Who Murdered Megan McDonald? NY Cold Case Featured on ‘Dateline' Unsolved 20 Years Later

Megan McDonald was 20 when she was killed. An Orange County resident, her body was found in a field in Wallkill on March 15, 2003. Her story was the subject of a Dateline last year

megan mcdonald

It was March 15, 2003. The body of a young woman was discovered in a field in the town of Wallkill in the Orange County city of Middletown. She had been murdered. Her name was Megan McDonald, and she was 20 years old.

Her car, a white Mercury Sable, was found two days later in a parking lot in the Kensington Manor Complex, also in Wallkill. McDonald, who lived in Orange County, had been a SUNY Orange County Community College student at the time. She worked at the Galleria Mall in Middletown. And she died of blunt force trauma.

No arrests have been made. Wednesday marks 20 years since McDonald's remains were found in a field off Bowser Road. Her father was a retired NYPD detective who died in 2002, a year before McDonald was killed -- and the NYC Detectives' Endowment Association is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of her killer.

The FBI is offering another $10,000.

McDonald's story was the subject of a "Dateline" last year in which detectives discussed the latest developments in the case. McDonald had a conversation with two people she knew who were throwing a birthday party in Wallkill, near Greenway Terrace. They supposedly tried to get her to join and she refused.

Detectives told Dateline that people who attended the party later reported those two people had come back -- and told the rest of the group McDonald left to spend time with other friends in Middletown.

She ended up at her friend's home there and stayed until about midnight, according to the Dateline report. She told her friend she had to go home because she had to get up early for work in the morning, detectives told Dateline.

The friend didn't see her again, and detectives told Dateline McDonald apparently went back to that party instead of going home. She left pretty quickly, telling two other friends she was going to hang out with "somebody," detectives told Dateline. According to the report, they watched her drive away. That was likely the last time she was seen alive.

In a later interview, an initial witness had a new detail, New York State Police Det. Brad Natalizio told Dateline -- a vehicle with a loud sound system that had been seen behind McDonald's car. The witness only noticed it because the volume was so loud, according to the Dateline report. It was likely a dark car that looked like a Honda Civic hatchback.

McDonald's family had just started to worry when they hadn't heard from her, and she didn't show up for work on March 14, 2003. The next day, Natalizio told Dateline the people who own property on Bowser Road called police to report a body. Investigators identified McDonald by her driver's license and say they believe she was killed in the field.

She had been murdered in her own driver's seat, Natalizio told Dateline.

Her father spent 20 years with the NYPD and did some homicide detective work there but died of a heart attack in 2002, McDonald's sister, Karen, told Dateline. He was 47 -- and she told the show that watching him work over the years made her confident the investigators working on her sister's case wouldn't give up until it's solved.

"Seeing what my dad would put into cases and how it affected him personally and the care that he brought to cases," Karen McDonald told Dateline last year. "I feel for the police officers that have carried this for years for my sister. And I know that it's -- it's more, you know, it's -- it's personal to them at this point."

There apparently had been a second suspect. That individual died.

Investigators have amassed nearly 1,000 pieces of evidence over the course of the 20-year probe, and Natalizio told Dateline the hope is that forensic advances in DNA technology will eventually lead to new leads.

In the meantime, they're asking anyone who might know anything about the case or that car, again, to come forward.

Anyone with information is asked to call State Police Middletown BCI at 845-344-5300. Anonymous tips may be called into the Troop F Major Crimes confidential tip line at (845) 344-5370 or emailed to crimetip@troopers.ny.gov.

Investigators cracked a cold case that had been baffling them for nearly four decades.
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