Arrest brings some relief to family, officials
By Peter Moore - Greenwich Post
Retired Greenwich police detective Steve Carroll said he's "very happy" that
Michael Skakel has been arrested and charged with Martha Moxley's 1975 murder.
But does he believe the arrest brings closure to the matter?
"Halfway," Carroll says. "I still think Tommy's involved."
Carroll is speaking, of course, of Thomas Skakel, Michael's older brother, who
for many years was the primary suspect in the case of the teenaged girl
murdered with a golf club in Belle Haven. Though Thomas Skakel, 17 at the time
of the murder, has not been indicted for any role in the crime, he did not
testify before the case's grand jury and is not immune from prosecution for
any part prosecutors may believe he played in the killing.
Following then-captain of detectives Thomas Keegan, Carroll was one of the
first Greenwich police detectives to reach the murder scene on Oct. 31, 1975,
after Martha's friend Sheila McGuire discovered the 15-year-old's body in the
Moxley family yard. He remained on the case for the first two years of the
Based on his assessment of the case, including a pool of blood approximately
three-feet wide and located about forty feet southwest of where the golf club
handle was found, Carroll gave a theory on how Thomas Skakel helped his
younger brother cover his tracks after Michael killed Martha Moxley.
Carroll said he believed that after his attack on Martha on her propery,
Michael Skakel ran back to his house and told Thomas what he had done. Carroll
then theorized Thomas then helped Michael move Martha's body underneath the
pine tree near the edge of her yard, where Sheila McGuire found the murdered
girl the next day.
Though not completely satisfied, Carroll still believes that Michael Skakel's
arrest is an extremely positive step towards justice being served.
"I didn't think it would come to fruition," Carroll said Monday night. "I
[thought] it would be a patronizing grand jury that said, "We don't have
enough evidence to indict Michael or anybody else."
Carroll is perhaps most widely known as one of only a handful of authorities
who, having investigated the Moxley case, willingly supplied help to former
O.J. Simpson-case detective Mark Fuhrman in the research for his book "Murder
in Greenwich: Who Killed Martha Moxley?" Arriving in Greenwihc to investigate
the crime in September 1997, Fuhrman was refused cooperation by several people
involved in the official investigation, including Greenwich Police Chief Peter
Robbins. At one point, the former detective was even the subject of a
trespassing complaint by the owners of 38 Walsh Lane, the former Moxley
residence in Belle Haven.
In addition to differing with other Moxley case authorities in his cooperation
with Fuhrman, Carroll also says that he and members of the Greenwich Police
Department share different views on the much-criticized handling of the Moxley
"They're saying there were no mistakes, that everybody did their job," Carroll
said. Yet the retired detective persists that the biggest mistake involved
Connecticut's chief medical examiner at the time, Dr. Elliot Gross not
responding to the crime scene to examine the body the day it was discovered.
According to Fuhrman's book, Gross told Thomas Keegan that he had a heavy
caseload and could not view the body that day. He first walked through the
crime scene the following day and then began the case's autopsy at
approximately 12:40 p.m. on Nov. 1, not seeing the body, according to Fuhrman,
until "roughly thirty-six to thirty-nine hours after she died."
Fuhrman wrote that because a qualified medical examiner was not on the scene,
the time-sensitive elements of rigor mortis and postmortem lividity (blood
pooling within the body towards the ground upon death) could not be noted.
Therefore, according to Fuhrman and the television show "American Justice,"
which featured a documentary on the Moxley murder last week, Dr. Gross's
original determination could only give the time of death as between 9:30 p.m.
on Oct. 30 and 5:00 a.m. on Oct. 31.
"I'll go to my grave [saying]...the biggest mistake that was made was that
Elliot Gross did not come down to do an autopsy on the body and check out the
scene," Carroll said.
Carroll also admits that the Greenwich police made a mistake in not securing a
search warrant for the Skakel household instead of just obtaining consent from
Rushton Skakel, Thomas and Michael Skakel's father, to search the premises. In
January 1976, Rushton Skakel withdrew his cooperation with police, including
his authorization to release Thomas Skakel's medical and school records. He
hired attorney Emmanuel Margolis to represent the Skakel family and Margolis
refused to let police interview Skakel family members, a policy which prevails
to this day.
Carroll added that in the days of the Moxley murder, Greenwich police
detective shifts would overlap and a Greenwich detective's partner assignments
only ran on a day-to-day basis, thereby hampering communication between
detectives. Carroll praised current police chief Peter Robbins' system of
always pairing the same detectives together on shifts "so you practically know
what the other's thinking" through familiarity," Carroll said.
So what does Caroll believe will bring closure to the case?
"At least Michael [being] convicted," he says. "It would at least bring
closure to the case that is necessary not just for the whole world, but
definitely for Dorthy Moxley."
Dorthy, Martha's mother, first accused Michael Skakel publicly of killing her
daughter in November on the television talk show "Leeza," hosted by Leeza
Gibbons. Since the arrest, she has expressed hopes for Skakel's conviction,
yet at the same time expressed remorse for his predicament given his age at
the time of Martha Moxley's murder.
"I think it's too bad Michael couldn't have the proper guidance at the time to
do the right thing," Dorthy Moxley said Friday.
"He was just 15 years old. I really feel sorry for Michael," she added.
Asked her opinion about Skakel initially being prosecuted as a juvenile, the
mother of the slain teen said, "Well, he was 15 years old when it happened and
that's the law. I'm hoping he will be tried as an adult."
Dorthy Moxley also said that she planned on attending Skakel's trial. Asked if
she would have difficulty coming face to face with Michael Skakel in a
courtroom, she replied, "I don't think so."
She added, "I think if the right thing had been done years ago it would have
been better for all of us."