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Manteca family trying to keep murderer in prison
Doris Morgan holds a photo of her son Michael Gene McDonald. The 1973 East Union High graduate was gunned down in cold-blood in 1983. - photo by DENNIS WYATT


If you like to help a Manteca couple keep the killer of their son behind bars, you can send letters in support of keeping him there by Feb. 18 with the outside envelope and to the top of the letter reading:

“California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation

Board of Parole Hearings

P.O. Box 4036

Sacramento, Ca. 95812-4036

William Walters Nichols  C91961”

His name and inmate number need to be on the letter and envelope. If you would like to circulate a petition, contact Doris Morgan at 209.823.3597

Do you want a killer on the streets?

A few key strokes and a couple of minutes could keep your son and daughter from suffering the same fate that Michael Gene McDonald and Susan Medrin did at the hands of cold-blooded murderer William Walter Nichols.

Thirty-one years ago Nichols filled his pickup with numerous rounds of ammo, loaded his .357 Magnum and laid in wait outside of McDonald’s home for over an hour. When Medrin pulled up and walked to McDonald’s porch, Nichols gunned his pickup and drove across the lawn. Medrin started screaming, McDonald ran out of the house to help, and Nichols jumped out of his pickup firing away. He pumped six shots into McDonald — including one that ripped through his heart — then coolly walked over and shot a woman he claimed to love twice in the head leaving her young son without a mother.

He wasn’t done. Nichols — who obviously has uncontrollable anger issues — wanted to take out more people. He tried to run over a father and his 4-year-old daughter outside of a convenience store and then tried to mow down two police officers before ramming a police vehicle with an officer inside.

Arresting officers said when Nichols was told he was under arrest for two murders, he cold-heartedly responded, “At least I did something right.”

Nichols doesn’t sound like someone you’d like walking the streets, does he?

Rest assured that Joe and Doris Morgan definitely don’t want him on the street,

And it’s not just because he took the life of their son. They don’t want another family to go through what they have.

Come March 3 the nightmare of losing a vibrant son could get worst. That’s when Nichols who was sentenced to two concurrent 25 years to life sentences will be up for his fifth parole hearing.

The Morgans are racing against a Feb. 18 deadline to get petitions and letters sent to the parole board in an effort to keep Nichols locked up. Community concerns in the form of letters and petitions tend to weigh heavily with the parole board.

• • •

He did what kids did growing up in Manteca 40 years ago

You may never have met McDonald.

But he could very well be your son, nephew or that good kid down the street.

He did what kids growing up in rural Manteca did 40 plus years ago.

He rode his bicycle to New Haven School. Mike, along with his stepbrother Rusty, would give their mother fits hooking up a makeshift carriage to their Shetland pony and taking off down what was then a much quieter Cottage Avenue.

He sang in the First Baptist Church choir. It was the same church he was baptized in.

In high school, he was a member of the East Union FFA and proudly showed both his beef and swine projects at competitions. McDonald was a four-year honor student at East Union High where he graduated in 1973. He also ran track for the Lancers.

Although he wasn’t too much into sports in high school, after leaving Manteca the Cerritos College graduate got into everything from snow skiing and water skiing to surfing.

In September of 1983, the 27-year-old was living in Downey buying a Spanish-style house while working with his father in a successful burglary alarm business. The entire world lay ahead of him as the strapping, happy-go-lucky, 6-foot-3, 195 pounder who had started seriously thinking about getting married and starting a family.

McDonald was murdered in cold blood at the front door of his home by Nichols who also killed the 25-year-old Mendrin whom McDonald had just met six weeks earlier. Their murders occurred on what would have been their third date.

Nichols had been divorced and in a series of relationships that all ended as did his with Medrin.

At a previous parole hearing, Nichols asserted he wasn’t a criminal telling the board they knew he was being good behind bars as he wasn’t using contraband alcohol or dope. Apparently in Nichols’ world it’s not a criminal act to take out the lives of two law-abiding people.

• • •

Nichols refused to earn his keep

You paid for Nichols who is now 70 to secure a college degree behind bars and costly specialized training to be an X-ray technician. But when the chance came for him to be transferred to the new prison hospital in Stockton to earn his keep, Nichols refused. Why should he work in the field he asked to be trained in when he can live on easy street in a dorm-style setting at Solano Prison where he ultimately was sent?

Nichols was allowed to get married behind bars and have conjugal visits. His son conceived during such a visit behind bars is now 22.

Where is McDonald? He’s 6 feet under. Nichols took away McDonald’s life and all of his dreams. Meanwhile, Nichols not only continued breathing but was able to realize his dream of having a son.

If you want to keep the murder rate down in California, one of the best ways to accomplish that is to keep premeditated double murderers that have no qualms about taking out people who don’t now them behind bars.

A couple minutes of your time will keep our streets safer and bring some peace of mind to a family hat has suffered greatly.