NY state police arrest paramour in 20-year-old murder of upstate college student Megan McDonald
An upstate man was charged Thursday in the death 20 years ago of his girlfriend, a SUNY-Orange college student whose battered body was found on a dirt path in Orange County.
Edward Holley, 42, was charged with second-degree murder for the beating death of Megan McDonald, 20, the state police said. McDonald’s body was discovered on the dirt path on March 15, 2003.
McDonald’s father was NYPD Detective Dennis McDonald, who died of a heart attack a year before her death. The Detectives Endowment Association offered an award for information leading to the arrest of her killer.
Prosecutors said in a 17-page complaint filed Thursday that Holley struck McDonald repeatedly in the head with a “blunt object.” She suffered multiple skull fractures and brain injuries, the complaint said.
The case was featured on Dateline NBC in 2022. McDonald had signed a lease for a new apartment the month she was murdered.
She was involved romantically with Holley, according to voicemails cited by Investigator Michael Corletta in the complaint.
In the hours before she died, McDonald worked a shift at a cafe in Middletown, said Detective Brad Natalizio on the Dateline episode.
McDonald then took out money from a bank and went to Wallkill, a town north of Middletown that at the time had about 25,000 residents spread over 63 square miles. She briefly visited a party, but left when she learned that Holley would be there, Corletta wrote in the complaint.
She then went to a friend’s house, watched television and then left to go home. After midnight on March 14, 2003, she stopped at a gas station. Then, McDonald went back to the party and told another friend she was meeting someone.
Investigators established she was killed between 12:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. on March 14. Her body was discovered a day later in a remote part of Wallkill after a frantic search.
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She was identified by her driver’s license. Her car revealed blood evidence that showed she was beaten while sitting in the driver’s seat.
Investigators determined that Holley owed McDonald roughly $3,000 that she loaned him to buy a car. McDonald had tried to end their relationship days before her murder.
Witnesses told the police they saw McDonald’s car being followed by Holley’s car, which they recognized because it had a sound system that “made it the loudest car in town,” the complaint said.
According to the criminal complaint, DNA evidence indicated that Holley went through her phone that night and may have flown into a rage when he saw a number possibly of another man, the complaint said.
Holley, a marijuana dealer who also sold to McDonald, also lived about 500 feet from the spot where McDonald’s body was found.
In four interviews with police, he gave a series of contradictory stories, the complaint said.
State troopers planned a media briefing on Thursday afternoon.