The parents of a 16-year-old Alexandria, Va., girl who ran away from home and was found dead in November in an East Baltimore public housing complex launched a multimedia plea yesterday for tips in a case that police have deemed cold.
Daniel and Mary Jane McCann offered a $10,000 reward through Metro Crime Stoppers in the hope that someone in Baltimore saw their daughter, Annie, and can shed light on her final moments. Yesterday, billboards were unveiled near the city's sports stadiums and along Interstate 95, and a mobile billboard began driving around Perkins Homes, the housing complex. Direct-mail appeals are due to follow.
"We have become increasingly concerned with the slowing pace of the investigation," Mary Jane McCann said at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront. "Detectives who worked furiously in November, when there was almost nothing to investigate, were finding it more and more difficult to follow up on the few actual leads that were slowly emerging."
The teenager ran away from home Oct. 31, leaving behind a rambling note professing her will to live and several crumpled drafts that referred to suicide. She took $1,000 cash, a box of Cheerios, all of her jewelry and a family car. Two days later, she was found dead behind a trash bin near Perkins Homes.
Last week, the medical examiner ruled that she died from ingesting Bactine, an over-the-counter antiseptic she carried because she recently had her ears pierced.
Like hundreds of other deaths each year in Baltimore, the cause is listed as "undetermined," and police have moved the investigation to a cold-case squad, which recently was beefed up.
Her parents, who praised the work of detectives, said that there is much "basic police work to be done" and that they are "far from satisfied with such an equivocal and ambiguous finding" by the medical examiner.
Officials say Annie's death is no routine case. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, who attended yesterday's announcement, said the investigation remains open and no lead or tip is insignificant. He urged anyone with information to call the department's tip line, 866-7LOCKUP.
McCann's parents said they believe the case is no longer a priority, given that about 90 people have been killed in the city since her body was found, but there are many potential leads to be chased.
For example, Annie was found without shoes, and the bottoms of her feet were clean. Her body was wet. John Cutter, an investigator hired by the family, said he thinks she was killed elsewhere.
Two workers at a Little Italy pastry shop told investigators that Annie stopped by that weekend with a female companion.
Annie's computer hard drive, which was sent to the FBI, has not been inspected, and the family believes that possible witnesses have made inconsistent statements that need clarification.
One of the juveniles who apparently moved her body out of her vehicle so they could take it for a joy ride said at one point that he had seen her with a man who had a goatee. Later, he contradicted himself.
And the cause of her death is mysterious. Police and private investigators say they cannot find a single case of someone committing suicide by ingesting Bactine.
"In my 25 years in the [New York Police Department]," Cutter said, "this is one of the most unusual cases I've seen. There are a lot of twists and turns and unanswered questions."
Find video and a written statement from Annie McCann's family at baltimoresun.com/crime