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Friday, 7 June, 2002, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
A case that refused to go away
The 1975 murder of Martha Moxley in a wealthy area of Greenwich, Connecticut, provoked years of speculation before the case was finally reopened and Michael Skakel was convicted more than quarter of a century later.

Martha Moxley
Martha Moxley: Beaten and stabbed
On the night of her death, the 15-year-old had visited the home of the Skakel family - part of the Kennedy clan - with several other teenagers after a night of pre-Halloween pranks.

She then left the house, apparently bound for home, but never arrived.

Her body was found the next day under low-hanging fir trees on her family's property, located across the street from the Skakel estate.

She had been beaten with a six-iron golf club and stabbed in the throat with a piece of the club's shattered shaft.

'Hysterical'

One of Martha's friends discovered her body and ran to tell the murdered girl's mother.

Michael Skakel and lawyer Michael Sherman
Michael Skakel was trapped by his inconsistent statements
Dorothy Moxley, who had waited all night for her daughter to come home, described the conversation.

"She was hysterical. She said, 'I think I found Martha'. I said, 'Is she all right?' And she said, 'No I don't think so'."

The murder weapon was matched to a set of golf clubs owned by the Skakel family.

Both 15-year-old Michael - the son of Rushton Skakel, Ethel Kennedy's brother - and his older brother Thomas, then 17, were considered as possible suspects.

But in the absence of hard evidence, no-one was ever charged with the crime and detectives eventually closed the investigation.

Confessions

The case was reopened after several books accused local detectives of bungling the original investigation - not least by failing to search the Skakel home.

Robert F Kennedy
Skakel is the nephew of Robert F Kennedy, who was shot dead in 1968
It was not until January 2000 - 25 years after the murder - that Michael Skakel was arrested after a grand jury found that he had made several inconsistent statements to investigators.

At the subsequent trial, prosecutor Jonathan Benedict said Michael had confessed to killing Martha in conversations with friends.

"Some people can't keep a secret, as it turns out he's been talking about his night of mischief since at least the spring of 1978," Mr Benedict told the jury.

He also claimed that the Skakel family made a "concerted effort" to hide Michael's guilt from the police.

For its part, the defence said Michael was at the home of a cousin several miles away at the time of the murder.

See also:

07 Jun 02 | Americas
21 Jul 99 | Americas
26 Jul 99 | Americas
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