BOOK: Allan Gould & Maggie MacDonald, The Violent Years of Maggie MacDonald, 1987, Prentice-Hall Canada; 1988, paperback, Doubleday Canada.
Publisher promo copy: The story of a remarkable woman who suffered years of poverty, hunger and violent abuse, until she couldn't take any more. It is also the story of a woman's 18yr. odyssey through the Canadian prison system, and of her courageous struggle to build a new life in the community after she was released. At the age of 33, Maggie MacDonald had been accused of murdering her common-law husband of 11yrs. with a butcher knife. Acquitted of the charge, she left the courtroom amid cheers and applause, only to murder again less than a year later. This time, she was sentenced to life in prison.
EXCERPT: In the mid-sixties, Margaret MacDonald, a 33-year-old citizen of Toronto, stabbed her abusive common-law husband to death. Margaret claimed to be amnesic for the crime. She claimed to have no memory whatsoever of the act of killing, but remembered events immediately before and after the killing (Gould & MacDonald, 1987; Porter, Birt, Yuille & Herve, 2001). The case attracted enormous media attention, and it was revealed that Margaret had been abandoned and abused as a child, experienced life as a sex-slave, prostitute, alcoholic and drug addict, and had been exposed to violence throughout her life. Due to her history of longstanding abuse, Margaret herself and the women's movement in Canada regarded her as a victim rather than a perpetrator. Eventually, she was acquitted of murder and received a probation sentence. Less than a year later, she killed her second husband and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
[Sven Å. Christianson, Ingrid Freij & Eva Von Vogelsang, Offenders' Memories of Violent Crimes, John Wiley & Sons, 2006; ref.: Porter S1, Birt AR, Yuille JC, Hervé HF. Memory for murder. A psychological perspective on dissociative amnesia in legal contexts. Int J Law Psychiatry. 2001 Jan-Feb;24(1):23-42.]
[I]t is not known whether amnesia of this type can occur on successive occasions, although the case of Maggie MacDonald has some bearing here. She was a woman who stabbed two consecutive husbands to death in Ontario (the events were separated by a number of years). Ms. MacDonald reported amnesia for the core aspects of both homicidal events (Gould & MacDonald, 1987). She continued to claim amnesia even after she was no longer subject to any criminal action for these murders.
[Gayla Swihart, John Yuille, and Stephen Porter The Role of State-Dependent Memoryin “Red-Outs” International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, Vol. 22, Nos. 3–4, pp. 199–212, 1999]
Book review comment: My name is Margueritte and I am the third daughter of Maggie MacDonald. I have just recently discovered that Maggie is my birth mother and have read the book.......I am sure I have a different opinion about the book and it's author than anyone else. I do not beleive that Maggie was a victim....she had choices and and continued to make the wrong ones....she beleives that she is the only one who has suffered...perhaps she should have asked her children the impact her life has had on theirs..... [M. Adams, book review, Goodreads, Nov 29, 2009]
For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.
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