NBC’s ‘Dateline: The Note’ recounts the mysterious disappearance of 15-year-old Megan Nichols from her residence in Fairfield, Illinois, in early July 2014. Eventually, her decomposed remains were discovered almost four years later. The episode features Megan’s mother, Kathy Jo Hutchcraft, and her quest for justice for her teen daughter that spanned nearly a decade. If you want to learn more about Kathy and her journey, we’ve you covered. Let’s begin then, shall we?
Kathy Jo Hutchcraft is the late Megan Nichols’ mother, and she resided with her husband, Jerad, and Megan in their Fairfield, Illinois, home in July 2014. According to the show, Kathy had discovered Megan, then 15, in a relationship with Brodey Ian Murbarger, then 18, in early 2014. When the mother learned Brodey was allegedly dating another girl simultaneously, she forbade her daughter to communicate with him further. Kathy recounted, “I’d had it at that point. He’s using her and you, and you’re done, you’re 15, he’s 18, this is over.”
Kathy even decided to take Megan’s phone away because the teen continued to maintain contact with the young man. One evening, she wanted to examine Megan’s phone to ensure she hadn’t missed anything crucial. During this inspection, Kathy came across a text conversation between Megan and Brodey. However, she could only view Megan’s side of the conversation, and the exchange was ongoing as she looked at the phone. She recalled, “So I walked upstairs, and I was like Megan, and she was like, ‘Yeah, she bounced out of her door.’
Kathy added, ” And I said, ‘I’m seeing a message between you and him here happening,’ and her face just, she was had. I said, ‘Where’s your iPod?’ She didn’t answer me. My heart just sunk.” The situation became even more distressing when Kathy read the text messages on her daughter’s iPod. Among the texts, Megan had expressed her frustration with her mother, stating that she couldn’t stand being at home and wanted to leave. In response, Brodey had expressed his eagerness to pick Megan up immediately, exacerbating Kathy’s concerns.
This was sufficient for Kathy to intervene and halt what she termed a forbidden teenage romance. Kathy said, “So I called him from her phone and said, ‘Don’t contact my daughter again. This is over.'” However, the mother soon discovered it was far from over when she conducted her usual routine of checking on Megan at approximately 9:30 pm on 2014 Memorial Day. However, that night was different – Megan was nowhere to be found. This situation got Kathy panicking, as Megan had never left without informing her before.
Although Megan had vanished, her phone remained, and there was a recent text message from a female friend with a simple “OK” as the content. In response, Kathy decided to call the phone number associated with the text message, and to her surprise, Brodey answered. In a state of concern, she promptly contacted the police to report her daughter’s disappearance. While she was on the phone with the authorities, to Kathy’s relief, Megan returned home, walking from the backyard. Hence, she suspected Brodey when Megan disappeared on July 3, 2014.
Megan’s mother believes there was more to the ATM bank surveillance video than just Megan’s image — she alleged she noticed something. Kathy saw a car in the video’s background, which appeared identical to Brodey’s vehicle. She mentioned that at the video’s end, a short time after Megan disappeared from the frame, the same car could be seen leaving. However, Kathy declared Fairfield Police disputed her claims, and Megan’s parents have not seen the footage since that day.
A year after her daughter’s disappearance, Kathy noted, “It’s really hard to put it into words. I dream about her, and then I have to wake up to this. This is hell.” Since Megan’s remains were discovered, Kathy has been raising money to build a shelter in her memory at Love of Mike Park in Fairfield and New Hope School grounds. She added, “I was thinking it would be nice to have a shelter where people could spend time with their families and make good memories. I try to stay focused on making others smile.” She is presumed to be living in Fairfield.
Read More: Brodey Ian Murbarger: Where is the Killer Now?