Details of Disappearance
Michael was last seen in Redondo Beach, California on June 11, 1976. He has never been heard from again.
He was a troubled child: habitually truant from school since age twelve, he was suspected in a number of local crimes including car theft, burglary and sexual offenses. When his sister reported his disappearance, the police initially assumed he'd simply run away from home, something he'd done before.
While hitchhiking a week before his disappearance, Michael met Patrick Wayne Kearney. Kearney invited him on a camping trip in the Lake Elsinore, California area, and Michael said he couldn't go right away but to ask him again in a week.
The following week, Kearney went to the McGhee residence to see about taking Michael camping. His older sister, who was in charge of her siblings while their mother was working, answered the door and told Kearney that Michael was grounded and couldn't go with him.
Michael sneaked out of the house when his sister wasn't looking, though, and caught up with Kearney just as he was leaving. They left together and Michael was never heard from again.
A photo of Kearney is posted with this case summary. He was a prolific serial killer of young men during the 1960s and 1970s. His victims ranged from age five to twenty-eight, but most of them were in their teens or twenties. He pleaded guilty to 21 murders, but claims he actually killed 35 victims.
Kearney would usually dismember his victims, put them in trash bags and dump them along highways; he is sometimes called the Trash Bag Killer as a result. He was arrested in 1977 and later told police he had killed Michael. He said he took Michael to his house to pick up camping equipment, then shot him in the back of the head and sexually assaulted his corpse before dismembering it.
Michael's body has never been found. Kearney is presently serving life in prison for his crimes. Because the state of California did not permit life without parole sentences or consecutive life sentences at the time of his arrest, he gets a parole hearing every five years.