The Washington Post

Annie McCann’s parents keep pushing death probe

On the one year anniversary of Annie McCann’s death, her mother, Mary Jane Malinchak-McCann, visited West Potomac High School and was hugged by Sierra Damron, 17, who knew Annie. (SUSAN BIDDLE/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

To recap, on Halloween in 2008, Annie McCann ran away from their Groveton area home with $1,000 in cash, clothes and jewelry. Two days later, her body was discovered in Baltimore, where she’d almost never gone. There were no signs of trauma on her body. After the medical examiner ruled that Annie had died from lidocaine poisoning, believed to have come from drinking a bottle of Bactine disinfectant, Baltimore police treated the death as a suicide.

A composite sketch of the woman seen with Annie McCann in the Little Italy section of Baltimore on Oct. 31, 2008. (COURTESY OF McCANN FAMILY)

[UPDATE: After this story was posted, the McCanns provided a 2009 letter from Bayer saying there is 3.75 grams of lidocaine hydrochloride in a bottle of Bactine, and “the amount of lidocaine in a single 5 ounce bottle would not be expected to produce death.” Daniel McCann also points out the bottle was likely only half-full at best, after some weeks of usage. So this scientific conclusion remains a point of contention.]

Now the McCanns say they have identified a woman who was seen with Annie in Baltimore’s Little Italy the same day she ran away. They also say Annie had blunt force trauma on opposite sides of her forehead. The McCanns say they presented this new information to a new homicide commander in Baltimore at a Dec. 6 meeting — and that police haven’t followed up.

It gets worse, according to Daniel McCann. “After years of asking,” he said, “we still don’t know whether or not Annie was raped. The police refer us to the medical examiner, the medical examiner refers us to the police.” The McCanns think that’s an important thing to know in determining whether their daughter’s case was a suicide or homicide.

Annie McCann. (Courtesy of the McCann family)

A spokesman for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene told the Baltimore Sun, while not commenting on the McCann case, that the medical examiner by law may hold onto organs after releasing a body for burial, and then dispose of the parts as medical waste.

The Baltimore police told The Sun they have not seen anything to indicate that Annie’s death was a homicide, and so did not need to interview the woman last seen with her. To a longtime observer of this case, it would seem that this woman might be the one person who could explain how Annie ingested lidocaine at all, and so would be worth the time and effort of Baltimore police to at least interview.

A retired homicide detective from Montgomery County located a Baltimore waitress at Vaccaro’s coffee shop in March 2009 who recalled seeing Annie with an older woman on Oct. 31, 2008. The detective and the waitress did a composite sketch of the woman. Now the McCanns and the detective, Davis W. Morton, believe they’ve positively identified the woman and connected her to the Catholic church of which Annie was a devout member.

The McCanns also think the Baltimore police should pressure Darnell Kinlaw, 21, for more information on the case. Kinlaw, who was a suspect in the theft of Annie’s car after she died (two juveniles were convicted of that), has now been charged in the killing of another woman after stealing her car.

The McCanns said they met with Baltimore Lt. Col. Garnell Green, the new homicide commander, and presented them with the new information. He took careful notes and promised to review the case and contact the McCanns’ private investigator. Green didn’t contact them again.

Instead, the police released a letter they sent to the McCanns last week from Green saying that “it is my position to keep the case open pending any creditable information that may assist the Medical Examiner’s office in changing their findings.” Green claimed the homicide section has always “kept the case ‘open’,” but former homicide commander Maj. Terrence McLarney told me in 2009, “That investigation is done ... Annie drank Bactine. It’s just a poison. People drink poison.”

Confused and as hurt as ever, Daniel McCann on Friday reiterated the key question, “How did so much lidocaine get in her body?”

He added, “We’ve been bringing them new information for three years. Witnesses. Sketches. World-class pathologist’s [Dr. Michael Baden] opinions [that a Bactine bottle doesn’t contain a lethal dose of lidocaine]. With Darnell Kinlaw, we don’t think there’s any harm in the police asking him about this.

“There’s an investigation to be done that hasn’t been done.”

Tom Jackman is a native of Northern Virginia and has been covering the region for The Post since 1998.


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