The questions surrounding Amy Metz’s death on Jan. 24, 2016 haunt her siblings. How did she die? Why was she left in the snow on Wellesley Court? Why didn’t her husband call 911? Deputies from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office were called to the scene in the midst of a blizzard after receiving a 911 call that someone had seen a man dragging what appeared to be a body through the snow just before 4 a.m. Upon arrival, they found Amy Metz’s body in the middle of the street. She was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:24 a.m. She was 43. About an hour later, the deputies encountered her husband, Michael Metz, who was heading toward the part of the road where Amy’s body had been found. Michael Metz told deputies his wife was missing, that they had left a party separately and she had never returned home. Later that day, Detective Richard Harbaugh interviewed Michael Metz and over the course of approximately 8 hours, Metz said that he and his wife had left the party together, that she had fallen in the snow, that he had tried to drag her and that she wasn’t breathing when he went home and showered. Michael Metz declined to speak with deputies after Jan. 24. Through a Public Information Act request, the Carroll County Times obtained the Sheriff’s Office investigation reports.
Circuit Court Chief Allan Culver, one of the four attorneys working on the case, declined to say when the case was brought before the grand jury. Records from grand jury proceedings are closed in Maryland, and although they can be unsealed, it requires going through the courts. Culver could not provide a timeline of how the investigation unfolded prior to the grand jury. He did say the State’s Attorney’s Office worked closely with the Sheriff’s Office.
In an email, State’s Attorney Brian DeLeonardo said: “All I can confirm is that the grand jury was presented all the information available to the Sheriff’s Office and our Office in relation to her death, and ultimately they concluded there were no criminal charges that were supported by the evidence.
“In general, we will use grand jury as an investigative method involving 23 citizens of the County in certain cases, and sometimes upon the completion of their work there are criminal charges and sometimes there is not. As I stated before, this was a case where the Sheriff’s Office and our Office worked diligently and cooperatively together to obtain all the evidence that existed, we presented that to the grand jury, and they concluded that no criminal charges were warranted.”
Both DeLeonardo and Culver said they could not say what charges the grand jury considered, with DeLeonardo adding that all possible charges were considered.
The Sheriff’s Office and the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office met multiple times about the case, and the information gathered during the investigation was given to the attorneys, Harbaugh told the Times.
“We presented the facts to the State’s Attorney’s Office and we deferred to their opinion on the matter,” Harbaugh said.
Due to its magnitude, the Sheriff’s Office was always going to run the investigation by the State’s Attorney’s Office, he said. It’s not unusual to present facts to the attorneys and let them decide if charges apply, added Maj. Charles Rapp, who heads the Criminal Investigations Division of the Sheriff’s Office.
There are cases that don’t go through the State’s Attorney’s Office first. Officers typically file statements of probable cause or application for the statement of charges that are then looked at by District Court commissioners or judges. The State’s Attorney’s Office does look at such charges after they are filed and will sometimes abandon charges.
Rapp said the Sheriff’s Office did not get to a point where the detectives felt there was enough for a probable cause statement.
Harbaugh said the detectives had exhausted all their leads in the case, including reaching out to the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. The unit can give opinions on avenues that detectives can pursue, but in the Metz case the BAU did not have a theory, Rapp said. Police consulted with the FBI, “just to cover all our bases,” Rapp said. “They’re a resource so we used them.”
Rapp said the Sheriff’s Office first heard that the State’s Attorney’s Office was considering taking the case to a grand jury when he spoke to Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Jason League about a Public Information Act request submitted by the Times to the Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 20, 2016. The PIA requested any communications, reports or documents related to the case.
The Times’ initial PIA request was denied by the Sheriff’s Office after the State’s Attorney’s Office subpoenaed documents related to the case. Culver said he could not remember why they needed to subpoena documents in the case.
Rapp said that when the Times submitted the PIA, the Sheriff’s Office was ready to comply because they did not know about the grand jury plans yet. When they had presented the case to the State’s Attorney’s Office, the State’s Attorney’s Office hadn’t indicated what they planned to do, he said.
Harbaugh said he could not discuss what he testified to during the grand jury proceedings.
Culver said the State’s Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Office communicated throughout the Sheriff’s Office’s investigation throughout the grand jury proceedings. He declined to comment more about what was discussed between the two offices.
DeLeonardo said the grand jury was used as an investigative tool.
Former Carroll County State’s Attorney Thomas Hickman, who continues to practice law in Carroll, said that sometimes cases go to the grand jury even when it’s likely there won’t be criminal charges because of community concerns.
Grand juries allow prosecutors to subpoena witnesses who may not be cooperative, Hickman said.
Grand jury proceedings do not typically involve a judge, although there is a grand jury judge if there are questions that must be decided by a judicial official. There are 23 jurors, and like with typical trial proceedings, a defendant is not required to testify. If they do testify, they cannot have a lawyer with them, he said. Grand juries can be summoned within a week or 10 days, and can go into the midst of an investigation or after, Hickman said.
The State’s Attorney’s Office had the option to charge rather than go to the grand jury or charge prior to going to the grand jury. But DeLeonardo said his office doesn’t just “charge to charge.” There were obstacles to filing criminal charges because of the undetermined manner and cause of Amy Metz’s death, he said.
Case law is mixed on whether a case can be brought back to grand jury if the original jurors do not indict, Culver said, adding that it would require really good, new evidence to bring it back up. Even if it was brought back up, the prosecutor presenting the case would have to tell the new grand jury that another group of jurors failed to indict.
Rapp said in an email that the Sheriff’s Office was not privileged to what charges the grand jury considered.
Culver has unanswered questions stemming from the case, but, he said, in his experience, it’s not unusual for that to happen.
“Everyone wants information. They want to know what happened. And in most cases, we don’t know the answer to every question,” Culver said.
No one walks away with every answer, DeLeonardo said, but “there was nothing else we could have done,” he said.
Law enforcement described the case as out of the ordinary.
“In this county, it’s unusual to find someone in the middle of the road,” Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees said.
Blizzard-like conditions and inconsistencies contributed to the difficult nature of the case, Harbaugh said.
“It was odd that Ms. Metz was reported [missing] by Mr. Metz,” Harbaugh said, adding that the case was also unusual based on Michael Metz’s other statements.
Rapp said it was unusual because typically when a person dies under these conditions, they are alone.
“First case I’ve seen like this,” said Rapp, who has more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement.
Nevertheless, the Sheriff’s Office was pleased with the work the detectives put in, with Rapp noting they pulled long hours and were dedicated to investigating Amy Metz’s death.
“And they did what cops do. They put together the best case they could and presented it to the State’s Attorney’s Office,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s anything we could have done that changed the outcome of the investigation,” Harbaugh said.
No case is 100 percent closed — the Amy Metz death investigation is officially considered suspended — and if more information came to light, it could be reopened, Harbaugh said.
Not having answers is painful, said Amy Metz’s stepbrother Christopher Scholtes.
“We still don’t know what happened. We all feel cheated. That’s putting it mildly, I guess,” he said. “Something very, very important has been taken away from this family. And we don’t have any answers. We don’t have any clear answers. There’s just lots of questions and inconsistencies so that’s causing a lot of hurt.”
For Amy Metz’s siblings, the unanswered questions have kept them awake at night since her death, sister Susan Peters said, adding that the sisters sometimes text each other in the middle of the night.
It’s hard to focus on other things, and they are withdrawn, she said.
“But the way Amy died, you can’t move on. I don’t know what happened to her,” Peters said.
For sister Mimi Gregory, Amy’s death — the cause of which was “undetermined,” according to the autopsy report — is constantly on her mind.
“What I deal with every day is her. Her last thought. Her last 30 seconds,” Gregory said.
And the family is doing its best despite not knowing what happened, family members said. But they say they can’t fully mourn until they know.
“I think if it was a car accident, we’d be at a different point in our lives right now. We keep going, stopping, going, stopping and we just can’t fully grasp, understand and mourn the death of Amy until we can truly find out what happened and understand what happened,” stepsister Annie Quenzer said.
Added Gregory: “We’re all just floating in space and we’re trying to find some common ground. Get grounded.”
Some of the unanswered questions angered the men of the family, said stepbrother Christopher Scholtes, noting they are upset with Michael Metz’s reaction. They don’t understand how Amy’s husband could not have called 911 and why some of what he initially told police did not match what he later told investigators under questioning.
“He did not, in our minds, react or behave in a way consistent in a way we think a husband should act,” Scholtes said.
Micheal Metz released an emailed statement to the Times, but declined to answer specific questions about what happened the night Amy Metz died.
Harbaugh, the lead investigator on the case, told the Times he believed Michael Metz gave him all the information he was ever going to say about the night Amy Metz died. But even Harbaugh still has questions.
“I believe everybody has questions about the case,” he said.
Michael Metz provided a statement through his answers to Harbaugh’s questions, but his statement about what happened that night had breaks in it, Harbaugh said.
There are also inconsistencies between what Amy Metz’s siblings were told by Michael Metz and his brother Joseph about what happened that night and what Michael Metz told police.
On Jan. 30, 2016, Harbaugh met with Amy’s family for the first time. All described Amy and Michael Metz’s relationship as loving and affectionate. Each had heard slightly different versions of the circumstances of Amy’s death from Michael and Joseph Metz.
According to Harbaugh’s narrative, Gregory, Amy’s sister, said she spoke with Joseph Metz, around 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 24, 2016, and he told her that there had been an accident and Amy was dead. Gregory told Harbaugh that when she spoke with Joseph Metz, he said that Michael Metz left the party before Amy, and when he got home, he fell asleep before taking a shower. After getting out of the shower, he discovered Amy was not there. Gregory said that Joseph Metz told her that Michael Metz looked outside and saw police. He then went and met with them.
However, Joseph Metz’s statements to Gregory do not match the statements Michael Metz gave to Harbaugh. During an interview with Harbaugh on Jan. 24, 2016, at the Sheriff’s Office’s Hampstead location, Michael Metz initially said he had walked home alone, but later said he walked with Amy and that he did not see police from his house. While Michael Metz told Harbaugh he showered and that he might have fallen asleep while showering, he never said that he fell asleep before showering.
During the interview, Michael Metz told Harbaugh that he spoke to his brother, and that while Michael Metz told Joseph that Amy was the person in the snow, he did not give his brother details about what had transpired that night.
Harbaugh met with Amy’s stepbrother, Christopher Scholtes, on Feb. 4, and, during the meeting, Scholtes told Harbaugh that he spoke with Michael Metz about Amy Metz’s death, although Harbaugh’s report does not indicate when that conversation took place. Scholtes told Harbaugh that Michael Metz had said that he did everything he could for Amy.
Scholtes told Harbaugh that Michael Metz told him he thought Amy died the second time the two passed out in the snow and that she had choked on her vomit. He meant to go home and get the van to take Amy Metz to the hospital, and when he got home, he took a shower because he thought he was frostbitten, Scholtes told Harbaugh.
Michael Metz had never mentioned his intention to take Amy Metz to the hospital or that he thought he was frostbitten during his interview with Harbaugh.
Two years later, stepbrother J.P. Scholtes said it’s frustrating to not know how or why Amy died, adding that her siblings are hoping that anyone who may have more information comes forward so they know what happened that night.
For Amy Metz’s stepfather, William Scholtes, not knowing exactly what happened after learning everything they could from the investigation created a sense of emptiness. The family filed a Public Information Act request to get the investigation documents. They also met with members of the Sheriff’s Office and State’s Attorney’s Office throughout the investigation.
“There’s a missing part of Amy’s final minutes that we’ll never know about,” he said.
It’s difficult for Amy’s extended family as well, said her cousin, Lorelei Schuerholz.
“We miss her. I miss her incredibly,” Schuerholz said. “I hate seeing her sisters as sad as they are.”
Peters kept Schuerholz in the loop about the investigation, and after reading through the documents, Schuerholz called it “disturbing.”
“They had no closure. I know her sisters are besides themselves,” she said.
One of the frustrations Amy’s siblings have, beyond the lack of answers, was how they were informed of her death. It was not through the Sheriff’s Office. And Michael Metz was not the one to tell them.
While police were on Wellesley Court and Michael Metz was being interviewed, Amy’s family was oblivious that they had just lost a loved one. Instead, they found out through a social media post about a woman being found deceased in the snow. The way they had to find out was heartbreaking, said Karen Chapman, another of Amy’s cousins.
“To me it was disturbing no one reached out to her mother, and her sisters had to find out on Facebook,” Chapman said.
For Peters, one of the nightmares was hearing from Gregory that the Facebook post was referencing their sister.
“The horror of Mimi screaming that it was Amy. That was the woman in the snow. That’s what sticks with me,” Peters said.
The memory of learning Amy had died is vivid for William Scholtes.
“Of course, this is something that’s emblazoned in my mind. We were entertaining guests, and it was about 7 p.m. [Jan. 24, 2016] and the doorbell rings, and we live in a gated community, and nobody would ring our doorbell. It just doesn’t happen. And there was [Gregory’s husband], and he said to me, ‘Can you come around to the garage? It’s important, ” he said.
When William Scholtes came around to the garage, Mimi Gregory was there, and she told him what happened to Amy.
But William Scholtes said how he found out didn’t make much of a difference because finding out sooner wouldn’t have changed anything. What mattered was that Amy was gone.
In an interview with the Times, Harbaugh and Rapp said typically death notices are made to next of kin, which in this case was Michael Metz.
For Gregory, one of her issues are rumors about what happened that night.
“There’s a lot of speculation out there that she did go home alone,” Gregory said.
The fact that Amy wasn’t alone should have ensured she got home safely, Chapman said.