By RICHARD JOHNSON
with Jeane MacIntosh and Kate Coyne
MOXLEY CASE HAS PALM BEACH ABUZZ
Society columnist Shannon Donnelly speculates in the Palm Beach Daily News that ''it's a sure bet that it has something to do with the presence - in the same hotel - of the process servers who are in town handing out subpoenas in the Martha Moxley murder investigation.''
Moxley was the Greenwich, Conn., teen-ager who was slain in 1975. Dunne based his 1993 bestselling novel, ''A Season in Purgatory,'' on the still unsolved case.
Dunne's story includes the chilling cover-up of the murder by a Kennedy-like family. For years, the author has pressed ''in his bulldoggy way'' to get Moxley's killer brought to justice.
Dunne, who was receiving an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Florida Atlantic University, insisted it was coincidence that he was in the same hotel as the process servers but added, ''I'm delighted to hear they are issuing subpoenas. I think they are getting closer and closer to making an arrest.''.
Moxley, you may recall, was found bludgeoned to death with a golf club from the home of her neighbor, Rushton Skakel, the brother of Ethel Kennedy.
No one was ever arrested. Although the case has remained open ever since, a grand jury only recently was convened.
Skakel, 75, who now lives in Florida, is trying to avoid being questioned. His two sons, Michael and Tom, are suspects.
But Rushton Skakel's wife, doctors, and priest claim he is too insane to have to testify before the Moxley grand jury in Connecticut.
They say Skakel likes to belly-bump strange men and rub noses with strange women. His lawyer, John Olea of West Palm Beach, told PAGE SIX that Skakel was ''decked'' in a drugstore recently when he attempted to belly-bump a particularly large man.
Florida Circuit Court Judge John Fennelly found Skakel competent in October to go to Connecticut and testify and ordered him to do so. Fennelly noted that although witnesses had testified about Skakel's ''erratic behavior and mental condition, it was ''established that Mr. Skakel can and has traveled alone, and has never been adjudged incompetent to manage his own affairs.''
The judge's order also stated that Skakel allegedly had told somebody he knew the killer's identity.
Skakel was scheduled to go to Connecticut earlier this month, but at the last minute a Florida appeals court granted him an emergency stay. His lawyers are appealing Fennelly's order and the stay will remain in effect until the appeal is decided.
Prosecutors say the Connecticut grand jury is entitled to hear Skakel's testimony. Tom and Michael Skakel have consistently denied any involvement in the murder.
Michael is believed to live in Florida with his father, and Tom is variously reported to be living in Massachusetts and Colombia.