Neighbor Discovers Woman Murdered

By Timothy J. Gibbons
Published by Daytona Beach News-Journal on April 22, 2000.

DELAND -- A 77-year-old woman was found murdered in her home Friday morning, stunning residents in her quiet country club community.

Madeline A. McDonough was found around 7:30 a.m. by a neighbor who regularly walked with her. When the neighbor came by Friday, she noticed newspapers lying in the driveway, authorities said. When no one answered the door, the neighbor used a spare key McDonough had given her to enter the house.

Inside, she later told other neighbors, she found the 5-foot, 2-inch McDonough on her bed bludgeoned to death and the house "turned upside down."

The Sheriff's Office would not confirm the cause of death until after the autopsy, which is scheduled for this morning. The victim's body showed signs of trauma, authorities said, and the death is "100 percent" a homicide.

Investigators would not confirm if anything had been stolen from the house, although they said they were canvassing local pawn shops.

Late Friday, the Sheriff's Office released a composite of a man they would like to speak with in connection with the murder. The man is in his 20s, 5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall with a medium build.

"He's an individual who had been seen in the neighborhood sometime prior to the murder," said sheriff's spokesman Gary Davidson. "He's not necessarily a suspect. He's just someone we would like to identify and talk to to see if he could give us any information."

McDonough had lived alone in the one-story brown-roofed house since her husband died nine years ago. Neighbors said they last saw her Wednesday afternoon.

Her death sent shock waves through the community.

"I'm terrified for my children," said one resident, who declined to give her name. "How can I let them ride their bikes around the corner?"

Another resident said she loaded her pistol once she heard the news. We're all upset by it," she said. That type of thing has never happened here."

McDonough was well known in the area, neighbors said, with a cheery wave and smile for those she saw on her regular morning walks. "I can't believe they did that," one neighbor said. "If they had knocked on her door and asked her for anything, she would have given it to them. They didn't have to do that."

McDonough had no relatives in the area, but had several children living in the North. She moved to DeLand in 1989 from Maryland.

Although longtime residents said the neighborhood, adjacent to the DeLand County Club, is a quiet place, some who live there said recently there have been break-ins and late-night pranks. Most recently, the Sheriff's Office investigated a home invasion just a few blocks away, in which an intruder entered a house around 2:30 a.m. Thursday.

In that case, the man who entered the house struck a woman who lived there in the face and then fled when her husband entered the room, the Sheriff's Office said.

Investigators at the scene of the murder said they were investigating that call as well as "all calls from this area in the past three months" to see if there was any connection.

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at (904) 822-5070 or Crime Stoppers of Volusia and Flagler Counties at 1 (888) 277-TIPS (277-8477). Callers, who remain anonymous, could be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.


This is a showcase of the work done by Timothy J. Gibbons during a journalism career now stretching back more than a decade.

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