Former Claremont resident charged in mother’s murder

A woman who was allegedly killed by her son on Sunday was a former Claremont resident with deep ties to the city.  

Megan Estes Hampton, 61, a Claremont resident and a graduate of Claremont High School, was found dead in her home on the 30800 block of Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach on Sunday morning around 10:45 a.m., according to the Laguna Beach Independent. Her son, 34-year-old Matthew McDonald, was found in nearby San Clemente an hour later in Ms. Hampton’­s car and was arrested on suspicion of her murder.

Ms. Hampton and her son had recently moved to Laguna Beach from Upland, and Mr. McDonald was a 2003 graduate of Claremont High School.

As a student at CHS, Mr. McDonald was the quarterback for the football team and an All-Baseline League First Team selection, honored as the Offensive Back of the Year, according to a COURIER article. He also played baseball and former classmates describe him as popular and well liked by peers

A small group of friends gathered at Memorial Park on Monday evening to pay tribute to Ms. Hampton, who they described as a devoted mother and loving friend.

Cindy Ireland said Ms. Hampton was sweet, kind and loved dogs, and was always available to groom her friends’ dogs if they needed it

“She always wanted to help people and animals,” Ms. Ireland said.

Val Tracey knew Ms. Hampton for 40 years, meeting her through her sister during a Jazzercize class. She and Ms. Hampton would vacation to Lake Powell together every summer, and mentioned Megan had moved to Laguna Beach after her husband, Wade Hampton, passed away from cancer.

“It’s just unbelievable, so sad,” Ms. Tracey said. “Life can change in a second.”

Linda Mundinger met Ms. Hampton at a fundraiser at the Padua Hills Theater and said they had an instant connection—they were both widows. They went on cruises together and “just became instant good friends.”

She noted Ms. Hampton was also a devoted mother. Mr. McDonald was reported to have suffered from a mental disorder, and Ms. Hampton was always there for him.

“Everything was tentative because she wanted to be available for him,” Ms. Mundinger said. “He was her first priority.”

Ms. Hampton was also a devoted friend to everyone who knew her, she added.

“She made each person feel like you were her best friend, even though she probably had 100,” Ms. Mundinger said.

Ms. Hampton married Claremont resident Tom McDonald, her high school classmate at CHS, in 1978. Matthew was born in 1984.

They divorced in 1987, and the elder Mr. McDonald moved from Claremont to Laguna Beach. He died of cancer in 2010.

Megan then married Mr. Hampton, the longtime owner of Hampton’s Meats at Wolfe’s Market in Claremont. Matthew McDonald worked at the family business over holidays and in between sports seasons while attending CHS.

Mr. Hampton also died of cancer in 2012, and Ms. Hampton moved to Laguna Beach in 2015.  

Mr. McDonald has an arraignment date set for August 20 at the Orange County Superior Court in Newport Beach, where he is facing one count of murder with an additional count of using a deadly weapon, a knife.

Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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