The mother of slain San Diego teenager Amber Dubois found her calling in life, and she’s getting national attention for her ongoing efforts.
Dubois' remains were found in March 2010.
Since her daughter’s death, McGonigle has formed the search and rescue group, Team Amber, to help families find their missing loved ones.
In September 2011, McGonigle’s path for her future was solidified after a successful search helped her bring closure to another local family.
At that time, the search for missing nursing student, Michelle Le, 26, had intensified.
Still healing from Dubois’ death, McGonigle said she wasn’t planning on searching with her young dog.
“Amber's remains had just been located the previous year. I just didn't think mentally that I could handle finding someone's remains,” McGonigle recalled.
But fate intervened.
McGonigle’s white search dog – a lab named Amber – had just begun training at the time and broke away from the rest of the group in the Sunol Canyon area to a place that had already been searched.
As McGonigle caught up to the dog to put her on her leash, she discovered that Amber had led her right to Le’s remains.
“It was someone up there. Amber, you know? My baby, [she] helped us find her,” she said.
Emotionally distraught, McGonigle thought she would have to end her days of helping families find closure.
Though not her usual routine, McGonigle said she went to church the very next day, and the pastor’s sermon made things very clear.
“He finally said today’s sermon is ‘your life on the correct path.’ And I knew at that point it was. And I graduated from counseling,” she said.
As for Le’s case, a jury has found Giselle Esteban, 29, guilty of first-degree murder. Esteban went to Mt. Carmel High School with Le and the two were friends at one point.
Details on Le’s murder will be aired on NBC’s “Dateline” on Jan. 18. McGonigle was also interviewed for the Dateline episode regarding her involvement in Le’s case.