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Episode 27: Gypsy Willis Testimony, Martin MacNeill Trial

From the outside, the MacNeills were the ideal Mormon family. They lived in a gated community in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Martin MacNeill was a doctor, lawyer, and Mormon Bishop; his homemaker wife Michele was a former fashion model and beauty queen. The couple had four natural children: Rachel, Vanessa, Alexis and Damian, and four girls adopted from the Ukraine: Giselle, Elle, Sabrina, and Ada.

But in private, Martin MacNeill was not happy with Michele, talked about wanting a divorce, watched pornography and had extramarital affairs. When, after 30 years of marriage, Michele, 50, died while at home recovering from a facelift, her family was suspicious. Their suspicious increased when MacNeill began openly dating his children’s nanny, Gypsy Willis.

During her testimony at Martin MacNeill’s murder trial in 2013, Gypsy calmly describes meeting the doctor at a dating site in 2005, when she was a nursing student. They went to lunch, and MacNeill seemed reserved. He told her he was married and had a great life, but he was looking for extramarital excitement, she says, “and that is what I was. It was very passionate and very sexual. It was so fun—this beautiful, handsome doctor taking time out of his life for me.”

After the lunch, they stayed in touch; instant messaging progressed to texting, their relationship eventually shifting from lunch dates to lovers around January 2006. She claims to have been genuinely shocked when Michele MacNeill died, but went along with Martin’s plan to move her into his family’s life gradually, as nanny to the younger children. Gypsy says Martin proposed to her just three months after his wife’s death, although they were never married. She also read excerpts from letters she and MacNeill exchanged while both were in prison on identity-theft charges.

These charges were just one of the dark secrets that emerged during the trial. MacNeill had stolen his 16-year-old adopted daughter Giselle’s identity documents and given them to Gypsy. He was also found guilty of sexually molesting Alexis on two occasions. It also turned out that MacNeill had falsified university transcripts to enter medical school, and that the couple’s youngest adopted daughter Ada was, in fact, the child of their daughter Vanessa, who was a heroin addict. In 2010, their 24-year old son Damian committed suicide.

Gypsy Willis was sentenced to three years of probation. Martin MacNeill was sentenced to life without parole, and committed suicide in Utah State Prison in April 2017, at the age of 60.

Listen to Gypsy’s testimony here

Forensic Transmissions
Forensic Transmissions
Episode 27: Gypsy Willis Testimony, Martin MacNeill Trial