Early one Sunday evening six years ago, Army Pfc. George D.B. MacDonald made his way through his Fort Benning barracks to the bunk where a 23-year-old recruit named Rick Bulmer lay sleeping. They were strangers.
Wielding a 3-inch, double-edged knife, MacDonald stabbed and slashed Bulmer more than 50 times. He started with the throat, but didn’t stop there. Bulmer, a Fresno, Calif. native, awoke and fought back, but he never had a chance.
With the May 18, 2008, homicide, MacDonald ended one life and tore apart many others. The 19-year-old onetime Eagle Scout created a widow and a fatherless child. He stole a son and took a beloved brother.
“I snapped and didn’t like it,” MacDonald wrote, about nine hours after the killing. “I was stretched and it made me crazy.”
What triggered the promising young paratrooper’s homicidal outburst?
MacDonald blames Chantix, a smoking-cessation drug used to wean people from their addiction to nicotine. A military jury didn’t buy his story, and in December 2009 he was convicted of premeditated murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.