Former Pleasant Grove doctor charged with murder 5 years after wife's death
The MacNeill's only son committed suicide in January 2010 by overdosing on prescription drugs. Somers said at the time, he was just coming to the realization that their father could be involved in their mother's death. She later fought and won custody of the three youngest children, now 19, 18 and 11, after their father threatened to give them away. She said she knew her mother would want them to stay together.
MacNeill also had an affair with another woman for several months about two years before his wife's death, according to prosecutors. She told her psychiatrist she was having an affair with a "serial killer," an affidavit states. She said MacNeill told her he'd tried to kill his mother when he was young, but his sister called 911 and medical personnel revived her. He also said he'd killed his brother in a bathtub, told the woman he wanted to kill a daughter and offered to kill the woman's husband "to relieve her of an abusive relationship," an arrest warrant states.
MacNeill told the woman he had written an article in the Journal of American Medical Association titled, "It's Over, Debbie." The article was written by a doctor promoting "mercy killing," who euthanized a patient with an overdose of a sedative pain killer but was never held accountable, according to court documents.
"The defendant said he, too, had killed and discussed ways in which he could take another's life without being caught," prosecutors wrote in the charging documents filed Friday.
"Martin's statements of being able to get away with murder and his explanation of drowning his brother in a bathtub, whether true or not, show significant consistencies between the defendant's state of mind and the circumstances of Michele's death."
Somers said her father was likely plotting in jail, but she believes he is also scared of what is to come. She doesn't like to waste her time thinking about him, however.
"The father I knew never existed," she said. Somers said she has focused on the memory of her mother.
Michele MacNeill had plastic surgery eight days before she died. Her husband "used the surgery and recovery period to obtain the necessary drugs and set in motion the circumstances to intentionally or knowingly cause Michele's death and conceal his involvement," court documents state.
Prosecutors say MacNeill selected a plastic surgeon new to Utah and pushed his wife to get a facelift, even though she was hesitant. He then allegedly administered Valium, Percocet, Phenergan and Ambien. Prosecutors say that combination would have left her unable to walk or respond to threats to her safety. "Moreover, the combined effects of these drugs had a potentially lethal effect," the charges state.
The plastic surgeon said he didn't normally prescribe such drugs, but trusted MacNeill, a fellow doctor. He said he also instructed the MacNeills the drugs should only be used if needed and not together.
Two days after the surgery, Michele MacNeill told her daughter Alexis: "If anything happens to me, make sure it wasn't your dad" and then cried, charges state. She was found dead in the bathtub 24 hours after her daughter left town to go back to medical school.
Prosecutors say they filed the obstruction charge because MacNeill allegedly removed his wife's pants, lied to a 911 operator about performing CPR, drained the tub where his wife was found, and lied about the position of her body to the medical examiner and others. The day of the death, MacNeill also convinced his son's girlfriend to throw away the remaining drugs that had been prescribed to his wife, the charges state.
"Moreover, Martin's misrepresentations and staging of the scene created the appearance Michele's death was an accident," prosecutors wrote.
Linda Cluff, Michele MacNeill's sister, suspected foul play in her sister's death. She went to Pleasant Grove police about her suspicions, but got little help. Eventually the Utah County Attorney's Office began investigating after she sent multiple letters and emails to police and government officials.
When Cluff found out Friday that her brother-in-law had been arrested, she said she just wanted to scream.
"I can't believe it," Cluff said. "I don't know how to describe it — relief, excitement. It's just an overwhelming joy. I'm just glad we kept fighting for this."
She said after she got off the phone with investigators, she immediately called her sister, Susan.
"We were both crying and hysterical," Cluff said. "They were tears of joy and relief."
Contributing: Sara Lenz
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