Investigation Discovery’s ‘Hometown Homicide: Local Girl Gone’ takes us to Hope Mills, North Carolina, where on March 11, 2014, 15-year-old Danielle Locklear vanished into thin air and was reported missing when she never returned home after going out in the evening to a friend’s house. Almost three weeks later, Danielle’s body was found in the river, with cinderblocks tied to her waist and ankles. What followed was an arduous investigation that revealed the shocking truth behind this brutal crime of passion. Curious to know more about this case and what happened to the murderer? Here is what we found out.
How Did Danielle Locklear Die?
Described by her mother as a firecracker, Danielle Locklear was a freshman at South View High School in Hope Mills, North Carolina, at the time of her murder. In the summer of 2013, Danielle left her home in South Carolina and headed up north to live in Hope Mills with her grandparents. There, she mentored young children at a youth summer camp operated by an Autryville church.
Danielle vanished on the evening of March 11, 2014, when she took permission from her grandfather and stepped out to go to her friend’s house down the street. When hours passed and there was no sign of her return, her anxious grandparents tried to contact her cell phone, but once they understood that their attempts to contact her were in vain, they contacted the Hope Mills Police Department and reported their grand-daughter missing.
The Hope Mills Police Department then organized volunteer search parties and began combing the town in hopes of finding Danielle. Missing person billboards and flyers were also put up around the area, but despite their best efforts, they were unable to locate Danielle Locklear or find any information about her whereabouts.
Then, almost three weeks after she was reported missing, an off-duty police officer found her body floating in the South River, along the Sampson/Cumberland County line, with cinderblocks tied to her waist and ankles. The autopsy revealed that Danielle Locklear died from asphyxiation and that a sock had been stuffed down her throat.
Who Killed Danielle Locklear?
Danielle’s ex-boyfriend, Je’Michael Malloy, was arrested, and he confessed to committing the murder. Malloy met Danielle at the Autryville church youth summer camp, and in no time, the couple started dating. Yet, they had their fair share of ups and downs. Since Malloy was already a suspect in the murder investigation, the cinderblocks found on Danielle’s body led the police to search Malloy’s house, where they found similar blocks and nylon rope that matched those found on Danielle’s body. The police also discovered Danielle’s cell phone a short distance away from Malloy’s home on a highway median. Her voicemail contained a threat from her ex-boyfriend.
It was then that police arrested Malloy and charged him with the murder of his ex-girlfriend. Later, Malloy confessed to investigators that he killed Danielle after he broke up with her for good. It turned out that Danielle didn’t step out to go to a friend’s house on the night of the murder. Instead, she met up with him and told him she was pregnant, which was later confirmed to be a lie by the doctor performing the autopsy. This sparked off a loud altercation between the duo.
According to police, when Danielle refused to take the pregnancy test in front of her ex-boyfriend and kept hitting him, Malloy snapped. Then, when she turned to leave, Je’Michael got up behind her and strangled her to death. He then went back to his car where his friend, Dominic Lock, was waiting, and together they got rid of Danielle’s body in the river. Lock, too, admitted to helping his friend move Danielle’s body and getting rid of it, which led to his subsequent arrest on the charge of being an accessory after the fact.
Where is Je’Michael Malloy Now?
After his arrest, Je’Michael Malloy pleaded guilty to murder in the second degree, while his friend Dominic Lock plead guilty to accessory to murder. The trial was a heart-breaking affair, and Danielle’s mother addressed Malloy in court by saying, “I can’t watch my baby get her high school diploma. I can’t watch her get married. That was my only one, I can’t have any more children, Je’Michael. You took that away from me. You ripped out my soul.”
Malloy also offered an apology to Danielle’s devastated family: “I know there’s nothing I can do or I can say to bring her back. I do want to apologize for the actions I’ve made. I know sorry doesn’t cut it, but I do I want to say I’m really sorry”. The trial was swift, and the judge awarded Malloy a maximum of 25 years in prison while Lock was sentenced to 6 years behind bars. According to prison records, currently, Malloy is incarcerated at the Bertie Correctional Institution in Windsor, North Carolina.