Annie McCann, 16-year-old junior at West Potomac High School in Alexandria, Virginia, disappeared on Halloween of 2008.
Two days later, while a man was taking out his trash at 3AM, he discovered her lifeless body behind a Baltimore housing project dumpster.
How did this white suburban teenager end up dead in a predominantly black neighborhood fifty miles away from home?
Annie’s white Volvo S60 sedan, which was utilized mainly for school transportation, was found at a Citgo gas station five blocks away from the dumpster. The car’s contents included $1000 in cash, clothes in the trunk, jewelry, and a box of Cheerios. Her blue book bag was discovered near the crime scene — a bag that ultimately led to a positive identification due to it containing Annie’s newly minted driver’s license and a Fairfax County High School hall pass.
An autopsy later revealed Annie McCann died from overdosing on lidocaine; an anesthetic commonly used during routine dental procedures.
The Baltimore Police Department subsequently ruled her death as a suicide. While the case is still open, it is more or less suspended in air.
Annie McCann was artistic, friendly, and funny. Breezy Max, the family Beagle, was her furry companion. She’d been a vegetarian and homebody. Annie was fair skinned and thin framed, sporting a smile that contained such sweet disposition. Academically, she was an honors roll student.
Dan and Mary Jane McCann were absolutely loving and proud of their only daughter, along with their older son, Sam. Annie appeared very straight-laced. She would call and check in with her mother every day after school. Annie recently pierced her ears and activated a page on a relatively new social media site, Facebook.
That Halloween afternoon, while Mary Jane was visiting Sam at Ithaca college, Annie’s signature call was a miss. Something wasn’t right. After notifying Dan, he rushed home to find the landline ringing. Picking up the phone, Dan was greeted by an automated message from the Fairfax County public school system, saying that Annie had been absent all day.
Inside the Volvo, Baltimore police found a clue, the fingerprint of a teenage boy– one already in the police database. When the owner of the print was interviewed by investigators, he claimed that he was walking with friends, and spotted Annie lying face down in the backseat of her car. Instead of calling for help, they dumped her in the Perkin Homes housing projects near those trash bins.
Joyriding was on their mind — not the female in peril.
…But why not rob the $1000?
Initially, the boys were charged with stealing her vehicle.
Meanwhile, evidence found in both Virginia and Maryland, respectively, may have determined her finality in the eyes of the Baltimore P.D. A series of notes in Annie’s bedroom contained some alarming messages. While a couple were surreptitiously tossed under her bed, one found on top by a Fairfax County police officer contained the following:
“This morning I was going to kill myself, but I realized I can start over instead. I don’t want help and I’m no longer scared. If you really love me you’ll let me go…Please don’t go looking for me.”
Although she was reported missing, local police did not even issue an Amber Alert.
This could have been a crux in saving Annie.
Back in Balitmore, police found a bottle near the Volvo. Annie’s ears were newly pierced since August. She was treating her lobes with a Bactine spray bottle at least three times a day. Forensic testing would later indicate that only Annie’s DNA remained on the open cap of that Bactine bottle.
A Baltimore medical examiner ruled the manner of death as undermined. However, cause of death was attributed towards an overt amount of lidocaine found in Annie’s system. If you’ve ever seen those Icy Hot back patch commercials featuring Shaq, you’ll get the idea. Lidocaine works for numbing pain. Most importantly it’s a Bactine ingredient.
Annie McCann violently overdosed. Such a vile way to die.
HBO’s Autopsy host and heavily appraised pathologist, Michael Baden, was interviewed by The Washington Post for this case. Michael expressed that with the amount of lidocaine found in Annie’s system, she would have to have ingested five to six bottles, enough to leave burns or internal damage. Signs of such were absent. Bayer is the manufacturer behind Bactine. Representatives of the company even agreed with a similar assessment. Bayer said that the lidocaine produced in a 5 ounce bottle of Bactine wouldn’t be sufficient enough to cause death.
Mary Jane indicates that by the end of October, the bottle was less than 1/3 full. The McCann family refused to believe the Baltimore Police Department for swaying with suicide as the official answer.
There are suspicious circumstances to this almost eight year old mystery.
Back in her hometown of Alexandria, Annie was being prepared for interment. Diane Downey, manager of the Demaine Funeral Home, believes foul play was involved in the teenager’s death. Diane and staff witnessed bruises, what looked like a cigarette burn near Annie’s left eye, and signs of being sodomized. During a phone call with the McCanns, she stated in simple graphic detail that Annie’s rear end was spread really, really wide. Six autopsy pictures obtained for purchase by her parents seemingly confirm the worst. They strongly believe that their beloved daughter was violently raped. Baltimore P.D. have refused to provide the McCann’s her rape kit.
Something worth noting about embalming is that faces of the deceased are polished with makeup. Masking the morbid appearance is necessary in order to achieve a natural look. So the McCanns were completely shocked that Annie’s autopsy photos even showed potential signs of abuse.
The FBI conducted their own investigation in 2013. During those rounds the McCanns were dismayed to hear that Annie’s computer drive was lost, along with most of her heart and brain. Death by lidocaine overdose was the FBI’s conclusion — the same one Baltimore P.D. agreed earlier in their own investigation.
Despite the disappointment, the McCanns have been diligently working to find out what really happened. Back in 2009, a private investigator discovered that Annie had been allegedly seen inside an Italian bakery, Vaccaro’s, with an unidentified young woman on November 1, 2008. This was an A-HA moment for employees because Annie appeared very alive and well, but the stranger beside her received a sour reaction. The woman’s face was caked with makeup and her nails were the “color of puke.” She appeared disheveled at most. A witness even specified details down to Annie’s order: a cappuccino with extra whip cream.
Then we have the joyriding juveniles.
Before they stole the Volvo, one of the boys told police that he witnessed a white male sporting a goatee, abandon Annie’s car –with its owner in the backseat– in the projects. Darnell Kinlaw, 18 years old at the time, was connected with joyriding her vehicle. In November 2011, he fatally shot LaKeisha Player and stole her red Honda Civic. This past year, The McCanns visited Kinlaw in a maximum security prison. The murder convict did not divulge any information regarding Annie’s cold case. I agree with them that Kinlaw and company did not kill Annie. The tale behind finding her vehicle is questionable at most, especially since they weren’t even charged with discarding a body.
Maybe some immunity deals happened behind the scenes.
A grassroots effort was made underway in March of 2016. Charles Grassley, Iowa senator and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent letters to the Baltimore Police Department, the FBI, and Bayer. Grassley inquired some serious questions about their faulty investigations. Between both departments who handled the teenager’s case, he asked why they jumped towards such quick-handed conclusions, when credible evidence states otherwise. Baltimore P.D. replied and stood up to their convictions. A very petite and defenseless girl had apparently poisoned herself.
The day of Annie’s disappearance, Halloween, could reasonably factor into why she left. The night before she had worked on a extra credit assignment for her AP Psychology class. A temporary getaway to sightsee or partake in festivities measures up with taking time off. She hadn’t done this before, trail off without telling anyone. Perhaps, Annie wasn’t abducted, but corralled due to her trusting and inviting nature. A nasty turn of events sealed her fate. Circumstances appear that she was roofied or roughhoused. Along with Bactine, small traces of alcohol were found in her system. Sex would have been the main motive since Annie’s large wad of cash was left undisturbed in the car. Who possesses that much lidocaine to kill anyone? I don’t think any sane person would voluntarily consent and consume such a foul liquid, especially at the capacity that Annie was tortured with.
A teen with no known ties to Charm City –who appears to have been violently assaulted and raped– would not have died by her free will. As for those bedroom notes, reflecting our depressing thoughts on paper seems rather ordinary in the adolescent sense. Feelings are not always fact.
This mystery holds some ambiguity between the authorities and witnesses. Annie’s hard drive allegedly being missing downplays the investigation. The whereabouts of her web searches are unknown. For example, a Mapquest search could specify her intended route. Moreover, the witness accounts of Annie being seen alive and dead all strictly take place in Baltimore. Three specific sets of individuals are tied to being in her presence, but they’re all visibly random and unconnected to one another. Is there any veracity to the existence of these persons of interest? Still I don’t discount anyone.
The rape kit oughta be checked. CODIS could crack the case. If any DNA was preserved, perpetrators can be seriously looked into. Either the killer is in prison, in the streets, or dead. Annie was discovered wearing her blue jeans, red pleated jacket, and clean white socks. Her shoes, cell phone, and Itouch were never recovered. If she was walking while dying, the soles would have dirtied. This could easily explain the boys hastily dumping the body.
Annie was very clean cut. She didn’t smoke, drink, or do drugs. Friends have stated she didn’t hang with the “wrong” crowd. No boyfriends or crushes are even known to exist. Annie possessed a very low victimology profile. These reasons alone are why I believe investigators were puzzled with her untimely fate, which ultimately made them satisfy the suicide angle.
I implore people to read The Color of Puke— the McCanns take on their exhausting and painful journey through this case.
Many articles stated Annie as a runaway, which I don’t buy anyway. She wanted adventure –not death. She always smiled and loved helping people. The innocence and frailty of girlhood, striving for independence. I understood it very well. Annie and I shared similarities.
We were born eight days apart in 1992. We were both 11th graders in the fall of 2008. She and I were brown eyed, pale, and brunette. We were clean cut girls.
I, too, skipped high school classes. Those were the times I truly felt free during my adolescence. I’d venture to nearby South Beach, take the metro, or hang with friends. My cell phone and Ipod were my lifelines. Teens like myself transitioned from Myspace to Facebook. The lunch money I saved overtime was my personal piggy bank. The Volvo and the $1000 definitely would have brought a sense of security within Annie.
Kids take risks. Judgment is limited. What happened to Annie could have easily happened to me.
Simply put she was murdered. Annie deserves justice.
Once while driving, Mary Jane suggested to her daughter that she should sell her artwork at the beach. Annie beamed a big smile for getting encouraged to do what she loves and sharing her talents. Painting fulfilled her. A bittersweet moment happened at school. Annie finished a still life project early during art class. The teacher suggested students work on a extra assignment. Annie didn’t like the idea of extra work. Rather than begin on the new project, she erased half of her still life. Her friends found it hilarious.
She didn’t complete the still life.
That happened the last week Annie was alive.