Saturday, October 15, 2022

The Disappearance & Murder of Megan Nichols

Megan Nichols (15) disappeared from her home in Fairfield, Illinois on July 3rd, 2014That day, Megan and her mother Kathy Jo planned to run errands together, but Megan stayed back after claiming that she wasn’t feeling well. Kathy Jo said that when she returned from the errands later, Megan was gone. She left her phone in her bedroom—which had been completely reset—and a note for her mother that said, in part, “I love you, but I will never be happy here. Don’t look for me.”

Police initially classified Megan as a runaway but changed her status to endangered missing after extended time went by without any trace of Megan. Over three years, there were many searches for Megan in Fairfield and many other surrounding areas that turned up nothing.

Finally, on December 26th, 2017, remains were found in a wooded area in Wayne County, Illinois. A month later, those remains were confirmed to be Megan’s. Despite the original belief that Megan had runaway, it became clear at that point that she likely never left the Wayne County area. 

Details surrounding Megan’s death remained quite mysterious. Initially, authorities did not release any details on how Megan died or if foul play was involved. There was speculation about the 18-year-old she was dating at the time of her disappearance was involved, but it took years before that would finally be confirmed.

Then, during October 2020, an arrest was made in Megan's case. On October 6th, 2020, Brodey Murbarger, aged 24 at this pointwas taken into custody and indicted on six counts: three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of home invasion, and one count of concealment of homicidal death. Shortly after his arrest, it was announced that prosecutors believed that Murbarger had suffocated and strangled Megan to death. 

Murbarger's arrest was the first step towards justice for Megan and her loved ones. Throughout the court proceedings, the prosecution presented exactly what they believed happened to Megan - and how the investigation zeroed in on Murbarger as their suspect. 

Megan's relationship with Brodey Murbarger.

Megan and Brodey Murbarger met in Fairfield when they were both young children. The two reconnected when Megan was in eighth grade, and they grew even closer when Megan reached high school and joined the glee club. Murbarger, who was also in the glee club, began to a pursue a relationship with Megan.  

However, Murbarger was also dating another girl in the glee club. He reportedly would brag to other students about how he was dating both girls. In the spring of 2014, it appeared that Murbarger was spending more time with Megan than the other girl. As such, Megan was hurt when Murbarger brought the other girl to prom - but she still continued a relationship with him.

Megan's mother Kathy Jo was also upset when she heard about Murbarger bringing the other girl to prom. In fact, Kathy Jo subsequently told Megan that she no longer wanted her to see Murbarger. She forbade Murbarger from coming to their house.

Still, Murbarger showed up anyway. When Kathy Jo told him that she did not want him dating Megan, he reportedly replied, "Look, you are way too controlling. You’re concerning me, and I think you need to be on medication." Murbarger later texted Kathy Jo and said that he had spoken to a guidance counselor about her. His text read, in part, "They know what you’re doing to your child. And I don’t want to get DCFS involved but I will if I have to."

Kathy Jo's disdain for Murbarger put a wedge between her and Megan - especially since it appeared that Murbarger had a very strong influence over Megan. 

The initial investigation into Megan's disappearance.

As previously noted, Megan was reported missing on July 3rd, 2014. It did not take authorities long to learn about her relationship with Brodey Murbarger. There were some immediate red flags about Murbarger in the onset of the investigation. 

In fact, on the morning of July 4th - just hours after Megan's disappearance - Murbarger was spotted washing his car. Not only did it seem odd for a 19-year-old to be thoroughly washing his car at 8:00 AM, but it also seemed even more strange that he was doing that while Megan's family members were frantically searching for her. 

Murbarger told investigators that he was washing his car because he could not sleep. He also admitted to seeing Megan before her disappearance, but he denied any knowledge of her whereabouts. 

Still, investigators looked at Murbarger's car for potential evidence. They field tested a stain in the car, thinking it might be blood, but the results came back negative. 

After that, Megan's case seemingly went cold. Years passed without any updates in the case as Megan remained missing.

Finding Megan's remains.

On December 26th, 2017, a couple found human remains in a rural area of Wayne County. A month later, the remains were identified as that of Megan Nichols. Many people in the area had been involved in the search for Megan over the years, and the discovery of her remains brought some closure, but also many questions about what happened to the young girl.

The discovery of Megan's remains also led to continued speculation about Murbarger's potential involvement in the case - especially after it was revealed that Megan's death was being investigated as a homicide. At this point, Murbarger had moved to Evansville, Indiana. He continued to deny involvement in Megan's disappearance and death.

Evidence from Murbarger's car resurfaces.

Murbarger's 2009 Dodge Avenger. (source: 14 News)

At some point during the investigation into Megan's disappearance and death, the Illinois State Police turned to the FBI for help. The FBI had more advanced resources that the state police, which ultimately led to the decision to revisit that stain found in Murbarger's 2009 Dodge Avenger early into the investigation.

While trying to track down the car, the FBI agents learned that Murbarger had crashed it into a tree during 2016. Afterwards, the car was given to a salvage yard, and then was later sold to a couple in Missouri. FBI Agent Ray Hart was able to track down said couple, who consented to having the car seized for more extensive testing. 

The testing confirmed the state police's initial suspicions: that the stain was, in fact blood. And not just anybody's blood; the testing revealed the blood belonged to Megan. 

By this point, Murbarger was refusing to speak to investigators without a lawyer. As such, the FBI turned to a friend of Murbarger's to try and garner a confession from him.

Murbarger's friend works with the FBI.

Kyle Ellis on Dateline.

Kyle Ellis had been friends with Brodey Murbarger since childhood. Ellis also knew Megan and was well aware of the drama between Murbarger and Megan prior to Megan's disappearance. Still, Ellis never believed that his friend of several years would be capable of murder. Ellis did acknowledge, however, that Murbarger had a temper that would flare up at times that would show a completely different side to him.

After graduating high school, Ellis and Murbarger both attended the University of Southern Indiana. They eventually moved into an apartment together in Evansville. At certain times, Ellis would see Murbarger's hostile side, fueled by his temper - but he still did not believe that Murbarger was a killer.

That opinion changed in 2018, when Ellis was contacted by the FBI. He was then told that the FBI had evidence that Murbarger was, in fact, involved in Megan's disappearance and murder. The FBI explained that Megan's blood had been found in Murbarger's car - and they wanted Ellis to confront Murbarger with said information.

More specifically, the FBI asked Ellis to have a conversation with Murbarger while wearing a wire. During the conversation, Ellis asked Murbarger why Megan's blood was found in his car. Murbarger claimed he did not know why. He also denied killing Megan. He claimed he would not be capable of strangling or suffocating Megan.

Despite Murbarger's continuous denial of killing Megan, Ellis noted that there was one part of their conversation that made him sure of Murbarger's guilt. At one point, Murbarger said to Ellis, "I probably couldn’t even have lifted my own body weight, much less strangled — if someone with anger issues found out about something and strangled her." 

Ellis stated that the last part of that sentence - about someone with anger issues finding out about something and strangling her - was a "pin drop moment". While not a direct admission of guilt, Ellis now felt it was very possible that Murbarger had found out about something about Megan that angered him, causing his temper to flare up - and he subsequently killed her. 

Throughout his involvement in the investigation, Ellis also recalled an odd conversation he had with Murbarger that occurred years earlier. In April 2014, just months before Megan vanished, Murbarger tried to sell many of his items to Ellis so he could have cash to support himself. Dateline reported that Murbarger tried to give Ellis "his guitars, video game consoles and motorcycle — in exchange for $3,000. Murbarger was sick of his family, he told Ellis, and he wanted to run away."

At the time, Ellis felt that Murbarger was simply being dramatic was not actually serious about running away. However, Murbarger did continue to bring up the idea of running away over the next few months. He occasionally would mention Megan in his plans as well. 

When Megan vanished and left a note behind saying that she was running away, this did not seem like a coincidence - especially after it was revealed that Megan withdrew cash from an ATM on the day of her disappearance. Additionally, Murbarger admitted to seeing Megan on the day she vanished.

While Ellis was aware of this information years earlier, the 2018 conversation with Murbarger was what truly helped connect the dots. It soon became the working theory that Murbarger lured Megan into believing the two of them were going to run away together. She met up with him on the day of her disappearance, and at some point, his temper arose, and he strangled her. 

Arrest and trial.

The FBI continued to build their murder case over the next two years. Finally, in 2020, Brodey Murbarger was arrested and charged with multiple counts of murder and home invasion and one count of concealing a homicidal death. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

source: NBC News

Murbarger's trial began during the fall of 2023. The prosecution presented their above-mentioned theory: Megan left her house on July 3rd, 2014, because she thought she and Murbarger were going to run away together. At some point, Murbarger snapped and suffocated and strangled Megan to death. He then hid her body in a rural area. 

Evidence was presented that Murbarger and Megan had been talking about running away together for about 5 months prior to her disappearance. The prosecution also presented testimony about Megan's blood being found in Murbarger's vehicle. These two factors, in addition to the other evidence presented, helped paint a picture of the aforementioned theory. 

Murbarger took the stand and said he had noticed the bloodstain after a consensual sexual encounter between him and Megan occurred in his car; and this was why Megan's blood was in his vehicle. The prosecution maintained their belief that Megan's blood was there due to Murbarger attacking Megan and subsequently killing her. 

Conviction and sentencing.

In October 2022, Brodey Murbarger was found guilty of the murder of Megan Nichols. His defense team almost immediately made a request for a new trial. In January 2023, a judge denied the request.

That same month, Brodey Murbarger was sentenced to 50 years in prison. At his sentencing, he still denied involvement in Megan's murder. However, he took responsibility for the events leading up to her disappearance.


  1. There was an arrest made in this case, Brody Murbarger, 24. He has been charged with 1st degree murder. Strangulation/suffocation.

  2. I am so happy she will finally have justice served this was a heinous act of a young girl which an entire community has awaited for the perpetrator to be located and brought to atone for his actions, rest easy Megan they caught him

  3. God bless Megan. God bless Megan's family. God bless Brody's family. Prayers for Brody to save his immortal soul.

  4. Joyce you are a disgusting human being. This girl was too young to understand what the result of her actions could be and I am sure it wasn't this. How many teenage girls do you know believe their mother or any adult is right? It's the thought processes of a child! Take your advice elsewhere.


    Murbarger's indictments. Megan was strangled/suffocated.

  6. Being 2 years older than her isn't the issue here. I have seen women killed by partners younger than them, both as teenagers and adults. Also this guy could have done this to any partner, either Megan or someone older. Quit blaming her. She was a child. Her mum could have done more than seizing the phone. She should have sat her down, talked with her and tried to know this guy, when meeting him in person at a public place, noting the red flags and pointing them out to get daughter.

  7. It's not the daughter or her mom's fault either, it's the MURDERERs fault! What kind of world do you idiots live in? That poor girl just wanted to be loved, if only she looked right in front of her, she would have found it in her mother and community, that obviously loved her enough to search for her for years.... There is no handbook that anyone is given when they have children and no child is alike. That mother is going through pain that none of us can truly understand, I'm sure she blames herself everyday, she doesn't need some over opinionated
    wretch telling her what she did wrong. My prayers go out to her.

  8. Rip Megan and prayers for her mother. She is a wonderful caring person and did everything she could to protect her, but this evil monster took her life that was just beginning as a young lady.Prayers to all the family.

  9. What a horrible thing to say…to blame this young girl for her own death. Go climb back under that rock yiu camr out of. A 16 yr old doesn’t have the thinking to see danger…..she sees this guy who is texting, telling her he loves her…..Brody is the only one to blame or this. He lured her in little by little and she could see anything else but him.

    People like you need to STOP blaming the victim and blame the murderers.