Forensic Files Wiki

Deana Jalynn Hubbard Wild was a woman murdered in California for financial gain in 1987.

She was featured in the Forensic Files episode 'The Financial Downfall'. Her name was changed to 'Donna Hartman' for TV audiences.


Deana was murdered by her close friends BJ and Virginia McGinnis at Big Sur, California in 1987.

Deana had been going through divorce proceedings for about a year.

Investigators note that she was vulnerable. They speculate that Virginia McGinnis befriended Deana during this time because she was seen as an ideal victim.

The record shows that Virginia McGinnis took out a fraudulent life insurance claim on Deana, making sure that the policy payout was low enough that the insurance company wouldn't investigate.

Virginia lied and told the insurance agent that Deana was romantically involved with her son who was currently in prison. The beneficiary listed on the insurance document was Virginia's son.

The day after taking out the life insurance policy, BJ and Virginia took Deana to Big Sur.

The three had lunch together in the late morning, and investigators believe it was then that BJ McGinnis slipped Deana some of his prescription anti-depressants in her soft drink.

After lunch, Deana and the couple visited the cliffs overlooking Seal Beach, a favorite lookout point for tourists visiting Big Sur.

At some point while Deana was looking out at the ocean from the high lookout point, the drugs in her system began to make her drowsy.

Photos taken by Virginia moments before Deana's death show that BJ McGinnis waited until the ideal moment. Then he pushed Deana off the cliff.

The pictures established a chain of events. The earlier pictures from the roll showed Deana as more alert, while later ones showed her as drowsy and disoriented.

The most damning photo of all was taken moments before Deana was pushed, and shows BJ supporting her at the edge of the cliffs, facing toward the ocean.

Investigators say that Virginia took these photos that would later incriminate her in court because she was a sociopath who wanted a trophy from the killing.

After Virginia took the damning photo, BJ pushed Deana off the cliff.

The evidence later showed that Deana probably managed to grab hold of the cliff edge and hang on, because there were abrasions and deep wounds on the upper sides of her hands.

Investigators say that the deep wounds and abrasions being on the upper sides of the hands and not the palms indicates that as Deana held on, the upper sides of her hands were struck with a blunt or sharp instrument until she was forced to let go.

Deana's death was ruled accidental until the presence of BJ's prescription drugs were identified in the vial of blood taken at her autopsy.