James Francis McDonald

McDonald, circa 2012; McDonald's kayak

  • Missing Since 10/09/2012
  • Missing From Suwannee, Florida
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Male
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 04/07/1966 (58)
  • Age 56 years old
  • Height and Weight 6'2 - 6'3, 180 - 200 pounds
  • Medical Conditions Although McDonald was in good physical condition at the time of his disappearance, he had previously suffered from Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer. It's possible he could have a recurrence of it.
  • Associated Vehicle(s) 1995 Chevrolet pickup truck (accounted for), 17-foot yellow Solstice kayak
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian male. Brown hair, brown eyes.

Details of Disappearance

McDonald was last seen in Suwannee, Florida on October 9, 2012. He had broken up with his long-term girlfriend a few days earlier and was extremely upset about it. He took his 17-foot yellow Solstice kayak and gear and went to spend the night with at a friend's home in Suwannee on October 8. He frequently visited her and launched his kayak from her property.

His friend was out of town at the time, but neighbors saw McDonald launching his kayak on the the Suwannee River, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico, on October 9. A photo of his kayak is posted with this case summary. McDonald may have planned to go to Ochlockonee Bay and may have stopped in Apalachicola or St. George Island en route, or followed the Cooked River to Carrabelle or into the swamp on the Ochlocknee.

A park manager saw someone matching McDonald's description when he approached a large yellow kayak on the bank of the Ochlockonee River on October 14. A man appeared and said he owned the kayak. He didn't seem to be in need of any assistance and didn't seem interested in talking.

The ranger later identified this person as McDonald when he learned about his disappearance on the news. He appeared to be well-supplied with camping gear and had sufficient space in the kayak to store a week's worth of food and water.

McDonald left his 1995 Chevrolet pickup truck and keys at his friend's home. He had his identification, cellular phone and Discover credit card at the time of his disappearance, but neither the credit car nor the phone have been used since he left Suwannee.

His family describes him as an avid and experienced outdoorsman, accustomed to taking long, solitary trips in the water. They also said he's frugal, and reserved around strangers, especially men. He was able to support himself with a part-time job refurbishing a yacht in Miami, Florida.

A search of the area, lasting several days, turned up no indication of McDonald's whereabouts. Investigators stated they had no indications of either an accident or foul play, but McDonald has never been gone this long before. His case remains unsolved.

Investigating Agency

  • Dixie County Sheriff's Office
  • 352-498-1228
  • 352-498-1220

Updated 1 time since October 12, 2004. Last updated March 24, 2017; casefile added.