Jillian Ward on ABC News 20/20

Reporter Jillian Ward talks with a crew from ABC News 20/20 in The World's newsroom on Feb. 10 in Coos Bay as part of a two-hour 20/20 episode on the Leah Freeman-Nicholas McGuffin case that will air at 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 28, on ABC-TV.

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COOS COUNTY — This week, ABC’s “20/20” will air an episode focusing on the high-profile murder case of 15-year-old Leah Freeman.

The teenager, who was reported missing in 2000, was found dead in her hometown of Coquille weeks after her disappearance.

A two-hour 20/20 episode on the Leah Freeman-Nicholas McGuffin case will air at 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 28, on ABC-TV.

Her boyfriend, Nicholas McGuffin, who was 18 when Freeman was killed, was arrested in 2010, a decade after authorities first began investigating Freeman's murder. He was convicted of manslaughter in 2011 by a 10-2 jury verdict, despite there being no witnesses or evidence tying McGuffin to the crime.

McGuffin has maintained his innocence throughout his trial and incarceration.

Last December, The World reported that McGuffin, who had spent nearly 10 years serving his sentence, would be released from prison after a Malheur County Circuit Court judge ruled Oregon State Police failed to reveal DNA evidence that could have exonerated McGuffin. His conviction was overturned and McGuffin returned to Coos County late last year. 

According to a press release by ABC News, the two-hour episode, which airs at 9 p.m. EST on Friday, Feb. 28, will explore the details of Freeman’s disappearance as well as how the case went cold for 10 years before authorities made an arrest. It will also include McGuffin’s first-ever interview since being released from prison.

“(McGuffin) spoke candidly about his work with the Forensic Justice Project that helped him gain his freedom, the key role unidentified DNA found on evidence played in overturning his conviction, and his life now that he’s free, including his desire to seek justice for Freeman and solve the mystery behind who really killed her,” said the press release.

World reporter Jillian Ward, who has covered the McGuffin case since November of last year, said she was happy that ABC's "20/20" was able to come to Coos County and speak with people who have been involved in the highly controversial case. 

Ward was interviewed by "20/20" as part of the upcoming episode. While she wasn't sure if the interview, conducted in The World's newsroom, would make the final cut for the show, she was excited to be a part of the process. The World also provided photos from McGuffin's trial that will be used in the episode.

Reporter Jillian Ward is interviewed in The World's newsroom on Feb. 10 by Keren Schiffman of ABC News as part of a two-hour 20/20 episode on …

"The World newspaper's reporters and photographers have covered this case carefully and thoroughly from the beginning," said Executive Editor Amy Moss Strong. "We're proud to say that reporter Jillian Ward continued The World's long-standing tradition of accurate, balanced and timely reporting, from Leah Freeman's death, to Nick McGuffin's arrest and his recent release from prison." 

The episode features a number of exclusive television interviews with McGuffin’s friends Nanette Stevens, Rick Stevens, Quinn Meyers and Haley Greenway as well as his mother Kathy McGuffin, his trial attorney Shaun McCrea and his current attorney Janis Puracal.

Former Coquille Police Chief Mark Dannels, who arrested McGuffin in 2010, was also interviewed, as well as Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier.

Watch the trailer for the 20/20 episode here: https://abcn.ws/2usgmuH.

Reporter Amanda Linares can be reached at 541-266-2039 or by email at amanda.linares@theworldlink.com.

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