The foothills of the Utah's Wasatch Mountains seem like a picture-perfect place to raise a family, and the MacNeill family fit the bill.
Martin MacNeill, 51, was a respected doctor, who also held a law degree and taught Sunday school at the family's Mormon church. He was married to Michele, a former beauty queen from California, and together they were raising eight children -- four biological and four adopted -- in the gated community of Pleasant Grove. But on the morning of April 11, 2007, their seemingly perfect world fell apart.
Martin MacNeill returned home after picking up the youngest member of the MacNeill family, 6-year-old adopted daughter Ada, from school and asked her to check on Michele, who was recovering from plastic surgery. What Ada saw when she entered the bedroom horrified her: Her mother was lying in the bathtub, unconscious. Ada screamed for her father, Martin, who called 911.
"I need an ambulance immediately," MacNeill yelled into the phone. "My wife has fallen in the bathtub!"
To dispatcher Heidi Johnson, the caller seemed agitated, and she had difficulty understanding him.
"Is your wife unconscious?" Johnson asked.
"She's unconscious. She's underwater!"
"OK, did you get her out of the water?"
"I can't. I couldn't lift her up!"
"Is your wife breathing?
"She's not! I am a physician. I've got CPR in progress."
MacNeill told Johnson his 50-year-old wife had a face-lift a week earlier. Over the course of five minutes, MacNeill hung up the phone three times, but Johnson was finally able to decipher the address and figure out where to send the ambulance.
"It was really hard to understand him because he was yelling very hysterically at me," Johnson said. "So I tried to calm him down and tried to get the information from him, but … he didn't want to stay on the line with me, and he hung up."
MacNeill sent Ada next door to get help from a neighbor. When neighbor Kristi Daniels ran into the bathroom, she said MacNeill then told her, "I've already called 911. I need a male's help."
Daniels was surprised he needed help but called her husband, Doug Daniels, who arrived minutes later. "I just immediately went straight to her ... and grabbed her legs, and Martin grabbed her upper body and we lifted her out of the tub and onto the floor," Doug Daniels said.
Doug Daniels said MacNeill then began performing CPR, alternating between moments of concern and anger.
"He would calmly be doing puffs of air, and then he would suddenly have an outburst, yelling ...'Why, why? All for a stupid surgery!'" Doug Daniels said.
When the ambulance arrived, Michele MacNeill was rushed to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
As the chaotic scene unfolded in the MacNeill home, Martin received a call from his daughter, Alexis MacNeill, now 28, who attended medical school in Nevada. Alexis, who idolized her father and wanted to follow in his footsteps, said she received a voice message from her dad earlier that morning between classes and returned the call.
"He said, 'Your mom, she's in the tub. She's not breathing. I've called an ambulance.' And then he hung up," said daughter Alexis, who recalled her alarm.