Murder of Martha Moxley and trial of Michael Skakel examined on Halloween Horror on ID

Martha Moxley smiling in family pic
Martha Moxley was just 15 when she was bludgeoned to death in 1975. Pic credit: Family pic

Halloween Horror on ID is investigating the murder of teenager Martha Moxley, who was beaten and stabbed to death on the grounds of her home in the wealthy suburb of Belle Haven, Greenwich, in Connecticut.

The case sparked massive interest across the country because such a horrific murder had occurred in a very wealthy and exclusive neighborhood, and the police soon grew suspicious of Michael and Tommy Skakel, who were related to the Kennedy family.

On October 30, 1975, Martha and her friends were having fun at what was traditionally known as Mischief Night. This was an evening of hijinks and pranks performed by the neighborhood kids every year on the night before Halloween, and the night primarily involved throwing toilet paper into trees.

However, 15-year-old Martha never returned home. She was known to have stopped off at the home of teenage brothers Tommy and Michael Skakel before she was murdered.

Martha’s remains were discovered on her family estate. She had been savagely beaten with a golf club and stabbed in the neck with the club’s broken shaft.

There were suspicions that Martha and Tommy Skakel had been having a romantic relationship. The police questioned him, but he was never charged with anything.

Martha Moxley case reopened with Michael Skakel as prime suspect

The case grew cold, and nothing happened throughout the 1980s. However, a couple of books written about the case in the 1990s kept the murder in the public eye, which eventually led the case to be reinvestigated in 1998.

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In 2000, the police zeroed in on Michael Skakel and arrested him. The cops claimed Skakel had seen Martha kissing his brother and had killed her in a jealous rage. In 2002, he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years to life.

But the case didn’t end there. Skakel’s defense team embarked on a series of appeals, four of which were unsuccessful. However, in October 2013, a judge ruled that Skakel’s attorney had not represented him adequately and ordered a new trial. The prisoner was released on bail.

In 2016, the Connecticut Supreme Court reinstated Skakel’s conviction by a vote of 4-3. But, in a highly unusual and controversial move, the Supreme Court reversed that decision two years later and vacated the conviction.

Prosecutors decided no new trial for Michael Skakel in Martha Moxley murder

In 2020, Connecticut prosecutors announced they would not retry Skakel. The prosecutors cited the appearance of a new alibi witness combined with the death of another key witness, who claimed Skakel confessed, as the reasons why they wouldn’t pursue the case further.

The Moxley family said they were weary of the constant legal battles and were happy not to endure another trial.

Skakel’s cousin, politician Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., has been a strong supporter of his relative, stating, “The evidence is much stronger in suggesting that other people may have committed the crime.”

Martha Moxley was voted the most popular girl at the Western Junior High School. She was an extroverted character with numerous friends, making her murder all the more shocking. And her friends remain convinced that someone within the exclusive Belle Haven community murdered her.

Halloween Horror airs Friday at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

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