DNA Helps Solve The 1984 Cold Case Murder Of Donna Macho
New Jersey teen Donna Macho was brutally attacked and murdered in 1984, and after nearly three decades, her killer was positively identified.
Donna Macho’s 1984 murder was finally solved after nearly three decades. DNA evidence was used to identify Nathaniel Harvey, formerly of East Windsor, New Jersey, as the teen’s murderer. Harvey died in South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton in 2020, according to a statement from the State of New Jersey’s Office of Attorney General.
On Feb. 26, 1984, Macho, who was then only 19 years old, went missing from the East Windsor home she lived in with her parents and sisters. Her heartbroken family never gave up searching for her, and her skeletal remains were found over 11 years later, on April 2, 1995, in the woods in Cranbury, New Jersey, reported the Associated Press. This was an area near a farm where Harvey frequently worked during the time when Macho disappeared. She was identified using dental records.
Macho mysteriously disappeared from the basement apartment in her family’s home after she spent a night watching hours of television with her younger sister. When she was expected at work the next day, she never arrived. Nobody in the family heard any commotion the night she disappeared.
Macho’s car was found near the time of her disappearance in a sewer plant that was near where her body was found and within walking distance of Harvey’s residence.
Harvey was arrested around the time of Macho’s disappearance for murdering another woman and sexually assaulting multiple women. While committing his crimes, Harvey would typically go into unlocked homes and then rape young women and hold them captive, according to New Jersey’s Office of Attorney General.
“Time does not erase the quest for justice, and although this murderer was imprisoned for another killing and died in custody in 2020, it does not make this conclusion any less meaningful. I applaud the Central Regional Cold Case Task Force and the State Police forensic scientists who were hopefully able to offer the slightest measure of consolation to the victim’s family after all these years,” Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, stated in the press release.
Donna Macho is remembered and honored lovingly by her family. Her sister Julie Burger, who was only 14 at the time of Donna’s disappearance, told NJ Advance Media that she had mixed feelings now. She was ultimately relieved that her sister’s killer had finally been named but remains tortured by wondering whether she could have possibly stopped the murder.
Burger was also bothered by the fact that Harvey is now dead and can’t face the consequences of his actions. She told NJ Advance Media, “I’m glad the case is closed, and it was him, but I feel he got away with it.”
With the investigation closed, Burger was finally able to receive her sister’s remains and give her a proper burial. When she was picking up her remains, a ladybug flew on her arm, and she felt like it was Donna reaching out to the family.
Police say solving the cold case is a “shining example of the importance of never giving up” and “pursuing justice relentlessly.”