Jodi’s murder: Making a monster

Police in the U.S. are legally allowed to lie to suspects to get confessions, but it backfired in the Jodi Parrack murder case

CONSTANTINE, Mich. (WOOD) -- Police lied repeatedly to the man they suspected in the death of 11-year-old Jodi Parrack as they tried to get him to confess to a murder they later would learn he didn't commit, according to video-recorded interrogations obtained by Target 8.

Police in the U.S. are legally allowed to lie to suspects to get confessions, but it didn't work in this case.

Raymond McCann II, of Constantine, went to prison for 20 months for the lies police say he told them.

McCann, now 48, pleaded no contest to perjury and was released from prison in December after serving his entire term -- three months after Daniel Furlong confessed to Jodi's murder.

Furlong, 65, told police he acted alone.

"I was a hostage," McCann said in a recent interview with Target 8. "I wasn't a prisoner. I was a hostage."

Among the lies told by police during the interrogations: They had "scientific evidence" McCann touched Jodi's body, that they had evidence he was within seven meters of Jodi's body before it was found in a cemetery, that they had "insurmountable evidence" he was involved in her death.

They told him they knew he either killed her accidentally or on purpose.

"It's not just some haphazard, fricking stretch to go out and harass somebody to get in their s--- because we can't find anybody who killed the girl," a detective told McCann during one of the interrogations in 2011. "This is for real, Ray. Your life is about to change big time."

McCann denied any involvement 86 times during more than seven hours of videotaped interrogations.

Michigan State Police cold case detectives say McCann was among a few suspects in the Nov. 8, 2007, sexual assault and murder of Jodi, whose body was found in a cemetery.

They say they turned their focus on McCann based on discrepancies in his stories -- what he did up until Jodi went missing, and what he did during his search for her.

The videotaped interrogations, obtained by Target 8 through the Freedom of Information Act, document only part of the 20 or so times detectives interviewed McCann over the years.

The videos show how police turned their focus on the married father and Little League coach who worked as a reserve police officer in the town where Jodi was killed. He said he did his best to look for Jodi.

"I wish I'd never gone out to help," he said during one of the interrogations. "I wish I was never part of this police department."

Police said they felt his stories weren't adding up, though McCann, who'd never been in trouble before, repeatedly told them he was struggling to recall details of a day he'd rather forget.

"All the hard work they were doing, it seemed like it was setting me up, not trying to find out who really committed this crime," McCann said in an interview with Target 8.

While police told him during the interrogations that they couldn't suggest to him what he'd done, they repeatedly made suggestions: that he was the first to find her body but was afraid to report it; that he dumped her body after accidentally killing her; that he dumped her body after somebody else killed her and was involved in a cover-up; or that he was a porn-watching pervert who trolled for little girls.

MSP officials refused requests for an interview, but emailed a statement to Target 8. They said they interviewed several "persons of interest" "at length and on multiple occasions."

"The investigative techniques used during these interviews are accepted and legal methods used to either eliminate or identify individuals involved in the crime," state police said in the statement.

"In 2015, Daniel Furlong was arrested and ultimately pled guilty to his involvement in the murder of Jodi Parrack in 2007," the statement reads. "Michigan State Police detectives are convinced he acted alone in this heinous crime."

It was the first time, at least in writing, that MSP had cleared McCann for any involvement in the death.

SUSPICIONS RAISED

Constantine Police Chief James Bedell had come out of retirement for one reason: to solve this case.

"Today is Nov. 5," Bedell told McCann in a videotaped interrogation in 2010 at the Constantine Police Department. "In another three days, Monday, it's going to be three years."

Three years since Jodi's mom found her body in the Constantine Township Cemetery. The fifth-grader had been sexually assaulted and strangled, her body then dumped.

"I know you've been talked to several times and this shouldn't take too long because you're going to tell me the truth. You got nothing to hide, correct?" the chief said.

"Correct," McCann answered.

It's the same story McCann had told from the start: He had been home all day that day -- Nov. 8, 2007 -- and played PlayStation football all afternoon until his boys got home from school.

He said he went with his two sons to the Dollar General store right after school and "bought 'em two little laser guns."

His wife got home a little before 5 p.m. and made dinner, he said. He helped his son with homework. They ate around 6 p.m.

He said he was watching the news after that, as his kids got ready for bed, when Jodi Parrack's mom, Jo Gilson, stopped by. It was about 8 p.m.

Jodi was missing.

McCann described his search -- the D&S store, around buildings, the baseball fields, to a home where his own mom and sister lived, where he said he found a bike that turned out not to be Jodi's. It's where Jodi was last seen.

He said he checked the boardwalk, down by the river.

"So I walk down there, flashlight, checking behind the buildings," he said.

It was McCann who suggested that Jodi's family check the cemetery. He also suggested the same to Constantine Police Officer Marcus Donker, who was working on the search.

"We were driving around," McCann said during the interrogation. "I go, kind of like, we didn't know the night was going to end up that way, kind of joking around -- ‘cause it was just after Halloween -- I go, ‘Let's go check the cemetery.’"

"If you wanted to check it, why didn't you check it?" the chief asked.

"Because I wanted to check it with Donker," McCann responded, referring to the Constantine officer. "I don't know."

It was McCann’s insistence on searching the cemetery, then not checking it right away, that made police suspect him from the beginning. Police said holes in his stories didn't help.

GETTING PERSONAL

"So, these interviews, you have to ask some personal questions," the chief asked. "I'm told you would have an affair at the drop of a hat if a woman was interested," the chief said.

"I flirt with women," McCann answered, with a nervous laugh.

"I'd rather see you have interest in women than guys. What about young girls, like Jodi?" the chief asked.

"No," McCann said.

McCann acknowledged talking to a woman he didn't know on his walkie-talkie, maybe the day before Jodi went missing, maybe not, and how maybe he went looking for that woman.

The chief said he was bothered by the results of McCann's polygraph tests.

"Whether you did it or not, I have a feeling you know more than what you're telling us. If you're protecting somebody," Bedell said.

"Oh God. You know what? I wouldn't protect my own family. I would not do it," McCann said.

The interview turned, again, to the cemetery where Jodi's body was found.

"If I told you somebody seen you driving out of there before that body was found, that's BS?" the chief asked.

"Yeah," McCann said. "I never went in there. The only time I went near there was when me and (Officer) Donker was up near the gas station."

"The reason that we questioned you was two polygraphs, your idea to go look at the cemetery, you driving around the day before with a walkie-talkie trying to pick up some chick. It's just weird. You're a little weird," the chief said.

"I guess I'm weird, but I tell you what, there ain't no way in hell man,” McCann answered. "Whatever you want me to do, that's all I've got to say. I'm just not going to jail for somebody else's bull----. I know that."

"I don't want you to go to jail for somebody else's bull----," the chief answered. "I want the person who did it."

NOT THE ONLY SUSPECT

Five months later, on April 19, 2011, McCann was back in a small interview room at the Constantine Police Department, this time facing MSP Detective Bryan Fuller. Fuller was part of a cold case team, who asked McCann again about his search, for details of a night more than three years earlier.

"I don't remember all the places we went," McCann said.

He said he wondered if he was blending one night with another.

McCann said he didn't know he was a suspect until an officer read him his rights that night and asked to take a picture of his hands.

"I remember looking at my hands and, my hands?" he said. "It's right there I knew, what the hell?"

Police took his pickup and his clothes that night, later his DNA.

During the interrogation, the detective assured him he was not the only suspect, and that he was on McCann's side.

"To be honest with you, the police officer on duty that night is not ruled out. You with me?" the state police detective said.

"Officer Donker?" asked McCann.

"Yeah," the detective answered.

"Bryan, I'm here to help you," McCann told the detective. "You know. I want this as bad as you guys do. I don't want to go to my grave not knowing what happened to this little girl. I'd like to have my job back to be honest with you. I love being on the police department."

'EVIDENCE HAS COME FULL CIRCLE'

Three months later, on July 11, 2011, McCann was back, facing the same detective.

"I have to tell you about your rights," the detective said.

McCann said he was afraid.

"I'm not going to jail, am I?" he questioned.

The detective said he was one of McCann's only supporters on the cold case team.

"The only possible way that I can go to bat for you, is if you tell me the truth," the detective told him. "The evidence has come full circle and there's a part of your story, a big part of your story that is bulls---. You don't know how embarrassed I am from my co-workers right now because all I've done the whole time is say that you're an f---ing good dude. I'm the laughing stock of this whole place right now.”

The only possible way that I can still save some face in this thing is for there to be an explanation for the lies that you've been caught in now,” the detective added. "This is going downhill fast for you, and the only thing that is going to help you is for you to be truthful and I know, I've seen it myself, I know you haven't been."

The cold case detective told McCann he knew he lied about being home most of the day Jodi was killed, that his alibi was shot, that they had him on surveillance video around town, that as a reserve police officer he owned two pairs of handcuffs, not just one, as McCann insisted.

They were two of the alleged lies that led to perjury charges against McCann.

Evidence shows Jodi's wrists had been bound. (Later, police would learn it was done with zip-ties, not handcuffs.)

App users can click here to watch the video of McCann's interrogation.

A DNA LIE AND 86 DENIALS

"Bryan, I am not going to jail for somebody else's s---," McCann said in tears.

It was one 86 times during the videotaped interrogations that he denied any involvement.

"This is my life we're talking about. The hell I've been through. My family. What can I say? I didn't do anything wrong," he said.

Then, the detective played his biggest bluffs.

"We know scientifically that you touched her body," Fuller told McCann.

"I did?" McCann questioned.

"And we know without a doubt that you put her in that cemetery," the detective said.

"Oh, God, Bryan I did not, McCann said. “No I did not."

"That doesn't make you the killer, Ray," the detective said.

"I know, but I did not put her there. If I touched her at all, it was pulling her mother away, and if I happened to touch her, then that's how it happened," McCann explained.

Later, in an interview that was not videotaped, police asked McCann how they could have found his DNA on Jodi and her DNA on him and in his pickup. It could have happened, he said, when he hugged Jodi's mom and when the mom sat in his pickup. Jodi's mom told police that never happened.

Police say that was another of the lies that amounted to perjury.

But police have since confirmed to Target 8 that they also weren't telling the truth. They didn't really have that DNA evidence. It was a trick -- a perfectly legal lie.

"This case has already been reviewed by the prosecutor's office, and the evidence about you is insurmountable," the detective told him.

"I don't understand that. You've got to promise me one thing," McCann told the detective. "I don't know who did this, but if they hold me for whatever reasons, for more questions, you don't give up looking. Promise me that."

"I'm still not convinced that you killed her," the detective responded.

"Is that what they're saying now?" McCann said.

"No," the detective answered. "They're saying that you put her there."

"Well, I didn't,” McCann said.

Maybe, the detective told him, he was covering for somebody else, or he accidentally killed Jodi, then panicked.

They say they checked his computer, found he'd been on porn sites that day.

"You're going to let somebody else tell the story about how you raped this little girl... and what a horrible, horrible monster you are because that's the story they're going to tell because they have to paint a picture," the detective said. "They have the stuff to support that to a degree and they're going to twist it.

"They're going to say that you killed her," the detective said.

"Jesus," McCann said.

"You killed her for sexual gratification and they're going to use the porn stuff," the detective said. "You know where they're going to go with it, and I'm telling you, you can prevent that."

"You know, when I leave here, I'm going to try to get some answers, because this is bull----," McCann responded.

Near the end of the interview, the detective pulled his chair close to McCann.

"Ray, listen to me, listen to me. You did it, and it can be proven that you did. You're not a bad guy. You're a good guy, but whatever went wrong went wrong accidentally,” the detective said. “It's all right."

"I understand that Bryan, but I didn't put her there. We can sit here all day and do this, but I'm telling you, I didn't put her there," McCann said.

"You know what?" McCann told the detective. "I don't know if you believe in God, but someday we're all going to stand in front of Him and you guys are going to find out the truth. You know that? You guys are going to find out the truth, that I did not put her there. One day we'll stand in front of the Lord, and we'll all know. Hopefully you and me will be standing by each other, and I'll say, 'Bryan, I told you.'"

THEORIES AND BLUFFS

Weeks later, and more than three and a half years after Jodi was killed, MSP Det. Bryan Fuller was joined by a new face from the state police, Lt. Shawn Loughrige, who said Constantine needs answers.

"They're looking to crucify somebody," the new detective said.

McCann recounted his day: PlayStation football at home, maybe checking porn sites, later buying laser guns with his sons at the Dollar General.

This, police have said, is another of his big lies -- that his sons say they didn't go to the store that day.

McCann recalled his search before eventually turning left into the cemetery.

"That's where I seen everybody running around, screaming," McCann said. "I pulled my truck up to a certain point, get out and run up there and that's when I realized the mother had her and that's when I realized she was dead. You could tell."

Detectives told McCann they had his cell phone records.

"Knowing that we have the times of the phone calls, the movements, is that concerning to you at all?" the new detective asked.

"I don't know exact times, what time was what during that night," McCann said. "I didn't have nothing to do with this girl's death."

"Listen, don't say that, because I don't want to hear it," the detective said. "Trust me. I know different. OK?

The detective suggested a theory: McCann found Jodi’s body in the cemetery earlier, which is why he kept telling people to search there.

"What we're saying is you found her, but you were afraid because you didn't want them to think you put her there," the detective said.

If that's not what happened, the detective said, there's an alternative.

"Maybe, this is their thought, maybe Ray is living a double life," the detective said. "I mean, Ray says he's a Christian, Ray says he's this, that, a coach, whatever, but when mom leaves to work, Ray trolls the streets looking to pick someone up, gets on porn before he does it… goes to a religious site, a couple of them to feel better, then he leaves the house."

"They can paint their damn picture, whatever they want to do," McCann said. "I didn't have nothing to do with this damn thing. I went out there, did my job that night, supposedly. I guess I didn't do it to a tee."

"I believe you," the detective said.

"This is the hell I'm going through and still going through," McCann said.

They played on his faith.

"You're a Christian, right?" the detective asked. "So if you want the grace in your life that you need right now, the only way you're going to get that is if you're honest."

The detective floated another theory: Jodi visited McCann's home, then "flipped out" because she wanted to date McCann's son, who didn't want to date her.

"You take control," the detective said. "You say, 'Hey, settle down, relax,' and something happens in that process. Even to the point where she almost is going to hurt herself and she gets handcuffs put on her because she's going crazy. OK? What else is there Ray?"

"I don't know," McCann said. "You tell me, but that's all bull----.”

Then, another police bluff -- another perfectly legal police lie.

"We have the full investigation," the detective said. "I told you. We just don't know the 'why,' the little part in there. OK, we know we have a dead girl, we know that Ray's involved. OK. We've told you that."

"OK, so they're going to stick, what, me in jail for something I had no part of?" McCann responded. "Is that how the system works?"

"Guys, I don't know what you want from me. You want a confession that I can't give ya. Guys, I didn't find her, I didn't put her there, I didn't kill her," McCann said.

After more than two hours in the interview room that night, McCann abruptly left, but not without apologizing.

"Sorry guys," he said. "I'm just upset, alright."

A PRISON VISIT, AN OPEN WINDOW

In March 2015, McCann was sent to prison for 20 months after pleading no contest to one of five perjury charges. Without the plea, he said, prosecutors were threatening years behind bars.

"I took the plea because it was the quickest way to get home to my family," he said in an interview. "It wasn't that I was guilty of anything."

But, last September, three months before McCann's release, came the news -- the arrest of Daniel Furlong in Jodi's murder, complete with real DNA evidence, after he tried snatching another girl.

Furlong had lived blocks from Jodi, but was never a suspect. He confessed to killing Jodi, dumping her body -- and working alone.

"Do you know Mr. McCann?" Furlong was asked during his confession.

"I don't know the one they showed on TV. I don't know him. I know his grandfather," Furlong said.

"You saw everything in the paper about what was going on with [McCann]? What did you think then?" the prosecutor asked Furlong during the confession.

"I just thought I was in the clear," he said.

A few weeks later, the new Constantine police chief visited McCann, the former lead suspect, in prison.

"I was thinking, 'Oh good, he was going to come in and apologize to me, they're going to get me out of prison, tell me they got the right person,'" McCann told Target 8.

But, according to an audio recording of that meeting, that didn't happen.

"The person that we arrested is a friend of yours," Chief Mark Honeysett told him.

"I don't know who he is," McCann said.

"I don't think I should be here right now," McCann said. "I'm glad they caught this guy. I don't know who he is and like I told you before, I wish I could have five minutes with this guy because I've lost 20 months of my life, and I've still got another three months to go."

Then, the chief gave him one last chance to come clean about Jodi's death.

"I'm serious man," the chief said. "Don't let that window close, don't let that happen. Whether it's Dan or whether it's somebody else, somebody's holding all the cards and your picture [is] on the face of every one of those cards."

Comments are closed.