Raising two teenagers can make television legal expert Nancy Grace’s life a little hectic — but she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I never dreamed I would ever be married or have a family. And now I’ve just got so many blessings,” she confides about her life with husband David Linch and their 13-year-old twins, John David and Lucy, exclusively to Closer.
Nancy, 61, thought she’d lost her only chance for personal happiness when her fiancé was shot and killed by a co-worker in 1979. The traumatic incident became the impetus for her to become a prosecutor and later a television legal analyst, author and advocate for victims’ rights. Today, she’s also added executive producer to her résumé with The Good Father: The Martin MacNeill Story. This true-crime tale of a doctor who was convicted of murdering his wife is told from the point of view of their daughter Alexis Somers, who fought for justice for her mother. It debuted on Lifetime on October 2.
Keep scrolling below to read Closer‘s Q&A interview with Nancy Grace.
What made you feel so strongly about making the Martin MacNeill story into a film?
I hesitate to call it a story, because it’s real. These are real people and real circumstances. I first became riveted because of Michele MacNeill. She was a mother to four biological children and then adopted four more children. Sadly, she was so trusting, loving and naïve that she had no idea she was married to a con artist.
You became close with their daughter Alexis. Is it emotionally difficult to get involved with the cases you cover?
I do have that tendency because I know this is not just a movie. This is real. [Imagine] how awful it must be to suspect your father, the man you really revere? In fact, Alexis went on to medical school, largely influenced by her father, who was a doctor, only to find out everything about him was a lie.
Your own career was born out of a similar tragedy. The murder of your fiancé Keith Griffin prompted you to study law.
I was in school at the time. I dropped out and was really a lost soul until I decided to go back to school to become a felony prosecutor.
What do you remember most from that time?
Those months and years are a big blur to me. My father and mother would drive me to the trial — it was about two hours from our home — every day. I have very little memory of it. I remember taking the stand. I remember seeing the guy that killed Keith in court; he couldn’t look me in the face. I remember seeing Keith’s bloody clothes. I remember the defense attorneys looking down when I walked past their table.
Do you ever look back and wonder what your life would be like now if it had never happened?
I have looked back very, very rarely. And I will say that my life completely changed when I married my husband, David. And we had the twins, John David and Lucy. It changed my whole life. I’ve had more happiness in these 14 years than I have ever had. So I try not to focus on what could have been. I focus on what I do have, and what the Lord has given me now, and how I can make the most of it.
Did you have any TV aspirations before you were approached to be a commentator by Court TV?
I’d never dreamed of it. I mean, I grew up on a red dirt road in middle Georgia with a well dug in the backyard by my grandfather. When I got out of law school, I only wanted to put the bad guys in jail and help crime victims. The first time I was presented with a TV show by Court TV, I actually turned it down.
What changed your mind?
My elected district attorney, who’s like a grandfather to me, decided to retire. I really didn’t know what I was going to do, so I called Court TV back. I moved to New York with two boxes of clothes, a curling iron and $300. What could go wrong?
Are there other cases you’ve covered that you’d like to turn into movies?
Yes, there are some in the works. There are always cases that need to be spotlighted, not just because they have a story to tell, but also a message to deliver.
You’ve become famous in your own right, but have you ever gotten starstruck when you met someone well-known?
Yes, when I met Angela Lansbury, but she is wonderful and gracious!
What do you like to do for fun?
I love to cook, read, run, camp, RV, snorkel and dive. I love to travel. I want to see the rest of the world with my husband, David, and the twins.
You’ve been happily married for 14 years. What’s your secret for a good marriage?
My husband and I argue, of course. We’re two thinking people, and I’m a trial lawyer to boot. Luckily David was not a lawyer! But he can always make me laugh. And we laugh a lot. And I can count on him. I think the key is looking for that person you can count on, that you believe in, that you want to be more like. That you would want your children to be like. And that’s how I feel about David. I know when the chips are down, he is going to be there for me, come hell or high water.
Was motherhood always a part of your plan?
I always wanted to be a mother, but after Keith’s murder, I thought having a family would never happen for me — so seeking justice became my whole world. For a long time, after the trauma of his murder, I couldn’t risk losing it all again.
What have been the biggest challenges of becoming a mom later in life?
Keeping up with boy/girl twins! I thought the demands would wane as they got older, but guess what? They don’t!
What are you proud of in your career?
I’m most proud of helping thousands of crime victims. I was in the district attorney’s office about a decade. We would get about 100 new cases a week. And every one of those cases has a victim that needs to have a voice.
— Reporting by Amanda Champagne-Meadows