A Wilderness of Error
The conviction of Jeffrey MacDonald for the murder of his wife and two small children in 1970 was very odd for a number of reasons. A preliminary army investigation cleared him entirely, but he was found guilty by a jury at a criminal trial nine years later. Today opinion on the case continues to be divided, and the true story of what happened will likely never be known. What Errol Morris’s book makes clear, however, is that the police investigation into the murder was badly bungled from the start, and the prosecution’s case was incompetent, unfair and probably unconstitutional. Essentially a mad, if belated, dash to judgment, MacDonald’s case shows what can happen once an investigation gets set on the wrong tracks. That Morris admits to only presenting a fragment of the whole story in such a weighty and detailed book is testament to the complexity of the case and the extent of the wilderness.