Human remains found last week in Volusia County belong to teen who vanished in 2004

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that human remains recovered last week in Ormond Beach are those of a teenager who disappeared nearly 20 years ago.

On February 28, 2024, VCSO detectives investigating the disappearance of 16-year-old Autumn Lane McClure discovered human remains during an excavation of a suspected burial site, according to the sheriff’s office.

Autumn was a Mainland High School student who was last seen on May 10, 2004, when her boyfriend dropped her off at the Volusia Mall.

Over the next two decades following Autumn’s disappearance, VCSO detectives continued to investigate the case. They obtained DNA from family members, re-interviewed friends and possible witnesses, and identified a person of interest in 2021.

That person of interest, Brian Christopher Donley, Jr., died in 2022 at the age of 49. The sheriff’s office stated on social media that Donley was believed to be responsible for Autumn’s murder.

The investigation into Autumn’s disappearance continued and ultimately led detectives to a suspected burial site in the Ormond Beach area. According to the sheriff’s office, its Crime Scene Unit and a ANDE Rapid DNA scientist were able to develop a DNA profile from DNA that was extracted from bones recovered at the burial site.

“That profile was compared to DNA samples from Autumn’s family members, resulting in a match,” stated VCSO in a social media post. Autumn’s family has been notified of the positive match.

Volusia County Sheriffs Office ANDE Rapid DNA technology photo by VCSO
VCSO used its in-house ANDE Rapid DNA technology to positively identify Autumn Lane McClure’s remains. (Photo: Volusia County Sheriff’s Office)

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office stated that by using its in-house ANDE Rapid DNA technology, rather than sending DNA to a state lab for analysis, the amount of time that it took to make an official identification for Autumn’s family was “significantly reduced.”

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