This is the first chapter of Joe Bruno’s upcoming book “The Mysterious Murder of Martha Moxley: Did The Political and Financial Power of the Kennedy/Skakel Family Trump the Truth?” Due out in September 2016.


It was Halloween morning, 1975, in the Belle Haven section of the tony town of Greenwich, Connecticut, and 15-year-old girl Shelia McGuire set out on a mission to find her best friend, the blond and beautiful, Martha Moxley, who had mysteriously disappeared the night before.

The previous night was Mischief Night in Greenwich; a night in which the neighborhood youths, bored from experiencing the extravagances of the filthy rich, go on a yearly rampage to cause as much damage as humanly possible. Armed with toilet paper, eggs, shaving cream, baseball bats, gold clubs and M-80 explosives, the youths plot to wreak havoc on the neighborhood’s houses, mailboxes, traffic signs, and even the two two-man booths the guards use as a command station to protect the self-absorbed people of the neighborhood; including the very youths bent on making the guard’s lives miserable on Mischief Night.

Shelia knew that Martha had made tentative plans to join the gang of youthful revelers. But instead of joining the unruly crowd herself, Shelia attended a pre-Halloween party at the friend’s house with a boy named David; a first date that Martha had arranged. Shelia had returned home at about midnight, not satisfied about how the date had gone and intent on telling Martha how miserably she had failed wooing a boy she had a desperate crush on.

Shelia drifted off into a troubled sleep, and at 2 am she was awaken by her mother.

“Shelia, Dorothy Moxley is on the phone,” her mother said. “She said her daughter, Martha’s not home yet, and she’s wondering if she attended the same Halloween party as you did.”

Shelia told her mother, that as far as she knew, Martha had gone to her boyfriend, Jeffrey Grey’s, house to rustle him up some dinner. Shelia didn’t mention that Martha’s after-dinner activities included plans to paint the town with eggs, toilet paper, and shaving cream, and any other goo they could get their hands on.

At 4 am, Dorothy Moxley again phoned the Shelia’s residence, and this time extreme stress was evident in her voice.

“No, we still haven’t seen or heard from Marta,” Mrs. McGuire told Shelia’s mother

After Mrs. McGuire hung up the phone, Shelia told her mother, “It’s Mischief Night. Kids all over town are drinking and who knows what else. Martha will be okay.”

Thinking Martha is probably someplace sleeping off too much booze, or pot, or maybe both, Shelia drops back into an uneasy sleep.

But when Shelia awakens in the late morning, she discovered that Martha had still not returned home, and that the town was in a frenzy, looking for the missing girl. Shelia decided to join the search.

After making the rounds of known teenaged making-out spots, Shelia soon found herself on a deserted patch of grass and trees on the northwest side of the Moxley property, just yards away from Walsh Lane, which divides the Moxley’s home from that of Rushton Skakel, whose sister is Ethel Skakel Kennedy, the wife of the late Robert F. Kennedy, the former Attorney of the United States and brother to John F. Kennedy, the assassinated President.

After crossing Walsh Lane, Shelia became fixated on a large, dreary, silvery-blue pine, which, even though its base is down a steep slope, still towers over the Moxley house, which is about 200 feet yards southeast of the tree. Suddenly, Shelia spotted something down the slope that looked like a blue mattress with a pink sleeping bag sitting on top of it. She had seen something like it just a few weeks earlier in the Skakel yard across Walsh Lane.

As Shelia stepped slowly down the slope, the mattress and sleeping bag started to take a different and unimaginable shape.

Shelia later said, “All of a sudden the picture I was seeing was not what I was telling myself it was, but rather this incredible horrific sight of this child that I knew so well. And there was no escaping what was before me now.”

“Martha was lying on her stomach. With her feet pointed toward the slope and her head pointed toward her house. She was wearing a navy-blue pinwhale corduroy jeans, and they were pushed down around her ankles and all bunched up. She was naked from the waist down. On her torso she had a navy L.L. Bean-style down jacket that had those Michelin Man puffs around them. I think her arms were up around her head. Her face was down.

“She has what I thought were scratches and gouges in her right hip. They were covered in blood and pine needles and debris. I was standing above her, so I had some view of her other side. On that side too, she’d been scratched from her hips down to the thighs. And there was blood in her hair.”

Shelia, tears streaming down both sides of her face, sprinted to the Moxley house and banged frantically on the front door.

“Let me in, let me in!” she screamed.

Finally, the door was answered by Jean Walker, the wife of celebrated Beetle Bailey cartoonist, Mort Walker. Dorothy Moxley was right behind her.

“I found Martha,” Shelia said.
“Where?” Dorothy said.

“Under the pine tree.”

“Is she okay?” Dorothy said.

“No, but she will be,” Shelia said. “I think she was either raped, or attacked by dogs. We better call 911.”

“I think we better go look,” Walker said. She turned to Dorothy Moxley. “It would be better if you stood here.”

Walker took Shelia’s hand and they hurried toward the slope where the tree was located. When they reached the slope, Walker continued downward, while Shelia stood transfixed at the top of the slope.

“At first, I thought it was some kind of prank,” Walker said.

As she inched forwards toward the tree, Walker spotted Martha’s body, partially hidden by the low, overhanging boughs of the tree that crouched down only inches from the ground. Fearing the worse, she bent down and touched the exposed small of Martha’s back.

It was colder than the frost on a champagne glass.

Walker trudged up the slope, grabbed Shelia’s hand again, and headed back to the Moxley house.

Dorothy Moxley met them at the front door.

“Is Martha okay?” she asked.

“No, I’m afraid not,” Walker said. “I think she’s dead.”


One Response to “This is the first chapter of Joe Bruno’s upcoming book “The Mysterious Murder of Martha Moxley: Did The Political and Financial Power of the Kennedy/Skakel Family Trump the Truth?” Due out in September 2016.”

  1. I Love it!!! Great first chapter…

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