During Michael Skakel’s 2002 trial for the 1975 murder of his neighbor Martha Moxley, prosecutors relied heavily on witness testimonies from Skakel’s former classmates at the Elan School, a corrective boarding school for troubled youths.
Skakel had been sent to the school in 1978 to avoid prosecution following a drunken driving charge, and while there, he met several other students, including Gregory Coleman, John Higgins, and Chuck Seigan. All three men testified for the prosecution about statements they claim Skakel made during their time together — which very likely helped the prosecution send Skakel behind bars for Martha’s murder, although a series of appeals resulted in his conviction being overturned.
In an exclusive interview for “Murder and Justice: The Case of Martha Moxley,” airing on Oxygen Saturdays at 7/6c, Chuck Seigan recalled that in 1996, he received a phone call from Higgins. Higgins told Seigan that Skakel had confessed to murdering Martha almost 20 years ago at the Elan School.
At first, Seigan was confused as to why Higgins confided in him and did not report the alleged confession to police, but then he remembered Skakel’s “Kennedy connection.”
“Paranoia kind of came about… I was scared,” Seigan told former federal prosecutor and series host Laura Coates. “I didn’t know what to do with the information that I was given.”
Seigan said he “wrestled” with Higgins’ disclosure for months until he watched an interview with Martha’s mother, Dorthy Moxley, who pleaded for anyone with information about Martha’s murder to come forward. Seigan knew he could no longer stay silent about Skakel’s reported involvement in the case.
In 2002, both Seigan and Higgins testified about Skakel’s alleged admissions. Higgins said Skakel made a “progression of statements” about the night Martha was murdered, initially claiming he did not know if he had killed Martha, but ultimately saying, “I did it.”
Higgins testified Skakel "related that he was running through some woods … He had a golf club in his hand. He looked up, he saw pine trees. The next thing he remembers is he woke up in his house,” reported the Los Angeles Times.
On the stand, Seigan said that Skakel had told classmates he was drunk on October 30, 1975, and that he did not know whether or not he had been the one to bludgeon Martha to death. Seigan claimed Skakel had made these statements in multiple group therapy sessions, during which students confronted Skakel about his alleged involvement.
But during “Murder and Justice,” Seigan said the school’s director, Joseph Ricci, had told students that Skakel was attending Elan because “there was a girl murdered in his neighborhood, and they think he did it.” After that, he said students attempted to elicit a confession from Skakel as part of his treatment.
Now, Seigan believes that no credible confession could have come from Skakel during his time at the Elan School. As time went on, Seigan also began questioning Higgins’ credibility. Seigan spoke with several other former classmates, who caused him to reflect that Higgins had “tried to get people in trouble all the time.”
Seigan also wondered why Higgins had waited so long to disclose the alleged confession, adding that Skakel would not have confided in Higgins because the two were never close friends.
“I do not think Michael Skakel ever confessed, at any time,” concluded Seigan.
To hear theories on what really happened to Martha Moxley, watch “Murder and Justice: The Case of Martha Moxley” on Oxygen.
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