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 investigation.

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 case.

"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."