Who killed Donnie Farrell? Rowan death remains unsolved homicide 15 years later
GLASSBORO — Investigators have no additional evidence compared to what was released towards the end of 2007, but there is hope that advances in technology can open the door to answers in the Homecoming Weekend death of Rowan University sophomore Donald "Donnie" Farrell.
Donnie, 19, from Boonton, was fatally attacked on campus on the night of Oct. 27, 2007, while attempting to travel from one party to another with his friends. He was pronounced deceased the next day.
"We have received tips on it, but I wouldn't classify them as leads, because nothing has ever panned out since I've been the lead investigator on it," said Warren Rivell, a detective in the major crimes unit of the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office.
Donnie's murder is not a cold case, Rivell said. It's classified as an unsolved homicide, and the evidence box "doesn't go away."
"Our acting prosecutor, she is all in on unsolved homicides," Rivell said.
What happened to Donnie Farrell?
Donnie, who lived off campus, had a brief interaction with the suspects before the fatal attack.
According to officials, Donnie was "approached by several Black males in the area of the Triad Building." Donnie and his friends were going to a convenience store to buy cups.
After the individuals asked for directions, one suspect blindsided Donnie, beating him and taking his wallet. Donnie's friends were unharmed.
Donnie died as a result of the injuries.
"He was an incredibly special boy," said Kathy Farrell, Donnie's mother.
Fifteen years out, accepting Donnie's death doesn't get any easier, his parents said. They've just learned to manage life a little better, staying strong for their three other children and holding out hope for solid information.
"We still want them caught and we still want them tried and we want them put in jail," said Don, Donnie's father.
Who killed Donnie Farrell?
The surveillance video publicized in November 2007 remains the biggest piece of evidence in the case. It's believed that the individual in the convenience store, who purchased a cigar with cash, at least knows who's responsible for Donnie's death.
"We're confident that the person on the video was there, involved. In what, way, shape or form, we don't know," Rivell said.
Detectives attempted to identify the suspect by investigating past purchases of the Coogi Heritage hoodie he was wearing in the video, but they were unsuccessful.
The campus held a dance open to non-students and a football game against Montclair State University as part of Homecoming Weekend.
According to Rivell, the individual in the video gave his phone number to a female, but by the time she realized the connection to the Farrell case, she had discarded the number.
A $100,000 reward for solid information related to Donnie's death remains active. Rivell said he hopes the reward will end up convincing someone to come forward, or that someone involved with the death is arrested for another crime and chooses to provide information on the Farrell case for a lighter penalty.
According to Rivell, "great advancements in DNA" may give investigators the opportunity to test certain materials for evidence, or retest evidence, which is mainly Donnie's clothing and personal property.