SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Twelve years following the death of their mother, the MacNeill daughters are trying to lead normal lives.
But it hasn’t been easy.
In 2007, their mother, Michelle Somers MacNeill was murdered by their father, Martin MacNeill.
“My mom was my best friend,” said Alexis Somers. “She was the most amazing, loving, caring person.
Alexis Somers, along with her two older sisters, have become a “mother” to their youngest siblings.
“She was beautiful on the outside,” said Somers. “But her beauty on the inside was unbelievable.”
Michelle Marie Sommers grew up in Southern California and graduated in 1975. She was royalty, being chosen as homecoming queen that same year.
Along the way, she met Martin Macneill who had ambitions and eventually became a lawyer and then a doctor.
But after 29 years of marriage, it all came to an end one night in 2007. it began with a 911 call to a police dispatcher.
Martin MacNeill: “My wife’s fallen in the bathtub.”
Dispatch: “Okay, is she conscious?”
MacNeill: “She’s not. I’m a physician.”
At first, it was ruled accidental. A week earlier, Michelle MacNeill underwent cosmetic surgery. Dr. MacNeill was personally taking over her medications.
At the time, Alexis Somers was a medical student and was already suspicious.
“My mother began to suspect that my father was having an affair and she confided in me,” said Somers.
It turned out her mother was right. Gypsy Willis was the doctor’s mistress. She admitted that during the 2013 murder trial of MacNeill.
Attorney: “Did your relationship turn sexual?”
Willis: “It did.”
Attorney: “When did that happen?”
Willis: “I think in January of 2006.”
Alexis Somers set out to prove that her father gave their mother the wrong drugs which led to her death.
“We uncovered who he truly was and he was actually a monster,” said Somers.
MacNeill introduced Willis as the younger children’s nanny after pretending to have divine intervention.
Rachel MacNeill recalled being with her father praying outside a Latter-day Saint temple. She said they were seeking guidance on how to take care of the young MacNeill children. That’s when Willis appeared out of nowhere.
“He wanted it to look as if it was a miraculous sign from God that she had appeared suddenly and that was very suspicious to me,” said Rachel MacNeill.
Unhappy with the police investigation, Rachel MacNeill began investigating her father on the internet.
“Gypsy’s roommate contacted me and told me she overheard Gypsy say that she wanted to cut the brake lines from my (mother’s car),” said MacNeill.
Willis allegedly wanted Michelle MacNeill out of the way.
Five years later, they turned over their investigation to the Utah County Attorney’s Office. Their investigation included interviews with first responders and neighbors who helped Dr. MacNeill get his wife out of the bath tub. Police had failed to question them. The daughter’s investigation turned into charges and later a trial.
In 2013, he was found guilty of first-degree murder.
“It was very overwhelming,” said Somers.
“It was a shock that it was finally happening, that we finally got justice for my mom.”
MacNeill’s was sentenced to 17 years to life in prison.
But three years later, he committed suicide. Rachel MacNeill finally came to terms with him.
“I was able to stand with his body and was able to say to him ‘I forgive you, I love you,'” said Rachel MacNeill. “And I did get some closure.”
But not Alexis Somers. After the murder trial, her father was also convicted of sexaully abusing her.
It’s been 12 years since they buried their mother. Michelle Somers MacNeill’s legacy is her children who are still trying to live normal lives.
“Since my mother’s murder, it’s been a horrific journey for our family,” said Alexis Somers. “We fought for years, years to get justice for her.
And that’s the message she wants for other families facing adversity.
“Never give up,” Somers said.