Man's life tainted by connection to Moxley murder
By Lindsay Faber - Greenwich Time
BELMONT, Mass. -- In a quaint two-story home in this suburb northwest of Boston, Maria Littleton lives a quiet but haunted life.
At 78, she has spent the past 27 years thinking about what went wrong and when.
On many days, she relives the events of son Kenneth's turbulent life, and she wonders how the Christian son she raised came to live so long as a suspect in the 1975 murder of Greenwich teenager Martha Moxley.
"He was such a nice, beautiful boy," Maria Littleton said last week, unable to fight back tears. "I just don't know how he got involved in this, why they pointed the finger at him."
Kenneth Littleton graduated from Williams College. During his first year of teaching science and coaching baseball at Brunswick School, Rushton Skakel hired Littleton to tutor his children. Skakel gave Littleton $400 a month and free room and board.
Littleton's first night at the Skakel's Otter Rock Drive home was Oct. 30, 1975. That night, neighbor Martha Moxley was murdered.
After standing by her son through two and a half decades, Maria Littleton has become the murder case's other grieving mother.
Like Dorthy Moxley, who lost her daughter, Littleton feels that she, too, has lost a child. Her son, now 50, became a tall, brooding man who was unable to hold jobs, spent time in a psychiatric facility, tried to commit suicide and abused alcohol and drugs. For years, he maintained a paranoid suspicion that the Kennedy family, related to the Skakel family through the marriage of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel, was out to get him.
"This has ruined my family," Maria Littleton said.
Kenneth Littleton initially was not considered a suspect or a witness in the murder. But a Detroit detective who came to Greenwich in March 1976 to assist in the investigation recommended that Greenwich police reinterview Littleton along with numerous other people, including Thomas Skakel, who was considered a suspect.
By the end of the school term, for reasons that are unclear, Littleton and Rushton Skakel had a falling out. Skakel refused to pay the teacher's last month's salary, Littleton claimed. Teachers at Brunswick say Littleton was paid only through the intercession of the headmaster.
That summer, while the Moxley murder was still fresh in investigators' minds, a series of events took place in Nantucket, Mass., that altered the focus of the investigation.
While working as a bartender, Littleton was arrested and charged with grand larceny. On four separate occasions, he was accused of breaking into stores and a boat and stealing $4,000 worth of items, including a lamp and a painting.
As he would say in a series of interviews, the incidents were "antics" committed when he was drunk. But Greenwich police saw things differently.
"Those incidents in Nantucket cried out for attention," former Greenwich Captain of Detectives Thomas Keegan said at the time.
Littleton's problems worsened when he returned to Greenwich in the fall and began his second year at Brunswick. At Keegan's prodding, he agreed to take a lie-detector test.
"Kenneth Littleton was given the test three times," reads the Greenwich report dated Oct. 19, 1976, "and it was the opinion of the examiners that Kenneth Littleton was not truthful in answering the key questions."
Brunswick School fired him when parents learned of his brushes with the law in Nantucket. Unable to get another teaching job, Littleton worked as a sales representative in Massachusetts. He said in an interview that he developed a drinking problem. He spent time in Australia before moving back to Boston, where he lives now.
Keegan said that despite the suspicion surrounding Littleton, he is not considered a "hot" suspect anymore.
"When one considers that it was his first night in the house and that the handle of the golf club, the murder weapon, was removed from the scene, in my view he was not a real logical suspect," Keegan said. "If he were responsible, it is very unlikely that he would know that Mrs. Skakel's name tag was on the handle of the club. The murderer knew the name tag was present and took the handle from the scene."
Michael Skakel, Thomas' brother, will be tried for the murder in May.
But Littleton's name is still tied to the Moxley murder. Anonymous sources said last week that hair found at the murder scene bears a similarity to his.
Littleton lives in Boston's well-to-do Beacon Hill district and works a part-time job. He comes home from work carrying a briefcase and greets his longtime girlfriend, Anne Drake, with whom he lives.
Their building sits across the street from the State House and is occupied on the first floor by a coffee shop, a barber shop and a dry cleaner.
The barber said he knows Littleton, whom he described as a nice, quiet man who keeps to himself. The building superintendent said the same, but added that Littleton has asked the tenants in his building not to speak about him to the media.
Littleton, who was once willing to talk about the case, also appears to have become media savvy, referring all questions to his lawyer, Gene Riccio of Bridgeport.
"I do feel that I've had a particularly tough time in relation to this case," Littleton said. "I proceeded on my own in the past by being more open and it's burned me."
Littleton received immunity in the case when he testified before a one-judge grand jury, whose investigation led to the January 2000 arrest of Michael Skakel. Skakel and Moxley were 15 at the time of the murder and lived near each other in Belle Haven.
Littleton has been named as a potential witness for the prosecution and said he expects to testify when the trial begins May 7 in Norwalk.
Littleton and his girlfriend have said they are eager to put the whole event behind them.
Lawyers for the prosecution and the defense will not say whether they are concerned about putting Littleton, with his history of mental illness, on the stand. Both have refused comment on the issue.
"I think there's some residual difficulty, but if he's called to testify I'm sure he will get through it," said Riccio, Littleton's attorney.
Maria Littleton, meanwhile, looks daily at the portrait of her baby son hanging on the wall along the stairwell.
"He was once such a good athlete, such a good student. I raised him with everything," she said. "Now he has nothing."
Copyright (c) 2002, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.