'20/20' to feature story on imprisoned Pleasant Grove doctor, attorney Martin MacNeill
Macneill Family Photo, Macneill Family Photo
PLEASANT GROVE — Spurred by Deseret News articles about a Pleasant Grove man who investigators say got away with a lifetime of crime, lies and possibly murder, ABC's "20/20" will feature a story about the former doctor and attorney Friday at 8 p.m.
The show will air in Utah on Channel 4 at 9 p.m.
Martin MacNeill, 54, is currently serving a four-year prison sentence in Texas for fraud, forgery and identity theft for stealing the identity of one of his adopted daughters shortly after his wife's passing.
But MacNeill's crime and trickery started decades before when he lied about his age to get into the Army. He was discharged from the military two years later for "latent schizophrenia," although investigators and family members said he never showed signs of such a disease. He was receiving Veteran's Administration and Social Security pay until recently, despite making a six-figure income later in life.
He proceeded to falsify transcripts to get into medical school while still on probation for check fraud, according to investigators, who say he also falsified transcripts to get into BYU's law school. Former Utah County investigator Doug Witney, who investigated the life of MacNeill for more than three years, said MacNeill used his title as doctor to have access to women and his title of attorney to get around the law.
"MacNeill's a thespian," Witney said. "It appears his whole life was scripted and staged."
Witney said he had no idea what he was getting into when he started his investigation, adding that MacNeill would have gotten away with a lifetime of lies had it not been for MacNeill's daughters and sisters-in-law who came to police questioning MacNeill's involvement in the death of his wife, Michele.
It was just weeks before Michele MacNeill's death that she grew suspicious of her husband, believing he was having an affair and beginning to confront him about it. Michele MacNeill confided in her daughter and even told her "if anything happens to me, make sure it was not your dad."
Just days later, Michele MacNeill was found dead in her bathtub. Her husband said she must have slipped and fell. Investigators say the evidence may suggest otherwise.
Just a few weeks later, MacNeill brought the woman Michele MacNeill suspected he was having an affair with, Gypsy Willis, into the home as a "nanny." And the two began creating false IDs for Willis using the name of his adopted 16-year-old 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.
Since her death, dozens of people have come forward to describe MacNeill's bizarre behavior surrounding his wife's death.
Chad Grunander of the Utah County attorney's office said the case is still in the investigation stage and is at least a few weeks away from being handed over to his office for review. At that point, he said, his office will formally review it for charges, which could take several more weeks.
"If we are convinced that we can prove it to a jury, we will file charges," Grunander said.
The December Deseret News article can be viewed online at www.deseretnews.com
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