The remains of a missing Pennsylvania teenager were discovered on a llama farm last month. Now cops are eyeing her 24-year-old boyfriend—a runaway Rastafarian who allegedly claimed the underage girl was his bride and that he’d kill her if she ever left him.
Friends say Leanna Walker, 17, of Milford, always put others before herself. But her concern over the well-being of her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Sky Michael McDonough, may have led to her death.
Walker’s mother, Diane, said she warned her daughter about the much-older beau, who is in jail on unrelated burglary charges. Authorities have yet to charge McDonough in Walker’s slaying but said he is a person of interest.
“We heard him say he’d burn us all down if she left him,” Diane Walker told the Pocono Record in April, before her daughter’s body was found.
“He told her, ‘If I kill you, I’ll set you on fire,’” the worried mother added. “He told someone else that if she left him, he wouldn’t bury her body. He’d burn it.”
Halley Deskin, a close friend of Leanna’s, also claims to have heard threats from McDonough. “If she ever left him, he’d kill her. He said that to me,” Deskin told The Daily Beast.
“Sky would leave a lot,” Deskin added of the apparent drifter. “Then he’d come back and act like they were still together. In Sky’s head, they never broke up, but in Leanna’s head, they broke up a long time ago.”
The high-schooler was reported missing on April 18, shortly after Diane Walker demanded McDonough leave the family’s home. Leanna Walker and her boyfriend left by foot shortly after, and the teen wasn’t seen again, her family said.
But last month, the family’s search turned to tragedy. Police discovered Walker’s remains at the now-shuttered Foster Hill Farm, a llama-breeding estate where McDonough worked before the owner, Dick Snyder, died in 2014.
Pike County district attorney Raymond Tonkin said the case is being investigated as a homicide and that an autopsy report is pending. He declined to comment further on the case.
Still, it wasn’t long after Walker went missing that the former farm hand-turned-fugitive was on the police radar.
On April 26, residents of Milford spotted McDonough near a Key Foods store and alerted police. After he was arrested, McDonough agreed to take cops to the secluded location where he claimed he stayed with Walker, according to a criminal complaint.
After several minutes of wandering through a wooded area, however, officers “noticed the defendant was taking them in circles and not cooperating with their requests” to find Walker, a state trooper’s affidavit states.
Then he escaped from police somehow during the trek. The affidavit does not disclose how McDonough broke loose.
Cops nabbed McDonough, who was shirtless and still in handcuffs, the next morning at a “makeshift campsite” inside a barn on the llama farm. Investigators also found items belonging to Walker at the site, the affidavit says.
McDonough told troopers he dated Walker starting in January 2016 and that they had planned to run away together to Jamaica by way of New York to Miami, the complaint says. McDonough said he took off because of his arrest warrants for burglary and fleeing apprehension in New Jersey, according to the document.
He is charged with felony escape and criminal trespass, as well as misdemeanor resisting arrest, District Attorney Tonkins said. The former llama helper is at Pike County jail, with bail set at $250,000.
McDonough’s family declined to comment.
Michael Weinstein, an attorney for McDonough, told The Daily Beast his client is a “courteous young man” but wouldn’t provide further details.
Meanwhile, friends and family of Leanna Walker painted a different picture.
Diane Walker said McDonough persuaded her daughter to leave Delaware Valley High School and attend an online school instead, the Record reported.
The mother said her daughter loved dressing up and doing makeup, not living in the woods with her boyfriend. “I told her not to bother with him. He does weird things. He has issues,” Diane Walker told the Record.
Diane Walker also told the Record that McDonough spent most of March at Bon Secours Community Hospital in Port Jervis, New York—where he was allegedly a psychiatric patient—but that she refused to let Leanna visit him. When McDonough later went to Boston, Leanna wired him money for a bus back to Milford, according to the Record.
Lydia Rodriguez, Walker’s sister, told the Scranton Times-Tribune that McDonough had “bizarre religious views” and could allegedly turn violent.
McDonough referred to the high-school student as his “wife,” Rodriguez said. “He felt because they had been intimate that they were married,” the sister added. “We told him, ‘You aren’t married and you don’t own her.’”
According to the Times-Tribune, Walker told her family McDonough had been kicked out of his family’s home and in March, convinced them to let the boyfriend stay over.
Rodriguez said McDonough’s behavior quickly turned strange. He allegedly slapped Rodriguez after accusing her of making Walker “smoke” and trying to “kill her,” the sister told the Scranton paper.
After the family booted him, McDonough allegedly began to inexplicably dig a hole in their backyard. Walker kept in touch with her boyfriend, even though her relatives assumed he was long gone, the Times-Tribune reported.
But the day Leanna went missing, her family caught her with McDonough. Her brother, who missed the school bus, returned home to find a male figure in the house and called their mother. Not long after, Walker confessed that McDonough was showering and getting something to eat when everyone else was at work.
The girl pleaded with her mother to let McDonough stay and said he was being treated for behavioral issues, the Times-Tribune reported. But Diana Walker was adamant that her daughter’s suitor leave.
“My mother regrets that,” Rodriguez told the Times-Tribune. “Because he left and she went with him.”
Halley Deskin, a friend of Walker’s since fifth grade, said she witnessed McDonough’s strange behavior on several occasions.
One night, McDonough tried bullying Walker into staying home instead of sleeping over at Deskin’s. Deskin recalls trying to get out of the car during the couple’s argument but McDonough kept stepping on the gas. “He said, ‘Close the door,’ and gave me a look. That’s when I knew he wasn’t right.”
McDonough later told Walker, in front of her mother, “Can you get me a piece of paper? We need to get a divorce,” Deskin said.
On another occasion, McDonough was outside Walker’s house with Deskin and Walker when he allegedly started eating dirt. “He was complaining about his breath. He bent down and picked up dirt and ate it. Leanna got so freaked out,” Deskin recalled. McDonough told his girlfriend the dirt helped breath and released toxins.
“He was talking complete nonsense,” Deskin said, adding that McDonough “believed in the Rastafarian stuff” and was always listening to Bob Marley and “Jah Live.”
McDonough’s social media appears to confirm his religious bent. His Facebook profile is littered with reggae music, Bible verses, and a Rastafarian “Last Supper” painting. He last posted an image of himself and Walker on April 18—the day she disappeared.
McDonough’s Facebook posts became more nonsensical in the weeks before Walker vanished. “The cure for cancer/candida. Just 50$. Who wants to help save the world with me from evil Babylon. Enlist here and be strengthened and blessed and healed in the might name of Jesus Christ,” he wrote in a March 9 post.
In late February, McDonough’s family reported him missing, according to Sussex County first assistant prosecutor Greg Mueller.
Mueller said McDonough was able to elude cops for days. When officers reached McDonough by phone, he allegedly fed them bogus locations of his whereabouts. Eventually, Mueller said, state police pinged his cellphone to the vicinity of High Point State Park in New Jersey.
McDonough was captured after allegedly breaking into two Wantage Township homes. According to the criminal complaints, he snatched the blanket off one woman’s horse, and stole beer and groceries from another home.
Surveillance footage from one of the homes captured McDonough walking around a living room with a bag of potato chips before wandering to a stable to snatch the horse’s blanket, then putting it on himself, the complaint states. (The burglary and fleeing arrest charges in New Jersey are still pending, authorities said.)
Deskin said Walker—who dreamed of opening her own salon—worried about her boyfriend after he went AWOL in February.
“She didn’t really think she could change him but wanted to know he was OK,” Deskin told The Daily Beast. “She cared no matter what. She would always put you before her. If you were having a problem, she’d find a way to make it better.”