Martin MacNeill’s Death: How the Doctor Died in Prison

martin macneill death

Find a Grave Michele MacNeil./Dr. Martin MacNeill and his wife, Michele MacNeill.

Martin MacNeill died by suicide in prison, where he was serving time for the murder of his wife, Michele MacNeill.

Investigators initially believed the death of his wife in 2007 was due to a heart condition, but further investigation revealed he was carrying on an affair with Gypsy Willis, and he submitted documents claiming they were married on the day of his wife’s funeral, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. His daughters fought for justice in the case, and he was convicted of murder and obstruction of justice in 2013.

ABC 20/20 is revisiting the case in an encore episode, “The Perfect Nanny.” It airs Friday, August 27, 2021 at 9 p.m. Eastern time.

Here’s what you need to know:

Martin MacNeill Died By Suicide in Prison When He Was Assigned to Work in a Greenhouse

Martin MacNeill was 60 years old when he was found dead in the yard of a Utah state prison April 9, 2017, after serving only about four years of his life sentence in prison, according to the Deseret News. The suicide came after multiple suicide attempts, the article said.

He was able to use equipment for a heater in the greenhouse to kill himself, according to a report obtained by the newspaper. Two other inmates found him unresponsive, and attempted to revive him, the article said. The inmates “believed that MacNeill killed himself because of the appeal that he had lost,” according to the report.

He was permitted to be in the greenhouse because he had been granted permission to care for the plants, the article said. According to the report, MacNeill told the other inmates he had been “tortured” after his last suicide attempt, and that he would not tell anyone if he planned a suicide again.

To Michele MacNeill, ‘Her Family Was Her Life,” Said Daughter Alexis Somers

Alexis Somers fought for justice for her mother until her father was behind bars, she told ABC News. She worked to erase the memory of her father after his conviction, removing his name from her mother’s tombstone and changing her own last name to her mother’s maiden name, she told ABC.

“All she cared about, I mean, is her family. I mean, her family was her life,” Somers told ABC.

She went to medical school, and now has her own practice in family medicine, she told ABC.

“I wanted to graduate having my mom’s maiden name. I don’t want to be Dr. MacNeill,” Somers told ABC. “I don’t want to have any part of my dad.”

A high school friend of Michele MacNeill wrote a tribute to her on Find a Grave, saying MacNeill had been the homecoming queen at Concord High School in California in the 1975 class.

“As for those of us that are left behind I can say this,” she wrote. “I never met a person that didn’t think Michele was a wonderful person. I am amongst that list.”

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week with assistance in English and Spanish. You can also speak with a trained crisis counselor 24/7 by texting HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.

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