Research Outline

Tom Donley Crime


To identify details from newspaper articles or official databases/documents about a murder in Chapel Hill, NC or Orange County, North Carolina between the years 1978-1981. Details of the murder include the following Tom Donley (victim; we will include a check on spelling and official name), Canadian who worked for the University of North Carolina; brother was chief of staff to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau at one point. Donley was killed in his home (likely by gunshot) at Rural Route 1, box 99 Chapel Hill, NC 27510. There is also a chance the murderer was the son of Donley’s girlfriend or ex-girlfriend. The current objective is to focus on newspaper searches about Tom Donley.

Early Findings

Limited Data

Our initial search showed no accessible information available to the public that allows for assessing the noted details about Tom Donley’s murder. This is likely because many older internet sources are behind paywalls, academic firewalls, or organization membership paid registrations. Because available public data were limited about Tom Donley—and additional variations of his name, e.g., Donnelley, Thomas, Thom, are also lacking—the team can continue the research by analyzing resources that assist in providing microfilm newspaper examples in print or digitally. Typically, reference desk personnel at university libraries or public libraries help identify local newspaper microfilm and digital libraries.
  • This resource provides well-described archival resources like NewspaperARCHIVE, use of for newspaper access and links to more sites for accessing older newspaper articles.
  • Extensive school libraries, like those at Harvard, discuss microfilm capacities that include library resources and microfilm access but those resources are only for students and perhaps alum. There are some college libraries that allow access and use of their catalog to alums. Checking a college library's polices is also a valid pathway.
  • ProQuest boasts to have over 10,000 newspapers from global, national, and local sources. 100 titles re viable online.
  • The National Endowment for the Humanities notes that North Carolina microfilmed 3 million bags of its newspapers. The contact information:
    • Rebecca Paden (Supervisor, Imaging Unit), Collections Management Branch, North Carolina State Archives, 4614 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699 | Telephone: 919-807-7333 | E-mail:
    • Yvonne Duke (Technical Services Branch Head), State Library of North Carolina, 4644 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4644 | Telephone: 919-807-7449 | E-mail: | Website

Fin Donley

There is a possibility that “Fin Donley” might be the Trudeau reference since he was a recent Member of Parliament.