What happened to Amy Metz the Hampstead woman who was found in the snow on Jan. 24, 2016 near her home on Wellesley Court? Through a Public Information Act request, the Carroll County Times obtained the sheriff’s office investigation reports.
The life of Amy Metz can be traced in the boxes, books and binders her sister, Mimi Gregory, carries around. Pictures of Amy growing up, running marathons and having fun with her family accompany police reports, crime scene photos and an autopsy report.
But what Gregory doesn't have in any of her boxes is an answer to what happened to Amy Metz the night she died.
It was just after midnight on Jan. 24, 2016, when Amy and her husband, Michael Metz, left a viewing party for a University of Maryland basketball game at their neighbors' Hampstead home on Whitehall Lane to begin walking back to their home at 811 Wellesley Court.
On a clear, sunny day, the nearly one-third of a mile walk takes only about 6 minutes: Up Whitehall Lane, a road that is really more of an extended driveway, and past the houses that line Wellesley Court, a slightly uphill trek. But when the Metzes headed home that particular night, some 8 to 10 inches of snow coated the road due to a blizzard sweeping through the area. The winter storm, named Jonas, left approximately 2 feet of snow in Hampstead by its end.
Amy Metz never made it home. Hours after she left the neighbor's party, police discovered her body in the snow along Wellesley Court, a few houses down from her home, where the road curves slightly. She was pronounced dead at the scene. She was 43, leaving behind her husband and three children, a daughter, age 17, and two sons ages 13 and 11, at the time of her death.
"The hard part is she was taken from us so suddenly, and all we wanted to know was why," said her sister Susan Peters. "What happened?"
"We want Amy's story to be out there because … she deserves it. She should not have gone the way she did and we're not going to sweep it under the rug like we're, I don't know, expected to. We're not," Gregory said. "And at some point, we just can't."
While her extended family wants more answers, some in Amy Metz's neighborhood say bringing attention back to her death only harms her immediate family.
"The extent of my comments are: these were, and Mike is, a really terrific person. The only thing rehashing this story over and over again [will do] is hurt the people Amy loved the most, which was Mike and her children," neighbor and family friend Charlene D'Agati said in an email.
Michael Metz emailed the Carroll County Times several statements regarding his wife and her death, though he declined to answer questions.
"Our grief is compounded by the very public awareness of Amy's death, which persists," he wrote. "Though completely appreciable given the circumstances, please also understand that the news coverage, police investigation, and the grand jury process have made our journey through grief more difficult to endure."
The deputies had been sent by dispatch, who received a 911 call at around 3:50 a.m. about a man dragging a body, possibly an animal; maybe a human.
As McMillion walked up to the 800 block of Wellesley Court at approximately 4:20 a.m., he could see a red object sticking out of the snow. As the deputies got closer, they realized it was a woman's body.
Sacabon's first call to 911
Pictures of the scene show the woman in a supine position, arms out to the side, legs together with her shirt pulled up and her pants pushed down in such a way that her midriff was exposed. She was wearing a red, long-sleeved shirt with a white shirt underneath.
A pink pullover jacket and a black coat were wrapped around her wrist. There was a yellowish, brown fluid at the scene, and a dusting of snow covered the body.
The woman would later be identified as Amy Metz. McMillion pronounced her deceased at 4:24 a.m.
Lt. Christopher Orwig and Deputy Bryan Poff joined McMillion and Shawver at the Wellesley Court scene, having had to walk the final one-half mile or so, at roughly 4:35 a.m. While viewing the body, Orwig noted that he observed a name tag that said "Metz," according to the narrative he provided in the case file.
The roads were not passable so plows were called. As he walked back to his patrol car, Orwig noted a single set of footprints leading to the Metzes' residence that "appeared fresh," according to his narrative.
Orwig walked to the Metzes' residence and saw a van that was parked in the driveway but with tracks in the snow that indicated it had been backed down the driveway, covering the footprints.
Meanwhile, McMillion went to interview neighbor Israel Sacabon, who had called 911.
Sacabon's second call to 911
Sacabon told McMillion that his mother, who does not speak English, was visiting to help with a new baby. At approximately 3:50 a.m., his mother told him that she had looked out of the window while feeding the baby and saw a person dragging what looked like a human body or a dog.
Eleanor Mendoza, through her son's translation, told McMillion that the house's exterior sensor light activated and when she looked out the window to see what set it off, she saw a man dragging something. The man had his arms wrapped around "a body" and walking backward, according to McMillion's narrative.
The man, at one point, looked at the house before quickly turning away, Mendoza told the sheriff's deputy. The man continued to drag the body for a bit more before dropping it and walking away, Mendoza told McMillion.
After interviewing Mendoza and Sacabon, McMillion returned to his post with Shawver amid falling snow. Around 5:30 a.m., a person approached the two deputies.
"I asked him how could I help him and he said, 'My wife is missing, is that my wife?' " according to McMillion's narrative.
McMillion asked the man, who identified himself as Michael Metz, why he thought his wife was missing. Metz told him that she hadn't come home and he wanted to report her as missing.
"From his angle, the whiteout conditions and the darkness, I do not believe that he could accurately identify what was in the snow without prior knowledge as I could not when I first arrived on scene," McMillion wrote in his narrative.
McMillion began taking a missing person's report from Michael Metz, who described his wife. McMillion noted in the report that his description matched that of the person in the snow.
Michael Metz, wearing green pajama pants and a winter flight jacket, invited the deputies into his home on Wellesley Court and told them how he ended up apart from his wife.
He told McMillion that he and Amy Metz had left to go a neighbor's party on Whitehall Lane around 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 23, 2016. Michael Metz had worn his winter coat, blue jeans and a black soviet ski mask, he told McMillion, according to the narrative.
He told McMillion about the other people at the party and said they had all been drinking beer and wine but he was unsure how much. He said he left alone sometime after midnight but before 4 a.m. However, when the deputy told him it was now 6 a.m., Metz recanted and said he had left the party more recently and not between midnight and 4 a.m., according to the narrative.
Metz told the deputy that his wife, Amy Metz, had stayed longer at the party than he had because she was intoxicated and wanted to drink some soda before leaving. Michael Metz said he returned home and took a shower. When he got out of the shower, Amy was still not home, which was unusual, he said, so he had gone outside to head toward the neighbor's house when he saw the deputies.
Michael Metz told the deputy that he attempted to call Amy but had been unable to because of a problem with his cellphone. He showed the deputy his phone with the password locked.
McMillion noted in his report that while Michael Metz expressed concern for his wife, he was calm while speaking with the deputies. The deputy could smell alcohol on his breath, but Metz said he was coherent enough to answer questions. McMillion left so that a detective could talk to Metz, but prior to leaving, Shawver told McMillion that he saw the same yellowish, brown fluid on Michael Metz's coat that they observed at the scene.
Brandon Holland, a corporal at the time, had received a call at 4:42 a.m. from another deputy alerting him of the suspicious death on Wellesley Court. He immediately contacted Detective Richard Harbaugh, who would serve as the lead investigator, according to Holland's narrative.
Due to the amount of snow on the ground, another deputy had to escort Harbaugh to the scene, while Holland was taken to Wellesley Court by the National Guard and arrived at approximately 6:40 a.m., according to Holland's narrative. Harbaugh arrived by 8:17 a.m. with Sgt. Walter Dayton, according to Harbaurgh's narrative.
Holland spoke briefly with Orwig who told him about Michael Metz. Holland observed the scene, according to his narrative, but what he noted in his report was redacted due to it describing the body, Maj. Charles Rapp, who heads the Criminal Investigations Division of the Sheriff's Office, said in an interview with the Times.
Holland then interviewed Michael Metz at the Metz residence. Metz told Holland that he and Amy went to the Marantos' home in the 3700 block of Whitehall Lane for a basketball game viewing party around 4:30 p.m. Jan. 23. There were 12 other people at the party, Metz told Holland.
Amy Metz, like others at the party, was drinking alcohol, but she had switched to soda toward the end of the night, he said. Michael Metz told Holland he left the party but he was unclear about the time. He told Holland that he left alone and that Amy Metz had told him she would leave in a couple of minutes.
Michael Metz told Holland that he jumped in the shower when he got home because he was cold from walking home. Once he finished showering, he realized his wife had not returned, and he went looking for her. He was in his home for approximately 30 minutes before heading out, according to Holland's narrative. Originally, he was going to get into his van to drive back to the Marantos' residence, but he could not get the van out of the driveway due to the snow, he told Holland. Instead, he started to walk back. While looking for her, he was approached by McMillion.
While talking to Holland, Michael Metz said that he had used an iPod to send Amy Metz an email asking where she was. Metz explained to another officer that he couldn't get his phone to work because it had suffered water damage from the snow.
During the preliminary interviews, Michael Metz repeatedly said that he left the party alone and he said four to six people were still at the party when he left. During a subsequent interview with Harbaugh later that day, Michael Metz would tell the detective he left the party with Amy Metz.
Louis Maranto, the neighbor who hosted the party, would later state, when asked by detectives, that Michael and Amy Metz left the residence together at 12:03 a.m. on Jan. 24, according to his security system, and that they were the last to leave.
Crime scene technician Kelly Harry arrived at approximately 8:50 a.m. and began processing the scene where Amy Metz was found. In Harry's narrative, she noted that it was not snowing when she arrived but there were several feet of snow on the ground and heavy winds with a temperature of about 16 degrees.
When Harry observed Amy Metz's body, she also noted possible drag marks in the snow that continued from Amy Metz's feet southeast. Along the drag marks, Harry also observed footprints, a clump of hair and a place where a person had possibly fallen. One of the drag marks was approximately 62 feet long. Harbaugh noted in his report that the drag marks started at Amy's feet and extended toward Whitehall Lane.
While looking at the suspected drag marks, Harry noted that there was a large area where the snow was disrupted and there were several areas of discoloration in the snow, according to her narrative.
Several items also observed in the snow included a black trapper-style hat, a backpack, a red snow boot and a red and white knit hat, according to Harry's narrative.
Harry was also called to the Metz residence, where she photographed and collected potential evidence, including paper towels in the trash that had possible biological material and Michel Metz's clothes that also had possible biological material on them, the yellowish-brown fluid noted earlier by McMillion and Shawver.
Amy Metz's body was taken to the medical examiner's office in Baltimore at approximately 10:45 a.m. Jan. 24, 2016.