Episode 93

The Murder of Donna Hall and Michael Margaret

June 7, 2021   Tags: ,
Apple Podcasts
On August 17th, 1984, high school sweethearts Donna Hall and Michael Margaret were supposed to leave from Richmond, Virginia, for a weekend camping trip. But four days later their bodies were discovered in the woods near Donna's home. Despite blood evidence found at the scene, the case remains unsolved. 

The Murder of Donna Hall and Michael Margaret:
18-year-old Donna Hall and 21-year-old Michael Margaret were high school sweethearts. The two had been dating for almost four years before the summer of 1984. The two had planned a getaway camping trip for the weekend of August 17th. 

Michael got off work at 9 PM on Friday and went to pick up Donna at the Kings Crossing Apartments in Richmond. They went by Michael’s and picked up suitcases, a cooler, groceries and a thermos full of coffee.

Then they stopped by a friend’s house who was going to let them borrow a tent for the weekend. The couple arrived around 11 PM but the friend wasn’t home. There were other people there though. So Donna and Michael hung around for a little bit. At 11:30 or so they decided they could make do without the tent and left the house. 

No one was worried they hadn’t heard from Michael and Donna all weekend, after all they were camping. But when the couple didn’t return Sunday night to be ready for their jobs the next morning, both families were immediately concerned. 

A missing persons report was filed for each. It was unlike either of them to just disappear. Although the families had hoped they had just eloped somewhere. 

On Tuesday, August 21st around 6 PM, a man named Robert Ferguseon took his dog for a walk near Patterson and Gaskins. The area was only about .25 miles from Donna’s apartment. 

He approached the jeep. The passenger door was open. Keys were still in the ignition. And he could see blood. The jeep was backed up to a ravine with a trail. A little further down the trail he saw a blanket. He continued walking. About 70 feet from Michael’s bronze jeep, Ferguseon discovered Donna and Michael’s bodies right before the woods became a soybean field. 

Henrico County Police arrived on scene. Michael and Donna’s bodies were face up, heel to heel. Michael was partly covered with underbrush. Donna was missing her shoes. 

Both had their throats slit. They had been stabbed multiple times in their upper bodies. One Detective called it “overkill.” Defensive wounds were found on Michael but not on Donna. 

The medical examiner Mark Grathwohl placed the time of death between 1 and 2 AM on Saturday, August 18th. It was within hours after they left their friend’s house. The murder weapon or weapons were noted to be a knife, but it wasn’t found at the scene. Based on the decomposition of the bodies it wasn’t possible to tell if the wounds were caused by one or more knives. 

Because of the rain, location, heat and the humidity, both victims' bodies had bug and animal bites.  Michael and Donna both had large amounts of Demerol in their systems. The investigators said it was possible they may have taken the drug unknowingly.

The Investigation:
Blood was found at the scene. Between the bodies, the blanket and the Jeep, investigators had three different locations with blood. Initial testing came back with three different blood types in the Jeep. Three different blood types were also found on Donna and Michael’s clothes. The type that didn’t belong to Donna and Michael was Type A. 

Unfortunately, when the blood from the Jeep was tested in 1987, the entire sample was consumed. But investigators still had the blood from the victims’ clothes. 

At first they thought it could have been a random robbery that went sideways. But Donna’s purse was untouched. She was still wearing all of her jewelry. The theory didn’t seem likely. 

Then based on interviews from Michael and Donna’s friends, police began to look into a drug motive. 

Current investigators didn’t say the couple were heavy drug users. They were experimenting.  And remember both Michael and Donna had Demerol in their tox screens.  It appeared as they continued to dig, that part of that experimenting was also selling drugs. 

In the Mind Over Murder podcast, Investigator Thomas Holsinger said witnesses had seen Donna and Michael with around $5,000 earlier that night. But there was no sign of this cash at the crime scene. According to the witness, the couple planned to buy cocaine with the money. Then they would turn around and resell the cocaine. That amount of money and that potential amount of drugs, would certainly pull attention to Donna and Michael.  

By November of 1984, police had questioned over 200 people. They had identified possible people of interests, but they had all been cleared. 

Then the case stalled. In 2014, Detective Thomas Holsinger was transferred to the Henrico County Cold Case unit. He reopened the case. According to Holsinger, the initial investigators had a really hard time because they were talking to people who were active in the drug world. But when he took over 30 years later, some of those people had moved on from that.

In 2015, Detective Holsinger talked with WTVR and provided new information. Investigators now believe that Donna and Michael had an additional stop that night. After leaving their friend’s house around 11:30 PM, they planned to go somewhere else. 

As of now, that location is unknown. But it is at that mystery location that law enforcement believe trouble began for the couple. 

Holsinger was hopeful of the new DNA testing. Even though the Jeep sample had been used up previously, there were still samples from Donna and Michael’s clothing that could be used to make a profile. Or so he thought. 

When he first asked the lab to re-test the samples, they refused. They didn’t give him a reason. He speculated during his interview with Mind Over Murder that it could have been funding or under staffing. He suggested the sample be sent to a private lab. Then the state agreed to retest. 

It is unknown if the test have happened yet or not. 

Since Kevin Clewer’s death on March 24th, 2004, Kevin’s brother, Ron, created a website. The website has a photo gallery, links, family thoughts, news articles, and a page about Fernando. 

Kevin was murdered in his Lakeview apartment in the Boystown area Donna and Michael were killed sometime after midnight on Saturday, August 18th, 1984. Their bodies were recovered in the woods near Patterson Ave and Gaskins Road in Henrico County, Virginia. They had been stabbed and their throats were slashed. Both had large quantities of Demerol in their system. It is unclear how the drug was ingested. 

If you have any information, you can call cold case investigators at (804) 501-5000 or Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000. Or please contact us.


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