The murder of Martha Moxley in Connecticut, USA on October 30th 1975 was shocking and brutal. The fact a cousin of the Kennedy family – Michael Skakel – was convicted in 2002, only added to the drama.
In 1999, I visited Martha’s mother Dorthy who was then living in New Jersey and interviewed her about the case. She was a dignified and proud woman, someone who gave much of herself during the interview and was an example of love and courage in her slain child’s name. I also spent time in Greenwich, Connecticut, the wealthy community where the crime happened. I spoke to sources and various parties connected to the case. The result was the article I am posting here: Link – MARTHA MOXLEY MURDER
The reason for me doing this is because it’s been announced this week that convicted murderer Michael Skakel is due a retrial since, essentially, the judge reckons his original defence lawyer didn’t do a good enough job for his client. For his part, the convicted man Michael Skakel has always maintained his innocence.
One of the main advocates for the case against the Skakels was the the author Dominick Dunne. I always found Dunne’s work in Vanity Fair compulsive and very readable. We were in communication in the late 1990s following my coverage of a murder in Ireland of a French socialite for GQ magazine and we met afterwards for a lunch he organised for my wife and I at his home in Hadlyme, Connecticut. I liked him and, like many, found his life and career fascinating. He was generous with his time and advice.
Coincidentally, I also interviewed, in 2006 in Stockholm, his main opponent in the public media battle about the Moxley case and first cousin of the convicted Michael Skakel – Robert F. Kennedy Jr. who I interviewed about a separate subject – and I also found him an interesting and formidable man.
Like other murders I have investigated, the Moxley case had its own peculiarities. The connection to one of the most written-about families in history – the Kennedys through marriage – was bizarre. The fact Dominick Dunne knew the family in his early ‘successful’ phase in Hollywood, was also weird and the coincidence that his own beautiful daughter Dominique Dunne was strangled seven years to the day after Martha Moxley was murdered was inexplicably painful. The fact I knew both sides of the legal debate, only added to the oddness of it for me personally.
However one specific issue that remained unsolved, was the murder weapon. It’s known a golf club was used. But one piece was missing – the handle. That was crucial, since it might have yielded a fingerprint or, in later years/decades, some DNA from the murderer. Speculation ensued about whether it had been stolen by the killer or even ‘disappeared’ by someone to protect the murderer.
Some years after this article was published I found myself talking to an individual at a gathering. He sought me out after learning I had investigated the case and proceeded to tell me in convincing detail, that he knew something about this crime and might even know something about that missing piece of the puzzle – the golf club handle. I smiled, listened and then filed the information away. The significance of the story was a bit lost on me since I had long since allowed the finer details of this story – one of many down the years – to slip off the edge of my mind. Moreover, I was involved in other investigations, academic research work and, most distracting of all, hoping/planning to become a father.
Later, Dominick Dunne passed away and I heard nothing more on this side of the Atlantic at least, about the Skakel case.
Then this week I learned that the case is being reopened. Once again it has already generated much heated debate in the media, including significant comment against the judgement from legal journalists I admire enormously. So I sat down and revisited my article and the original investigation. It’s still a shocking case. I am sure the retrial will be equally controversial.
And I find myself afresh wondering whether that anecdote I was told years ago might, after all, have been of some value. Time will tell.