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On April 11, 2007, the couple’s then-6-year-old daughter discovered Michele MacNeill in a bathtub, her eyes open and not moving, wearing a track suit, according to the girl’s testimony at a preliminary hearing last year. The father told the girl to go to the neighbor’s to get help, while he called 911.
But in a recording of the 911 call, Martin MacNeill’s words are nearly inaudible as he screamed at the dispatcher for help. He gave an incorrect address and hung up on the dispatcher twice. Prosecutors believe MacNeill lied to the dispatcher about performing resuscitation and lied to police about events surrounding his wife’s death in an effort to hinder, delay or prevent any investigation.
Though the Utah County Attorney’s Office began investigating Michele MacNeill’s death in 2008, charges were not filed against Martin MacNeill until 2012.
The state medical examiner has never ruled Michele MacNeill’s death a homicide. After an autopsy in 2007, her manner of death was ruled "natural," the result of "chronic hypertension and myocarditis, which are capable of causing acute unexpected arrhythmia and sudden death."
But investigators say Martin MacNeill called the medical examiner multiple times and gave misleading information. In 2010, in a new investigative report, Chief Medical Examiner Todd Grey changed the cause of death to the combined effects of heart disease and drug toxicity. The manner of death was changed to "undetermined."
In recent years, other experts have also reviewed the case. A University of Utah professor of pharmacology and toxicology said he believed Michele MacNeill had taken a potentially lethal dose of medication. A medical examiner in Florida determined the immediate cause of death was drowning and that, contrary to the Utah medical examiner’s findings, there was no evidence of acute or active myocarditis.
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