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The search for a missing pregnant 19-year-old has ended in tragedy after authorities confirmed her body was discovered “off the beaten path” in the Village of Canastota.
“This is a bad outcome,” Madison County Sheriff Todd Hood said in a press conference Monday, confirming the discovery of the remains of Elizabeth Garrow-McDonald. “We got some closure to it in finding her.”
Garrow-McDonald disappeared September 23 after she had last been seen at a Dunkin’ in Canastota with her husband, George McDonald, Jr. Authorities believe she was likely killed the same day she disappeared.
No one has been charged in the death, which has been ruled a homicide, but her husband is being considered as “a person of interest, definitely,” Hood said.
An autopsy revealed that Garrow-McDonald died after suffering multiple stab wounds.
McDonald Jr. is currently being held in Madison County jail for violating his probation for a previous domestic abuse arrest involving a different person, according to Syracuse.com. Hood said authorities have already attempted to interview him about the disappearance of his wife, but he invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and asked for an attorney.
“This investigation was for a missing person initially and now we’re collecting evidence moving forward to put the best case forward possible for this investigation so that justice can be done in this case,” Hood said.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Bob Mascari added in the press conference Monday that authorities were releasing few details about the specifics of the investigation in order to protect their ability to achieve justice for the victim during the potential prosecution of the case.
Garrow-McDonald’s sisters told Sycracuse.com that the marriage between the couple had been brief but violent.
The pair reportedly met online in the spring and had tied the knot by July 1. Her sisters described McDonald Jr. as physically violent and possessive, saying that he had forced Garrow-McDonald to get a tattoo on her body of his name to stake his claim on her.
Her tattoos would later help investigators confirm the identity of her body.
Her sister Melissa Bush also said that he would choke and beat up Garrow-McDonald whenever he got angry and frequently called her 1-year-old daughter vulgar and mean names.
In one text message Bush received on Sept. 8, Garrow-McDonald wrote, “George choked me so badly yesterday.” In another, she sent photos of her neck and said, “He f--ked me up.”
“I literally begged her to leave him,” Bush told the outlet.
But Garrow-McDonald worried about being on her own, especially after discovering in September that she was pregnant.
Bush said Garrow-McDonald discovered the pregnancy when Bush took her to the hospital after McDonald had punched her in the face.
Bush and sister Emily Lloyd told the outlet that Garrow-McDonald had been trying to leave her husband before she disappeared — but like many victims of abuse, she had also felt the pull of the marriage.
The family became concerned Wednesday when they learned that Garrow-McDonald had not picked up her baby daughter.
“She never showed up. It’s not like her,” Bush said. “I knew something was wrong. I’m thinking: Where is she? This is unusual. She’s always online: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook. But she hasn’t posted anything.”
The family learned Sunday morning that Garrow-McDonald had been found dead.
Hood said a deputy who grew up near the Canastota Recreation Park found the body “off the beaten path” near the park while searching during his shift.
Bush told Syracruse.com that she’s now left haunted by one of the final conversations she had with her sister.
“When I told her to leave him the last time, I was kind of mean and was like, ‘I’m kind of sick of this because you’re going to end up dead,’” Bush said. “She was like, ‘I’m not going back there; I just don’t want to take care of this baby myself. I want him to be involved in the baby’s life.”
Investigators have said the search to find Garrow-McDonald’s killer remains ongoing.
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