Dorthy Moxley sits next to a memorial plaque for her 15-year-old daughter, whose murder has never been solved. (AP Photo)

After 23 Years, a Grand Jury Investigates the Slaying of a Teenage Girl
Who Murdered Martha Moxley?

A 15-year-old Greenwich, Conn., girl went out for some pre-Halloween shenanigans. The next day, she was found bludgeoned to death in her own back yard, the blows inflicted with a golf club.

ABCNEWS' Lisa McRee spoke to Martha's mother Dorthy about the night that she lost her daughter.

For Dorthy Moxley, the eerie darkness of Halloween summons a ghost from her memory that's all too real the unsolved murder of her 15-year-old daughter.

Moxley just closes her eyes and vividly recalls the brisk Oct. 30 evening in 1975 when Martha took off with some friends for a little pre-Halloween shenanigans, hoping to decorate the neighborhood with toilet paper and shaving cream.

But Moxley's flaxen-haired little girl never returned. After hours of worry, the searches began. At noon the next day, a neighbor found her bludgeoned to death in the Moxley back yard, the grisly blows inflicted with a golf club.

"It's with me every day," Moxley tells ABCNEWS. "This time of year it's only worse."

Moxley's 23 years of grief come with the anger that nobody has paid for her daughter's death. Even after the offer of a $100,000 reward, and one of the longest investigations in Connecticut history, no one has been charged.

But this year, Moxley has renewed hope. A grand jury of one judge is looking into the matter and it seems that the investigation is focusing on two of the original suspects—both nephews of Robert F. Kennedy .

"Now that we have a grand jury, maybe a witness will reveal something that will put this terrible thing to rest," she says.

Kissing in the Driveway

The two boys at the heart of this case, Thomas Skakel, then 17, and his brother Michael, then 15, were both romantically interested in Martha and with her that night. They became suspects soon after the murder, when investigators matched the 6-iron that killed Martha to a set owned by the Skakel family.

Over the years, others have come under police suspicion, including the Skakels' live-in tutor, Kenneth Littleton. But the grand jury now seems to be homing in on the Skakels. In particular, Michael.

Suspicion had originally fallen on Thomas, the last person spotted with Martha. Witnesses saw the two kids at 9:30 that evening kissing in her driveway. But judging by some of the witnesses prosecutors hope to call, investigators may be focusing on the younger brother.

Patient Confidentiality at Issue

Prosecutors are trying to call Joseph Ricci, the owner of a residential drug treatment center, claiming that Michael may have admitted to the murder in therapy.

Ricci has denied hearing a confession, though some other patients at the clinic apparently claim otherwise. He has sought to quash prosecutors' subpoena, arguing anything Michael could have admitted would be protected under patient confidentiality laws. The judge will soon rule on this matter.

Prosecutors also want to hear from Jim Terrien, a cousin who provided Michael with an alibi that night.

The Skakel brothers stopped cooperating with the police soon after the murder, refusing any comment other than a denial. The family launched its own investigation several years ago amid public outcry that they were stonewalling investigators and using the Kennedy clout to their advantage. Now prosecutors are hoping to call the family’s former detectives as witnesses.

The case was stalled for years. The 1991 trial of another Kennedy cousin—William Kennedy Smith, who was acquitted of a Florida rape charge—sparked renewed interest. But investigators said they were stymied by a lack of physical evidence, a trail long since gone cold, and most of all, by a lack of cooperation from the Skakel family.

Michael Skakel moved to the Boston area in the early 1990s when his cousin Michael Kennedy gave him a job at Citizens Energy Corp., a nonprofit company founded by the family. Thomas Skakel, now 40, lives in Stockbridge, Mass., and serves as a volunteer firefighter.

A 'Simpsonesque' Quality

The Moxley case has received on-again, off-again attention from the national media, and it has reached "Simpsonesque" proportions in Connecticut.

In fact, several figures from that trial play a part in this case, including the disgraced former Los Angeles police Detective Mark Fuhrman, who wrote a book on the case last year. Another courtroom regular, author Dominick Dunne, has been researching the matter. And the famed forensics expert Dr. Henry Lee has provided police with a sealed report on the evidence, including a reconstruction of the crime based on autopsy and police documents.

Interestingly, after receiving crushing criticism for his police work in the O.J. Simpson trial, Fuhrman, a convicted perjurer, is now the leveling his own criticism—claiming investigators botched the case and cowered under the Skakels' financial clout.

With the controversy swirling again, Moxley tries to keep perspective. "I keep wondering how I'm going to feel when this is over, because I've only felt one way for 23 years," she says.

"If they arrest someone, it's going to be wonderful to say they caught the person and he is in jail."


TIMELINE:

"1974 -- The Moxley family moves from California to the wealthy New York suburb of Greenwich, Conn. Their neighbor is Rushton Skakel, Ethel Kennedy's brother."

"1975 -- Martha Moxley, 15, joins neighborhood kids--including Michael and Thomas Skakel--for some pre-Halloween pranks. Martha's body is found early the next day on her lawn, bludgeoned to death with a golf club belonging to the Skakels' father. Thomas Skakel, 17, the last person to be seen with Martha, becomes the focus of the investigation."

"1976 -- With a lack of physical evidence, detectives seem to shift focus from Thomas Skakel to Ken Littleton, the Skakels' live-in tutor. He reportedly stops cooperating with police later that year after failing a lie detector test. Littleton has since been ruled out as a suspect."

"1977 -- Police visit the Vermont boarding school to gather more information on Thomas Skakel. A year later, Skakel is apparently expelled from Elmira College."

"1978 -- Connecticut Governor Ella Grasso authorizes a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest."

"1981 -- Police reportedly are in contact with two psychics, who are taken on tours of the crime scene."

"1982 -- As they had done in prior years, police conduct surveillance of the crime scene on the anniversary of the murder."

"1991 -- The Skakel parents hire private detectives at the Sutton Agency, hoping to clear their sons from suspicion. But the Skakels terminate the contract, amid speculation that investigators found damning evidence against the boys."

"1993 -- Famed forensics expert Dr. Henry Lee, who testified on behalf of O.J. Simpson, submits his findings on the Moxley murder to Greenwich Police."

"1995 -- An article in New York's Newsday describes how Michael Skakel changed his story about his actions on the night of the murder. Some sources say the Sutton Agency report documents the change in alibis."

"1996 -- Dorothy and John Moxley double the reward for information leading to the arrest of their daughter's killer to $100,000."

"1997 -- State Attorney Jonathan Benedict announces that a decision will be made in early 1998 whether anyone will face charges for Martha Moxley's killing. Prosecutors seem to be homing in on Michael Skakel, who was 15 at the time of the murder. He was never interviewed by police."

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