Former Pleasant Grove doctor charged with murder 5 years after wife's death

Published: Friday, Aug. 24 2012 4:00 p.m. MDT

Martin Joseph MacNeill has been charged with murdering his wife in 2007.

, Utah County Jail

PLEASANT GROVE — Alexis Somers said the past six years have been like "living in the twilight zone."

She's been fighting every day to keep the memory of her deceased mother, Michele MacNeill, in the public eye. Constant contact with police, investigators and the media, she believes, helped to encourage prosecutors to reopen the case more than a year after her mother was found dead in the bathtub of her home in 2007.

Friday, her father, Martin Joseph MacNeill, was charged with his wife's murder — the ending Somers said she knew all along.

"I knew from the day my mom died that my father killed her," she said. "No one believed us. She was taken from us and no one cared. Our family has been fighting for this for so long. It is so emotional for us."

MacNeill, 56, is accused of over-medicating his wife and administering a "dangerous combination" of drugs and drowning her in the bathtub of their home, according to documents filed in Utah County's 4th District Court Friday.

He had worked as a doctor and had a law degree, both of which police believe he used "to commit the murder and frustrate the investigation in an attempt to cover it up," the court documents state. It was also evident to prosecutors that in the months before and after Michele MacNeill's Aprill 11, 2007 death, MacNeill "had a strong motive to kill his wife."

Details regarding at least two extramarital affairs emerged in the days and months following the funeral and MacNeill is believed to have "scripted" portions of his life thereafter, according to Somers, his third-oldest daughter, who also became a doctor.

"I loved my father. I wanted to be like him," she said. "To find out everything has been a lie has been just horrifying." Somers, 29, said she really believed her father loved his children and their mother, but she knew he was "capable of a lot of bad things."

In the weeks before her death, MacNeill's wife and daughters had become "increasingly suspicious and aware of "an affair he was having with a woman named Gypsy Willis," the charges state.

"Gypsy's former roommate indicates Gypsy made statements about killing Michele and even discussed specific methods of making it look like an accident," the charges state. Shortly after Michele MacNeill died, Willis moved into the family home under the guise that she was the children's nanny.

Both MacNeill and Willis were later convicted of fraud-related crimes in federal and state court. MacNeill, a former clinical director of the Utah State Developmental Center, was released from a Texas federal prison July 6 after serving a three-year sentence for fraud, forgery and identity theft.

MacNeill's daughters and other family members had expressed concerns for their safety when he was released and he returned to his Pleasant Grove home. The Deseret News first reported about the investigation in an in-depth report published in December of 2010.

MacNeill was arrested and charged with murder Friday and booked into the Utah County Jail. In addition to first-degree felony murder, he is also charged with obstructing justice, a second-degree felony. He was being held in lieu of a $1 million cash-only bail.

"This is the first day he's in prison because he killed my mom," Somers said, fighting back tears. "He's not been held accountable for that until now." She doubted this day would ever come, but never stopped fighting and praying.

"I don't have anything to say to my father," she said. "I was murdered that day, too. My whole life changed that day. (My mother) was my whole life."

The MacNeills had three daughters and a son and had adopted four children from Ukraine. Somers said her mother's greatest love was being with her family.

"She has left behind a lot of love," Somers said. "No one has anything bad to say about her."

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