Florida authorities find remains of girl who went missing 20-yr ago; here's how - Hindustan Times
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Autumn Lane McClure: Here's how officials found remains of Florida girl who went missing 20-yr ago

ByShweta Kukreti
Mar 01, 2024 10:57 PM IST

After McClure's boyfriend registered her missing complaint with the police, her grandmother told officials that she got a phone call from her granddaughter.

Florida authorities have discovered the remains of a 16-year-old girl who went missing in 2004.

Autumn Lane McClure, an Ormond Beach native and student of Mainland High School, was first reported missing by her boyfriend.(X@VolusiaSheriff)
Autumn Lane McClure, an Ormond Beach native and student of Mainland High School, was first reported missing by her boyfriend.(X@VolusiaSheriff)

Autumn Lane McClure, an Ormond Beach native and student of Mainland High School, was first reported missing by her boyfriend. She was last seen with him on May 10, 2004, when he dropped her off at Volusia Mall. The officials said they found 99.9 percent of the remains during the massive excavation of a suspected burial site in the Ormond Beach area on Wednesday afternoon.

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“Sheriff’s detectives continued to investigate the case in the nearly 20 years that followed, obtaining DNA from family members, re-interviewing friends and possible witnesses, and identifying a person of interest in 2021,” the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said. “That person died in May 2022, but the investigation continued.”

The sheriff's office expects the official identification shortly and wants to determine the teen's cause of death.

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In a post on X, Sheriff Mike Chitwood said that the finding of McClure's body was not the desired outcome for his detectives. “Not the result anyone hoped for in 2004 or ever since, but I am very proud of the work that went into this discovery 20 years later,” he wrote. “At the very least we can say we never gave up on Autumn McClure’s case. Prayers and condolences to the family tonight.”

According to sheriff's office, the medical examiner's office will soon confirm McClure's identity. It, however, cautioned that determining her cause of death may be challenging.

Know more about the mysterious case of Autumn McClure

After McClure's boyfriend registered her missing complaint with the police, her grandmother told officials that she got a phone call from her granddaughter as well as a letter dated in Melbourne, Florida.

As the investigation started, detectives first approached her coworkers -- Brian Donley and Jessica Freeman. McClure was living with them in Ormond Beach. However, the duo said they offered her to stay with them for a few days because she did not get along with her grandmother. They refused to have any knowledge about her whereabouts.

The detectives then obtained DNA from the family members and reported the case to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

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Later, her boyfriend admitted to lying about dropping her at the Volusia Mall and said he actually dropped her off at the Seabreeze Bridge, the place from where McClure got into a car with Jessica Freeman.

When police found Freeman two years later, she confessed to seeing Donley murdering McClure. Police were surprised to discover that Donley died almost exactly on the same day that authorities believe McClure was murdered.

Freeman then agreed to confess what exactly occurred on the condition of being granted immunity.

She then said that McClure and Donley were in a relationship and she witnessed Donley choking her in the bathroom. He then threatened Freeman, saying that she would face the same consequences if she goes to the police.

McClure's body was buried beneath the home trailer, and investigators discovered it by digging the area on February 27, 2024.

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