A medical examiner completed an autopsy in the death of Michele MacNeill and originally said her cause of death was natural due to a heart condition. However, a jury eventually convicted her husband, Dr. Martin MacNeill, of murder.
MacNeill’s daughters fought for justice in her case, insisting that their own father had murdered her on April 11, 2007. Investigators uncovered an affair between Martin MacNeill and Gypsy Willis, whom he married on the day of his wife’s funeral, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. You can read the original autopsy report in full here. Martin MacNeill was found guilty of murder and obstruction of justice by a jury November 9, 2013, the newspaper reported.
ABC’s “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.
Investigators Initially Believed Michele MacNeill Died From a Heart Condition but Later Determined She Was Poisoned
An autopsy completed on the body of Michele MacNeill in 2007 lists her cause of death as natural due to “chronic hypertension and myocarditis, which are capable of causing acute unexpected arrhythmia and sudden death.”
In 2010, that report was changed and the autopsy was amended, saying that drug toxicity may have played a role in her death. You can read the amended autopsy here. The amended autopsy lists her cause of death as “combined effects of heart disease” and “drug toxicity” and her manner of death as “undetermined.”
Chief Medical Examiner Todd C. Grey wrote in the amended report that the toxicology and investigative reports were reviewed at the request of the Utah County Attorney’s Office. He said that investigation revealed information that “raises suspicion that the decedent did not die solely as a result of abnormalities of her heart identified at autopsy.” He wrote that none of the drugs present in the autopsy were at a lethal level, but that the combined effects could produce “significant sedation and central nervous system depression.” It further says that the presence of the drugs “raises questions” as to whether she took the drugs on her own and of her own free will.
Michele MacNeill Was Found Dead in the Bathtub by Her 6-Year-Old Daughter, Ada
Michele MacNeil’s daughter, Ada MacNeill, found her lying lifeless in a bathtub after Martin MacNeill picked her up from school, according to ABC News. She told her older sister, Alexis Somers, about the traumatic experience, Somers told ABC.
“Ada said my dad picked her up from school and told her to, ‘Go check on your mother,’” Somers told ABC. “So she ran in, just calling, ‘Mommy! Mommy!’ And my dad stayed in the kitchen while she went into the bathroom and found her.”
The young girl played an important role at her father’s trial. She drew a picture for investigators to show exactly how she found her mother in the bathtub.
Alexis Somers told ABC News that as soon as she learned her mother was dead, she knew her father had killed her. She recalled that the morning of her mother’s death, her father left her “an odd phone message” asking her “to call her mother immediately,” according to ABC. When she called, her father answered the phone instead, she told ABC.
“He said, ‘Your mom. She’s in the tub. She’s not breathing. I’ve called an ambulance.’ And then he hung up. I just started driving to the airport and I was just screaming. Just screaming. He killed her. That was my first instinct.”