|Michele & Martin MacNeill (ABCnews)|
On April 11, 2007 Michele MacNeill was found unresponsive in the bathtub of her home in Pleasant Grove, Utah. At the urging of her husband Dr. Martin MacNeill, Michele underwent plastic surgery and at the time of her death she was recovering from the routine face lift she had eight days prior. According to MacNeill's recorded 911 call, he walked into the bathroom and his wife was "under the water" and not breathing. His voice sounded angry as he talked to the 911 operator, who tried to find out what was happening. She asked him if his wife was breathing, he yelled "NO, she's NOT...she's under the water". The 911 operator told him to get her out of the tub, MacNeill said that he couldn't lift her out but he began to drain the water from the tub.
During the call, the 911 operator kept telling MacNeill not to hang up the phone, yet MacNeill hung up on the operator at least 3 times. The 911 operator called him back, trying to determine what was happening with his wife and if he got her out of the tub. MacNeill told her that he was a physician and was giving her CPR. How could he be giving her CPR if her body is still in the bathtub? Even if the water had drained, it would be nearly impossible to give CPR to a person lying in an oval shaped tub. The 911 call would be the tip of the iceberg. The circumstances around Michele MacNeill's death are alarming, but the history of Martin MacNeill's troubled life are even more startling.
The MacNeill's had been happy once, but by April of 2007 it was looking like Michele was heading to divorce court after she discovered her husband was having an affair with a woman named Gypsy Willis. This wasn't the first affair Michele suspected Martin of having, but it would be the last one she would stand for. In the weeks before she died, she reportedly told two of her daughters and other relatives that she feared that Martin may want to cause her harm. "If anything happens to me, make sure Martin wasn't involved," she said. She seemed to know what he was capable of, and she was getting out of the marriage - this is the most dangerous time for a woman married to a controlling man. Martin MacNeill was not only a doctor, he also had a law degree. A dangerous combination.
Martin MacNeill convinced Michele to have a face lift, something she really didn't need but he insisted. He made all of the arrangements, even allegedly telling the surgeon what medications to send her home with when she was released into his care. She reportedly was given the following medications:
- Lortab syrup
Phenergan was also reportedly in her system at the time of her death. The surgeon says that this wasn't what he typically would prescribe for a patient following the type of surgery she underwent. I'm not sure why the surgeon felt the need to follow the instructions or the wishes of this patients husband - if he hadn't been a MD and an attorney, I'm 110% certain the plastic surgeon would not have prescribed anything outside of what he felt was necessary. This, in my opinion doesn't get the surgeon off the hook. There is no excuse for a medical professional following the instructions of a patients physician husband! Granted he didn't administer the drugs to Michele, but Michele was his patient and he had a duty to prescribe medication in a responsible manner.
Naturally, Martin MacNeill assured him that he would oversee her medications and make sure she received the proper dosing etc. One of the MacNeill daughters, Alexis recalls the night after her mom had surgery her father practically kicked her out of her mom's bedroom. The following morning, Alexis says that her mom was "listless and unresponsive" - she confronted her father about over medicating her mom but he denied it. Michele became so suspicious and fearful that her husband was trying to give her too much medication - was he trying to kill her and make it look like an accidental overdose? After reading up about Martin MacNeill, that doesn't sound like a stretch whatsoever.
Alexis MacNeill told investigators that her mother had always been very sensitive to medications and in the days following her surgery, she didn't need or want to be taking the pain medication Martin was feeding her. Michele's face was wrapped after the surgery to where she couldn't see clearly, so she actually was trying to feel the shape of the pills he was giving her because she didn't trust him at all. Alexis distinctly recalls her mother saying to her "if anything happens to me, make sure it was not your dad". Can you imagine your mother saying that to you? I can't imagine how scared Alexis must have been, or how she felt when she found out her mother was dead.
Just five days later, Alexis returned to Las Vegas where she was attending medical school. Within 18 hours, Michele MacNeill was dead. Looks like Martin may have sensed that Alexis and Michele were united against him, so with Alexis safely in another state, he moved swiftly. Alexis says her mother had resumed some of her normal activities, she was actually doing laundry and seemed to be in good spirits. Yet her father left her a voicemail telling her that Michele wouldn't stay in bed? Alexis was confused by the message, so she began calling her mom's cellphone repeatedly. There was no answer, until her father answered the phone and told her he had just called 911 and was performing CPR on her mother. He hung up the phone. Alexis immediately believed that her father had killed her mother.
Where was Martin MacNeill at the time Michele ran the bathwater and prepared to take a bath? Why did the MacNeills' 6 year old daughter Ada report seeing her mother fully clothed in the bathtub, which she told an interviewer was full of "reddish brown" water? Neighbors reported seeing Michele sitting in an upright position in the bathtub. What happened in that bathroom? Was the 6 year old confused about Michele being fully dressed? According to some reports, Martin told people that Michele must have fallen while preparing her bath, and he told others that he found Michele draped over the tub with her head submerged in the water. Alexis said her father told her he found Michele submerged in water with only her feet above the water. Which, if any of these stories are true? I have a feeling none of them are true.
After Martin picked up Ada and they found Michele in the bathtub, he told the 6 year old to go to a neighbors house to get help. When she returned with neighbor Angie Aguilar, Martin said he needed a man to help pull Michele out of the tub because he wasn't strong enough to do it alone. Angie Aguilar reported seeing no water in the tub, and Michele was dressed in an "upper undergarment". Another neighbor, Doug Daniels arrived at the home and helped MacNeill take Michele out of the tub and begin CPR. Daniels later told investigators he did not see Michele's chest rise while they performed CPR. Police would later seriously question the actions or in actions of Martin MacNeill, a licensed physician who didn't seem to make any efforts to clear the airway of his wife during CPR.
As emergency medical personnel began to arrive, MacNeill was quick to tell them that Michele had been taking a great deal of medication while recovering from recent surgery. He told them he found her "hunched over the tub", with her head under the water. Martin told another doctor at the American Fork Hospital that his wife must have passed out and fallen into the tub. Pleasant Grove emergency responders reported that Michele threw up a lot of water while they were performing CPR on her. If Martin MacNeill had previously performed CPR on her prior to the EMTs, the water should have been regurgitated within the first few breaths of CPR. Apparently regurgitating water during CPR can be an after effect of "dry drowning", which happens when an airway spasm shuts off the lungs after first exposure to water, to prevent additional water from going into the lungs.
Unfortunately according to the Utah Medical Examiner, no scientific tests could be done to prove drowning occurred. After Michele's body was removed from the house, neighbor Doug Daniels recalls there were no towels in the bathroom when he tried to help clean up. When he went into the laundry room, he found a pile of wet and bloody towels! Although nobody knows when the towels were used and who used them, Daniels says that no cleaning was done after he arrived at the home. This led investigators to believe that Martin MacNeill may have attempted to clean up blood and water prior to neighbors and emergency medical personnel arriving. Cleaning at a time when he should have been trying to save his wife's life.
Alexis MacNeill has always believed that her father had help that day from his girlfriend, Gypsy Willis. There were many things that complicated this suspicious death and potential crime scene. For one thing, it took paramedics 30 minutes to arrive because Martin MacNeill gave them a bad address. Pleasant Valley police reports concluded the death was accidental. "The victim apparently slipped and fell after filling the bathtub with water", one report said. "Martin said he found her hunched over the tub as if she passed out while preparing the tub", another report said. And yet another officer reported "it appears the female was drawing a bath when she potentially passed out or fell". What a mess. The initial autopsy indicates she died a "sudden natural death" partly due to myocarditis. Then, in October of 2010, Michele's cause of death was changed to include drug toxicity - and under manner of death, it states that Michele could not have administered the medication to herself.
Investigators believe the original medical examiner who conducted the autopsy was not given complete or accurate information on Michele's death. The fact that she threw up water was only uncovered through investigation more than a year later! To complicate everything, the original medical examiner has since died, leaving many unanswered questions. What happened after Michele's death is even more strange. Martin MacNeill was telling people at his church that he was dying from cancer. The drugs prescribed to Michele after her face lift were found to have been administered within an hour of her death. Yet Alexis reported her mother had not needed or wanted to take any of the medications - she was doing well, and even had been resuming some of her normal activities. How did those drugs get into her bloodstream? Alexis believes her father may have crushed them up and hidden them in the food. Immediately after Michele's death, Martin had his son Damien get rid of all of Michele's medications. When Alexis questioned him about the missing pills, he told her the police must have taken them from the house.
When Michele's older brothers drove from California to Utah for the funeral, Martin MacNeill had one of his children call them and tell them not to come! Mick and Steve Somers held their own ceremony for Michele the following day. What kind of monster does this? Has his own children make this type of phone call asking immediate family not to attend their sister's funeral? Evil, despicable man. Martin MacNeills behavior on the day and evening of his wife's funeral was also disturbing. A neighbor reported going to the MacNeill's home after the funeral, and instead of being upset or saddened, Martin MacNeill gave them a full tour of the house and told them about home improvements he planned on making. Yes, I know, I know - people cope with grief in their own way, but come on...and we haven't even gotten to "the nanny" yet. Only three days after Michele's funeral, Martin told the children that he needed to find a nanny to help take care of them. He took one of the older daughters, Rachel to an LDS Temple to "pray". And what do you know, out of nowhere, a woman appeared. This woman was unknown to Rachel and was supposedly unknown to Martin. It was Gypsy Willis. Martin's prayers were answered. Are you kidding me? Rachel quickly realized something wasn't right about this scripted meeting she just took part in at the Temple.
Within a few weeks of the meeting, Gypsy Willis was living at the MacNeill home. Alexis knew the name Gypsy, she also knew her mother suspected this was the woman Martin had been having an affair with. When Alexis confronted her father about this information, she was "banned" from the family and no longer would be allowed to talk to her siblings. The other children would eventually learn the true nature of their father's relationship with Gypsy Willis. Gypsy wasn't the only woman Martin had been involved with during his marriage to Michelle. Another woman Martin was involved with told investigators that she believed Martin MacNeill was a serial killer. Martin allegedly told her that he killed his older brother Roy MacNeill, and he had tried to kill his mother - but emergency medical personnel foiled his attempt on his mother's life.
Roy MacNeill was indeed found dead in the family's New Jersey home, according to Utah County Attorney's office. Martin told the woman he found Roy in the bathtub with both of his wrists cut - a suicide attempt. Apparently Martin found suicide to be an embarrassment for his family, so he pushed his head under the water and drowned him. MacNeill told some people his brother died with a needle still in his arm, yet he told others his brother was an alcoholic who drank himself to death. What really happened to Roy MacNeill? Just two months before Michele died, another MacNeill brother killed himself and Martin's sister reportedly died while in her early 20's by self-inflicted strangling? Does any of this make sense to you? Why do suspicious deaths and apparent suicides seem to follow Martin MacNeill where ever he goes? He has only one living sister, and she's not talking.
Martin's only son, Damien - the one who disposed of Michele's prescription drugs after her death, died in 2010 from a prescription drug overdose. The carnage continues. Isn't this all too much to happen to one person? Martin MacNeill may have eluded the police for some time in the death of his wife Michele, but the law did catch up to him for other white collar type crimes. In January of 2009, MacNeill was indicted in federal court on 9 counts of aiding and abetting in aggravated identity theft, misuse of a social security number and making false statements. He plead guilty to two counts and in August of 2009 he was sentenced to 4 years in federal prison. In September of 2009, Martin MacNeill plead guilty to additional charges including insurance fraud - and was given 3 years of jail time to be served after he serves his federal sentence.
You may be wondering what happened to Gypsy Willis during this time - she was indicted on 11 counts, and sentenced to 21 months in prison. She was found to be using one of MacNeill's (adopted) daughters identity, Giselle. The family would later learn that Giselle was sent back to the Ukraine, and left there to fend for herself at just 16 years of age! She was going by "Jillian Giselle MacNeill", and the pair used the date of Michele's funeral as their supposed wedding date. This is just about as low as it can get. These two deserve each other - Martin MacNeill also changed his will after Michele's death, leaving each one of his children $1.00 each - and the rest of his estate going to Gypsy Willis under an assumed name. With MacNeill and Willis both serving federal prison time, Michele's family was relentless in trying to get the police to take another look into her death. In January of 2008, the Utah County Attorney's office began investigating the suspicious death of Michele MacNeill.
All of this is just the tip of the iceberg with Martin MacNeill, a man who has committed too many crimes to recount - who is suspected of inappropriately propositioning women he treated as a doctor. Rachel MacNeill says she has been contacted by many women who were harmed by her father, and she believes them. Martin MacNeill is also believed to have sexually abused his daughter Alexis! They have him on tape apologizing to Alexis for touching her inappropriately, telling her he thought she was his wife. Alexis has always believed her father was responsible for her mother's death. She believes he had the medical knowledge to know what drugs to give her and how to get her to take them. Alexis wasn't alone in her thinking. Michele's family firmly believes Martin killed her, and neighbors who were around the MacNeill's when this happened suspected something wasn't right in that house. This is what gut instinct is all about. Michele's mother, Helen Somers felt uneasy about her daughter dating Martin MacNeill from the very first time she met him. Further, Somers' bishop warned Helen to not allow Michele to go out with Martin MacNeill. He was not able to elaborate, but that bishop may have had knowledge that Martin was bad news.
The trail of destruction Martin MacNeill left in his wake is only now being realized. He served his federal prison term, but didn't remain a free man for very long. He was arrested in late August of 2012, finally charged with the murder of his wife Michelle more than 6 years ago. His trial is slated to begin on October 15, 2013. Daughter Alexis Somers (she goes by her mother's maiden name) couldn't be happier to see her father finally face murder charges. Already the legal posturing has begun. MacNeill's defense filed a motion so the prosecutor can't refer to Michele as the "victim". Sound familiar? This is likely a common motion filed by defense attorneys across the country. The state of Utah vs. Martin MacNeill should be a trial to remember and hopefully it will be televised. Prosecutors believe Martin MacNeill drugged and then drowned his wife Michele on April 11, 2007.
We may never really know if MacNeill had any involvement in the suspicious death of his brother Roy, or if he really tried to kill his own mother. His son Damien died at a young age of a prescription drug overdose, and although his other biological and adopted children are still alive, he has banned one, shipped another off to the Ukraine - what kind of father does this to his family? What kind of man takes away a child's mother? What kind of man takes a child to a Temple to "pray" for a nanny, and has his mistress appear? Using religion against his own daughter, sexual abuse of another. This man deserves what he has coming to him in prison. Let the trial begin!