Burden of Proof
Mark Fuhrman on "Murder in Greenwich"Aired May 25, 1998 - 12:30 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CO-HOST: Today on BURDEN OF PROOF: A 15- year-old girl bludgeoned to death with a golf club, and 22 years later, the murder still unsolved. Former Los Angeles police detective Mark Fuhrman joins us next.
ANNOUNCER: This is BURDEN OF PROOF, with Greta Van Susteren and Roger Cossack.
VAN SUSTEREN: Hello and welcome to BURDEN OF PROOF.
On an October night in 1975, 15-year-old Martha Moxley was stabbed and killed with a golf club outside of her parents' posh home in Greenwich, Connecticut. For 22 years this homicide has been unsolved.
ROGER COSSACK, CO-HOST: Mark Fuhrman, former Los Angeles police department detective, has written a book on the Moxley homicide, "Murder in Greenwich." He joins us today from New York.
Well, Mark, first of all, tell us who was Martha Moxley?
MARK FUHRMAN, FORMER LAPD DETECTIVE: Well, Martha Moxley was an innocent 15-year-old girl who had the unfortune to be with, or around the Skakel house on October 30, 1975, last seen with Tommy Skakel and the next time she is seen is 12:30 the next day underneath a pine tree 250 feet from her house, bludgeoned to death and stabbed with broken pieces of golf club, that was responsible for most of the beating.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Mark, take me back a little bit. What time did she leave her house the evening she was murdered?
FUHRMAN: Well, she left approximately 6:00 to 6:15. Her mother made her a grilled cheese sandwich. She took it with her. She went to her friend's house who -- eventually they both ended up at the Muokod's (ph) house and left there at 7:30 or there about, 7:45, ended up at the Skakel house where Tommy and Michael sat on both sides of her in the family Lincoln listening to music up until 9:30 when the Skakel's cousin, Jim Tarian (ph), decided he had to go home and Michael was going with him along with two of his brother and Tommy remained at the house with Martha.
VAN SUSTEREN: Who are the Skakels?
FUHRMAN: Skakels -- well, first, we have to back up. Ethel Skakel we now know as Ethel Kennedy. She married Bobby Kennedy. She
is the sister of Rushton (ph) Skakel, who is the father of Tommy and Michael Skakel, who are the suspects.
COSSACK: All right, what is this, we refer to this as Greenwich, Connecticut, but it's really part of Connecticut called Belle Haven. Describe that area us to, Mark.
FUHRMAN: You know, from our connection from the Simpson trial we know of a place called Bel Air, California. Greenwich, Connecticut is probably the richest community by large as far, as far as one community, in this country. And Belle Haven is an exclusive peninsula on the Long Island Sound, which probably makes Bel Air look just about upper middle class. It's very rich.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Mark. According to your book at some point during the evening, Martha Moxley was in a car with Tommy Skakel and then they got out of the car. Michael Skakel and his cousins then left. What happened next?
FUHRMAN: Well Tommy and Martha engage in a little of teen-age, you know, push and shove, which results in a little bit of you know, kissing, making out. And at that point, Michael leaves with his brothers and his cousin, and Helen Icks (ph) and Jeff Byrne see them pushing and shoving and sees Tommy push Martha down and that's the last time anybody sees Martha alive, except for Tom.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now there were other suspects. You have articulated Tommy and Michael Skakel as prime suspects but there are other suspects in this case that were discounted. For example, Mr. (INAUDIBLE). What happened with those suspects and who are they?
FUHRMAN: It's interesting, we should back up a little bit. Michael was never considered a suspect and wasn't even up until last year, because of this alibi he had until 11:20 p.m. Police immediately upon the discovery of Martha's body concluded the murder occurred between 9:30 and 10:00.
Ten o'clock was when Dorothy Moxley heard male voices outside the window and at same time dogs were uncontrollably barking. Have we heard this before? They just immediately jumped on this as the time of death.
COSSACK: What happened in terms of articulating the time of death -- were the police able to establish the time of death?
Fuhrman: Well, you know, that's a great question. You know, the autopsy was completed and Elliot Gross (ph), the medical examiner, who did not respond to the crime scene -- he was too busy. I just can't understand how many murders occurred in Greenwich you'd be too busy to respond to. Nonetheless, he did not.
He concluded from his autopsy, a five-hour autopsy, she was killed between 5:30 and 9:00 in the morning. Big bracket. If you look closer at the autopsy, it can be closer stated, more likely between 9:30 and 12:30, more likely 11:30 to 12:30, and that being some of the obvious things that surfaced in the investigation, but the stomach contents are very telling.
As we talked about earlier she had a grilled cheese sandwich, and ice cream and possibly cake. The stomach will empty itself in a bracket of time and it falls directly between 11:30 and 12:30.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mark, why is the time of death so critical in this case as it relates to the suspects or people who would even be considered within that umbrella of suspicion?
FUHRMAN: Well, you know, Tommy Skakel was not immediately a suspect, but what was done immediately in this is -- the detectives were really muddling through this. They had no manual. They had no experience, no homicide experience. It was on-scene. Nobody had investigated a homicide scene, so they were jumping around looking at suspects, ignoring the body, the immediate area surrounding the body. No search warrant in the Skakel house, even though the murder weapon was to have found to originated in the Skakel house.
VAN SUSTEREN: Maybe.
FUHRMAN: Well, no...
VAN SUSTEREN: They did, February in 1976, months later, at a time when you could still establish a search warrant because there's new information. The FBI lab took the existing five-iron inside the Skakel house, Tony Pena, and the five-iron remnants that were left at the murder scene and conclude through metallurgical tests these were in fact from the same manufacturer, at the same time, and the same content in the metal. They were a match.
COSSACK: Mark, did the police conclude that where Martha Moxley was found was the place she was killed or was this body moved at all?
FUHRMAN: Well, the body was first contacted inside the circular driveway, just probably about 100 feet from Martha's home. She was struck probably once there, rendered unconscious and drug face-down to a location about 40 to 50 feet from there, underneath or next to a dwarf Japanese elm tree. That's where the remainder of the attack continues.
But what's interesting is the golf club shattered at some point. The blows were delivered and responsible for the head -- the head of the golf clubs were responsible for these blows, and then it shattered and went into three pieces, really four pieces with what's remained in the suspect's hand. The golf club head and an eight-inch portion went back towards the center of the driveway in the grassy area. An 11- inch piece fell by the victim's head and then the remaining part of the shaft still remained in the suspect's hand or was left there momentarily for -- by him.
COSSACK: All right. We're going to take a break. Did the police bungle the investigation into Martha Moxley's death? We'll talk about that next.
COSSACK: Welcome back.
It's been 22 years since Martha Moxley was murdered. Mark, in your book, you seem to take great pains to indicate that, in your opinion at least, your professional opinion, that the crime scene was not investigated adequately, and that, in your opinion, perhaps the Greenwich police didn't do the job they should have done.
For example, there's very little forensic evidence that came from this murder scene and, as you point out, that's perhaps the most important kind of evidence you can find.
FUHRMAN: Yeah, you both know how important that is, how devastating it is for out defense approaches a case. But when you don't pay attention to the victim's body, which is the richest source of forensic evidence at that time, that has to be investigated, and she was basically ignored.
And then, as Greta pointed out, and I'll agree with her, they couldn't establish that absolutely 100 percent that the golf club came from the Skakel home, but the admission was there and there was an inscription on the golf club shaft of the Tony Pena's clubs. You know, it was indicated there was certainly enough probable cause for a search warrant.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Mark, in your book you write, let me quote from you, it says, "I do believe there was a conspiracy to cover up the fact that the police found and then lost an important piece of the murder weapon."
What can you tell me about that allegation?
FUHRMAN: Well, you know, the interesting thing about the first two officers at the scene were never interviewed by their own detectives. When I come along 22 years later and the police refuse to talk about me and about certain items, I can't figure out why. And it slowly became obvious why. They made many mistakes, and I think this is one huge one they didn't expect me to uncover.
These officers are talked to individually on taped phone interviews, and they offer this information up. Miller Jones offers this information that when he first saw Martha's body, there was a golf club shaft embedded in her head. He described it as the handle with the leatherette portion of the grip still there embed in her head.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is that a conspiracy? I mean, when you use -- you actually use the word "conspiracy" to suggest that these police officers -- it wasn't just negligence, but there's something else involved.
FUHRMAN: Well, you know, what's interesting is I don't think Officer Jones did anything wrong. And I don't really believe Officer Hickman did anything wrong. Hickman was really charged with watching the body directly after they make this observation, which they both make. Then Miller Jones goes up to notify detectives, specifically Captain Tom Keegan. Hickman goes up and he's very excited and he's very shaken by what he's seen, and he makes notifications and the place is immediately swarmed with spectators and the news.
What's interesting, when Captain Tom Keegan gets there -- I don't believe there's conspiracy or at least there's no evidence and I would never make that assertion about fellow officers that there's anything intentional.
What I do believe happened is this item was lost and then there was some form of a conspiracy to keep it quite so they could find it. And then this is a mad search the next morning in find this golf club handle. And I can make this assertion because Captain Tom Keegan is in charge of this and makes all directions of anything of this investigation.
He sends Dan Hickman to the autopsy the next day. The one person in Greenwich Police Department that is sickened by the sight of blood. He is visibly shaken by anything violent in the sight of blood. They send him to the autopsy. He's a juvenile officer not a detective. His purpose, by his own mouth, to show the medical examiner where the shaft was.
COSSACK: All right. Mark, you write in your book, you say, "It is not known what evidence the crime lab observed or recorded, if any. All we do know is that the body was removed a half an hour after the police arrived."
Now, is it your suggestion then that there was no evidence whatsoever for the crime lab to examine in this case?
FUHRMAN: You know, I mean, no, I'm not suggesting that. I was hoping -- I believe there was some there. Whether it was collected is something that we'll never know.
A funeral home director moved Martha's body. A hair was found on her body later that, you know, has been this big secret hair that Henry Lee investigated in 1991, yet none of the six people that stood over Martha, and three of which moved Martha before the police arrived, were ever given samples of their hair to compare it with this to see if this is a suspect hair, an unknown hair, or an accountable hair.
These are things that, you know, they're really inexcusable, because even in hindsight, days, months, you know, even years later, you can still rectify these mistakes, yet they haven't been done. I just do not understand this.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask you this, Mark: If you were the detective on the case now, would you be seeking an arrest warrant? If so, for whom?
FUHRMAN: You know, I'm not sure I would be able to get an arrest warrant. But in my specific direction in this case, what I have seen and what I investigated and what I have put together, I would be wanting to arrest Michael Skakel for this crime. That's just my opinion and what I see and what I investigated.
I think the true thing should happen here is a grand jury, so that you have either an impaneled group of judges, a single judge or
group of citizens to make that determination that has an objective look. I think that Greenwich Police and state attorney absolutely have too much ego invested and too much to lose if they're found to be at all at fault for evidence or this -- or evidence not being collected or the investigation not being done properly.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we need to take a break.
When we come back, how Mark Fuhrman got involved in this case. Stay with us.
VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back.
Mark, when we went to break, you said you thought the person who was involved in this was Michael Skakel. And, as you know from our conversations on an earlier case, I'm always talking about presumption of innocence and certainly, Michael Skakel deserves that.
But why is it you think Michael Skakel is involved in this?
FUHRMAN: I don't think I would be able to make these assertions if -- and I agree with you 100 percent. Michael Skakel was never a suspect until 1992 when he inserted himself into this investigation. And we have to look at the time line here. 1991 -- Henry Lee becomes interested in the case. He makes statements about DNA. DNA was just three letters in 1975, 1991 it was state of the art.
I think that at this point, when the family, the Skakel family hires the Sutna Associates to do their investigation, this is when they shoot themselves in the foot.
VAN SUSTEREN: And who are the -- you have to explain who the Sutna Associates are.
FUHRMAN: The Sutna Associates are a group of private investigators, very professional, ex-FBI agents, ex-urban detectives that really know their job. And they go in there and they're giving -- given a couple of missions. One, did Ken Littleton actually commit the crime, the tutor? And if Michael or Tommy are involved, start developing a proper defense.
It's interesting what they do. Michael Skakel in 1992, August, what he does is he makes a statement that originally his alibi, which kept him out as being a suspect for so long, he said, well, I got back at 11:20, but I didn't go to bed and go to sleep, like I told the police. In other words, like I lied to the police. Because what I really did was I went out at 11:40 out the backdoor. He goes, I went out. I went over to a lady that I usually peep on that's naked. She wasn't naked, she had a nightgown on, she was lying on the couch.
When that was disappointing he climbed the tree by Martha's bedroom, Martha Moxley's bedroom. He threw pebbles at the window. He called out her name. Then, when he got no response, he masturbated in the tree and came to orgasm, came down out of the tree, felt a presence, threw something into the darkness, stood under a street lamp
on Walsh Lane in complete view of where Ken Littleton was staying in his father's bedroom. And then ran to the home, his own home, where it was now miraculously locked and he had to climb up on the second floor and go in through his window.
Michael Skakel not only makes this assertion and becomes a suspect, which he puts himself every place the suspect would be in a proper time frame, but he makes statements in 1978 to a counselor at a rehab center. He makes statements that I'm here because a girl -- something happened to a girl. She had a golf club stuck in her chest.
Now this is a statement that only a suspect would know that left her in that condition or saw her at the time the suspect did it. After all, we have two officers that make that observation and within 30 minutes the golf club is removed. They don't talk about it, they don't admit it, and there's no photos taken. This is not something that anyone except somebody involved in the crime would know.
He makes an admission that, in group therapy, that he actually killed Martha Moxley, then recants it later.
I mean, all these things that came out in the Sutna Associate report are not things that you can overlook, and he actually does it to himself.
COSSACK: All right.
We're going to take a break. Will this murder ever be solved? Stay with us.
COSSACK: Hindsight is 20/20, but is it always right? Reconstructing the Moxley murder could lead to you a conclusion, but is there anyway to prove it's the right conclusion?
All right, Mark. You made a pretty good argument for why you believe Michael Skakel is the murderer, but let me tell you what else you write about Thomas Skakel, his brother. You say the same thing. You say, if Thomas Skakel is innocent, why did he change his story after 17 years? Why did he lie to the police? Why did his father rescind cooperation with the police? And why is he willing to endure nationwide suspicion of being a murderer instead of coming out and telling what he knows?
So why isn't it Thomas Skakel?
FUHRMAN: Well, you know, it's pretty interesting what you say, Roger, but, you know, now I'll get into a little bit of the legal.
First thing is, is a lot of people don't know and the Greenwich Police didn't know until this book came out that on October 31st, the day Martha's body was found, by 5:15 p.m. that day, there was an attorney in the Skakel house answering the phone and making phone calls. That means he would have had to be called somewhere around 3:00 in New York to make there by that time. That's interesting all into itself.
Now, Tommy Skakel, I believe, did have a sexual contact with Martha. However slight or however involved it was as far as teenage, absent of actual intercourse, they did have a sexual contact. I think it lasted much longer. I don't think he was telling a lie in 1993, '94. I think he lied to the police then because it established that Martha was alive when he left her and it wasn't necessary.
Later on, the boys, when the Sutna Associates -- when they're investigating and they do have to account for all forensic evidence, Tommy has to, also, because his forensic evidence would have been passed on it Martha, also.
So -- and you know, another thing is and you tell me as two attorneys sitting there doing this every day. They are cross-alibiing each other. Michael makes statements that he's calling to Martha, that he climbed a tree, that he's calling to Martha throwing pebbles. He's establishing he thinks Martha is alive, even at that late hour. Why? Because he's got to, because he thought -- he thought he was probably seen by someone.
COSSACK: Mark, let me just interrupt you for one second, we have a few time.
How did you get involved in the writing of this book and investigating this murder in?
VAN SUSTEREN: And do you fear a libel suit?
FUHRMAN: No, there's no libel suit. The Skakels would have to sue themselves halfway, half the information comes right from their own mouth and their attorneys.
To get to the other question, Dominick Dunne told me about this case. We remember the book "Season in Purgatory" was kind of a fictional -- it was a fictional story based loosely on this case. And it generated a huge amount of media attention in reopening of the case. At the end of "Murder in Brentwood," Nick said, you know, what are you going to do now? And I said, well, I didn't know. He says I have got a case I want to you look at, and he provided me with the Sutna Associate report, which is....
VAN SUSTEREN: Mark, I'm terribly sorry to cut you off. That's all the time we have. Thank you very much for joining us. And thank you for watching.
FUHRMAN: Thanks, Greta.
COSSACK: Join us again next time for another edition of BURDEN OF PROOF. We'll see you then.
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