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Megan Paige Nichols, Age 15, July 3, 2014, Fairfield, Wayne County, Illinois

Updated: Jan 29, 2023

Months prior to Megan’s disappearance, Megan had been dating a guy older than her; Brodey Murbarger - something her mother wouldn’t approve. When her mother, Kathy Jo Hutchcraft found text messages between them, she took away Megan’s phone. When things settled down, and it was believed this boyfriend was gone, Megan got her phone back.

July 3, 2014 Megan was with her mother with plans to run errands. They were supposed to go shopping, but Megan suddenly said she felt sick and just wanted to go home and go to bed. It is unknown if Megan got a message on her phone, or if she was in fact sick. Kathy Jo headed back to the house and dropped her off. She was only gone about an hour.

It was about 11:00 P.M. when Kathy Jo returned home she realized Megan was gone. When she realized Megan really was gone and something was wrong, Kathy Jo went to file a missing persons report. According to the mother, there was nothing they really could do. She hadn’t been gone long (there should never be a delay to report someone missing. Federal Law states that anyone can file a missing persons report for anyone, without any delay).

There was no Amber Alert. There was no bells and whistles. She was considered a runaway.

The phone was left behind in her room after it had been factory reset. This means, all records of any occurrences on that phone were wiped out, including phone calls, texts, videos and pictures. All activity. Everything wiped out.

The phone records however show that the last calls from Megan’s phone were to Brodey.

The note ‘I love you, but I will never be happy here. Don’t look for me.’

Digging deeper, a video surveillance at their bank show that Megan was at the bank alone on her bicycle withdrawing money. This transaction occurred the same day, July 3 about 2:00 P.M. Kathy Jo, however, sees that video more than just Megan at the ATM. The background, she says, shows Brodey in the background. More, she said at the very end of that video, after Megan walks away from the ATM you can see Brodey's car pulling away. The police reported they did not see a car in the video.

Many searches were created by family, individuals and law enforcement through the years. A Facebook Page was started almost immediately by Megan's family and friends PRAYER CIRCLE FOR MEGAN NICHOLS (which has since been archived. All the posts were messages to Megan telling her it was ok to come home. It was safe and she didn't have to run. Fundraisers were made. Shirts, wristbands and other items were made to raise money. Sightings of Megan were across the country, all to be unfounded. Media reports on her disappearance were all local, but eventually, national shows would take Megan's disappearance.

Brodey had a different girlfriend at the same time.  He was 18 and Megan was 15. Mom made Megan break off the relationship, but Megan continued contact with him until Kathy Jo took her phone away.

Memorial Day weekend when Kathy Jo checks on Megan in her room, she was gone but left her phone. When her mom reviews the texts,  One text was from Brodey. They were still in contact. As Kathy Jo is on the phone with the police, Megan walked thru the door.

Brodey made a Facebook post in regard to Megan’s disappearance. ‘Okay, this has gone on long enough… I had nothing to do with this and that I have nothing to hide… I am not in the video as she withdrew her money and ran from her family… this is the first time I have spoken up to defend myself, I shouldn’t even have to defend myself if I am not involved.’ Police stated that he was not a suspect.

Megan’s father at the time lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma and was not supposed to be with Megan. Moreover, he was at the time a registered sex offender, naturally giving way to being questioned for two reasons. One of course was could he have done something to her because of his legal status, but of course, Megan may very well want to go and be with her dad, if she really was having issues at home. Now, he had warrants out against him. Jackson Nichols was picked up by the U.S. Marshalls.

His sex offense was from 1997 when he was eighteen years old and dated a fourteen year old girl. The mother found out and called the police. He was charged with two counts of non-violent sexual assault. He had to register for ten years. Jackson was ruled out as a suspect. It would take another three and a half years to find Megan.

December 26, 2017 remains were found in shallow grave, a very remote wooded area south of Boyleston in Wayne County, the same county, not far from Megan’s home. These remains were wrapped in a blanket.

Jacque Beck and her boyfriend Carl Vaugn discovered a skull and bones in a field. Interestingly, they knew the Nichols family. They knew Megan. It seems Carl was preparing to cut firewood in the area when he stumbled upon the remains.

The remains were taken to Bloomington, Illinois where the autopsy were conducted. They were then taken to the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia where they were able to confirm identity.

January 26, 2018 the remains were identified as Megan Nichols. It is believed that Megan never left the area. Megan's death was classified as a homicide and all went silent,.

October 7, 2020, Megan's then ex-boyfriend, Brodey Murbarger was charged in connection to Megan's murder after a Grand Jury indictment.

A GoFundMe account raised $2,890 for funeral expenses. Her mother wrote: I would like to thank everyone for their continued support & prayers! I will be shutting down this GoFundMe acct very soon. Thank you again. Megan was very loved! Any other donations will go toward a memorial shelter that will be built in memory of Megan.


Brodey Murbarger

Wayne County, Illinois

Case# 2020CF162


3 counts of Murder

1 count of Concealment of a Homicidal Death

2 counts of Home Invasion / sex offense

Megan's medical records are sealed.

It was reported that Megan was strangled and suffocated in her own home.

On October 24, 2022, Brodey Murbarger has been found guilty just 2 hours after jury deliberates. We would like just take a moment of silence, to think of Megan, and know she can now rest easy. We hope this will give Megan's family some peace, to close a chapter. We'd like to thank law enforcement for not giving up and knowing your hard work paid off. To the State Attorney's Office, thank you for fighting for Megan and her family. While the guilty may never confront the truth and tell the story, we know.

On January 27, 2023, Murbarger was sentenced to 50 years. We hope this will give Megan's family, friends and loved ones a new chapter of peace, knowing that all these years of not knowing what happened to Megan, and all these years of now knowing that Murgbarger lived among us for nine long years, a new day has begun, and justice has been served.

Friends and family raised money in the efforts to build a shelter in Megan's memory at the Love of Mike Park in Fairfield.

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