In the very early hours of August 1, 2019, a sleeping mother in Ohio was startled awake by a phone call.
Cora Baker didn’t recognize the New Jersey phone number, Cora’s daughter Judy told Dateline, but she picked up anyway. It was her 31-year-old daughter, Megan McClelland on the line.
Megan, who had been on the road since June, kept her voice low as she told her mother that she needed money.
Cora told Megan she’d send her a bus ticket in the morning. Megan insisted she needed money. For clothes, she added.
Cora agreed to help Megan, told her to call back later that morning and said that she would go to Western Union when she woke up.
But Megan never called. And she hasn’t been seen or heard from since.
“It was her birthday. August 1,” Megan’s youngest sister Judy McClelland told Dateline about the conversation with their mother. “When she called our mom, her voice was really low, like she was trying to be quiet and couldn’t talk. And she sounded scared.”
Megan had been working as a dental assistant,and had recently bought a new home in Bremen, Ohio. She has two daughters, a nine-year-old and a four-year-old.
But in June 2019, Megan’s world came crumbling down around her.
“She went through a messy break-up and things fell apart from there,” Judy said. “She got into drugs and lost her job. She lost custody of her children. It was bad.”
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So Megan decided to leave town for a little bit to “clear her mind,” Judy told Dateline.
“For two months, she always called us to let us know where she was,” Judy said, adding that Megan told them she had lost her cell phone. “One day she was in Chicago. Another time she said she was calling from a penthouse in New York City. The last time we spoke to her, she had called from a New Jersey phone number.”
Judy told Dateline they tried to call the number back, but either there was no answer or a stranger on the other end would tell them they had only let Megan borrow their phone briefly.
Judy said it’s not like Megan to not keep in contact with someone in the family, who are all very close. Their mother, Cora Baker, and a third sister, Danyelle McClelland, both live nearby in Ohio. Judy said she only recently moved to Florida to study to be an Occupational Therapy Assistant.
“We’re very close. We’ve always been close,” Judy said. “We grew up fighting like cats and dogs, you know, like sisters. But we always look out for each other.”
Judy said Megan would also never leave her daughters.
“She was devastated when she lost custody,” Judy said. “She would never just leave them voluntarily-- not without staying in touch. That’s when we knew something was wrong.”
Judy told Dateline that since June, Megan has failed to pick up at least three social security checks for one of her daughters, whose father died years ago when Megan was pregnant.
“She obviously needed money,” Judy said. “When she called my mom, she said she needed money for clothes and food. Even if she was going to use the money for drugs, you would think she would come collect her checks.”
Judy said she’s afraid her sister got mixed up with the wrong people.
“Like, I think she could have said the wrong thing to the wrong person and they did something terrible to her,” Judy said. “She can be really emotionally disconnected at times and not think before she speaks. I worry about that being her downfall.”
Detective Jason Meadows with the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office told Dateline they are actively investigating the case, but the fact that they are not able to track her phone makes the search more difficult.
“We are following every tip we get, but right now, without Megan having a phone to trace, it’s not easy,” Det. Meadows said. “We’re working closely with the family and hoping tips garnered on social media will lead us to Megan.”
The family said they hope someone who might have recently seen Megan or know where she is will reach out.
“We need answers now,” Judy said. “The more time that goes by, the more we’re worried the outcome will be a bad one. If anything, we just need closure.”
Megan is described as being 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighing 140 pounds, with auburn hair and blue eyes.
If you have information about Megan’s whereabouts, contact the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office at (740) 652-7900.