Body of teenager Autumn McClure found after 20 years in Volusia County: Brian Donley remains main murder suspect

Autumn Lane McClure smiling
Autumn Lane McClure has been missing for almost 20 years. Pic credit: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The police in Volusia County, Florida, believe they’ve solved the mystery of what happened to teenager Autumn Lane McClure, who disappeared nearly 20 years ago.

On Wednesday, investigators recovered 99.9% of a set of human remains buried beneath a mobile home in Ormond Beach, FL. The cops are awaiting confirmation from the coroner’s office, but they believe the remains belong to 16-year-old Autumn McClure. The police are also hoping to soon learn the cause of death.

The remains were found under the former home of the number one suspect in the case, Brian Donley, and his girlfriend, Jessica Freeman.

Donley was named a person of interest in the case in 2021, but he passed away in 2022 at the age of 49.

Autumn was last seen alive on May 10, 2004, after she was picked up by her boyfriend at her grandma’s house.

The boyfriend initially told the cops he had dropped the teenage girl off at a mall. However, in 2016, he admitted he’d lied and that he had left her at Seabreeze Bridge, where she got in a car with Freeman.

Within the first few days of Autumn’s disappearance, her grandmother received letters, postmarked from Melbourne, FL, supposedly from the girl stating she would come home after she turned 18.

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Brian Donley and Jessica Freeman further implicated in Autumn McClure murder

A few months later, the cops received a tipoff that Autumn was staying with Donley and Freeman on a trailer park. The couple, who had been colleagues of the teenager at a local supermarket, said she had stayed with them for a few days but then left.

The case grew cold until 2021 when Chris Miller, a friend or relative of either Donley or Freeman, contacted the police, claiming the couple had killed a teenage girl in 2004.

The police searching for human remains in a trailer park
The Volusia cops painstakingly recovered Autumn’s remains from under a mobile home. Pic credit: Volusia County Sheriff’s Office

Donley died on May 26, 2022, and it seems this was the trigger for Freeman to come clean. The cops agreed to give her immunity if she told them what happened.

Freeman claimed that Autumn had moved in with them because she didn’t want to live with her grandmother anymore. She also claimed that the teenager was in a sexual relationship with them.

Jessica Freeman told police she saw Brian Donley strangle Autumn McClure

She also told the cops that Donley strangled Autumn and that he threatened her into saying anything.

Unfortunately, Donley cannot be prosecuted, but at a press conference on Thursday, Volusia Sheriff Michael J. Chitwood said he hoped Donley was facing a different kind of justice.

The Sheriff said, “I’m hoping to God that when he took his last breath on May 26 of 2022, that maybe he had a vision of where the hell he was headed.”

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