CONSTANTINE, Mich. (WOOD) — Raymond McCann II was locked up for 20 months for a lie he never told over a murder he had nothing to do with.
But now, after a Target 8 investigation revealed the repeated lies told to him by police who were investigating the 2007 murder of Jodi Parrack, McCann’s record is clean.
“I am at peace now,” McCann, 50, said after a team of lawyers responding to Target 8’s report worked to have his perjury conviction overturned last week. “It’s just amazing how much better I feel with these charges being reversed.”
But, he will never forget what he went through, including the time behind bars.
“It happened so quick,” during his first week at a prison in Jackson, he recalled.
Other inmates had warned him about what happens to child killers. As far as they knew, that’s what he was.
“I was warned ahead of time that they were going to be out for me,” he said. “And it happened.”
“I was yanked off the top bunk and I believe I was hit with a padlock,” McCann said. “It split the top of my head open, (they) tried gouging my eyes out. It was pretty much the scariest moment of my life.”
It was part of the longest, darkest time of his life.
“I was a hostage, not a prisoner, that’s how I felt,” he said.
But the Jodi Parrack case cost him more than his freedom.
“They took a lot from me,” he said. “At the time, I lost my family, lost my job, lost everything I’ve owned. I didn’t get to see my son graduate. I was arrested on the day that my grandson was born. So I didn’t get to see him for two years.”
His wife divorced him.
His son was 12 when it all started. He turned 22 on Tuesday. McCann has seen him just three times since getting out of prison in December 2015.
He didn’t expect to see him for his birthday.
“He was so brainwashed that I had something to do with it,” McCann said.
McCann was a reserve police officer in his hometown of Constantine when 11-year-old Jodi Parrack went missing in November 2007 — a decade ago.
He suggested they search the cemetery, and that’s where Jodi’s body was found. She’d been sexually assaulted.
Police quickly turned their focus on McCann, a man with no police record.
“No one’s come to me and told me why,” he said. “I think they just wanted somebody back then, and I just happened to be the guy.”
During about 20 interrogations, state police detectives lied to him repeatedly, a legal police tactic, hoping for a murder confession.
Two of the biggest lies: his DNA was on Jodi’s body, and her DNA was in his truck.
Eighty-six times McCann denied killing Jodi during tape-recorded interrogations reviewed by Target 8.
>>Inside woodtv.com: Jodi’s murder: Making a monster
Finally, three years ago, St. Joseph County Prosecutor John McDonough signed off on charges of perjury.
At a press conference, Jodi’s mom and McCann’s sister-in-law urged McCann to come clean.
Police identified McCann as a person of interest in the murder, and some locals believed it.
Denise Miller, who runs a beauty shop in Constantine, grew up with McCann and said she never believed what people were saying — that he was a killer.
“There was some pretty evil stuff said about him,” Miller said.
“Everybody has witnessed what happened in this town, and the people that turned against him that were once his friends,” she said.
McCann pleaded no contest to one count of perjury — that he lied when he told police he drove to the Tumble Dam during the search for Jodi.
Police told him they had hard evidence that he was never there — surveillance video from a nearby creamery.
Target 8 started investigating after Daniel Furlong, who also lived in Constantine, confessed to killing Jodi.
Furlong was caught after luring another young girl into his garage after he’d moved to White Pigeon. He said he worked alone.
“I’m so thankful that she did escape,” McCann said. “She really brought all this back together. By her escaping, it helped catch Daniel Furlong, and I’m so thankful she did escape. It could have ended up tragic also.”
Despite Furlong’s conviction, McCann stayed in prison for perjury.
In response to Target 8’s investigation, attorneys from the Michigan Innocence Clinic at Michigan Law and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law took up McCann’s case.
They said they found that the video evidence used to convict McCann was another police lie, that the camera wasn’t aimed toward the Tumble Dam at all. It proved nothing.
McCann said no one has apologized.
“I guess I don’t know if I’ll ever get a true apology,” he said.
He said he will never again work for law enforcement.
“Life now is, I stay at my daughter’s and friend’s, back and forth,” he said. “I tried for apartments, but with this felony on my record, I get turned down. So, with this being reversed, hopefully I’ll be able to find a place.”
He’s working now at a factory job and finally has a car.
But, he said, he’ll never move back to his hometown.
“I’m still struggling. I’m still trying to get back on my feet. It’s a long journey, and I just pray that it gets better.”