Family under attack stops serial killer

"48 Hours Live to Tell:" A 15-year-old girl and her parents summon the courage to stop a serial killer in his tracks and save an innocent man accused of murder

Produced by Chris Young and Anthony Venditti
[This story originally previously aired on Dec. 3, 2011. It was updated on Aug. 10, 2013.]

What if someone wants you dead... but you live to tell? Shea McDonough, 15 at the time, and her parents recount their harrowing story of survival - their firsthand account of how they stopped a serial killer in his tracks... and saved an innocent man accused of murder.

Shea McDonough: I try to avoid 495 at all times ... because it reminds me of a very bad thing that happened to my family and I.

Jeannie McDonough | Shea's mother: Living close to the highway, I never really thought about safety factors.


Kevin McDonough | Shea's father: It was Sunday night and we had just returned home from dinner. Jeannie decided to stay up and watch the Red Sox game and I turned in early.

Jeannie McDonough: The weather was very hot. It was extremely oppressive.

Shea came home. At her curfew. She has a 12 o'clock curfew. She actually came home probably about 15 minutes beforehand.

Shea McDonough: To me, I was like, "Oh, I'm doing good! I'm doing good on time!"

I came in and I went straight to the back door just to see if it was unlocked. And I just left it unlocked ... thinking that my brother was coming home that night. I wanted to make sure that he wasn't going to text me two hours later being like, "Hey Shea, can you come unlock the door? It's locked."

Jeannie McDonough: Shea was being a good sister and looking out for her big brother.

I neglected to tell her that Ryan had called earlier in the evening and said that he was going to spend the night at his friend Ricky's house.

I don't think anyone ever prepares for anything like this to happen to them.

I heard a muffled sound. Like a little whimper ... come from the bedroom right next to us. And I thought that was odd... Shea must be having a bad dream or something. And Kevin got up at the same time.

Kevin McDonough: She said, "I'll check on her." And I said, "No, I'll check on her," which really isn't the norm. Usually I'm selfish and want to get all the sleep I need. ...But that morning something told me to get up. I got up and my wife Jeannie followed me in there.

I opened up the door and I saw a black silhouette over my daughter.

Shea McDonough: I woke up in the middle of the night to a cold object on my neck. I thought it was a gun. I didn't know it was a knife. I just saw dark eyes and a mask.

The man spoke and it was a voice that I had never recognized before. And he said, "if If you make any f---ing noise I'm going to kill you." And that's when I just kinda went into panic mode. ...And I just started kicking. And I just pushed my back against the bed, hoping to make as much noise as possible, so my parents could wake up and hear me.

And my dad - the first thing I heard him say was, "Who are you?" The man stood up from leaning over me and just went straight for my dad.

Jeannie McDonough: And we saw a knife in his hand ...

Anytime, Anywhere

48 Hours iPad App

Watch episodes from past seasons of 48 Hours. PLUS, stream all your favorite CBS shows live, next day, or on demand anytime, anywhere.

Try 1 Week Free

More From 48 Hours


The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App