Senator asks questions in mysterious death of Va. teen in Baltimore

WASHINGTON — In November of 2008, the body of 16-year-old Fairfax County, Virginia resident Annie McCann was found lying next to a dumpster in Baltimore.

Police ruled the death a suicide, but McCann’s parents have never believed that and continue to search for answers about how their daughter died.

Now, they’re getting help in their quest from a member of the U.S. Senate.

“We have fought like panthers, to get the simple truth and to get simple justice for our daughter,” said Annie’s father, Dan McCann.

Dan and his wife, Mary Jane McCann, are grateful that Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, has taken up an interest in their daughter’s case.

Grassley has delivered letters to the Baltimore Police Department and FBI with a series of questions about information that led them to the determination that McCann’s death was a suicide.

Letter to Baltimore Police Department

Letter to FBI

It’s been seven years since the Fairfax County couple got the tragic news that their daughter was found dead.

Since then, they have exhausted much of their savings, hiring private investigators and experts to examine the case. The McCanns say many of those experts have indicated the girl’s death was not a suicide.

In the eyes of the police department, the teenager died from consuming a 5-ounce bottle of Bactine. Investigators believe she ingested too much of the antiseptic’s active ingredient lidocaine.

Another piece of evidence that police said pointed to suicide was a letter found underneath the girl’s bed where she mentioned suicide.

In 2013, the FBI agreed to look at the case and ultimately stood behind the police department’s report on what ended McCann’s life.

One question posed by Grassley is if the police department and FBI reached out to Bayer, the maker of the antiseptic, to see if a 5-ounce container contains enough lidocaine to cause a person’s death.

Letter to Bayer, maker of Bactine

The McCanns say their daughter had the Bactine to prevent her newly pierced ears from getting infected. They also claim to have an email from the manufacturer stating that one container doesn’t carry a fatal dose of lidocaine.

The McCanns say other troubling details told to them by the funeral home director also lead them to believe their daughter didn’t take her own life.

The McCanns said the director indicated to them that their daughter’s body showed signs of being beaten and sodomized. The family said the autopsy photos and the report from the person who embalmed the body back up the director’s findings.

“I had always said she was raped, but nobody believed me,” Mary Jane said.

Both parents wonder if their daughter may have been the victim of human trafficking.

TJ Smith, spokesman for the Baltimore City Police Department, says the department will respond to the inquiry from Grassley but stated a thorough investigation was done, and it did not point toward murder.

“There was also no indication of a sexual assault,” Smith said in an email to WTOP.

The reason behind her disappearance days before she was found dead remains a mystery. Private investigators say witnesses tell them a woman was seen with Annie in Baltimore’s Little Italy neighborhood before she was found dead nearby.

The parents say the pain of losing their daughter remains and has taken away much of the joy in their lives, but they plan to continue fighting for more answers.

“What we want is a vigorous and open-minded homicide investigation,” Dan said.

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Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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