MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. (PIX11) – An arrest has been made in the cold case killing of college student Megan McDonald, the 20-year-old daughter of a retired NYPD detective who was found bludgeoned to death on a dirt path in Wallkill in 2003, state police announced on Thursday.
Edward Holley, who’s been paralyzed from the waist down since a 2007 auto accident, was charged with second-degree murder in connection with McDonald’s death after an exhaustive investigation by New York State Police. He is now 42 years old.
“We have a clear motive in this case,” said Major Crimes Investigator Brad Natalizio, who worked tirelessly on the investigation. “This was an ‘intimate partner’ homicide.”
Natalizio said solving the case was like “putting together a million pieces to a puzzle.” DNA and cyber evidence, along with new people coming forward, were critical to making the arrest, he said.
McDonald was a student at SUNY Orange – working her way through college – and had just started a new job at the American Cafe in the Galleria Mall in March 2003 when she was killed.
Her father, retired NYPD Detective Dennis McDonald, had died suddenly of a heart attack the year before her death. Dennis McDonald investigated the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.
State police said their investigation revealed that Megan McDonald had been dating Holley, an alleged marijuana dealer, in early 2003 – and even loaned him money to help him buy a car. But the two had argued and broke up, authorities said.
McDonald began dating someone new and police found a voicemail on her phone indicating Holley left her a message shortly before her death. The man on the message said he had driven by McDonald’s house and saw her new boyfriend’s car, officials said.
On the night McDonald was killed, she had finished work and went to visit friends. A witness police found in the last two years said a Honda Civic-style hatchback vehicle followed McDonald’s white Mercury Sable to a parking lot near Kensington Manor apartments. Two men got into McDonald’s car and drove away, authorities said.
McDonald’s killer hit her from behind as she sat in the driver’s seat of her car. Police said the killer was sitting in the back seat and hit her with a blunt object in a fit of rage.
McDonald’s body was dumped on a dirt path in a remote section of Wallkill. Holley lived close by, police said.
For many years, Holley was not a suspect and police extensively questioned another of McDonald’s ex-boyfriends. But that man was cleared of wrongdoing.
When Paul DiGiacaomo, president of the NYPD Detective’s Endowment Association, heard about the Orange County cold case in 2022, his group offered a $10,000 reward for information that would lead to an arrest and conviction. The FBI also offered a $10,000 reward.
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