ABC News reported that on April 11, 2007, Alexis Somers mother, Michele MacNeill, was killed by her father Martin MacNeill. And now, on the 10th anniversary of her mother’s murder, Alexis is reflecting on the nightmare she has endured for the past decade.
– Cathy (@courtchatter) April 10, 2017
At the time of her mother’s death, Alexis was in her first year of medical school. The horror of the event turned her life upside down.
“Everything that we knew as a family was destroyed. Our family has been shattered by a man who we thought we knew and loved but he lived a life of lies and destroyed so many people.”
Martin MacNeill was found guilty of drugging and drowning his wife in a bathtub in November 2013, allegedly so he could continue a romance with his mistress. A wealthy doctor and lawyer, Martin MacNeill and his wife lived in Pleasant Grove, Utah: they had four biological children and four adopted children.
Alexis said that, initially, no-one was able to prove that her father was involved in her mother’s death.
“I knew that my father had killed my mom, but no one was listening to us, so we had to fight.”
Then, just two days before the 10th anniversary of her mother’s death, a correctional facility officer knocked on the door of Alexis’s home to advise that her father had apparently commit suicide at Utah State prison.
“They wanted to let me know before it broke in the media. I appreciated that so I could let my family know.”
Speaking of her father’s death, Alexis said all she feels is sadness.
“It’s just been such a sad 10 years.”
– Daily Herald (@heraldextra) April 11, 2017
Martin MacNeill and his mistress Gypsy Willis were convicted of fraud in 2009. They used his adopted daughter’s Social Security number to enable Willis to open bank accounts under a false name because she had bad credit. Then, in 2012 when MacNeill was released from prison, he was charged with obstruction of justice and first-degree murder for the death of his wife. These charges were due in part to the perseverance of Alexis and other family members.
Referring to her father as someone she “loved and admired,” Alexis now realizes that her father’s life with their family was just a “facade.”
“It was not only that loss and my life being turned upside down but this struggle and battle to try to prove and to try to get justice for my mother who was murdered.”
Part of Alexis’s determination to put her own father in prison stemmed from her feelings of responsibility for others.
“I felt it was my duty that I had to protect other people from my father. I knew that if he was not in jail that he would be out and hurting other people.”
In 2013, Martin MacNeill went on trial for the murder of his wife, Michele MacNeill. Unfortunately, this was a horrific experience for Alexis because the trial started on the day she gave birth to her twins, and she was required to testify a week later. Following a lengthy trial, MacNeill was convicted of murder and obstruction of justice.
“It’s been a struggle and a fight, but fighting for justice. My father had to be in prison because he was a man that would not stop. His evil would continue.”
– Deseret News (@DeseretNews) April 11, 2017
But this wasn’t the end for Alexis: in a 2014 trial, Martin McNeil was also found guilty of sexually abusing his daughter in May 2007. Randy Spencer was MacNeill’s defense attorney for 10 years, and speaking to ABC News on Tuesday he said he still believes his client was innocent of both murder and sexual abuse.
“There’s a lot more to Martin MacNeill than the monster the media has made him out to be. Prior to these allegations, he was a man who was looked up to by his family and friends, for his professional accomplishments and for many good things that he did, the people that he helped.”
The last time Spencer saw Martin MacNeill was on March 30, when he visited him in prison. He said that prison life was very challenging for MacNeill.
“He was a doctor and lawyer and experienced many things in life and to be incarcerated was very hard on him. The way he described it to me was he said it was ‘no life.'”
Although MacNeill’s official cause of death is still under review by the Office of the Medical Examiner, Martin MacNeill’s death at Utah State prison on April 9 is being investigated as a suicide.
After her father’s death, Alexis Somers expressed her wish that her father’s death would finally bring about a sense of “peace,” not only for herself and her family, but for “others that have been victimized by my father.” She hopes everyone can now “move on.”
Despite her desire to move on, Alexis’s mother’s death has taken a drastic toll on Alexis’s life.
“We lost so much. My mother, she was my best friend, almost my second half. She was the biggest part of my life. He took away our mother who was the most amazing, amazing human being that I’ve ever met. She was the exact opposite of him. She was the most loving and caring person. She raised four children and then opened her heart and her life and adopted four more children. And she was just a wonderful example of just love and compassion.”
Somers said that it’s been very difficult trying to pick up the pieces of her life over the past 10 years.
“And finishing medical school and residency and working, doing all the normal life things. It’s hard when you’re in a constant battle and struggling because of the acts of one man. I’m trying to focus on the good in my life. I’m trying to focus on my mother. She was amazing. I have so many memories of her. She was just my example of everything: love, compassion.”
– ABC 4 News (@abc4utah) April 11, 2017
Now, 10 years after losing her mother, Somers must handle the issue of her father’s remains whilst also taking her children to see the flowers, to “see something beautiful” at one of her mother’s favorite places.
“I tell them a lot of stories about grandma Michele. They definitely know her. I just wish she was able to be here with us.”
ABC News reported back in November, 2013, that Martin MacNeill’s former mistress, Gypsy Willis, said she was shocked by the guilty verdict and still believed that MacNeill was innocent. Speaking to ABC News, she said she was so shocked that it took a while to pull herself together.
At MacNeill’s trial, the issue between the prosecution and defense was Michelle’s cause of death. According to prosecutors, MacNeill encouraged his wife to have plastic surgery so he could dope her during recovery, then drown her in the bathtub. This would then allow his mistress to move into the family home.
Defense lawyers said that Michelle’s death was due to heart problems, causing her to fall into the bathtub. Initially, the coroner ruled that Michelle died of natural causes, and it was only because two of Michelle’s daughters, Alexis and Rachel, begged county officials to open an investigation that their father was placed under suspicion. They both believed their father had murdered their mother.
MacNeill’s mistress said she was horrified when she learned that prosecutors were alleging that she was MacNeill’s motive for killing his wife. MacNeill had sent her a text message to say that Michelle was dead and, because she was a nursing student at that time, she offered to help. After his wife’s funeral, MacNeill asked Willis to move in to the family home. It was later revealed that MacNeill had named Willis as his beneficiary.
“I thought that it would be better if everyone had had time to regroup and that sort of thing. He was rather insistent that he needed help and that I would be a great support to him and his life.”
It was only later that she realized it was a huge mistake moving into the family home.
“I only wanted to come and support the man I cared for in whatever way I could. And it was a bad choice. The relationship ended when I realized that I was being thrown into a federal case and that my association with this person had destroyed my life and career.”
– Deseret News (@DeseretNews) April 11, 2017
The Washington Post reported that, in the months before MacNeill murdered his wife, he told his church, family, and friends that he was dying from cancer. He then rearranged his finances and took trips, on the pretense that they were for medical care.
But, of course, Martin didn’t have cancer: what he did have was a mistress and a plan to kill his wife.
Court documents state that Martin’s plan was to deflect attention away from himself so that he wouldn’t be involved in the events that would unfold on the day his 50-year-old former beauty queen wife died.
After convincing his wife to undergo plastic surgery in 2007, he drugged her when she returned to the home and left her to die in a bathtub, to be later found by their six-year-old daughter, Ada.
And now, almost a decade after Michelle’s murder, 61-year-old Martin MacNeill was declared dead at the Olympus Facility at the Utah State Prison in Draper. He was doing time for first-degree murder, second-degree obstruction of justice, and second-degree forcible sex abuse.
People magazine reported that Martin Neill was found unresponsive, then pronounced dead at Utah State prison in Draper, Utah.
MacNeill’s death ends a long saga of lies and secrets. Just a few weeks after murdering his wife, Martin introduced his mistress as the children’s nanny, and moved her into the family home.
– Cathy (@courtchatter) April 10, 2017
At his sentencing in 2014, Alexis Summers had strong words for her father.
“His facade has now crumbled. My father is a monster. He has never shown remorse for any of his crimes. He must be held accountable for his actions.”
[Featured Image by Scott Sommerdorf-Pool/Getty Images]