Martha Moxley's murder remains unsolved 43 years after 15-year-old was bludgeoned to death in her own backyard
Public interest in the case has remained as one of the suspects -- who was convicted but which was later overturned -- was connected to the Kennedys
On October 31, 1975, 15-year-old Martha Moxley was found beaten and stabbed to death in the backyard of her family home in Greenwich, Connecticut. The murder had long-lasting effects on the community, and as of today, 43 years after Moxley was killed, her murder remains unsolved and there are no definitive answers as to who her killer was.
One of the reasons why the murder has lodged itself in public consciousness was the fact that the suspects were connected to the Kennedys, something which functioned both as a gift and a curse. Michael Skakel and his brother Tommy Skakel were both friends of Moxley and also suspects in the murder as she was last seen in the Skakel house.
Their close connection to the Kennedys -- Michael Skakel was Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s cousin -- gave rise to the question whether money and privilege played a part in covering up the unsolved murder mystery.
Another theory highlights the involvement of the Skakels live-in tutor, Kenneth Littleton, who changed his story to the authorities multiple times and had a questionable character. Oxygen media's latest documentary titled 'Murder and Justice: The Case of Martha Moxley' looks at the various theories in the hope of finding some new leads or answers.
Murder of Martha Moxley
Moxley was killed just a year after her family shifted to Greenwich and was only 15 when she was found underneath a tree on her lawn. She was bludgeoned to death with a golf club and also stabbed in the neck with the broken handle while she was walking back to her home from the Skakel house, where she had been hanging out on that fatal night. The killer had attacked Moxley so badly that the golf club's metal shaft had broken, and which was driven through her neck. Her pants and underwear had been pulled down to her ankles but there was no sign of sexual assault.
The authorities believed that she had been hit on the head from behind while she was walking up the driveway to her home. Her body was then dragged for a small distance and left beneath a pine tree where she was discovered dead the next day. According to a medical examiner, Henry Lee, the location of the wound, the number of times she was struck, and the severity with which she was struck all lead to a a conclusion that it was a "frenzy type of killing".
Twenty three years into the case, Moxley's former neighbor Michael Skakel -- who was also 15 at the time of the murder -- was arrested. Skakel's relationship with Kennedy Jr, led people to question whether money and privilege had impacted the case. Questioning the burden of needing to prove the case, many books were written that capitalized on Skakel’s connection to the Kennedys. In fact, Kennedy Jr. wrote an article titled “A Miscarriage of Justice,” which insisted that Skakel was innocent, and suggested that the live-in tutor, Kenneth Littleton, killed Moxley.
In 2002, Skakel was found guilty and sentenced to 20-years-to-life, which was followed by many appeals. In 2013, a Connecticut Supreme Court judge, however, ruled that Skakel’s original lawyer had not provided an adequate defense by failing to interview a key witness, and his conviction was reversed.
In 2016, Kennedy Jr. also wrote a book titled 'Why Michael Skakel Spent Over a Decade in Prison for a Murder He Didn’t Commit.'
Former prosecutor specializing in sex, drugs and elderly crimes, Laura Coates, who hosts the Oxygen documentary, said that Skakel's conviction was only overturned due to a lack of defense and not because he was innocent.
Two of Skakel's former classmates John D. Higgins and Gregory Coleman revealed that Skakel had shared fragments of the crime with them. Coleman testified saying that Skakel had once told him, "I am going to get away with murder. I am a Kennedy."
Martha's mother Dorthy Moxley is still fighting for justice and also contends that there is "no doubt" that Skakel killed her daughter even though he firmly maintains his innocence.
Catch the series on Saturday, June 22 at 7 PM ET/PT on Oxygen.