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On October 31, 1975, the stabbed and bludgeoned body of 15-year-old Martha Moxley was found in the backyard of her family’s Greenwich, Connecticut, home. While the initial investigation brought forth several suspects, major strides would not be made in the case until the late 1990s and early 2000s, when investigators circled around the only person ever charged, tried, and convicted of Martha’s murder — her neighbor, Michael Skakel, a relative of the Kennedy family.
But Michael’s conviction was ultimately vacated in 2018 due to inadequate representation by his trial attorney, and to this day, it is still unclear what happened to the young woman. The first photographs taken at the crime scene, however, were able to give investigators key insight into the brutal slaying.
Scroll below to see what authorities uncovered.
The broken golf club found at crime scene. Near Martha’s body, investigators discovered a broken golf club that they believed was used in the attack. The assailant had attacked Martha so violently that the club’s metal shaft snapped, and Martha’s skull fractured, according to the Hartford Courant. The shaft was then driven through her neck.
Shaft of the broken golf club. While the golf club was traced back to a set owned by Martha’s neighbors, the Skakels, no physical evidence connected anyone in the family to the murder weapon or crime scene. The family patriarch, Rushton Skakel, argued that his children often left their clubs outside, so anyone could have taken the murder weapon from their yard.
Blood on Moxleys’ driveway. Police theorized that as Martha walked up the driveway to her home on the evening of October 30, 1975, she was hit on the head from behind. She had just left the Skakel household, and 17-year-old Thomas “Tommy” Skakel was reportedly the last known person to see her alive. Her body was then dragged about 70 feet to her backyard and left below a pine tree, where she was found the following day, reported the Hartford Courant.
Grass where Moxley’s body was discovered. When Martha was found, her pants and underwear had been pulled down around her ankles, but there was no sign of sexual assault, reported The New York Times. Her time of death was estimated to be approximately 10:00 p.m., according to the Hartford Courant.
Map of the Skakel and Moxley residences. In the diary she kept in the months leading up to her death, Martha wrote about several evenings spent with friends at the Skakel house, where she hung out with Tommy and his younger brother Michael, who was 15 at the time. Both boys appeared to pursue Martha, but she did not seem interested in either of them, according to her journal entries.
Tommy later stated that on the night of Martha’s murder, they had a sexual encounter. Michael also allegedly later admitted that after Martha went home, he climbed into a tree outside her residence and masturbated in it.
Aerial photograph of the crime scene and Moxley home. Around 10:00 p.m. the night of Martha’s murder, there were several reports of unusual noises around the neighborhood, according to the Hartford Courant. While Martha’s mother, Dorthy Moxley, told investigators she heard one or more loud voices in the yard, the youngest Skakel brother, Stephen Skakel, said he was awakened by screams. Two dogs also started barking in a nearby yard, and several neighbors went outside to see the source of the commotion, reported the New Haven Register.
Martha Moxley at 14 years old. The Moxley family moved from Piedmont, California, to their sprawling home in Greenwich, Connecticut, during the summer of 1974. Martha flourished as the new girl in town, and nine months after her arrival, she was voted the most popular girl at Western Junior High School, according to CNN.
Martha’s brother, John Moxley, described his sister as “easy to get along with, upbeat, [and] friendly”: “Martha was a person who had everything in the world going for her. She was friendly, she was athletic, she was talented in the arts. Everything seemed to come very easily to Martha.”
The Skakel family. In January 2000, Michael was arrested and charged with the murder of Martha Moxley. He was then tried, found guilty, and sentenced between 20 years to life in prison for Martha’s murder, reported NBC News. A series of appeals, however, resulted in his conviction being overturned in 2018. To this day, he maintains his innocence.
To learn more about the infamous Greenwich slaying, watch “Murder and Justice: The Case of Martha Moxley,” a three-part event series airing Saturdays at 7/6c on Oxygen.
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