McCann Family Statement - March 2, 2009
Four months ago today, our beautiful daughter Annie was found dead in Baltimore, behind a dumpster on South Spring Court, barely a half-mile from this room. There were clear signs of violence, including bruising, bumps, and abrasions on both sides of her face and forehead. Annie had apparently run away from our home in Northern Virginia on the morning of October 31. She left a rambling runaway note, and took one of our family cars. Annie had no personal ties or interests in Baltimore.
Quiet, cheerful, athletic, and funny by nature, Annie had many one-on-one friends at school and through sports, but did not "hang" with any one person or a crowd. Annie was on the honor roll all her school life, usually without much effort. Her school notes and other writing through late October were detailed, thorough, and often funny.
The consistent pattern of Annie's high school life of 2-plus years was to come home at 2:30 and stay home. She would do homework, draw pictures and do other artwork, watch TV, and play computer games. We allowed Annie to have a Facebook account this September, on the condition that we have her password, and with the understanding that we would monitor her use. She never dated. Annie was a devout Catholic, and completely devoted to her parents, to her brother, and to our beloved beagle.
Since that terrible day four months ago, we have cooperated fully with the Baltimore Police Department. The homicide detectives investigating Annie's case have been strong, compassionate, and deeply committed. On November 2, and again on November 12, they characterized the investigation as a "red ball" case, explaining to us that all available resources were dedicated to solving the case.
Since December, however, we have becoming increasingly concerned with the slowing pace of the investigation. Detectives who had worked furiously in November, when there was almost nothing to investigate, were finding it more and more difficult to follow up on the few actual leads that were slowly emerging.
In early November, we had hired a private investigator, Gene O'Leary, to assist with the investigation in Virginia. In late December, we engaged Beau Dietl & Associates of New York, to assist further in Maryland and Northern Virginia. These investigators have made valuable advances on the early work done by the Baltimore Police Department. In late January, for instance, Beau Dietl investigators located two members of the public who remembered Annie with remarkable clarity, from encountering her "around Halloween," as one of them put it with astonishing accuracy. The other individual remembers with some specificity the young woman in Annie's company that day, and has agreed to cooperate in the creation of a sketch of that woman. We had hoped to have it here today, but unforeseen difficulties – including, remarkably, being stymied twice by the Baltimore Police Department – have made that impossible. We hope to have that sketch later this week, perhaps even today.
Much police work remains to be done. We know that physical evidence and statements place a number of juveniles in our car, in Baltimore, the late afternoon or evening of November 1. These young persons described in some detail another person as having parked the car; when they later checked the car out, they found Annie dead inside. Reportedly, they dumped her body where it was found on South Spring Court, and went for a joy ride.
Incredibly, not all of these juveniles, known to the police in early December, have been interviewed or even identified. There has been no serious effort to identify and interview their friends and acquaintances. The accounts they provided to our investigators in February differ significantly from the accounts given to the police in December. We believe these juveniles must be questioned more closely, and their story either verified or deconstructed. By the original story to police, they've failed to report, they've tampered with evidence, they've stolen a car, they've obstructed justice.
There has been no serious effort to identify, or to sketch, or to rule out, or to rule in, the existence of the person described by the juveniles as having parked the car with Annie's dead body inside.
Separately, we identified a Baltimore associate of a person from Northern Virginia with a possible connection to Annie. We believe that person from Baltimore misled or lied to a Baltimore homicide investigator in December, denying a patently clear relationship with the person from Northern Virginia. Police have not yet followed up on that apparent lie.
Also in Northern Virginia, we believe that priests at St. Louis Catholic Church should be questioned more closely. Unusually, Annie went to 6:30 morning Mass there on a few occasions in October. We believe she also went to confession there at least once in October. Parishioners recall seeing Annie at Mass; it's inconceivable to us that not one priest would recall her. Still, in two visits, homicide detectives got no answers, and got no further than the front door of the rectory.
We believe Annie's school computer account must be scrubbed yet by a computer forensics expert. And we wonder if the compromise of Fairfax County student data last summer might be connected somehow to Annie's case.
Naturally, we remain anxious for the results of all forensics testing, including results from the family car and, perhaps most significantly, from the family computer and Annie's laptop.
Additionally, we feel that several notes written by Annie must be profiled for handwriting and content. One is her runaway note; the others are notes and scratched-out drafts, apparently discarded by Annie. Many reflect, to differing degrees, thoughts of suicide.
Based on information provided to us in early December, we believe the cause of Annie's death was a toxic dose of lidocaine, in the form of over the counter Bactine, ingested orally. On Friday – 17 long weeks after Annie apparently ran away, but just a few hours after we announced this press conference – the Medical Examiner suddenly confirmed this, issuing a final ruling that Annie's death was due to lidocaine toxicity, and otherwise undetermined. We were not consulted or informed before this final ruling. The lead detective in Annie's case did inform us after the fact. He also informed us that, most unusually with a finding of "Undetermined," the police would still investigate the case. We are led to believe that will include, minimally, additional interviews with the juveniles placed at the scene.
Friday's sudden final ruling may reflect a sense on the part of authorities that the family will be grateful that no finding of suicide was made, and that some additional investigation will be performed. With much basic police work yet to be done, and with straightforward forensic results still pending, we are far from satisfied with such an equivocal and ambiguous finding.
Since November 2, we have been painfully, painfully aware of the possibility of suicide. We were then, and we remain today, desperate to know the truth, however hurtful. We are convinced that Annie's death was the result of (1) homicide, (2) manslaughter, or (3) suicide. We have very grave and specific reservations about a finding, explicit or implied, of simple suicide. We can elaborate on those reservations later. Fundamentally, though, we can point out that no one has ever committed suicide with Bactine. It's just about inconceivable to us that Annie hid thoughts of suicide behind a brilliantly crafted, happy-go-lucky façade, and then decided on suicide, and then reached for…Bactine…for the first time in the painful history of suicides.
One other point – every investigator who has examined this case closely agrees that Annie could not have gotten from suburban Alexandria, VA to where she ended up in Baltimore without help. We strongly agree. Given that, we believe that there is a high probability that Annie was lured or tricked into travelling across state lines, probably in the company of an adult predator.
If Annie died from an oral ingestion of Bactine, we think it far more likely to have been homicide than suicide. If so, it would have been at the hand of an opportunistic killer, one who has probably killed before, and will probably kill again.
This morning, through the press, through digital billboards around the city, through a mobile billboard, and later this week through direct mailings, we are asking for the public's assistance in finding the person or persons responsible for Annie's death. We appeal to anyone who may remember having seen Annie or our white four-door Volvo sedan around Halloween to come forward. With the help and support of Metro Crime Stoppers of Maryland, we are offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest, indictment, and conviction of any person for the death of our dear Annie.
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