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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  November 28, 2021 12:00am-1:00am PST

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dedicated the book to beth and her dreams. the dream she lived and those that died too soon with her. >> that's all for this edition of dateline, i'm natalie morales, thank you for watching. watching >> i'm craig melvin. >> i'm natalie morales. >> this is "dateline. " it was horrifying. this was my mom, a vibrant woman, just ripped out of the world. everything that we saw in our life was all shattered. he betrayed us to our very core. >> they were a stunning couple, a doctor and a beauty queen. >> she won homecoming queen. she did modeling. >> but the day she was found
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dead in the tub -- >> who's in the bathtub? >> my wife. >> -- set a mystery in motion. >> my father said, rachel, come home. and then he just hung up. >> so many secrets locked tight for so many years uncovered by daughters turned detectives. >> you hacked into his phone. >> yeah. there was a lot of different things that came out. >> things like a mistress named gypsy. was she a motive for murder? in court, an epic showdown. father against daughter. and daughter -- >> why were you seeking information as to your mother's death? >> because i believed my father killed her. >> but was the evidence on his side? >> the medical examiner's report listed it as a natural cause of death. >> who will you believe? hello and welcome to "dateline. "
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martin and michele macneill were a dream couple. he was a handsome doctor, she was a whip-smart former model. together they built a loving home and filled it with eight children. but the seemingly happy family would be torn apart by a sudden death and suspicions of foul play. was the tragedy a result of natural causes or cold-blooded murder? here's keith morrison with "secrets in pleasant grove. " >> the story you're about to witness is all too human. oh, what people will do to each other. and yet, puzzling. there were these three women. wouldn't have a story to tell without them. two sisters and their aunt and what they discovered, of course. which might make you wonder, can you ever really see the truth in the face in the mirror or the face beside you in bed at night? the story begins with a beauty
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queen. a former beauty queen named michele macneill and she was -- look at this. she was truly lovely. but this is about what happened to michele the year she turned 50, the very last year of her life. though she couldn't possibly have known it. as she contemplated a question a lot of people do as youth fades, plastic surgery. should she or shouldn't she? she answered for one reason or another, yes, yes, i will. and before long -- >> everything that we thought in our life was just all shattered. >> what happened to michele macneill? what was behind the breathless play-by-play in a utah courtroom, the raw family drama played out in full public view, the hidden sins of -- well, you'll see. here. this is
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a picture of their magical beginning. both beautiful, michele and martin macneill. everybody loved smart, charismatic michele from childhood on, said her sister linda cluff. >> she entered different pageants. she won homecoming queen. she did modeling. she was an exchange student in switzerland. she excelled at everything. >> martin did, too, in his own way. took a little while but eventually he became a doctor and then a lawyer and then a leader in his church of the jesus christ of latter day saints. the mormons. before that back when this picture was taken, it was just unstoppable love. did they elope or just run off together basically? >> they got married by a justice of the peace. >> they had four children. eventually set up house in a
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place called pleasant grove in utah and loved their family life so much they adopted four more little kids, three of them from ukraine. alexis from the first set of four, followed her father everywhere, was his little shadow. you kind of idolized him, huh? >> i did. i wanted to follow in his foot steps. i became a doctor because of him. >> so for people from the outside looking in, what would they see? >> a very happy family. a wonderful mother who doted on her children and a father who was a physician and an attorney and present a lot in their children's lives. >> rachel, the eldest, shared her father's love of books. >> i remember when i was little just holding on to my father's hand and just to walk with him and i was daddy's little girl. >> and their mother, michele -- >> she was an amazing and
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beautiful person on the inside and out. >> and so it went for nearly 30 years. as he built a career and they together raised their big family. and then here's how martin reacted to middle age. >> around the time he turned 50, he lost a lot of weight, started tanning -- >> hello? >> yeah. it was very out of the ordinary. >> right. >> very abnormal for him. >> and that's when her mother michele confronted that question, the one about looking younger, getting something of the past back, the facelift question. >> she's like, i don't really want it but if your dad's getting all fixed up and looking good, then maybe i should. >> what did you say to her? >> i said, mom, you don't need that. you're beautiful. i mean, she was incredibly beautiful. >> but decision made on april 3rd, 2007, michele checked into the hospital in bountiful, utah. the doctors worked on her
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for almost nine hours. a long time for a facelift. still, they proclaimed to be complete success and the very next day she went home again. her face covered in bandages. but otherwise apparently in perfect health. alexis had been with her mother for the surgery, stayed for a week to nurse her through her recovery and now relieved, alexis returned to her medical studies in nevada. >> my mom and my father dropped me off at the airport and i looked back, my mom was doing well, i smiled, and i said, i'll call you soon. >> which she did. >> i asked her how she was doing. she was fine. she told me, alexis, your dad is being so sweet to me. he's just being so sweet to me. and that was the last time i talked to her. >> that was april 11th, eight days after the surgery. >> when i came home from work,
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i -- i checked my cell phone and saw that i had missed -- i believe it was 20 something calls and i called my father. i said, dad, what's happened? and he said, "rachel, come home. " and i said, dad, tell me. tell me what's happened? it's mom. is she okay? and my father said, rachel, come home. and then he just hung up. >> what had happened to michele macneill? the events of that day would launch a long-running mystery. coming up -- >> who's in the bathtub? >> my wife! >> when dateline continues. n dateline continues new gold bond pure moisture lotion. 24-hour hydration. no parabens, dyes, or fragrances. gold bond. champion your skin.
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your eyes. beautiful on the outside, but if you have diabetes, there can be some not-so-pretty stuff going on inside. it's true, with diabetic retinopathy, excess sugar can damage blood vessels, causing vision loss or even blindness. so remember this: now is the time to get your eyes checked. eye care is important to your long-term diabetes management. see a path forward with actions and treatments that may help your eyes— and protect against vision loss. visit noweyesee.com and take control of your sight. >> she was just 50 years old,
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she had lived a clean, healthy, mormon life. all she wanted was to look a little younger, a little prettier for her husband and now -- >> police department. >> i need an ambulance. >> what's the problem, sir? >> medical. >> sir, what's wrong? >> my wife's fallen in the bathtub. >> who's in the bathtub? who's in the bathtub? >> my wife! >> dr. martin macneill, panic in his voice, had struggled to make the 911 operator understand. >> i need help! >> they are on their way. is your wife breathing? >> she is not. i'm a physician. i have cpr in progress. >> sir, how old is your wife?
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>> my wife is 50 years old. she just had surgery a week ago. >> what kind of surgery did she have? >> a facelift. >> she had a facelift? >> yes. >> do you know how to do cpr? >> i am doing it! >> okay, do not hang -- >> martin performed cpr on his wife until the first responders arrived, but it was too late. >> i called alexis. i said, alexis, what's happened? something's happened with mom. and i said, mom's dead, isn't she? and alexis said, yes, she is. >> martin said he left the house early in the morning for work. later in the morning, he accepted an award at a safety fair and then left the office to pick up 6-year-old daughter ada from school. when they got home, ada rushed up the stairs to see her mother and found her in the bathtub unresponsive. >> it was horrifying. i mean,
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this was my mom, a vibrant, healthy woman who was just ripped out of the world. >> what happened? michele was a young 50, didn't drink, didn't smoke. she was carrying more weight than she wanted to but the only thing out of the ordinary was the surgery she had just had. >> i wasn't concerned about the health aspect of her doing the facelift. i just didn't think she needed it. >> so, if a complication from the surgery seemed unlikely, perhaps this theory from martin made more sense. maybe michele had taken too much pain medication and while running a bath fell headfirst into the tub. >> he said she was slumped over the tub. her head down into the water and her legs out of the water. >> but something about that didn't sound right to alexis. for one thing, 6-year-old ada who also saw her mother in the tub had a slightly different memory. >> she said that she saw her laying back, her head by the faucet. >> facing up?
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>> fully clothed and in the jogging suit. >> a strange discrepancy but not hard to explain given the turmoil of that day. but then alexis also remembered how after the facelift michele's doctor prescribed hydrocodone and promethazine and ambien. to alexis, that seemed like too much medication. >> he told the plastic surgeon exactly what medication he wanted prescribed to her. >> isn't the physician that usually prescribes the medication? >> that was strange. >> stranger still is what happened after michele died when alexis went looking for those pills, asked her dad about them. >> where were they? >> he told me, oh, the police must have taken them. but i later found out that he had my brother and his girlfriend
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flush them down the toilet and throw the bottles away and his reasoning for that, he told and then there was the business of the funeral. -- my father was very adamant to have the funeral right away. >> and at the funeral, said his daughters, montauk less about his wife of nearly 30 years then he did about himself. >> lord, i thought i was doing a good job. as the hours passed last night, the answer came to me. i've had such a good life. >> alexis and rachel were appalled by that and angry. but even as they pondered what to do with their blossoming suspicion, the autopsy results were released. and to then-police chief michael smith the results seemed crystal clear. >> the medical examiner's report indicated that michele
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had died of myocarditis and hypertension and it listed it as a natural cause of death. >> in other words, it was classic heart disease, a cause of death all too common among women michele's age, especially someone with high blood pressure. the daughter's suspicions, it turns out, were not based on palpable facts. the drug levels were at therapeutic levels, said the toxicology report. as far as the state of utah weighs concern, the matter was closed. >> the medical examiner in the state of utah is the ultimate say when it comes to the cause and the manner of death. >> the tension in the macneill family worsened. martin and alexis disagreed over how to care for the younger children now that michele was gone. >> he started saying, i'm going to get a nanny. you need a nanny. i can't take care of these kids by myself. coming up, martin macneill hires help. >> i found a perfect nanny and i said, dad, what's her name?
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he said, oh, it's jillian. i said, dad, i know that woman. when dateline continues. en dateline continues. zero heartburn. because life starts when heartburn stops. take the challenge at prilosecotc dot com.
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grief. alexis and rachel were struggling with the angry kind. not angry with their mother for dying. no. it was what grew from the suspicion they felt that their father was hiding something very bad. but still,
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there were practical matters to deal with, such as who should care for the four younger macneill children? alexis returned to medical school so rachel volunteered. their father martin insisted they find a nanny instead right away. >> he asked me -- he demanded that we go to the temple to pray about having a nanny which was very strange because my father was not a very spiritual person at all. >> and there outside the temple they were approached by a mysterious brunette. >> she said, oh, i was at the funeral and i am so sorry for your loss and my father said, oh, i'm sorry, i only - what's your name? and she said, my name's jillian. and my father said, oh, okay. >> about a week after that encounter, martin hired that friendly, sympathetic woman and told his daughters -- >> oh, i found the perfect nanny. i found someone that's going to be great. and i said,
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dad, what's her name? and he said, oh, it's jillian -- i think it's jillian. >> the name, jillian, didn't mean anything to rachel. but alexis - >> i said, dad, i know that woman. i know mom was concerned you were having an affair with her. >> an affair? well, yes. or at least before michele died, that is certainly what she suspected. so worried about it she asked alexis to help her find out for sure. >> my mom confided in me about everything, all of her feelings, her concerns. and so i took his cell phone and was able to download his password and we did see a number that my dad had been calling quite a few times. >> you hacked into his phone? >> uh-huh. yeah. we called the number. and a woman answered and then hung up right away. so i paid for an online search and
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it came up with a name. and it was gypsy jillian willis. >> gypsy jillian willis? >> yeah. we thought maybe it's a stripper. i don't know what - but anyway, my mom with that information, with the lady's name went to my dad and confronted him. >> martin denied everything, said alexis. and then the very next day he made a suggestion. >> my father came to my mom and told her that she needs a facelift. >> that is - i mean, lots of women decide they want facelifts. >> yeah. >> but when their husband comes and says, you need one - >> yeah. it was really out of the blue. >> the facelift that preceded michele's death. and now here was gypsy jillian, martin's choice for a live-in nanny,
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someone he found after a couple weeks after my mom's death. >> she moved into the house a couple of weeks after my mom's death. >> martin's daughter were furious. they wanted to know what other secrets their father had been keeping. they expanded their investigation. >> my sister put a blog up and was asking anyone with any information about my father to contact her. we discovered he had had so many different affairs. there were a lot of things that came out. >> with their aunt linda, they took all of the information that they had gathered on martin and brought it to the authorities. >> pushing and pushing to get them to investigate. >> the local police had never investigated michele's death as a crime, not from the very first day. and remember that coroner's report, michele's death was caused by heart disease. >> for us to be able to overcome something like a medical examiner's office that says she died of natural causes is a huge task. >> but the women were relentless. they met with jeff
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robinson and doug witney who worked for the county attorney. you took them seriously right off the top, the daughters? >> not really. >> but then they started to look at some of the evidence the amateur sleuths had gathered. not evidence of murder but still -- >> they started to challenge a lot of things that their father, who he was, what he was, what he was doing. and we thought, you know what, i'd like to find out if he really is a doctor. >> yes. martin did have a medical degree but he fraudulently got into medical school. faking the results -- >> he obviously took somebody else's. there was a different date of entrance, different date of graduation and all of them were straight a's. >> then they dug deeper and found out before he faked his college transcripts, martin was convicted of forging checks. now to investigators the respected doctor was looking at anything but respectable. >> this tells me that this is not the guy that goes to church every sunday with this family. >> so there are two martin macneills?
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>> there are two martin macneills. >> still doesn't mean he murdered his wife. >> no. >> but martin's daughters, they looked at the list of offenses, the fraud, the infidelity, how he encouraged their mother to have surgery and take so many drugs afterwards and they were certain their father killed their mother. >> he betrayed us to our very core. i mean, everything that we thought in our life was just all shattered. >> it's all a sham. >> it really is. it's been a whole sham. >> but not everyone in the family felt that way. damian, martin's only son, stuck by his father. >> he had a hard time after my mom died. i had talked to him about my concerns and he didn't want to believe that my father was capable of killing my mom. >> but alexis'conviction was absolute. every time she stepped foot in her parents'home, only one thought went through her mind -- >> this is where he killed her. >> and yet there was still no
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hard evidence that martin killed michele. almost two years went by. martin and gypsy still carrying on in plain sight. but then, in january 2009 - suddenly they're both arrested. >> yes. >> yeah. >> but not for what people might have thought. >> oh, no. >> coming up - two lovers cook up a secret crime. >> he stole giselle's identity? >> for gypsy. >> when dateline continues. s. it becomes a step. mom, dad's flexing again. that's not all. you can extend the bed for longer stuff. is he still... still flexing. that's right! and, it becomes a workspace... you can put your laptop here. i'm sending an imaginay email. hey dad, dinner! hey! look who stopped by daddy's office. wait, you work here? the chevy silverado with the available multi-flex tailgate. find new flexibility. find new roads. chevrolet.
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airlines flight from guatemala. he hid in the landing gear and survived the flight. he will be detained, says border patrol. border patrol. >> welcome back to "dateline. " the forgery conviction, the faked college transcripts, the alleged affair, the more investigators looked into martin macneill, the more the doctor seemed like a fraud. and another scheme was about to be revealed, making detectives question if martin was capable of much worse. once again, here's keith morrison with secrets unpleasant growth. >> martin mcneill's daughter seat. >> the father turned the family home into a love nest for a so-called nanny, the mistress, gypsy willis. for nearly two years they'd been laser focused on proving his guilt, trying to persuade the police or anyone that martin murdered michele.
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sure enough, they discovered a crime. not murder, but shocking nonetheless. >> giselle! >> it all started when martin sent his 16-year-old adopted daughter giselle to the ukraine to visit her biological sister. >> worst breakfast ever! >> giselle called my daughter's phone and then they started talking and giselle started crying and told her story that she got left there. >> abandoned, basically? >> right. >> why would he do that? well, a bit more digging revealed that martin and gypsy cooked up a scheme, and it involved taking over daughter giselle's social security number. >> he stole giselle's social security number? >> for gypsy. >> yes, for gypsy, who it emerged was -- how shall we say -- financially challenged. the new forged identity wiped her debts away. it also gave her a
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brand new name, jillian macneill. but the lies didn't end there. they began posing as husband and wife. >> giselle's out of the picture. martin wants to make gypsy look like his wife. >> now that was low. but even worse -- >> they used the date of my mom's funeral as their marriage date. >> martin and gypsy were arrested in january 2009. not for murder. for fraud. they both pleaded guilty. martin got four years, gypsy 21 months. and to avoid any more charges, gypsy promised she'd testify against martin in any future legal actions. it was a victory for alexis. but her campaign against her father had consequences. >> all by myself -- >> like the wedge it drove between the sisters and the brother damian. >> it put a strain on your relationship? >> it did. once my dad was sentenced, he kind of didn't want anything to do with us.
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and then he killed himself. >> damian macneill committed suicide in january 2010. >> he was such a wonderful guy. i miss him. >> but the murder investigation continued. picked up steam, in fact. the two investigators debriefed gypsy in prison. >> that was a treasure trove of information that she gave us. >> she confirmed that chance meeting at the temple with rachel was a setup, a rouse to get her into the house after michele was gone. how long had she and martin been planning it? >> i said, so you staged and scripted that meeting? yep. and when did you script it? was it at the funeral? was it before the death? >> so -- >> no comment. >> the investigators went back to the prosecutor over and over urging him, charge martin with murder. but -- what did the
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prosecutor say to you? >> you see this medical examiner's report? >> natural causes? >> that's right. >> there was a new medical examiner. they showed him their report, their files, the arrest for fraud. >> i said, have you read all of the reports? he said, i've scanned it. i said, you cannot scan this report. i said, just read this much while we're here. and he did and he goes, okay, i think i'm going to look at this deeper. >> after his review, the m. e. did agree to make one small change in the manner of death from natural to undetermined. but that hardly broke the case wide open. >> he refused to call it a homicide? >> sure. absolutely. >> macneill was just released from federal prison. and so by the summer of 2012, martin mcneill was once again a free man. he had served his time for fraud. we first spoke to alexis after her dad was released from prison. >> he's a free man. how does that make you feel?
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>> very scared. you know -- >> you had been his chief accuser all these years. >> i'm concerned not only for myself and my family but for everyone who comes into contact with my father because i know he's a dangerous man. >> the investigators agreed. but the prosecutor wanted more, something they could take to court. >> show me how she died. show me how she died. i said, i believe i know how she died but i just can't prove it yet. >> and then one little detail jumped up and said, look at me. >> the time that came to me is when we heard from the officers and the emt guys when she threw up water. >> if michele threw up water when the emts did cpr, that meant martin, the doctor, hadn't done it properly, if at all. >> okay. do you know how to do cpr? >> i'm doing it! >> and with that, all of the
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circumstantial bits seemed to line up and support the idea of a planned murder. a plot that began after martin took up with gypsy. >> his wife finally finds out concrete evidence that he's doing it. he's trapped. what do i do? i can't lose my good name because i'm going to lose my job. i'm going to lose my reputation. i'm going to lose everything else. so what does he do? >> drugs her and drowns her. and finally the prosecutor agreed. and so in august of 2012, martin's daughters sat in a utah courtroom holding up pictures of their dead mother while he was brought on charges of first-degree murder. if she hadn't pushed, if she hadn't started making those calls, would this have ever gone anywhere? >> i don't think it would have come to me. i think -- so probably would have closed it out as unfounded. >> now the family drama would
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play out for a jury. but the? outcome? at that point it was far from certain. >> coming up. a mistress turned witness. my name is deep sea willis. and one more secret, mistrust number two. when dateline continues. eline continues. when you hear, cough cough sneeze sneeze. [ sneezing ] it's time for, plop plop fizz fizz. alka seltzer plus cold relief. dissolves quickly. instantly ready to start working. so you can bounce back fast with alka-seltzer plus.
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that the day martin macneill was charged with murdering his wife, his daughters'only regret was that it had taken five years. >> i think my dad really got off on seeing what he could get away with. >> when the trial began on october 17th, in provo, utah, martin was noticeably pale and prosecutor chad grunander was worried. it seemed like a case where you kind of got the impression that maybe the guy was guilty, but proving it was not going to be an easy matter. >> it's going to be difficult to wrap it all up early and give the jury this nice little box with a bow on top. >> gypsy willis and the defendant -- >> the prosecution told the jury that martin drugged and drowned his wife michele, that he made a plan to get rid of her when he had a love affair with that woman named gypsy. and that once he dispatched michele, he was practically
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gleeful, even on the day of her funeral. >> the defendant was jovial, laughing and smiling, and again remarking that he was going to have to get used to a life as a bachelor. >> how callous, said the prosecutor. but as for evidence that he murdered her, remember, the autopsy said heart disease was the cause of death, not murder. >> this case is a puzzle with many pieces. >> your wife is unconscious? >> she is unconscious. she's underwater. >> first piece, they said, was martin's behavior during the 911 call. martin seemed angry. he hung up on the operator. >> okay. do you know how to do cpr? >> i'm doing it! >> okay, do not hang -- >> first responders had trouble finding the house. when they finally did arrive, they said martin was acting so erratically it made them nervous. and while martin, the doctor, was performing cpr -- >> he was kind of yelling at
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her, why did you do this? why did you do this? and then he struck her in the chest with one of his hands. >> but when the police took over, remember -- >> she expels three to four cups of water. >> and what would have happened had he done cpr, she would have already expelled that? is that what you're saying? >> i believe so. >> and remember how martin said he found his wife head down in the tub, her legs sticking up over the edge? prosecutors showed how his account differed from that of every other witness, even his then 6-year-old daughter, ada. this is a police interview with ada recorded in 2008. >> was she all the way in the bathtub or just partway in the bathtub? >> partway. >> and then the woman at the center of it all, the woman who so captivated martin, the mistress. and, they said, the motive. >> my name is gypsy willis. >> gypsy told the jury an online relationship with martin
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turned sexual. >> it was a very casual thing. just whenever we had time and it could be arranged. >> okay. >> and it was -- >> go ahead. >> i think we probably had sex half the time. i mean, sometimes it was just lunch. >> the very day after michele's death, gypsy took a sexy selfie and sent it to martin. >> there was one picture that was a little suggestive. >> showing your buttocks? >> yes. >> it wasn't long before gypsy moved into the macneill house, supposedly hired as a nanny. >> if i told you that others testified that you were not much of a nanny in terms of cooking and taking care of the children and instead staring goo-eyed at the defendant, what would be your response? >> my response is that when the adult children were home, i
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deferred to them and went back to studying my nursing. i did actually help with the children. >> though gypsy never did marry martin, they did have marriage date of april 14th, 2007, the date that michele was buried. and remember, gypsy had to testify as part of her plea deal. probably didn't want to. >> she clearly minimized their relationship but i think in so doing the jury saw that. >> but just to be sure, the prosecutor had gypsy read love letters martin wrote to her from federal prison. >> i love you and miss you every minute. i can think of nothing but how wonderful you are. >> so gypsy, said the prosecutor, was martin's motive for murder. that is, if it was a murder and if it was, was she involved? >> in light of all this information, are you telling us you don't know anything more about michele's death? >> that is correct. >> do you believe she had something to do with it? >> well, as far as the actual death, we have no evidence to show that she did. as far as
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being a co-conspirator, talking about it, the evidence speaks for itself. >> and so gypsy's turn was over. outside the court she said she was overwhelmed by all of the attention. >> frightening experience. >> testifying here today? >> being in court at all. i never had more than a speeding ticket to this point. >> of course, as we know, that wasn't even close to being true. and back in the courtroom, the jury was finding out that gypsy wasn't martin's first mistress. >> is it fair to say that you and dr. macneill began an affair? >> yes. >> this woman said she cannodled with martin. and what sounded like a prescription for murder. >> did martin ever describe to you a process of making someone have a heart attack? >> yes. >> specifically, what did he tell you? >> there's something you can
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give someone that's natural so that it's not detectable after they have a heart attack. >> miss somers, please raise your right hand. >> and then the much anticipated showdown. daughter versus father. after years of digging, collecting, and persuading others that her father was an evil, guilty man, alexis was about to take the stand. but the defense was about to argue alexis had her own problems with the truth. >> coming up. the doctor's defense. >> you still conclude that the manner of michele macneill's death is undetermined? >> yes. >> when dateline continues. hen dateline continues with voltaren arthritis pain gel. my husband's got his moves back. an alternative to pills, voltaren is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory gel
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clerk's desk -- >> for six years, alexis argued her father murdered her mother. prosecutor chad. >> her testimony was huge. undergrowth, she told the same story. >> why were you seeking information as to your mother's death? >> because i believe my father killed her. >> but now the defense was going to try to prove alexis wrong. in fact, they were going to question if there was a murder at all. and they would start by using some of the accusing daughter's own words. remember alexis'claim that her
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mother was feeling fine just before she died? well, it turns out that wasn't what she said at her mom's funeral. >> when i last spoke to my mom, she was happy. she wasn't feeling -- she was feeling a little sick but -- >> she was feeling a little sick. that's what you said? >> i don't remember saying that she was feeling a little sick. i remember her being up and getting ready for the day. >> but you remembered it on the day of her funeral, right, three days later. and since that time you have said over and over and over again that your mother was feeling great, there was no problems on april 11th. >> the implication? if michele was feeling sick, just before she died, there could be a medical explanation for her death. and that alexis's memory was flexible. >> i just don't remember her feeling sad at all. she was feeling great. >> there are a lot of things you don't remember in this case,
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right? >> and then the defense honed in on the biggest problem. here they were prosecuting a man for murder when according to the state's own medical examiner the cause of death was most likely heart disease. coroner dr. todd grey admitted on the stand he never classified michele's death as a homicide. and that even his decision to call it undetermined was not exactly based on science. >> you met with the investigators in your office, correct? >> yes, that is correct. >> and they worked hard to try and persuade you to change it? >> they gave me an extensive, in-depth presentation as to what they thought proved this was a homicide. >> and then they took an unusual step of hiring an outside medical expert to bolster the case for homicide, the defense showed on cross-examination he was no more definitive. >> when you consider all of the circumstances of this case, you still conclude that the manner
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of michele macneill's death is undetermined? >> yes. >> thank you. and remember the water in michelle's lungs? defense co-cancel randy spencer had an answer for that is well. >> michele was found in the bathtub and it's very difficult to do cpr in a bathtub. >> so why didn't he pull her out of the tub? >> he couldn't. barring some god-given grant of superhuman strength, very few people would be able to lift 182-pound person out of the tub in that situation. >> just in that moment, regardless of what else he may have done, that morning what was the strongest evidence that he did not kill his wife? >> i think that the strongest evidence was likely the time of death and where martin was that morning. >> please raise your right hand and be sworn. >> the defense called witnesses who testified that they saw martin right about the time that michele collapsed in her bathtub. in other words, he
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wasn't there, couldn't have killed her. this is 6-year-old ada macneill's kindergartner teacher. >> and mr. macneill picked her up that day? >> yes. >> and he was there between 11:30 and 11:35 to pick up ada? >> yes. >> and all of those competing facts took closing arguments to put them together. the prosecutors was aggressive. >> make no doubt, he intentionally and knowingly caused the death of his wife. the motive is there, the means is there, opportunities there. >> and the defense had to concede that martin was a cat and a cheat. but insisted that the prosecution hadn't even prove there was a murder, let alone that martyr meridian committed it. >> i submit to you that none of the circumstances that the prosecution has submitted to you is consistent with homicide. they don't rise to
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the level of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt. >> and then the jury began deliberating. they huddled hour after hour late into that friday night. midnight came and went. they were still talking. >> the longer the deliberations went, the more worried i got. >> quicker deliberations are? better >> in this case, i thought so. because our case was simple. >> then, after 11 hours, a verdict. two quick, that the prosecutor, a signal. >> when they were coming back after 11 hours, i was nervous. >> it was 1:00 in the morning on saturday, november 9, do you thousand 13. >> we the jury, find the defendant, as the count one, murder, guilty. >> at that moment, michele's family couldn't fide hide the relief. finally, after years of fighting, they got with they wanted and demanded. but until that moment, martin's
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defense attorneys believed, perhaps more than martin himself, that he would be acquitted. >> i think martin took it better than we did. he was like, i'm okay, i was thinking, i'm not okay. >> and then according to defender randi spencer, martin said something quite remarkable. >> this may seem strange, but he even respects what his daughters did. not because he killed his wife but because if they really believed that he killed his wife, he would expect them to advocate for her. and so he understands. >> he told you? that. >> he did. >> we are just so happy can't hurt anyone else. we miss our mom. we'll never get her back. but that courtroom was full of so many people who love my mom. >> do you feel you finally got justice? >> there was justice for my mom today. >> martin mcneill was sentenced
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to 17 years to life. but he would not serve his time in full. in april, 2017, martin died by suicide. the dark ending for the story of a family that began with so much hope. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline. " i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. >> i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline." he's a monster. he's evil. he's pure evil. he is that character in those horror movies. >> he hid in the shadows. a killer in a mask. >> he's clearly a brilliant individual. a brilliantly scary individual. >> his target, a doting young mom. >> she was a gorgeous strawberry blond who loved her son more than anything in the whole world. >> she was so scared. >> he struck once. would he

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