A 15-year-old girl is murdered in a gated community in Connecticut.

Martha Moxley

Martha’s body was found in her own backyard

CASE DETAILS

Police gave several polygraph tests

The night of October 30, 1975, began innocently in the upscale community of Greenwich, Connecticut.  15-year-old Martha Moxley and several friends went out for an evening of teenage pranks.  Early the next afternoon, Martha’s body was discovered in her own backyard.  It appeared she had been bludgeoned to death. Her jeans and underwear were pulled down around her knees.  But according to Jack Solomon, Easton, Connecticut’s Chief of Police, there was no evidence of sexual assault:

“Martha was struck with a golf club. She received several blows to the head. The head of the club was found 50 feet from the portion of her driveway where we believe she was accosted. It’s believed that the portion of the shaft of the golf club that was used was later used as a weapon to stab her with.”

Initially, everyone assumed that Martha’s murderer had to have been someone from outside the area.  However, the broken golf club found at the scene led investigators to a prominent local family.  The club turned out to be part of a set belonging to the Skakel family.  The Skakel’s lived across the street from the Moxleys.  15-year-old Michael Skakel told police he had been with Martha that night.  17-year-old Thomas Skakel was with her as well.  Michael told police that at 9:30, he went with his two oldest brothers, John and Rush Jr., to give their cousin a ride home.  Meanwhile, Thomas claimed he went home at 9:30 to do a report on Abraham Lincoln.  The police estimated that Martha had been murdered between 9:45 and 10 PM.  But if Michael was in the car and Thomas was in his room, what happened to Martha Moxley on her short walk home?

Skakel was convicted after 25 years

Investigators found yet another suspect in the Skakel household.  24-year-old Kenneth Littleton had just been hired as a live-in tutor for the Skakel children. He told police he heard noises outside the house sometime between 9:30 and 10:00 PM.  Before he went outside, Littleton said he checked on the seven Skakel children. According to Detective Solomon, Littleton claimed that the four oldest boys, including Michael and Thomas, were not at home:

“Well, his story was that he heard some noises coming from the bushes on the property, leaves rustling, but he claimed he did not see anything at the time he was out.”

Littleton also said he didn’t see Thomas until 10:25, when Thomas joined him in front of the TV.  The other Skakel boys came home within half an hour.  Over the next several months, detectives interviewed more than 200 people and gave several polygraph exams.  According to police, Thomas Skakel was given two polygraph tests.  The first was inconclusive, but Thomas passed the second.  Then after months of cooperating with authorities, the Skakels, on the advice of their attorney, refused to answer any more questions.  Donald Browne was State’s Attorney of Fairfield County at the time of Martha’s murder:

“No one has an obligation to cooperate with police.  But in most instances, individuals who have some knowledge that may lead to the identification of an individual who has committed a violent crime, are more than pleased to contribute that information to the police. So it’s most unusual when an individual possessing information decides that he does not want to give that information to investigators.”

Eventually, attention shifted to Kenneth Littleton, who’d been dismissed by the Skakels after six months.  According to police, he was given a polygraph regarding the Moxley murder and failed.  Still, authorities felt there wasn’t enough evidence to make an arrest. The case became inactive.  But sixteen years later, the rape trial of William Kennedy Smith brought the Moxley case back to life.  The connection between the Skakel and Kennedy families served as the catalyst.  Within weeks, Detective Solomon and the Greenwich police reopened their investigation:

“The opinion of most of the investigators, who are trained police officers, is that whoever was responsible for this crime probably was in the Skakel home at some time that evening.”

In 1991, the police brought in the well-known forensic pathologist Dr. Henry Lee.  Dr. Lee was able to utilize technology that was unavailable in 1975.  Among the items examined by Dr. Lee were clothes found discarded in the Skakel’s garbage shortly after the murder:

“We found some hairs and fibers. Some of the hair microscopically similar to hers. Other hair dissimilar to her.”

Dr. Lee determined that the hair belonged to a male Caucasian.  The problem was, he didn’t have a hair sample from any of the possible suspects and was unable to make a match.  However, after studying the crime scene photographs, Dr. Lee was able to provide a possible motive for Martha’s murder:

“The blood smear on her body indicates somebody tried to use force.  It suggests… a sexually motivated homicide.”

Leonard Levitt, an investigative reporter for the Long Island-based Newsday, covered the Moxley case starting in 1982:

“There were no defense wounds, which indicates that she knew her attacker. Merely the fact that she was hit repeatedly with a golf club indicates some kind of rage, which personalizes this thing, which indicates that there was such anger that the two had to have known each other, that it was a crime of passion.”

Time and again, the trail led back to the Skakel family.  Then in November of 1995, a full 20 years after the murder of Martha Moxley, Leonard Levitt reported in Newsday that Thomas and Michael Skakel had made startling admissions to the detectives:

“Both Thomas and Michael told the investigators that they had lied to the police about their accounts the night of the murder. Thomas said to them that after 9:30, he went inside his house, and then he went back out and spent another 20 minutes with Martha. He claims now that he and Martha engaged in a sexual act and then he left her at about ten to 10:00. If you go back now and you look at the story that he told, it just doesn’t add up.”

Update:

Tips from Unsolved Mysteries viewers provided new information implicating Michael Skakel in the murder of Martha Moxley. Four years after Martha was killed, Michael had been sent to a school in Maine for troubled teens called the Élan School.  Over the course of his stay at Elan, several of Michael’s classmates heard him confess to the killing.  Based on this new information, 42-year-old Michael Skakel was charged with murder. Prosecutors argued that the motive was sibling rivalry over Martha’s affections.  27 years after the crime, Michael Skakel was convicted and sentenced to 20 years to life. The Skakel family appealed that conviction, and in May of 2018, the conviction was overturned. 


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season eight with Robert Stack and in season one with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

 

16 Comments

  1. Matt

    Who was the police officer who stayed that night protecting the murder scene ?

    Reply

  2. Anonymous

    FINALLY, JUSTICE IS METED OUT TO THE UPPER CLASS CLOWNS.

    Reply

    • Jeanie

      Not total justice since he is out of jail.

      Reply

      • MattC

        It’s important to keep in mind that Michael was 15 when he murdered Martha (obviously I believe he’s guilty). Had the Skakel’s openly admitted it back then, he’d likely have been charged as a juvenile and be done with his time.

        However, since they all fought it for so long, changing stories, etc., Michael’s now experiencing the full ride. I have no doubt he’ll return to prison soon.

        Reply

  3. Jamie

    Michael Skakel killed Martha. There is no doubt in my mind. I lived a mile away from her and used to cut through her back yard to get to my best friends house. The Greenwich police botched the investigation. My boyfriend and I drove by Walsh Lane on Halloween (the day Martha’s body was found). We were smoking pot in the car and were stopped by the police. He warned us that there had been a murder in the neighborhood and that we shouldn’t be smoking pot so blatantly. Then he let us go. WTF? I think back on this and wonder why they didn’t bring us in for questioning.

    I don’t ever remember anyone thinking that Tommy Skakel was the one who killed her. I just remember Michael’s name coming up all the time. I knew Martha because we both took the same bus to school. We weren’t friends. I knew of Michael but didn’t know him personally. I had a friend from private school who ended up going to Elan at the same time that Michael was there. She said that he was “disturbed”.

    The whole Belle Haven scene was ridiculous. It was a wealthy community where the kids could do anything and get away with it. If you got into trouble, your parents could pay your way out of it. You didn’t even need to be a relative of the Kennedy’s.

    Reply

  4. Johnny

    Michael Skakel cannot escape justice. Advancements in DNA technology and crime scene techniques have been amazing since 1975. Throw in : 1.Opportunity-Moxley was at the Skakel’s house for the pre-Halloween party 1975 as well as some other neighborhood friends. Skakel definitely would be one of the last people to see Martha alive. 2.Motive-There could be several motives here. Sibling rivalry. Tommy the older brother had a better relationship with Martha. Jealousy no doubt seeing your brother with Martha. Also, an angry & sexual component to this Martha’s crime with her pants pulled down. Skakel was Martha’s age 15.
    It’s over 40 years ago now but theorizing this crime….My guess Michael was attracted to the beautiful Martha. He probably had seen his older brother Tommy fooling around with her. Maybe some flirting and some kissing. Some touching. He found the golf club and waited. Michael was filled with a mix of anger, jealousy, and sexual energy. Poor Martha probably was blitzed and attacked. She survived the first blow or two and staggered to a place by the trees where she was finished off. It’s a shame Martha had to die in this fashion. Only a few hundred feet and Martha would have been safely home.
    Hopefully, Martha Moxley’s family will finally see justice for Martha and case solved.

    Reply

    • MattC

      Martha was dragged under the tree. There was a long blood trail clearly showing she was dragged. I concur Michael is the murderer. The Sutton Report was clear that John Skakel could not put Michael in the car or at the Terrien house when under hypnosis, and Andrea Shakespeare was convinced Michael didn’t go. Michael killed Martha much earlier than thought, 10pm-ish. When Michael placed himself at the scene(s), that was it.

      Reply

  5. Home girl

    Michael is guilty. I truly believe that because the evidence supports it and the court made the right decision.

    Reply

  6. John

    His conviction has since been overturned. Skakel is awaiting a retrial and is currently free.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/16/nyregion/robert-kennedy-jr-in-book-says-michael-skakel-is-innocent-of-75-murder.html?_r=0

    Reply

  7. Roseann

    This situation just seems creepier & creepier. There was a whole slew of people there who could have committed the murder from Martha’s bro to a couple of guys from The City to the weird gardener to the Skakel’s tutor to a couple of the Skakels etc. Also, it’s very possible the person or people who did it don’t know for sure they did it, because they were too screwed-up via alcohol &/or drugs. What ashame. I think plenty of people knew things & didn’t come forward. I think justice probably has not been done. I think it would take a really different bent to find-out what actually happened. But I think it’s possible.

    Reply

  8. Keri

  9. Johnny

    I’m happy that there is justice for Martha Moxley and her family. A beautiful young life extinguished too soon. Reading Mark Fuhrman’s book on the Moxley case some years back…He was right about the evidence and where it led. Jealousy and definite crime of passion. The hair and DNA evidence really helped which caused stories to be changed. Michael Skakel could not avoid justice. Thanks to the people at the Elan School for stepping up and relaying info about Michael’s confession years ago. Justice for Martha!

    Reply

  10. Justice!

    Yes! The killer is where he should be, finally! The case was so badly handled when Martha was discovered it is shameful.

    Reply

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You, as the data subject, have the right to lodge a complaint with a supervisory authority, in particular in the Member State of your habitual residence, place of work, or place of the alleged infringement, if you believe that the processing of your personal data does not comply with legal requirements.

In the event we determine the occurrence of a data security incident, we will notify you by email, US mail, telephone, or other means as permitted by law.

If you have questions, comments, or complaints concerning our privacy practices or if you wish to change, access, or remove your Personal Data, please contact us as indicated below.  We will attempt, where practical, to respond to your requests and to provide you with additional privacy related information.

Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. is the owner of this Website and retains all ownership rights to the information collected at this Website. Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. reserves the right to change, modify, add, or remove provisions of this Privacy Statement. Any changes to this Privacy Statement will be posted here, and we encourage you to check back from time to time. In addition, Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. will notify registered users of changes as they occur.

We allow third-party companies to serve ads and/or collect certain anonymous information when you visit our web site. These companies may use non-personally identifiable information (e.g., click stream information, browser type, time and date, subject of advertisements clicked or scrolled over) during your visits to this and other Web sites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services likely to be of greater interest to you. These companies typically use a cookie or third party web beacon to collect this information. To learn more about this behavioral advertising practice or to opt-out of this type of advertising, you can visit networkadvertising.org. Your use of the site constitutes your agreement to accept cookies, beacons and third-party advertising. Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. assumes no responsibility for third-party ads.

ARTICLE 1. Personalization
1.1 We may use the contact information you give us to better tailor your Website experience to your interests, and to send you information about Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. and its services as well as promotional material on behalf of some of our partners. We may use other information that you provide to us to show you content in which you may be interested and to display the content according to your preferences. We will also share this information within Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. in order to enhance your experience on this and other Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. Websites.
1.2 In addition, we may share this information with advertisers or other third parties that are not part of the Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. family on an aggregate or other basis that does not disclose your identity or contact information.

ARTICLE 2. Online Surveys/Contests
2.1 From time to time, we may conduct online surveys and contests. These may ask you for contact information (like name or email address) and demographic information (like zip code or age).
2.2 We may use this contact information from our surveys and contests to provide you with information about our company and promotional material on behalf of some of our partners, and to contact you when necessary.

ARTICLE 3. Shopping/Commercial Services
3.1 This Website may offer shopping services, which may be offered by us or by a firm that operates a store under contract with us. If our Website offers shopping or other commercial services, you will use a customer order form to request information, products, and services. The order form will ask you to give us contact information (like name or email address), financial information (like account or credit card numbers), and demographic information (like zip code or age).

3.2 We will use the financial information that you provide to bill you for products and services. By giving our Website your credit card and related personal information, you are authorizing our store to give that information to the merchant and credit card company in order to confirm and fulfill your order.

3.3 We will use contact information from the order form to fulfill your orders. We may also use contact data to get in touch with you when necessary. We will not otherwise use or distribute your financial information without your prior approval.

ARTICLE 4. Public forums
4.1 This Website may make available chat rooms, blogs, forums, message boards, and news groups. Please remember that any information that you disclose in these areas becomes public information and you should exercise caution when deciding to disclose your personal information. Information disclosed by you or by others enters the public domain and may be freely used by any other persons or entities using the site.

ARTICLE 5. Information Sharing With Third Parties
5.1 From time to time we may enter into a special relationship with another company that is not owned by Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. to provide additional features at this Website. These special relationships may include “powered by” partners, business partners, sponsors, and co-branded sites (referred to here as “co-branded pages”). These might include, for example, pages that share our name and that of another entity. You should look for a specific privacy statement on any such co-branded page. Any personal information that you provide when signing up at one of those co-branded pages may be shared with our third party partner. You should also check our partner’s website for information regarding its privacy policies.

5.2 Also, the nature of some features of our Website may require that we share personal information about you with persons or companies outside of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. For example, this may occur at a feature that enables you, via our Website, to ask questions of persons or entities that are not part of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. By responding to those features of the site, whether by email or direct entry of information on our Website, you are consenting to our transferring that information to such persons or entities.

5.3 With respect to specific registration modules, like contests, we may disclose personal information collected, and we may post a conspicuous statement on the registration module to the effect that we will be disclosing the information collected with third parties.

5.4 Finally, we may share any of the information collected from you with these other non- Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc companies in an aggregate basis. The aggregated information is not linked to any information that can identify you.

ARTICLE 6. IP Address and Log Files
6.1 We may use your IP address to administer our Website, to help diagnose problems with our server, to analyze trends, to track users’ webpage movements, to help identify you and your shopping cart, and to gather broad demographic information for aggregate use.

ARTICLE 7. Cookies
7.1 This Website may use a standard technology called a “cookie” to collect information about how you use the Website. Cookies reside on your computer and help our Website to recognize your computer’s browser as a previous visitor. This information allows us to customize delivery of information. For example, our Website may use cookies to save and remember registration information or preferences that you may have set while browsing the Website, to keep track of your shopping cart, to ensure you don’t see the same ad content repeatedly, to deliver content specific to your interests, and to save your password so you do not have to re-enter it each time you visit our site. We use cookies only to gather information as indicated in this policy.

7.2 In addition, on occasion our site may also set a “session cookie” which helps us administer the Website. The session cookie expires when you close your browser and does not retain any information about you after it expires.

7.3 Finally, we may also use an ad network provider to help present advertisements on this and other Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. websites. This ad network provider, like other advertising service vendors, uses cookies, web beacons, or similar technologies on the hard drive of your computer to serve you advertisements tailored to interests you have shown by browsing on this and other sites you have visited, and to determine whether you have seen a particular advertisement before and to avoid sending you duplicate advertisements. In doing so, the provider collects non-personal data such as your browser type, your operating system, web pages visited, time of visits, content viewed, ads viewed, and other clickstream data. The use of cookies, web beacons, or similar technologies by these ad network providers is subject to their own privacy policies, not ours, and Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. assumes no responsibility for the collection or use of such information.

ARTICLE 8. Banner Advertising
8.1 We have contracted with an ad-service to place banner advertising on our Website. All of the data provided and generated by the ad-server software remains in our possession. This feature of our Website may, on occasion, set “cookies” on your computer. Any information collected or stored by the ad-service or the cookies is treated in the same manner as other information described in this statement.

ARTICLE 9. Children’s Personal Information
9.1 Consistent with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act:

9.1.1 This site does NOT collect, use, or disclose personal information (including online contact information) of children under the age of thirteen (13).

9.1.2 In the event that a child under the age of 13 attempts to register on our site, we will NOT accept the registration and will delete information received from the child.

9.1.3 In the event that a child posts personal information in a public forum such as a chat room, we will attempt to delete that information once we become aware of it.

ARTICLE 10. Security of Your Personal Information
10.1 Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. employs reasonable security measures consistent with standard industry practice, for information collected through this Website. We believe that we have adequate security measures in place in our physical facilities to protect against the loss, misuse, or alteration of the information we collect on our Website. We also use internal protections to limit access to users’ personal information to only those employees who need the information to perform a specific job.

ARTICLE 11. Sale or Merger
11.1 If this Website is sold to, or merges with, another company not owned by Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc., you should expect that some or all of the information collected from this Website may be transferred to the buyer/surviving company. If so, CMP will seek to obligate the acquiring company to use any personal information transferred by this Website in a manner consistent with this statement, but cannot guarantee that it will be able to impose that requirement or that the acquiring company will comply.

ARTICLE 12. Legal Process
12.1 You should be aware that Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. may be required to disclose your personal information to the government or third parties under certain circumstances, such as in court or regulatory proceedings.

ARTICLE 13.  Contacting the Website

13.1        If you have any questions about this Privacy Statement, the practices of this Website, or your dealings with this Website, please contact us at: unsolved@unsolved.com.

ARTICLE 14.  general information

14.1        Choice of Law:  This Agreement and the Additional Terms shall be governed by, construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the State of California , as it is applied to agreements entered into and to be performed entirely within such state, without regard to conflict of law principles.

14.2        Choice of Forum:  You agree that any cause of action you or Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. brings to enforce this Agreement and/or the Additional Terms, or in connection with any matters related to this Website and/or the Privacy Statement, shall be submitted to arbitration in the County of Los Angeles, State of California, United States of America in accordance with the commercial rules and regulations of the American Arbitration Association then in effect (as amended herein), provided that said arbitration shall be heard before a single arbitrator, who shall be a retired judge, selected pursuant to such rules and regulations, and shall be conducted on an expedited basis and in confidence. The arbitrator’s decision shall be controlled by the terms and conditions of this agreement and any other agreements I may enter into with you, and shall be final and binding, and shall provide for each party to bear its own costs of arbitration and attorneys’ fees.  Each party expressly waives any right to a jury.  Judgment upon the award of the arbitrator may be entered or enforced in any court of competent jurisdiction. 

14.4        If any provision of this Agreement, or the application thereof to any person or circumstances, is held invalid or for any reason unenforceable then such provision shall be deemed superseded by a valid, enforceable provision that matches, as closely as possible, the original provision, and the other provisions of this Agreement shall remain in full force and effect.  The failure of either party to insist upon strict performance of any provision of this Agreement shall not be construed as a waiver of any provision or right.  Unless expressly provided otherwise, this Agreement is the entire agreement between you and Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. with respect to the use of this Website and shall not be modified except in writing, signed by an authorized representative of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc.

ARTICLE 15.  European Union and Other Foreign Nations

15.1        This Website is governed by and operated in accordance with the laws of United States of America and is intended for enjoyment of residents of the United States.  Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. makes no representation that this Website is governed by or operated in accordance with the laws of other nations.  By using this Website and submitting any personal information, visitors from outside of the United States acknowledge this Website is subject to U.S. law, consent to the transfer of personal data to the U.S., and waive any claims that may arise under their own national laws.