Justice For Annie

Annie at the Beach with her momMcCann Family Statement - September 30, 2010

Good morning, and thank you for coming.

It’s been almost two years since our 16-year old daughter, Annie McCann, was found dead, stuffed behind a dumpster in Baltimore.  Over an incredibly cruel ordeal, spanning 23 months now, we have struggled to learn the truth of what happened to our beautiful daughter.

Perhaps the cruelest part of our ordeal has been an inexplicable struggle with authorities.  On Day One, two veteran Baltimore homicide detectives assured us that Annie’s was a “red ball” case – their term, they explained, for a high priority investigation, with all available resources dedicated to it.

Almost immediately, though, the investigation mysteriously slowed, then stalled completely.  It took many months for us to unravel this, but we now know that the Baltimore police hierarchy leaped immediately to the conclusion that Annie killed herself by drinking Bactine, found by police near our car.  Annie had used Bactine for her newly pierced ears.  Police based their suicide conclusion on the finding at autopsy of the toxin lidocaine – one of Bactine’s ingredients – the finding of Annie’s DNA on the Bactine bottle, and the fact that Annie left notes apparently reflecting a hidden depression.

In point of fact, Annie only “left” one note – other notes, found by us and by police, had all been discarded.  And the one note left was, if anything, a non-suicide note.  It ended with Annie saying, “I’ll be careful.”  In a post-script, she added that she wanted to “live, love, learn, grow.”  It was so clearly a non-suicide note that Fairfax County police refused our pleas that night to issue an Amber Alert, insisting there was no reason to believe Annie was in danger.

Over the past year, we have been able to prove that Annie could not have killed herself by drinking Bactine.  There was an enormous amount of lidocaine found in Annie’s stomach at autopsy.  It could not possibly have been delivered by a nearly empty bottle of Bactine, not by five full bottles of Bactine.  And it is our firm belief that no human could drink more than a tiny sip, or maybe two, of Bactine.  It numbs your mouth instantly.  And it tastes worse than the accidental slip of Listerine down the throat.  It makes you gag.  Violently.

“In no way can this be classified a suicide,” concluded Dr. Michael Baden, one of the world’s leading forensic pathologists.  Other experts agree.  Pressed by us about the notes, Dr. Baden added that no matter how many notes Annie left, or discarded, no matter what they said, it could not change the clinical findings or the quantitative analysis.  Based on that objective data, “In no way can this be classified a suicide.”

We would add briefly that many teenagers write notes filled with despair, even suicidal thoughts.  Mercifully, very few take their own lives.  That such notes are written – perhaps prompted – does not warrant the murder of children by opportunistic killers.  Neither does it justify a lazy police investigation, willfully ignorant of objective facts that contradict tidy theories.

How did so much lidocaine get in Annie’s stomach?  Why couldn’t crime lab technicians collect fingerprints from the bottle of Bactine?  Where are Annie’s unknown prints, or her mother’s known prints?  And if the lidocaine in Annie did not come from Bactine – and it most assuredly did not – how did Annie’s DNA get on the bottle of Bactine?  And why?

Way too much lidocaine to be from Bactine, but Annie’s DNA is on the bottle of Bactine… When you slice away the impossible, and the completely preposterous, there’s only one non-insane explanation.  Annie was the victim of a sophisticated predator, with a plan.  When that plan failed, for whatever reason, he or she poisoned Annie with lidocaine – probably mixed with alcohol.  The predator then easily planted Annie’s DNA on the bottle of Bactine, to throw off the police investigation.

It worked.

Incredibly, it’s not the family here, but the police who are in complete and total denial.  As we continue our cruel struggle for the truth, Baltimore’s police leadership clings to a disintegrated theory.  Their slam-dunk proof of suicide – “Annie’s, and only Annie’s DNA is on the Bactine bottle!” – actually disproves suicide.  Their theory completely crumbles, when the enormous amount of lidocaine found at autopsy shows it could not have come from Bactine.  And in crafted and very carefully guarded statements, the police have still managed, shockingly, to manufacture evidence and alibis and outright lies, and have offered a welter of contradictions.

We have spent the past several months quietly reaching out for assistance from elected officials in Virginia, the District, and Maryland.  None has been forthcoming.   Authorities insist that this investigation is properly the purview of the Baltimore Police Department – perhaps supported by the Maryland Task Force on Human Trafficking and the FBI.  And by the way, with respect to the Task Force on Human Trafficking – it exists for a reason.  Predators do prey on humans, especially young women.

We do still have two open requests, only recently made.  One is to Baltimore FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard McFeely, asking that the Bureau re-open its investigation into Annie’s death.  The other is to Dr. David Fowler, Maryland’s Chief Medical Examiner, asking that the cause of Annie’s death be refined – specifically, to rule out suicide as a possible cause of Annie’s death.

Next week we will file a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the City of Baltimore, the former and current mayors, Deputy Mayor Thomaskutty, and Police Commissioner Bealefeld.  The basis for the claim will be about $3,720 in needless damage to our car, and 8 to 12 million dollars for pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages, rising from the City’s cruel failure to investigate Annie’s death.  We will make this claim reluctantly, having held off for more than 18 months.  Ultimately, though, we must hold the City and its officials accountable for this abysmal and stubborn failure.

The mayors and deputy mayor have been miserably disengaged from their sworn, paid duty to oversee the Baltimore Police Department.  And Commissioner Bealefeld, a strong proponent of accountability for his officers, needs to come out from hiding under his desk in this case.  He’s not by nature a bashful man.

It’s not difficult to see what’s at work here.  It was exposed this summer, with the shocking accounts of Baltimore police systematically suppressing reports of rape.  And you saw it a year earlier, when the nanny who was nearly throttled to death in a mugging could not get officers to take her assault complaint.  While that attack was taking place, Commissioner Bealefeld was holding forth at the Inner Harbor:  protected himself by a security detail and camera crews, in the safest corner of the city, he scolded the people of Baltimore…for not feeling safer.

A pattern of behavior like this doesn’t just happen.  The natural inclination of Baltimore beat cops and street detectives is to protect and to serve, to help victims, to arrest bad guys, to solve crimes.  But there is a strong cultural push downward, from Baltimore’s police leadership to the rank-and-file:  If you can find any excuse, keep a crime off the books.  It’s just better that way.  Folks feel safer.  Or they should.  Commissioner says they should.

How did so much lidocaine get in Annie’s stomach, Commissioner Bealefeld?  Honestly, how?  Where are any other bottles of Bactine?  Who besides the killer had motive to wipe off fingerprints?  Why did your department lie about the non-lethal nature of Bactine?  Why would your spokesman fabricate a ludicrous alibi for thugs who had already admitted to dumping Annie’s body and stealing her car?  (How on earth did those words tumble from his lips?)  After a supposed 1,200-hour investigation, how could the lead detective not have a photograph of Annie?  Why does your head of homicide say that he knew it wasn’t homicide, because there were no grave wounds?  Good Lord, Commissioner – Annie was poisoned to death!  It’s a form of homicide.  And if, as your homicide chief told The Washington Post, his detectives looked for a predator, luring kids to Baltimore – what made them stop?  A 1.200-hour cap on tough cases?

We continue to look for the person of interest, seen with Annie at Vaccaro’s in Little Italy, seen often at Costco in Northern Virginia – one of Annie’s few drive-able destinations – and shown in the sketch we have provided.  There are several other persons of interest, and many open leads.  With a full and vigorous police investigation, there would be more.  There continues to be a reward for information leading to Annie’s killer.  And when a jury of Baltimore citizens finds for us in civil court, as it surely will, that reward will soar into the millions.  We have a lot of catching up to do, and we’ll hope that a multi-million dollar reward will motivate some seasoned investigators from around the world, as well as anyone with direct knowledge of what happened to Annie.

We will never stop looking for the killer of our daughter.

When will the City of Baltimore start?

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