After two months of characterizing the investigation into our 16-year-old daughter Annie's death in Baltimore last November as "the most baffling case," the Baltimore Police Department lost traction entirely, drifted into inactivity, latched onto a flimsy conclusion of suicide, and has now lapsed into a defensive, bureaucratic crouch.
On Monday, the police hierarchy wandered into Wonderland. The reason Baltimore police are reluctant to file felony charges against the five individuals who dumped our daughter's body and took our car is "because there was no proof of whether Annie McCann granted the young men permission to take the Volvo." So says the commissioner's spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi, according to The Washington Post.
These are the lengths to which the police command will go. The speculation is so ridiculous, so flimsy, that the five individuals never resorted to it. Who would believe that? Well, apparently, the Baltimore Police Department. In defense of their inaction against these individuals - most with long police records - they manufacture what is tantamount to a cover-up.
In point of fact, the police located two of the individuals in early December, and they admitted to dumping Annie's body and stealing the car. They implicated two others. The police could not locate these two. Our investigators did, and through those two, another one. There are a total of five men, three juveniles and two adults, implicated in the dumping of our daughter's body and the theft of our car. The police have admissions to car theft. Our investigators have additional, similar admissions. The theft was for a "joy ride." After dumping Annie's body.
These are the men to whom the police hierarchy stretches understanding and sympathy.
Separately, police report that Annie's fingerprints were on a container of Bactine, an over-the-counter medication containing lidocaine, the presumed cause of death through oral ingestion. Since last November, we have known that the police failed to collect Annie's fingerprints. How can they now know Annie's fingerprints?
Regarding the department's conclusion of suicide, the "slam dunk proof," offered on March 20, was that "Annie's and only Annie's DNA" was found on the lip of the Bactine container. Bactine has never been used in suicide. It's hard enough to believe that Annie killed herself by drinking Bactine. We never, ever, imagined that she shared it with anyone. We do not understand the powerful meaning the police attach to finding "Annie's and only Annie's DNA."
And now, of course, with their sudden characterization of never-collected fingerprints, we have to wonder if they even got the DNA bit right.
More to the point with Bactine: A 5-fluid-ounce container contains one-eighth of a fluid ounce of lidocaine. That's less than half a sip from your can of cola. We seriously question whether that amount, diluted in 5 ounces, constitutes a lethal dose.
One of the world's leading forensic pathologists agrees. Reviewing the autopsy report on Annie, he has concluded that she would have to have consumed several containers of Bactine to achieve the levels of lidocaine reported. Based on that fact, and the totality of other circumstances, he has categorically ruled out suicide as a cause of Annie's death.
We will provide further information in this regard to the police, through our attorney.
We are convinced of the abilities of the men and women of the Baltimore Police Department. Given the opportunity, they can still solve this "most baffling case."
We have grave reservations, though, as to the judgment and, frankly, character of the police hierarchy. Annie was the No. 2 case on everybody's list for months, and no one quite got around to following up. Oh, they stayed busy enough, investigating other homicides, helping other families. When we pressed them in March, they went through some motions. When we pressed them again, later in March, they dug in. They're still dug in.
They cling still to the fourth-most-likely cause of Annie's death, after homicide, manslaughter, and accidental death. They don't know the circumstances under which she drank Bactine, if indeed she did. They don't know how or why she got to Baltimore after she left our house in Alexandria, Va., but they agree she was not alone. They don't know who was with her. And on March 20, they told us, point blank, "It doesn't matter!" Translation: We don't care.
They do care for the individuals who dumped Annie's body, though - to the point of manufacturing a tale so ridiculous that the individuals themselves never tried it.
And we have to ask: Does the Baltimore Police Department really believe that Annie interacted, as they now suggest, with these men? That those men encountered her while she was alive? Doesn't that raise new questions for good detectives?
Or does the commissioner not care?
Mary Jane and Dan McCann live in Alexandria, Va.