#CrimeTime with Alicia Dean ~
Hometown Homicide, Season 1, Episode 2, “Local Girl Gone”
Hope Mills, North Carolina – March 11, 2014
Small town high school teen Danielle Locklear was a pretty, bubbly, fun-loving, popular fifteen-year-old. She lived with her grandparents instead of her mother, because she wanted to go to high school in their town, where she’d made many friends during her summer visits. Although she was just a freshmen, she began dating senior, Je’Michael Malloy, a responsible young man with plans to enter the military, along with his best friend, Dominic Lock.
One evening in March, 2014, Danielle asks her grandfather if she can go down the street to return a book her friend needs for homework. The grandfather gives her permission but tells her to hurry back. After a few hours when she doesn’t show up, her family begins trying to contact her. When they are unable to reach her, they call the police. Her mother is worried sick and travels to Hope Mills.
Detectives begin investigating. Friends and family spread flyers and the entire town bands together to search for the missing teen. Some of the interviews the police conducted are shown on the show. They interview her boyfriend and ask him about their relationship. He states that they were off and on and he finally broke it off completely because the spark was no longer there. He says, “She was a good girl, and I cared about her a lot.” That statement caught my attention. At this time, she’s only missing, but he says she ‘was’ a good girl–past tense. Nothing is said about it on the show but it raised a red flag for me. The authorities don’t suspect him, however. From all reports, he was a good kid and their relationship, even after the break up, was civil. Je’Michael claims he was at a friend’s house the night she disappeared. A text sent from his cell phone backs up his statement. Records show that it pings on a tower near the home.
Chena, Danielle’s aunt, decides to investigate on her own. She starts with a creek near the grandparents’ house where the teens in the area are rumored to hang out. There was also talk that it was the last place Danielle was seen alive. At the creek, her aunt finds a sock she believes belongs to Danielle.
No other clues are found and weeks go by with no sign of Danielle. Her boyfriend suggested that she might have killed herself. He said that she told him she wanted to drown herself in cold water.
One day, just more than three weeks after her disappearance, an off duty officer is on his way home and, as he drives over a bridge, he spots something in the creek that doesn’t look right. He calls it in and a retrieval team comes out. They pull Danielle’s body from the brown water. She is bound with nylon rope tied to cinderblocks. The matching sock to the one her aunt found is stuffed in her mouth. The autopsy determines that she was strangled to death.
Police continue the investigation, now looking for her killer, rather than looking for her. The creek where she is found is only a mile from his home but fifteen miles from the place where she was last seen.
The police obtain a search warrant for Malloy’s house and property. Next to the garage, they find distinctive cinderblocks speckled with pebbles — a match for the ones at the lake. They also find the same type of nylon rope.
They bring Malloy back in for an interview, and he plays it cool, continuing to deny he killed Danielle. He tells them, “You think I’m a smart kid, right?” they say they do. He says, “Why would I put her body just down the street from where I live?” But the police aren’t convinced. He takes a polygraph, which he fails. He claims he failed it because he’s nervous. They continue to pressure him. He finally breaks. He admits he killed Danielle. She asked him to meet her that night at the creek hangout. His friend, Dominic was nearby. She told Je’Michael that she was pregnant. A baby was not in his plans. He told her that he would take responsibility if the child was his, but he never wanted to be with her, ever. She flipped out and they fought. He ends up choking her to death. He goes to get his friend, who is shocked when Je’Michael tells him he killed her. Malloy says they have to get rid of the body. They load her body in the car and Je’Michael shoves the sock in her mouth because he can’t stand the noises her body was making.
As is turns out. Je’Michael had left his phone at home and sent the text through a secondary phone app. It also turns out that Danielle was not pregnant after all. She told him that to try to keep him with her. Instead, it got her killed.
Je’Michael Malloy pleads guilty to murder in the second degree. Dominic Lock, for his role in dumping Danielle Locklear’s body, pleads guilty to accessory to murder. Je’Michael Malloy is sentenced to a maximum of twenty-five years in prison. Dominic Lock is sentenced to six years behind bars.
Je’Michael Malloy will be eligible for parole when he is 43 years old. I can’t help but think it’s a shame that he’ll still have a chance at some kind of life, but the poor girl didn’t get that chance. And her family will have to live with the horror of her savage murder for the rest of their lives. The fact that he left his phone at home and used a cell phone app to send a text shows a bit of premeditation. He had to have planned it.
What do you think? Should he ever be released or should he spend the rest of his life behind bars?