Contemplating Murder

Remember the billboard in The Great Gatsby and how your high school lit teacher went on and on about what it represents?

Remember the billboard in The Great Gatsby and how your high school lit teacher went on and on about what it represents?

So, I’ve been reading about Martin MacNeill—the guy in Utah who was just convicted of first degree murder for convincing his wife, Michelle,  to get cosmetic surgery, drugging her with her prescription pain meds, and then helping her into the bathtub. Of course, she passed out and drowned. Initially, her death was considered to be of “natural causes,” and he would have gotten away with it, too,  had it not been for those meddling kids. No, not Scooby and the gang, but Dr. MacNeill’s own children—they were convinced that their father killed their mom, and so they persuaded the police to investigate her death as a murder.

Wow. When dad kills mom and hires his mistress to be the nanny, but the kids recognize she is his girlfriend and so they go to the police…that family environment is more than just dysfunctional. It’s creepy and disturbing. Kudos to the MacNeill kids for their pursuit of justice for their mom. I applaud their courage and conviction, and pray for their healing.

Yes, it’s mind-boggling, isn’t it? A person plotting the death of a spouse?

After I read the article about the MacNeill family, I couldn’t help but peruse the comments. The comments are always the most interesting part of an on-line article. Several people asked why he—or anyone—would murder their spouse when they could just get a divorce instead. Presumably, the folks asking this question are single or very happily married.

Having been through a divorce, I can tell you why a person would choose murder over divorce—not that it makes it okay:

Divorces cost money. In MacNeill’s case, he would have been leaving his wife, the mother of his eight children, for another woman. He could expect to pay big bucks in alimony, marital assets, court fees and child support. When you are widowed, you typically don’t lose money or assets. You might even collect life insurance money.

Divorces can take years to finalize. When someone dies, it’s quick. You grieve and move on.

With a divorce, someone is the bad guy. Someone is at fault. One of the two people will lose friends and reputation. Both will be the subject of gossip and speculation. On the other hand, if you are widowed, you get out of the marriage and everyone still loves you.

Dare I say it? Most people in an unhappy marriage will occasionally look at their spouse and think, “Man, it would be so much easier for me if you just died.”

When I was married to my first husband—who really was/is a wonderful person in many respects—I would entertain the thought of him dying. I’d think, “Yes, I would be devastated. Truly devastated. Oh, I would hope it would be sudden and painless! I don’t want him to suffer. But after the initial shock and grief, hey, I’d be free to move on. That’s not a bad deal.”

And I would feel so guilty just for thinking that. Eventually, I confided in a friend about this dark fantasy, and she laughed. “Oh, please! You think you are the only woman who has ever pictured herself as a happy widow? Every woman wishes her husband was dead every now and then.”

But, of course, it was always a very fleeting thought, and my fantasies had him dying quickly in an accident or of sudden illness. It never involved anything as sinister as murder. I think it’s safe to assume that most people understand that murder is the most immoral and illegal thing a person can do. We don’t even contemplate it when we wish someone dead—not seriously, anyway.

And I’m happy to report that my friend who claimed that every woman wishes her husband would die is wrong. In the eight years I have been with my current guy, I have never once gleefully entertained the idea of him dying. If anything, I am always relieved when he walks through the door.

His mother, on the other hand, is a very different story. I do daydream about the day when she will finally pass away, and it is a very, very good dream, not a sad one. Now, if you are shaking your head in disgust of me, I’m going to have to believe you haven’t changed your mother-in-law’s Depends today. You probably haven’t stuck your finger in her mouth to clean out the dry, chewed food that she pockets in her cheeks. Am I right about that?

So, yes, I will freely confess that when she opened her eyes this morning, I thought, “Damn! No visit from the grim reaper last night? That’s too bad.” Still, I’m not plotting her murder. Her eventual death? Yes. Murder? Never.

I’m not telling you this because I think I am better than Martin MacNeill. I’m not. You are not. We are all deeply flawed human beings. Period.

I’m really just contemplating what makes a person think they can get away with murder. In MacNeill’s case, I’m pretty sure he thought he was smarter than the police, the prosecutors, the judge, and the jury. That’s cocky. Okay, he is a doctor and a lawyer. He’s a bright guy, but still, it takes a lot of bravado to believe you are that much smarter than everyone else.

And secondly, what about God? Even if a person IS brilliant and comes up with a fool-proof plan to kill someone and make it look like an accident, God knows. Maybe I’ll sound superstitious in admitting this, but yes, I think God sees all—the good and the bad that we all do. Remember the eyes on the billboard in The Great Gatsby? The eyes of J. T. Eckleburg? And how Wilson, the lowly mechanic, gestured to them and said that God sees everything? Yeah, like that.

Did Martin MacNeill not believe in God? He was a former deacon in the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. At one time, it would at least seem that he believed in God. Or was his faith as false as his tears when he watched paramedics trying to revive his wife?

I don’t have the answers to these questions. I’m just thinking aloud having read one article from Yahoo! News, and we all know what high quality journalism that is. Eyeroll.

Really, it’s all just something to contemplate.


One thought on “Contemplating Murder

  1. Josizzle

    I liked this one, partially because whenever people ask me how things are my response tends to involve “the dog is good, but the Guinea Pig won’t die” which makes the laugh and cringe and say “ohhhhh…” all at the same time… I have so many thoughts about this that it’s almost impossible to write a comment that won’t be ridiculously long and rambling, so, feel free to eyeroll! 🙂
    1. I, very often, think about Drew’s death and how different my life would be… I think it’s because I’m a worrier, though. I do find myself thinking about the “positive” ways my life would change and realising, with a pretty serious pang of hurt and “I’m in a good relationship” that whenever I think about something exciting my second or third thought is about telling Drew about it or having him join me… I guess I’m saying that I often “fantasize” about Drew’s death (we’ve had long conversations about the fact that we both have occasional “what if we broke up?” mind games where we start separating our belongings and picking where we’d move… we tend to think that’s healthy), but I do, still, get a jolt of joy and, I guess, relief, when he walks through the door or texts me (even the annoying ones)…
    2. I have long felt that people are far too cruel to themselves when it comes to their humanity. I once had a dear friend whose sister had a serious heart condition and somehow managed to live to, like, 20 when she was supposed to die by 3 or 4. She was a very sweet woman, but had to be hospitalised often, and was seriously developmentally disabled. I remember my friend had a recital that was sort of a big deal (heck, at the time it was THE big deal) and her family had to miss it because at the last minute her sister got upset about something, threw herself down, and dislocated/broke her hip (literally, on their walk to the car). Later, I found her crying and talked to her about it and she said that she was upset because she hated her sister. I told her that I knew better than that (I’d seen them, she didn’t hate her) and she blurted out something like “I just wish she’d die…” and I said “that makes sense”… which kinda’ made her stop for a second. We then got into a conversation about the “morality of emotions” and I told her that I felt like it was completely natural that she was tired of having to miss out on major events because of her sister’s illness, and that it wasn’t hateful at all to recognise how much “better” things will be when she dies. I also brought her sister flowers in the hospital and told her to get better soon.
    3. I love you! 🙂


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