Donald McDonald

Kodiak Island, Alaska
Date of Alleged Crime:  March 28, 1986

After 28-year-old Laura Henderson Ibach disappeared, Donald “Mac” McDonald and James Kerwin were charged with her kidnapping and later with her murder. Laura was last seen with McDonald and Kerwin in McDonald's van on the night of her disappearance. According to the two she had only been with them for a short period and they gave a plausible explanation as to why.

Laura's husband, Jack Anton Ibach, was later arrested and charged with the same offenses. It was alleged that Jack employed McDonald and Kerwin to commit the actual murder. Jack and Laura shared custody of their daughters, an arrangement Jack approved of. Laura was seeking full custody of the daughters, so she could take them to Oregon. Two of Laura's coworkers stated that she talked about picking up a “tape” on the day of her disappearance to use against her ex-husband in the custody dispute.

McDonald was friendly with Laura, but only knew Jack on sight. Kerwin was a close acquaintance of McDonald. No direct evidence existed that Jack had paid money to McDonald or Kerwin or conspired with them in any way.

Clothes similar to those worn by Laura had been found along a two-mile stretch of Monashka Bay on the Pacific Ocean. None of the clothes were positively identified as hers and it is possible that none belonged to her. The prosecution theorized that McDonald and Kerwin tossed Laura's body off a particular cliff into the bay. The ocean currents then carried Laura away. It was not explained how the clothes, if Laura's, could have come off her discarded body.

A purse was found on the beach, containing Laura's old identification. Laura had been wearing “pinkish” tennis shoes prior to her disappearance. She had recent wart surgery on her foot and was wearing Band-Aids until her wounds healed. After this information became known, a pink shoe was found on the beach with a Band-Aid inside. If these items belonged to Laura, the evidence did not explain how her sock disappeared. Even more mysterious was the fact that the found shoe was a left one, but medical records showed that Laura had surgery on her right foot. One might suspect that evidence was being planted.

Police impounded McDonald's van and searched it twice, but found no incriminating evidence. Months later, Kodiak Police Corporal Andre reportedly called a Chicago area psychic to ask for help in the case. He said the psychic told him to “look for something in the van.” Nine days before trial, police checked McDonald's van, then unsecured, and reported finding an earring in plain sight near the gas pedal. The “found” earring was porcelain with a purple flower painted on it, consistent with the earrings Laura had been described as wearing. The prosecution theorized that Laura's earring had been violently knocked off her during a struggle in the van. It then had gone down the front window defroster slot and had remained in the heater/defroster system during the first two searches. Subsequent towing had jarred the earring enough to fall through to the floor.

Laura weighed about 150 lbs. prior to her disappearance. McDonald's lawyer arranged for a reenactment of the prosecution theory that McDonald and Kerwin tossed Laura's body off a cliff into the bay. He had two men about the size of McDonald and Kerwin attempt to toss a 150 lb. sack from the location into the bay. The high tide line was 50 feet straight out and the two men could not throw the sack anywhere close to it. The defendants' trial judge would not allow the results of the reenactment to be presented at trial. Inside Edition, a national TV show, later performed a similar reenactment, with identical results.

At trial, Kerwin was acquitted of all charges. McDonald was found guilty of kidnapping Laura, but the jury hung on his murder charge as well as the charges against Laura's husband, Jack. At retrial, McDonald was tried for and convicted of the murder charge and Jack was convicted of both charges.


References:,, Justice: Denied

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Alaska Cases, "No Body" Murder Cases