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Air Force Major Charged With Murder After Missing Wife’s Remains Found

By Pilar.Melendez@thedailybeast.com (Pilar Melendez)
Bexar County Sheriff’s Office

A San Antonio Air Force Reserve major who reported his wife missing in March has been arrested and charged with murder, authorities said. 

Andre McDonald, 40, was charged with first-degree murder Sunday in the death of his wife, 29-year-old Andreen McDonald, on March 1. After three months of countless countywide searches, authorities found the businesswoman’s body on a ranch east of Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis.

McDonald is being held at Bexar County Jail on a $2 million bond, police confirmed to The Daily Beast. 

“Any ounce of understanding that we had for Andy is gone,” her cousin, Cheryl Spencer, told KSAT during a Sunday vigil. “You do not have the right to do this to any human being. Andreen was far from perfect. She had her flaws, but you do not have the right to do this to anybody’s child.”

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While many details of the March murder remain unknown, authorities believe the couple’s 7-year-old daughter, who is autistic and nonverbal, may have seen the crime and subsequent cleanup. 

“At this point, I don’t know how much the little girl knows,” Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said during a press conference Saturday. “I’m still of the belief that the little girl witnessed at least some things with the death of her mom.”

Authorities say Andreen McDonald, the owner of Starlight Homes Assisted Living, was last seen with her daughter around 6:20 p.m. on February 28. According to an arrest warrant obtained by The Daily Beast, phone records indicate both McDonald and his wife were home the entire evening.

The next day, deputies went to the couple’s home to conduct a welfare check after the 29-year-old’s mother and several friends said they had not heard from her since the previous evening. 

According to the arrest warrant, two of Andreen McDonald’s friends told authorities that before her disappearance she had said that “if she ever went missing or was found dead, Andre had killed her.” 

A Bexar County Sheriff spokesperson confirmed officers had been called to their home “numerous times” for domestic disturbances. According to public records, McDonald filed for divorce in February 2017 but later dismissed the petition. 

In their backyard, deputies “noticed a burn pile,” where “it appeared something had recently been burned.” All of Andreen McDonald’s personal belongings were still in the house and her car was parked in the driveway.

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When McDonald arrived home, he told deputies his wife was being treated at a local hospital. Police quickly suspected he was lying.

He “claimed he did not know where Andreen McDonald was,” the warrant states, but “revealed he had an argument with his wife the night before and asked for an attorney.”

Authorities also found blood and hair on the bathroom’s light switch, floor, and door handle—though initial DNA tests could not determine if the samples belonged to Andreen McDonald.

Andre McDonald was first charged on March 3 with tampering with evidence after investigators discovered that he had purchased cans of gasoline, heavy duty trash bags, work gloves, a portable burn barrel, a shovel, and an ax around the time he reported his wife missing. 

The Air Force officer then tried to destroy the receipt and throw them away in the kitchen trash can, authorities allege.

“He went to great lengths to destroy that receipt. We were able to recover it but that’s what led to the tampering with evidence charge,” Salazar said. “So, I think a lot of his behavior up to this point, along with some of the evidence that I won’t go too much into detail on, are what led to this charge.”

According to the arrest warrant, McDonald had “cuts and injuries” on his hands when he was arrested and gave conflicting accounts about how the wounds occurred.

Inside another trash can, the warrant states, investigators found a blood-stained hammer and a man’s sweater and jeans, which had the couple’s blood on it. 

The daughter, who has not been publicly named, suggested to one family friend that her mother had been burned, according to court documents, and made comments about “Andre hurting Mommy.” 

In one attempt to explain what she saw, the daughter took a doll, put it in a circle over rocks, and covered it with sticks before asking for “the fire.” 

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Since his initial arrest, McDonald “has not once asked” about the ongoing search for his wife and has never tried to assist in the investigation, the warrant said. 

On July 11, a friend of the ranch’s owner discovered Andreen McDonald’s body while removing two cow skulls on the 50-acre property. According to the warrant, when authorities arrived they “noticed the human remains appeared to have been covered with wood and bones from a nearby deceased cow and set on fire.” Melted plastic or synthetic material was also found among the remains. 

The Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the remains belonged to Andreen McDonald on Friday night using her dental records. The next day, McDonald was arrested at home and appeared “quiet” and “fully cooperative,” Salazar said on Saturday.

“I actually enjoyed him being arrested,” Andreen McDonald's cousin Cheryl Spencer said. “That was nice. I like that little public shaming.”

A Bexar County Sheriff spokesperson declined to provide a motive on Monday, but added that there is “substantial” evidence to prove McDonald killed his wife and disposed of her body. 

“The next step is to prepare this case to go to trial with the DA’s office,” the spokesperson said. “Our department is dedicated to getting justice for Andreen and her family.”

McDonald’s attorney, John Convery, declined The Daily Beast’s request for comment. Andreen McDonald’s immediate family did not respond to multiple attempts for comment. 

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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