The Remains of a Florida Girl Who Disappeared 20 Years Ago Have Been Found

Florida investigators working on a 20-year-old cold case uncovered what they consider to be the remains of Autumn Lane McClure, a 16-year-old who went missing in 2004, according to police.

During a news conference on Thursday, Volusia Sheriff Michael J. Chitwood stated that 99.9% of the bones were recovered during the burial site excavation on Wednesday.

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

“There is never really a ‘cold case,'” Chitwood added. “The men and women that are assigned to our Major Case Unit and all of our investigative units, that’s what they understand.”

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Office had to get search warrants, remove a freshly built modular home and driveway, and come in heavy equipment to find McClure, according to the sheriff.

Detectives from the Volusia Sheriff’s Office revealed they have been looking into McClure’s disappearance since May 2004.

Sheriff Announces Discovery of Florida Girl's Remains 20 Years After Disappearance (1)

The years-long inquiry involved interviewing and re-interviewing friends and potential witnesses, as well as obtaining DNA from family members.

It all began on May 10, 2004, when McClure’s grandmother contacted the sheriff’s office to report her missing.

Detectives spoke with her then-boyfriend, who stated that he had dropped McClure off at the Volusia Mall and had not heard from her since.

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The grandmother called the sheriff’s office again a few days later, telling officers, “Autumn has called me from a 312-area code” and claiming to have gotten letters from McClure postmarked Melbourne, Florida, according to the sheriff.

The investigation stayed quiet until a few months later when the sheriff’s office discovered McClure was sleeping at a house with two persons — Brian Donley and Jessica Freeman — who claimed to be McClure’s coworkers at a Winn-Dixie grocery.

When detectives arrived at the couple’s home, they discovered that McClure had only remained with them for a few days before leaving, according to the sheriff.

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The case stayed cold until twelve years later when detectives revisited the boyfriend, and he revealed to investigators that he had lied to them during his previous interview.

The boyfriend stated that he had dropped McClure off at the Seabreeze Bridge, not the mall, where she subsequently got into a car with Freeman.

When authorities reached Freeman, who was residing in Nevada at the time, she claimed to them she did not know about what had happened to McClure.

Then, in 2021, authorities received a tip from someone named Chris Miller, who claimed Freeman and Donley were implicated in McClure’s disappearance.

Donley died the following year, on May 26, 2022, nearly 18 years to the day police suspect McClure was murdered, the sheriff stated.

That same year, Freeman contacted the sheriff’s office again, this time requesting immunity in exchange for answering questions concerning McClure’s disappearance.

She told detectives McClure didn’t want to remain with her grandma, so Freeman and Donley let her stay with them.

According to Freeman, McClure also had s*xual contact with the couple. Freeman claimed she witnessed Donley strangle McClure, but he threatened to harm her if she spoke about the death.

The final break in the investigation came in 2023, when Freeman informed authorities that McClure was buried in the Ormond Beach area, which led to Wednesday’s discovery, according to the sheriff.

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