Alice Donovan Identified

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Bonnie M. Wells

This is page [#19] in the Donovan/Burns Series:


DNA Test Confirms Alice Donovan's Remains

Revelation Leaves Family With Conflicting Feelings

By Monique Newton and Aliana Ramos -

Published: July 25, 2009


After years of agony and months of waiting on DNA results, Alice Donovan's mother finally has relief, but not closure, after learning Friday that bone fragments found in woods in Horry County belong to her daughter.

"It was a relief to know, that yes, it was her, but terribly sad to know that it's part of her and to know that the other part is still out there," said Lorraine Moore from her home in Plymouth, N.H. "A mother's not supposed to lose a child, no matter how old the child is."

Donovan, of Galivants Ferry, was abducted in November 2002 from the Wal-Mart parking lot in Conway by Brandon Basham and Chadrick Fulks, two Kentucky prison escapees.

The two men killed Donovan and Samantha Burns, a 19-year-old West Virginia student, during a two-week-long crime spree.

This week, the University of Texas Center for Human Identification positively identified the bone fragments found near Water Tower Road and Long Bay Road using DNA analysis, said Dana Russell, a spokeswoman for the center.

Area police and FBI agents found pieces of Donovan's skull and other bone fragments during three searches in January in a wooded area off Water Tower Road along S.C. 90 in the Wampee community.

"It's painful all over again, but also it's the last piece. We have answers to this, where she was, where did it happen. It was here and we don't have to wonder where she is. For me, that was always a problem, her being out there just being left, like trash," said Donovan's youngest sister, Carol McKeel of Greenville.

She said she is also tremendously angry with Fulks, who gave clues to Donovan's location in a letter he wrote while on federal death row.

"If he had said where she was in the beginning, it wouldn't change the fact that she was dead, but it would have given us some peace. We would've had a funeral. We would've had her body," McKeel said. "He definitely knew where she was all these years, and he should've told us. And the fact that he waited to save himself and his litigation just makes me mad."

Moore said she has no closure. "I just can't close it. This isn't helping it. In another sense, it opened it and now that we know, the only problem that I have now is hearing anything about them two that are locked up for this," Moore said. "They need to stay right where they're at. I'm not ready to forgive them, and I don't know if I ever will be."

Fulks and Basham are on death row in federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., for Donovan's murder. They also pleaded guilty to killing Burns.

"I think I've cried every single day since this happened," Moore said. "You never stop missing them, every day, every day she's with me, every day in my mind ... you go on with life, and you try to have a halfway normal day, and then out of the blue, out of the sheer blueness, something will trigger, and boom, there it is, there she is."

Donovan's daughters, Jennifer Warner and Angie Gilchrist, were out of the area when the news broke Friday about their mother's remains.

Gilchrist was in New York attending a funeral for one of her husband's relatives. Warner, who lives in New Jersey, did not wish to comment.

Both women asked Monica Caison, founder of the Community United Effort group, to speak on their behalf.

Caison was key to discovering Donovan's remains in January. "It is kind of shocking," Caison said. "Although they knew in their hearts, it's still like a punch in the stomach. They have been dealing with it, but there was always the faith that maybe it could have been someone else."

Donovan's daughters plan to host a public memorial in a few weeks and will release details as soon as they have had time to digest the news and make sure those involved in the effort to find their mom can attend, Caison said.

"They have waited a long time for this," she said. "It means a lot to them. I hate the word closure. I call it resolution - a resolution to the unknown fate of a missing person."

It's also a resolution for Caison. She and her organization became involved in the search for Donovan 24 hours after she was reported missing in 2002.

"I remember we were out with the floodlights," Caison said. "We thought we would find her tied to a tree. Then, it became clear over time we would need to search every road."

Caison said since then hundreds of volunteers, thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent to recover Donovan.

A break for the case came last year when Donovan's daughters renewed their search for their mother and ran into Caison during her annual missing person's tour.

Warner gave Caison a copy of a letter Fulks had written about her mother during a CUE benefit they held in September in Donovan's memory to raise money for the search. Caison started to correspond with Fulks, hoping to get a clue.

On Jan. 17, it paid off.

She received a package in the mail containing 24 color photos of the area with his scribblings on them, a map and letter detailing where she should look for Donovan's remains.

"I have to thank Conway police for believing me when I called them at 4 p.m. in January," Caison said. "The same for Horry County police. They were there and they searched in the rain. And, definitely the FBI who literally got down on their hands and knees to search."

Over the next two days, police found skeletal remains, believed to be Donovan's.

"To be able to tell these girls, 'I think we have got her' I do not think there is anything that can top that," she said.



After weeks of searching in West Virginia areas that Chad Fulks directed searchers to, has Samantha Burns been found? Has anything been found?

Did the remains found in South Carolina actually belong to Alice Donovan?


Alice Donovan Remains Identified {page 19}


Bonnie M. Wells



November Story Page

1. Help Me Fulton

2. Help Me II

3. The Abduction Of Alice Donovan

4. Where Are Alice & Samantha

5. Donovan & Burns News

6. Donovan & Burns News

7. Alice Donovan Maps

8. Burns Photo Page

9. Response, Donovan

10. Response, Donovan

11. Response Page, Samantha Burns

12.She's Leavin'

13. Dream Is Confirmed

14. WBTW-TV News

15. An Open Letter About Alice Donovan 11/23/06

16. Casualties Of Crime

17. Has Alice Donovan Been Found?

18. The Donovan & Burns Drama Continues


Without A Trace Series-Homepage

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This story is part of the

Without A Trace Series;

Dreams Panned-Out Series

And is the [19th] page in the Donovan/Burns Series:



This page posted: July 25, 2009 // BMW