Martha Moxley murder case

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The Martha Moxley murder case concerns the killing of Martha Elizabeth Moxley, who was 15 at the time of the crime, in October 1975 in Greenwich, Connecticut . A nephew of the murdered Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy was sentenced for the act 27 years after the act, but was released from prison after 11 years in prison due to the overturning of the sentence.

The case received a lot of media attention because of its association with the Presidential Kennedy family .

Finding the body

Tombstone of Martha Elizabeth Moxley in Greenwich, Connecticut .

Martha Moxley was born August 16, 1960 in San Francisco to Dorthy and David Moxley and moved with her family to Belle Haven, an affluent area of Greenwich, Connecticut in 1974 . Her friends included her neighbors Thomas and Michael Skakel , nephews of Ethel Kennedy , the widow of Robert F. Kennedy .

On the evening of October 30, 1975 Martha left the house with friends and attended a party in the neighboring Skakel house. According to her friends, Moxley flirted with Thomas Skakel and kissed him. Martha was last seen with Thomas Skakel near the pool at the Skakel estate around 9:30 p.m.

Moxley's body was found under a tree on her family's estate the next day. The pants and underwear were torn off, but Martha was not sexually abused. Parts of a six-iron golf club owned by the Skakels were found near the body. The autopsy revealed that she was both beaten to death and stabbed with the bat.


Thomas Skakel was reportedly the last person Martha Moxley had seen alive on the night of her death and had a weak alibi. Thomas became a prime suspect. Kenneth Littleton, who started working as a tutor for the Skakel family just hours before the murder, was also suspected. Neither of the two was arrested, however, which means that the case was on file for decades.

Over the years, both Thomas and Michael Skakel changed their statements about the night of the crime. Michael Skakel claimed that from 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., while drinking, he watched the windows and masturbated from a tree next to the Moxley estate.

When a certain William Kennedy Smith was charged with attempted rape in 1991, a rumor surfaced that he was on the Skakel property the night of the 1975 murder and was involved in the murder. Although this rumor turned out to be unfounded, it led to new investigations.

Legal proceedings

In June 2000 Michael Skakel was charged with the murder of Martha Moxley. Two former classmates said that Skakel had admitted to killing Martha Moxley with a golf club. According to his classmate Gregory Coleman at Élan School, Skakel bragged, “I will get away with the murder. I am a Kennedy. "

Although Michael was only 15 years old at the time of the crime, he was not treated under juvenile law . On June 7, 2002, Skakel was found guilty of the murder of Moxley and instead of a maximum sentence of 4 years received a sentence of 10 years up to life imprisonment, "since it is difficult to put a 41-year-old in a juvenile prison". His motive was jealousy, because Moxley had flirted with Michael's older brother Thomas, his alibi was untrustworthy.

Skakel was released in 2013 after a judge ruled that he had not been adequately represented by his lawyer in his trial.

In 2016, the Connecticut Supreme Court reinstated the murder sentence, and in May 2018 the same court overturned the sentence. This decision was in turn challenged by a Connecticut prosecutor in the United States Supreme Court in Washington, which ruled on January 7, 2019 not to take the case for trial. The Supreme Court announced this - as is usual with this type of decision - without explanation. The reversal of the murder sentence against Skakel is now final.

Artistic adaptation

There have been several books published about the crime, including the novel A Season in Purgatory by Dominick Dunne , a fictional story about the case and Timothy Dumas' A Wealth of Evil.

Mark Fuhrman's 1998 book Murder in Greenwich named Michael Skakel as the murderer and pointed out that numerous mistakes had been made in the police investigation. It was filmed in 2002 under the title The Murder in Greenwich .

Before the books were published, the two detectives Steve Carroll and Frank Garr as well as the police reporter Leonard Levitt had speculated that Michael Skakel was the murderer of Martha Moxley.

Leonard Levitt's book: Conviction: Solving the Moxley Murder: A Reporter and a Detective's Twenty-year Search for Justice won the 2005 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Nonfiction Book .

The pilot episode of the series Cold Case - No Victim Is Ever Forgotten (2003) shows noticeably many parallels to the Moxley case.


  • Robert F. Kennedy, Jr .: Framed: Why Michael Skakel Spent over a Decade in Prison for a Murder He Didn't Commit . 2016, ISBN 978-1510701779 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Jürgen Schönstein: New witnesses: Kennedy nephew confessed to murder Die Welt , June 22, 2000.
  2. Steven Geyer: Crime: A Murder, the Kennedys, and Pants Down Der Spiegel , June 10, 2002.
  3. Supreme Court confirmed: murder sentence against Kennedy nephew void n-tv , January 8, 2019.
  4. 15-year-olds killed in 1975: Supreme Court confirms the reversal of the murder sentence against Kennedy's nephew, Der Spiegel , January 8, 2019.
  5. Dominick Dunne: A Season in Purgatory , 1993, ISBN 978-0-517-58386-9 . German: Zeit des Pegefeuer 1996, ISBN 978-3-442-43314-8 .
  6. Timothy Dumas: A Wealth of Evil: The True Story of the Murder of Martha Moxley in America's Richest Community . 1999, ISBN 978-0-446-60732-2 .
  7. Mark Fuhrman: Murder in Greenwich: Who Killed Martha Moxley? 1998, ISBN 0-06-019141-4 .
  8. ^ Leonard Levitt: Conviction: Solving the Moxley Murder . 2004, ISBN 0-06-054430-9 .