her the name of the drug, claiming she needed to get rid of the woman keeping her from her man," the affidavit states.

Prison for two

Right after Michele died, prosecutors say Martin and Willis began altering Willis' identity, obtaining false military IDs, a Utah state ID card, and opening numerous bank accounts under the false name and identity.

They used the identity of his 16-year-old adopted daughter, Giselle — a daughter investigators say he had "flown to the Ukraine and left there to fend for herself" in the summer following his wife's death.

Willis took on the identity of Jillian Giselle MacNeill, and the two even used Michele's funeral date as their supposed marriage date — showing a "callousness and a coldness," said Karen Fojkt, a U.S. attorney who worked on Martin's identity theft case.

Martin was indicted in federal court in January 2009 on nine counts of aiding and abetting in aggravated identity theft, misuse of a Social Security number, and making false statements. He pleaded guilty to two counts of aiding and abetting in aggravated identity theft.

In August of 2009, Martin was sentenced to four years in prison.

Willis was also indicted on 11 different counts, including misuse of a Social Security card. She pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft and was sentenced to 21 months in prison. But a month before she was to begin serving her time, she was arrested after prosecutors said she planned to flee to Mexico. She was ordered to start serving her sentence immediately.

In September of 2009, Martin also pleaded guilty to three felonies of false and inconsistent statements, insurance fraud and forgery in Provo's 4th District Court, and Judge Samuel McVey ordered him to serve three years in jail. He will serve his state sentence concurrently with his federal prison sentence, after which he will be on probation for six years.

In December 2009, Willis was charged in Provo's 4th District Court with one count of identity fraud, two counts of false and inconsistent material statements and one count of wrongful lien. That case is still pending.

When Martin's wife passed away, the house had been in her name. Martin had not wanted to go through probate or pay taxes, so instead acted as his deceased wife's attorney, pretended she was still alive and had the property transferred to his name.

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