Fort Bragg, N.C. — Crews will spend Saturday demolishing a Fort Bragg duplex where the gruesome murders of a pregnant woman and her two daughters occurred nearly four decades ago.
At 544 Castle Drive, Colette MacDonald, 6-year-old Kimberly and 2-year-old Kristen Jean were stabbed and bludgeoned to death on Feb. 17, 1970. A jury convicted Jeffrey MacDonald, a former Green Beret, doctor and the victims' husband and father, in August 1979.
While MacDonald maintained his innocence, the murders became the subject of two books – "Fatal Vision" and "Fatal Justice" – and a movie. And the house gained its own notoriety.
"Unfortunately, it became a tourist attraction. Anybody that came into the area wanted to go see it," said Hope Mills Police Chief John Hodges, who investigated the killings as a military police officer.
The U.S. Department of Justice and Army kept the apartment sealed from 1970 to 1981 in order to preserve possible evidence. Fort Bragg managed to get control of the building in 1984 and disposed of all its contents, including furnishings, appliances and fixtures.
A new family moved into the renovated apartment in 1987, and various residents lived in it through the years. People still call the base, asking to see the house, military officials said.
However, the house will be among 28 torn down to make room for a $2-million neighborhood center being built by Picerne Military housing.
Kathryn MacDonald, a longtime friend of Jeffrey MacDonald whom he married in 2002, said the end of 544 Castle Drive is bittersweet for her husband.
"He definitely has wonderful memories of his family and the time he spent there," she said.
However, Kathryn MacDonald said her husband has no desire to ever see the house again.
"Why would you? It's where you lost your family," she said.
Hodges said he still sometimes drives by the crime scene for the memories – even though he might be better off without those memories.
"It might be better for everyone concerned that it is being torn down," Hodges said.
MacDonald, however, has long contended that exculpatory evidence might exist in the house.
"The burning and burying of the entire contents of the apartment destroyed everything that might have been touched or left behind by murderers," he wrote on his Web site. "This was against the law and done without Dr. Mac Donald's consent. He had been given no knowledge of any change in status regarding the apartment."
MacDonald claims that a group of hippies who were high on drugs invaded the house and attacked him, his wife and children.
The results of DNA testing released in March 2006 showed MacDonald's hair clutched in his wife's hand. Hairs from unidentified people were found in his children's hands.
A retired U.S. marshal claims that federal prosecutor Jim Blackburn intimidated a witness, Helena Stoeckley, who said she was in the house on the night of the murders. Stoeckley later recanted that claim.
Kathryn MacDonald said her husband's appeal based on that new evidence has been waiting for 2 1/2 years in a district court.