In the fall of 1975, a heinous crime rocked Greenwich, Connecticut. A teenage girl was brutally murdered in Belle Haven, an especially private and wealthy neighborhood in what consistently ranks as one of the wealthiest communities in the country.
A cautionary tale
I grew up not far from there. But as a kid, I was blissfully unaware of what had happened on the other side of the tracks — or more accurately — on the “right” side of I-95, just a few short miles away. As the years went by and the case remained unsolved, my friends and I spent countless hours playing on our own street, less than a five-minute drive away from the spot where someone had beaten Martha Moxley to death with a golf club.
At some point — probably in my early teens — I learned all about the girl who was killed on “Mischief Night,” the night before Halloween when teens egg cars, houses and decorate their neighborhoods with toilet paper. Adults used Martha’s story as a cautionary tale, warning us not to go out on Mischief Night, or not to stay out too late if we did. Being teenagers — and more accurately being teenage girls — we also swapped stories, gossiped and speculated about the unknown killer and unsolved crime.
‘Super Cop’ comes to town
As a young reporter my first “real” newspaper job in Greenwich in the 1990s, I worked with one of Martha’s closest friends. As you can imagine, that gave me a whole new perspective on the matter. It was no longer just a brutal and senseless crime that rocked my town; it was a brutal and senseless crime that directly affected someone I knew.
Given that, you can also imagine my reaction when, as a reporter for the same paper, I witnessed former LAPD Detective Mark Fuhrman’s arrival in town. Although I wasn’t the police reporter at the time (I had happily given the beat to a colleague) I do know the Greenwich police — long frustrated and embarrassed about their inability to solve the Moxley case — weren’t exactly happy about it, either. Apparently Fuhrman got what he wanted — and then he wrote a book. In it, he identified Michael Skakel, who is related to the Kennedys, as the “prime suspect” in the case.
The wheels of justice
As so often happens, especially in big cases, the wheels of justice seem to turn very, very slowly — until something happens to speed things up. In this case, it just so happened that a grand jury investigation was authorized in 1998, the same year that Fuhrman’s book was released.
The grand jury investigation itself took more than a year. As a result, Skakel turned himself in to authorities in January, 2000. Two years later, he was tried and convicted of murder, and he was ultimately sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
He remained in prison for more than 10 years, until a judge ruled that his attorney made mistakes that resulted in a wrongful conviction.
According to a Hartford Courant account, however, prosecutors now want Skakel “back in prison.”
So do I.