Remains of 16-year-old girl found nearly 20 years after she was murdered

ORMOND BEACH, FL – After nearly two decades of uncertainty, Florida law enforcement officials believe they have found the remains of Autumn Lane McClure, a 16-year-old girl who went missing in 2004. The Volusia Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the remains were discovered on Wednesday during an excavation of a suspected burial site.

McClure was last reported seen on May 10, 2004, by her then-boyfriend, who initially claimed to have dropped her off at the Volusia Mall. However, in 2016, he confessed to having lied about the mall drop-off and revealed that he had actually left her at a bridge where she was picked up by a coworker, Jessica Freeman.

At the time of her disappearance, McClure had been living with Freeman and her boyfriend, Brian Donley, aged 31. According to the sheriff’s office, McClure was involved in a sexual relationship with both Freeman and Donley.

Freeman, when questioned by detectives, claimed ignorance about McClure’s disappearance. However, a significant lead came in 2021 when Chris Miller, an acquaintance of Donley and Freeman, contacted authorities. Miller confessed his knowledge of McClure’s fate, implicating Donley and Freeman.

In a controlled call orchestrated by the police, Freeman admitted to witnessing Donley murder McClure. According to Sheriff Mike Chitwood, Freeman returned home one day to find Donley choking McClure. By the time she intervened, McClure was already lifeless. The motive, as inferred by the authorities, was McClure’s intention to return home, which Donley feared would lead to the exposure of their illicit relationship.

In 2023, Freeman provided further information, revealing that McClure was buried beneath their former trailer. She also confessed her fear of Donley, who she believed could kill her as easily as he had killed McClure. Donley, however, will never face charges for his alleged crimes as he died in May 2022.

Despite the tragic circumstances, McClure’s brother expressed relief at the discovery of his sister’s remains, providing some closure to a mystery that has lingered for nearly two decades.