Martha Moxley murder: Case timeline

The murder of a 15-year-old girl rocked a quiet Connecticut town in 1975. A look inside at the case that has frustrated investigators.

The girl next door

Martha Moxley
Martha Moxley

AP


In October 1975, Martha Moxley was a popular 15-year-old living with her parents, Dorthy and David, and her brother John, in the private Greenwich, Connecticut, neighborhood of Belle Haven — an exclusive community where violent crime was uncommon.

The neighbors

Skakel family
Rushton and Anne Skakel, and their seven children, lived across the street from the Moxley family in the private Greenwich, Connecticut, neighborhood of Belle Haven.

Skakel family


Another family living in Belle Haven was the Skakel family. Martha Moxley became friends with two of the Skakel boys, 15-year-old Michael and 17-year-old Tommy.

The Kennedy connection

Ethel and  Robert F. Kennedy
Ethel and  Robert F. Kennedy are shown ,leaving the church on their wedding day,  June 17, 1950, in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Getty Images


The Skakels were cousins of the Kennedys through the marriage of Ethel Skakel and Robert F. Kennedy.

The Skakel’s home life

Skakel family
The Skakel family

Rockville Superior Court


After their mother died of cancer, Rushton Skakel was the children’s sole parent. 

Revealing diary entries

Martha Moxley's diary
Martha Moxley’s diary

Rockville Superior Court


Martha Moxley recorded some interactions with the Skakels in her diary. In one entry, she wrote about 17-year-old Tommy Skakel, “Went driving in Tom’s car … and I was practically sitting on Tom’s lap … he kept putting his hand on my knee.” In another entry, she was particularly concerned with Michael’s behavior. The month before her death, on September 19, Martha wrote, “Michael was so totally out of it that he was being a real ass—- …  I really have to stop going over there.” 

The night before Halloween

MOXLEY
Martha Moxley, shown at age 14 in this 1974 photo, was murdered on Oct. 30, 1975. 

AP Photos


On the night of October 30, 1975, Martha Moxley went to the Skakel house to hang out. 

A horrific discovery

moxley-path.jpg
Investigatiors say Martha Moxley’s body had been dragged through the high grass in her family’s backyard and left under a tree.

State of Connecticut Dept. of Emergency Services & Public Protection


The next afternoon, on Halloween, Martha Moxley’s body was found under a tree near the back of her family’s property. She had been attacked near her driveway and dragged to that spot by the tree. Investigators believe she was killed between 9: 30 p.m. and 10: 00 p.m. the night before. 

The murder weapon

Martha Moxley murder weapon
Investigators traced a trail of blood to the Moxley driveway. There investigators discovered a piece of the murder weapon, the shaft of a 6-iron golf club, pictured at left.

AP Images


Martha Moxley had been beaten and stabbed with a Toney Penna golf club. Police later found a matching golf club from the same set on the Skakel property. The golf club she was struck with shattered from the force of the blows.

Michael Skalel’s alibi

Michael and Tommy Skakel
Michael, left, and and Tommy Skakel

Stephen Skakel/Rockville Superior Court


Since Martha Moxley was last seen with the Skakels, police looked to them for accounts of what occurred that night. Michael Skakel told police that at 9: 30 p.m., he left Martha and Tommy to go to his cousin Jimmy Terrien’s house and returned home around 11: 30 p.m. and went straight to bed.

Tommy Skakel’s alibi

Tommy Skakel was an initial suspect and reportedly the last person to see Martha Moxley alive. He told investigators she went home shortly after Michael left at 9: 30 p.m. Ken Littleton, the Skakel family tutor, said Tommy was watching TV with him around 10 p.m. He noticed nothing unusual about Tommy.

The Skakel’s cooperation ends 

On January 22, 1976, Rushton Skakel, who had allowed police to search his home after the murder, ended his family’s cooperation with investigators.    

No new leads

No arrest was made in Martha Moxley’s murder. Years passed and the case went cold.

The Sutton Report

skakel-sutton-report.jpg
In an effort to clear his family name, Rushton Skakel hired his own team of investigators. Their findings became known as The Sutton Report. 

In 1995, a leaked document from an investigation ordered by Rushton Skakel pointed a finger at Michael Skakel for the first time. Michael told the investigators he didn’t go straight to bed after he returned home from his cousin’s house. He said he went back out, climbed a tree outside of Martha Moxley’s  room and masturbated.

An alleged confession

Greg Coleman
Gregory Coleman recounted to a local news reporter what he says Michael Skakel told him when they attended  Elan, a reform school. “The first words he ever said to me was, ‘I’m going to get away with murder. I’m a Kennedy.'”

AP Images


Reports had also begun to circulate that while he was attending a reform school back in 1978, Michael Skakel had confessed to killing Martha Moxley. Gregory Coleman was one student who alleged Michael confessed to him saying, “I’m going to get away with murder. I’m a Kennedy.”

The case moves forward

Jonathan Benedict
State’s attorney Jonathan Benedict convened an unusual and rarely used one-person grand jury to look at all the evidence and all the suspects in the case. 

CBS News


In 1998, state’s attorney Jonathan Benedict convened a one-person grand jury to assess the evidence in the case. After an 18-month hearing, Michael Skakel was indicted for Martha Moxley’s murder. 

Charges filed 

Michael Skakel is charged with bludgeoning Martha Moxley to death in 1975; he surrenders to police in Greenwich. His trial would begin in May 2002.

Decades after the crime, a conviction

Michael Skakel sentenced
Michael Skakel at his sentencing for the murder of Martha Moxley.

Jane Rosenberg/artincourt@aol.com


On August 30, 2002, Michael Skakel was sentenced to 20 years to life for killing Martha Moxley. He was 41 years old.

Tony Bryant’s account

Tony Bryant
Tony Bryant, a former classmate of Michael Skakel, was claiming he knew the identity of Martha Moxley’s killers. On August 24, 2003, Bryant was videotaped by  Skakel’s legal team.

Skakel legal team


Michael Skakel’s legal team continued the fight to prove his innocence. On August 24, 2003, Tony Bryant, a former classmate of Michael’s, told Michael’s attorneys two of his friends who were visiting Belle Haven the night of Martha Moxley’s murder had confessed to killing a girl.

Armed with Tony Bryant’s story, Michael Skakel’s defense team requested a new trial. The judge denied the request.

An ineffective defense

Mickey Sherman and Hubert Santos.
Michael Skakel’s former attorney Mickey Sherman, seated, is questioned by Skakel’s new attorney Hubert Santos.

CBS News


September 27, 2010 – Michael Skakel’s legal team filed a new appeal that argued his trial attorney, Mickey Sherman, failed to provide a competent defense. Skakel’s new attorney, Hubert Santos, argued Sherman should have called witness Dennis Ossorio who could verify Michael was at his cousin Jimmy Terrien’s house at the time investigators believed Martha was murdered.    

Walking free

Michael Skakel
Michael Skakel was released from prison in 2013 after serving more than 11 years behind bars.

CBS News


In 2013, a Connecticut judge ordered a new trial for Michael Skakel, ruling his original lawyer had not represented him effectively. After spending over 11 years behind bars, Michael was released from prison.

A new ruling

On December 30, 2016, the Connecticut Supreme Court reinstated Michael Skakel’s murder conviction. The court ruled that his legal representation at trial was competent.     

Still grieving

Dorthy Moxley
in 2016, after Michael Skakel’s murder conviction was reinstated, Dorthy Moxley said she has no doubt that he was responsible for her daughter’s 1975 murder.

CBS News


Dorthy Moxley always believed Michael Skakel was guilty of killing her daughter. “I am sure that Michael is the young man who swung the golf club,” she said after the 2016 hearing. “There’s no doubt in my mind about that.”

Decision reversed

On May 4, 2018, the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed its 2016 decision and vacated Michael Skakel’s conviction.

The Final Say

Michael Skakel 2020
On October 30, 2020, 45 years after Martha Moxley’s murder, the State of Connecticut announced Michael Skakel would not be retried.

AP


On October 30, 2020, 45 years after Martha Moxley’;s murder, the State of Connecticut announced Michael Skakel would not be retried.

Download our Free App

For Breaking News & Analysis Download the Free CBS News app

Thanks for reading CBS NEWS.

Create your free account or log in
for more features.

Please enter email address to continue

Please enter valid email address to continue

Read More

Related Posts