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Police leaning toward suicide as cause of ex-doctor's prison death

FILE - Martin Joseph MacNeill  listens as he is sentenced in a forcible sex abuse case by Judge Samuel D. McVey in Fourth District Court, MacNeill is also charged with killing his wife, Michelle MacNeill, in a separate case and is scheduled to be sentence
FILE - Martin Joseph MacNeill listens as he is sentenced in a forcible sex abuse case by Judge Samuel D. McVey in Fourth District Court, MacNeill is also charged with killing his wife, Michelle MacNeill, in a separate case and is scheduled to be sentenced this Friday, Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, in Provo. Investigators from the Unified Police Department say they are leaning toward suicide as being the cause of death for a Pleasant Grove doctor convicted of murdering his wife.
Tom Smart

UTAH STATE PRISON — Investigators say they are leaning toward suicide as being the cause of death for a Pleasant Grove doctor convicted of murdering his wife.

"All signs are pointing toward suicide," Unified Police Lt. Brian Lohrke said Tuesday about the death of Martin MacNeill at the Utah State Prison. "We've ruled out pretty much everything else. What we're doing now is waiting for the medical examiner to give us the exact cause. We have an idea of what the exact cause is, but we need the medical examiner to tell us what that is."

Lohrke said he couldn't go into more detail Tuesday as to why investigators suspected suicide as opposed to a natural death or an accident, other than to say those possibilities were also investigated. He said investigators were now waiting for toxicology test results, which typically take 10 to 12 weeks to complete.

MacNeill, 60, was found unresponsive mid-morning Sunday in the outdoor yard of the Olympus Facility near the greenhouse at the prison in Draper.

Unified police, who are investigating the death, said there were no signs of foul play.

MacNeill was convicted in 2013 of murdering his wife, Michele MacNeill, 50, seven years earlier. Prosecutors successfully argued that MacNeill pressured his wife into getting a facelift, then drugged her and drowned her in a bathtub, and staged it to look like an accident. His motive was to begin a new life with his mistress, Gypsy Willis, who moved into MacNeill's house days after Michele MacNeill's death.

In December 2013 about a month after he was convicted, MacNeill attempted suicide at the Utah County Jail by cutting himself with a disposable razor. Deputies at the time said he "was unhappy he was interrupted" and was uncooperative with treatment attempts.

MacNeill's attorney and friend, Randy Spencer, said Sunday he suspects the death was the result of suicide.

"He told me when I visited him that living in prison is 'no life,' and that he doesn't wish to live like this," Spencer said of a conversation he had with MacNeill while visiting him a week earlier.

On Monday, MacNeill's former sister-in-law, Linda Cluff, said the family had hoped that he would spend the rest of his life in prison. "We feel like this is more of an easy way out."

MacNeill's first parole hearing wasn't scheduled until August 2052, when he would have been 96 years old.