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Welcome to wrongful conviction, false confessions. I'm Laura Nightrider. And I'm Steve Drazen. Today, we'll tell you about a Michigan murder case with an unusual suspect, a small town police officer named Ray McCann. After Ray helped investigate the disappearance of a little girl, he was wrongfully accused of her murder. Cops turned on one of their own in one of the worst cases of tunnel vision we've seen in pursuit of their only suspect, police turned Ray's whole life into an interrogation room.


One of the things we've tried to do this season is to show that you don't need a full confession in order to bring charges against somebody, a false admission that implicates you in the crime or a false statement of fact. A lie in this case could bring the weight of the system down against an innocent person. And all of that stems from what happens in the interrogation room. Police have so much power over what you say in the interrogation room and the way in which what you say can be used against you in court.


It's that power and the misuse of that power. That's what Ramadan's case is all about.


We've seen tunnel vision in other cases, but I've never seen tunnel vision that was this extreme, this longstanding, and that included coercion both in and outside of the interrogation room. You have the police officers lying, right? The police officers don't get charged. It's Ray who gets charged. I mean, this is asymmetric warfare, right.


And becomes even more asymmetrical when they charge him with perjury. Raymond, can a reserve police officer who only wanted to do was assist police? All he wanted to do was to be a police officer. They ran him over like a truck.


Today's story starts in Konstantine, Michigan, a small town of 2000 people in the southern corner of the state, Konstantine is an old fashioned dairy farming community, the kind of place that looks like time stopped a half century ago. The town's historic main street is lined with shops that have been kept immaculate for decades. Annual events like the car show and barbecue cook off are marked on everyone's calendar. But in the autumn of 2007, this Michigan town was hit by a crime that no one could have expected.


It was November 8th, 445 in the afternoon, only an hour before sunset, 11 year old Jodi Perec left her friend's house on her bike and headed for dinner at home a half mile away. But when Jodi didn't arrive on time, her mom called the police and word spread fast as the sun went down and temperatures plummeted, too. It seemed like the whole town was out searching for Jodi. Joining the search was Ray McCann, a 40 year old family man born and raised in Konstantine.


Ray was a reserve police officer who hoped one day to join the Michigan State Police.


He wasn't a full fledged cop, but he was allowed to carry a badge and do basic police work, like making traffic stops and searching for missing people. In this particular missing person case, Ray's son was good friends with Jody, so Ray didn't have to be asked twice to help look for her.


Along with many of his neighbors, Ray threw on a coat and went out to look for Jody. He searched high and low at the baseball field, at the Dollar General, even at a local riverside walking trail called the Tumble Down Path. Others searched elsewhere, but no luck for anyone. No Jody around 10 30 at night. Ray met up with Jody's mom to talk about where they should look next. That's when Ray McCann asked if anyone had searched the cemetery.


No one had. So Jodi's mom headed that way, followed by Ray in another car. The cemetery is where they found Jodi. She'd been sexually assaulted and strangled to death. Her bike was lying next to her on the ground. Jodi's mom bent down, tried to embrace her daughter's body, but Ray knew this was a crime scene that shouldn't be disturbed. He gently guided her away from Jodi's body and sat her down in her car. The police arrived quickly at the scene, but as they hunted for leads, they locked almost immediately onto Ray McCann as a suspect because Ray had been the person who suggested searching the cemetery based on that coincidence.


Police questioned Ray that night. He adamantly denied involvement in this horrible crime. Somehow, though, Reserve Officer Ray McCann became the sole suspect, the only person police focused on for the next five years.


When someone discovers a body, they're going to be a person of interest in a police investigation because of their proximity to the crime. It's a basis for wanting to question somebody about what they were doing on the evening in question, but they focused on him as the sole and exclusive suspect, and they did so because they grew desperate. This is a crime that is absolutely devastating to this community. And police did everything in their power to close that vise on Ray.


Now, it's not like there was any evidence against Ray. Police compared Ray's DNA to the DNA left on Jody's body, but it didn't match. No physical evidence implicated him and no eyewitnesses had identified him. But as Jody's murder is set unsolved for years, pressure escalated on the authorities to come up with a culprit after a new police chief was elected in 2010.


New investigators were assigned to the case, and they immediately doubled down on prime suspect Ray McCann.


Over the next few years, police interrogated Ray more than 20 times again and again, police asked him to describe what he did on the night of Jodis disappearance, where he searched who he talked to during these interrogations.


Police gradually but relentlessly upped the ante. The evidence against you was insurmountable.


They told him, we know scientifically that you touched your body. Oh, no, I did not. Your people. Whatever you think that this not thinking that it's proven now that was a lie.


But these kinds of lies can be extremely coercive, even on a cop, even on someone like Ray McCann, who is going can do what we were talking, talking, talking, talking.


Well, you know what? I did my job that I. I wish I knew what happened, because then I guess we would be having this conversation.


The way they questioned Ray was for one purpose and one purpose, only to get him to give them information that they could use to charge him with this crime.


And Ray called them out about that to over and over again. I don't know what you're trying to get into that somebody didn't have the power.


And now that's the thing. He knew exactly what they were doing. He's a cop. You want me to admit to something I didn't do? I'm not going to do it.


You want a confession? I can't give you an environment for their killer.


But the more Ray insisted on his innocence, the more police became obsessed with proving him guilty.


Here's the really twisted thing.


Their obsession began to spread beyond the interrogation room. They blamed Ray for Jodi's death in the local media, ruining his reputation, and they viciously attacked his personal life. Police tracked down Ray's friends and relatives and worked to turn them against him.


Police told Ray's family that physical evidence DNA proved he had killed Jodi, even though that wasn't true. And they went even further for no clear reason.


They told Ray's wife that he'd been unfaithful. They falsely told Ray's teenage son the one had been friends with Jodi when he was younger, that his dad was a drug addict.


They also told the boy that his dad was visiting online chat rooms, the worst kind, I guess, that these cops could imagine.


Just listen to this.


The computer shows activity in a chat room regularly of game nature, sexual behavior, talking about how this man and man sexual encounter is going to go and then how it did go. There's been no signs of any of that. Personally, for me, I haven't seen anything like that. OK, is there any part of you at all that questions your dad's sexuality or if what you're saying is absolutely honest to God, true? I can tell you that it is your computer.


I took it out of there. Yeah. Then, yeah, of course it's going to make me question it.


None of this was honest to God, Drew. The cops were lying again, and that's bad enough.


But the fact that they equated visiting gay chat rooms with raping and killing an 11 year old girl, I'm sorry, but that's beyond offensive.


In any event, until Ray confessed, police were hell bent on taking his life apart piece by piece. And I guess this cop thought that telling Ray's teenage son that his dad was gay would be a good way to accomplish that.


Their purpose was to make life for Ray McCann in Konstanty, Michigan, unendurable, to make his life so miserable and so painful that they could bring him to a place where he could confessed to killing Jodie Patrick.


Despite all this years go by and Ray doesn't confess. Finally, the cops hatched a plan. They'll file charges against Ray and see if that gets him to admit guilt. An officer is caught saying as much during a taped interview with Ray's wife. He's going to have to be charged.


The officer says he'll get so scared he'll talk. It may just come to that at a certain point in time. They should have realized that Ray had nothing to do with this. And there were all kinds of reasons for them to believe that, beginning with the DNA evidence. But they didn't care one bit about Ray. This was the first time that I had seen tunnel vision. So take over law enforcement officers that they were willing to sacrifice the life of another officer to close a case.


Now, the police didn't have any evidence against Ray that would allow them to charge him with murder, so they came up with a different plan and different charges. In 2012, police served Remicon with an investigative subpoena requiring him to answer questions yet again about the night Jodi disappeared five years earlier. Because of the subpoena, though, this time Ray had to give answers under oath.


Ray did bring a lawyer with him. By this point in time, Gray's reputation in the community was so damaged, so tarnished, he couldn't go anywhere without people looking at him as if he had killed Jodi Patrick. So the lawyer advised him to go in and talk to the authorities as a way to maybe put an end to this.


The police's subpoena strategy worked, it did put an end to the harassment, but not the end Ray had hoped for. After the interview on July 17th, 2014, prosecutors accused Ray McCann of lying under oath and charged him with five counts of perjury. He was arrested and thrown into the local jail. So dirham can lie under oath, four of the five perjury charges were based on incredibly minor inconsistencies between the details Ray remembered about the night Jodi died five years earlier and the details that other people remembered.


You know, what stands out to me in this story is how a completely innocent man who is just out trying to help got caught up in this web of lies that was spun by the detectives. It's unbelievable that that could have happened and frightening. That's Ken Colker, a journalist based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He's been covering Ramekins Case for years. I'm an investigative reporter, so my job is to just sniff around and look for things that seem wrong.


You know, the perjury charges seem totally unfounded. I mean, if somebody asked me what I had for lunch, the might say Taco Bell, but maybe it wasn't. Is that really a lie?


Here's one example of what Ray was charged with under oath. Remicon said that at one point while he was searching, he saw Jodi's mom with a blond haired kid and he thought Jodi had been found. He testified that he said to Jodi's mom, oh, good, you found her. Now, everyone agreed that a local seventh grader with blond hair named Katie was with Jodi's mom during the search. But Jodi's mom couldn't remember whether five years earlier, Ray had said, oh, good, you found her.


One of these perjury charges was based on this so-called discrepancy.


Here's another example. Police told Ray they found his DNA on Jodi's body, even though that was a lie. In a desperate attempt to provide some explanation, Ray made a guess.


He thought back to the moment he and Jodi's mom discovered her little girl's body, he remembered guiding Jodi's mom away and helping her sit down in her car.


Maybe sometime later, the mother had been grieving over her daughter's body. He said maybe his DNA had been transferred from Jodi's mom to the little girl.


But five years after the fact, Jodi's mom didn't remember Ray pulling her away or taking her to the car or much of anything else from that terrible moment. So the cops charged Ray with another count of perjury.


What's interesting is that Ray McCann was a reserve police officer and for some reason they turned on him. That's the suspect they're focused on. So they're just hammering and hammering and telling him far more lies than they claim, he told them.


Ray's history as a police officer may have offered him some protection against a false confession, but it couldn't protect him against another weapon in the police officer's arsenal, the weapon of perjury. In Ray's case, they turned a series of inconsistencies in his statements over a five year period into perjurious lies. The penalties for perjury in Michigan are extreme, and they charged him with five counts of perjury.


So under investigative subpoena, especially in a murder case, telling a lie to police is actually punishable by up to life in prison. The punishment is as bad as if you committed the crime.


Four of those five charges were based on ridiculous inconsistencies like the ones we've talked about. The fifth charge, though, was different.


The fifth charge was based on Ray's sworn statements that he'd searched for Jodi near that riverside walking trail, the tumble down path they claimed, well, that's a lie because we've got video showing that nobody went to the temple.


Damn that time of night, we don't see your car. We don't see your headlights or whatever.


There was a video camera on this nearby creamery that supposedly was aimed right at the Temple Dam. And the, quote unquote lie that they got him on was the fact that he said he wanted to double down, but the surveillance video proved he wasn't there.


Police claimed that video proved Ray was lying.


In fact, an officer even took the stand at Ray's first court hearing and swore that this video proved Ray had committed perjury. For his part, Ray couldn't figure it out. He knew he'd gone to the tumble down path that night to search for Jodi, but his trial approached and five possible life sentences loomed. Ray finally broke. He didn't confessed to killing Jodi. Instead, on March 20th, 2015, he pled no contest to that fifth perjury charge.


A no contest plea is an admission that the state has sufficient evidence against you to convict you. So as a matter of law, it's treated within the system.


Just as any other guilty plea would be treated for that plea of no contest to perjury, Ray received a sentence of 20 months in prison. In exchange, the state dropped the other four charges. They hadn't gotten ready for murder, but they'd gotten him for something. And I guess that was good enough.


Fast forward five months after Ray entered his plea to August 2015. Ray was in prison serving his perjury sentence and every day was horrific. He was a suspected child rapist and killer.


And he talked about, you know, what other prisoners do to child rapists and killers. He got dragged off of his bunk one night, got smashed over the head with what he thinks was a padlock, and somebody tried to gouge his eyes out. I mean, that's what happened to this poor guy in prison. While Ray suffered, there was a development, a man named Daniel Furlong, who lived one town over from Konstantine, lured a 10 year old girl into his garage and attacked her.


She escaped, thank God, and was able to lead police to Furlong's door. They arrested him and took his DNA. And what did it match? The DNA left eight years earlier on Jodi Patrick's body. Police questioned Daniel Furlong on October 18th, 2015, and he admitted that he'd raped and killed Jody Furlong used to live in Konstantine a few blocks away from the parent family. When he saw Jodi riding by on her bike, he lured her into his garage just like the other girl.


That's where he assaulted and killed Jodi and he did it all alone. Furlong told investigators he didn't know Ray McCann.


We saw the videotape of police interviewing Daniel Furlong, and there were a lot nicer to him than they were to Ray McCann. They asked Furlong. So what did you think when you saw that in a newspaper that they were focusing on Ray McCann and you thought, well, I'm in the clear.


So in other words, the fact that the police had pursued this wrongful prosecution of Ray made Furlong feel enough comfort to strike again, and that blew me away.


It was crystal clear Ray McCann was never involved in Jody's disappearance. All he did was try to help a distraught mom find her missing kid. The police's suspicions about Ray had been wrong from the start. In November 2015, Daniel Furlong pled guilty to killing Jodie Perec by himself and received a sentence of 30 to 60 years. But the state wasn't ready to exonerate Ray McCann. Not yet. Ray had been convicted of perjury, and the state insisted that even if Ray hadn't committed murder, he had still lied under oath.


I started in this case because we were doing stories about the real killer who confessed and was getting sentenced to prison. And nobody was. Talk to you about what happened to Ray McCann. It's like, well, what about this guy who had nothing to do with it? In December 2015, Ray was paroled from a Michigan prison after serving his sentence, he was still a convicted felon, a perjurer in the eyes of the law. It was right around that time that his case came across Steve's desk.


Gray had been out of prison for a few months. He was having a hard time reintegrating back in the community. The police officers were still suggesting to the general public that he knew things about this crime and he had spent 20 months locked up for something he didn't do. Thank God for Ken Colker for taking the interest to tell this story about rape, because if it wasn't for him, I never would have known about the case.


I'd seen the work done by the Center for Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern. And I just reached out to Steve and said, here's an interesting case.


I was so angry at what these law enforcement officers had done to Ray. And so I called up the Michigan Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School and I said, Will you work on this case with me?


The legal team's task was to prove the innocence of the only perjury charge he'd been convicted of. That was the charge where the police had sworn under oath that they had a surveillance tape showing the tumble down path, a video that they said proved Ray had lied about going there to search for Jodi.


Well, Ken Colker got a hold of a copy of that videotape.


I remember going down to Ray McCann's home and meeting Steven Dristan down there. Yeah, that was like a could have been a scene in a movie actually standing around this dining room table with my laptop open, watching this video that would eventually lead to Ray McCann's case being dismissed.


What we saw was that you couldn't see anything from the camera footage. It was simply too dark to make out what kinds of cars were on the street, whether there were any people on the street.


You couldn't see the tumble down path at all, let alone who was walking on it. So the legal team actually went to the creamery, the business that had taken the surveillance video and looked at their security camera. The creamery owner assured them that the camera hadn't been moved since the night of Jody's disappearance.


The video camera wasn't even aimed at the dam. The surveillance camera that they claimed showed he wasn't there was aimed elsewhere.


I wish I'd have been the one that noticed that under no circumstances could the creamery camera footage have proven that Ray was not at the tumble down path.


The whole damn thing was made up. It was a lie. The video was essentially worthless as evidence.


This video certainly didn't prove that Ray McCann had lied under oath. Instead, what it proved was that the police were the ones who had lied in order to convict him.


Ray's wish had come true. He needed to have some kind of evidence to demonstrate that he didn't lie at all, but that the police officers were lying and that camera footage proved it.


Based on that video, Ray's attorneys filed a motion for relief. And on December 7th, 2017, the court threw out Ray's perjury conviction. Ray McCann was innocent of the murder and innocent of perjury. He was exonerated. The prosecutor decided not to fight it and to allow the judge to dismiss the case. And I just felt great for Ray. I mean, you can't take away the 20 months that he spent in prison, but, you know, at least he was able to clear his name.


That was the end of Ray McCann's legal ordeal. But what happened to the officers who lied to convict him? OK, Steve, so I'm really hoping you're going to tell us that after Ray was exonerated, these cops were tried for perjury.


I wish I could tell you that, but nothing has happened to these police officers. The prosecutor eventually ended up losing in his next election, but these police officers have never faced any consequences.


They were the ones who lied, not Ray. They were the ones who should have gone down for perjury. That's the ultimate irony here. And what about Ray McAnn? What's life like for him now? In many ways, it's still really hard.


I mean, they took a lot away from this guy. He barely talked to one of his sons. His wife divorced him. They missed the birth of a grandchild. I'm sure there are people in that town who still think Ray McCann had something to do with it. And so, you know, his name is in some people's eyes, is still mud and Constantine.


The only thing Ray McCann ever wanted was to find the killer of Jodi Perec. And that's been accomplished now, raised free to put his life back together as best he can. Right. Yeah. Oh, hey, Ray, it's Laura. How are you doing? Pretty good. So you're living up north in Michigan. You got snow on the ground yet?


Yeah, actually, we just got some yesterday. I want to go get some water and stuff and I'll start coming down.


Tell me about your your wife, Ray. I'm delighted to hear that you're married.


Yeah, we got married in April 4th. I actually on my dad's birthday in twenty eighteen.


Oh, that's a beautiful way to honor your dad. How did you meet your wife? We worked together.


She caught my eye right away. You must have caught her eye too. Yeah, I must've done something right. We were actually in southwest Michigan there a while and we made a decision to start a new life somewhere else because it just, you know, it was hard for me. It's been going a lot better since we made the move up here. It really has. I struggle at times. You know, I admit that I go through a lot of depression.


My wife knows. I go through that and she is there for me. I am so thankful for my daughter, Ashley. She was with me the whole time this was going on and still lives with me. And I just love, you know, all the grandkids. They keep it. There's a yes for sure. You're a good man, Ray, and a survivor. Steve and I are with you all the way.


One of the jobs that we as innocense lawyers have is to try to tell the story of our clients in a way that can bring them back some measure of their reputation to tell the story in a way that makes it abundantly clear that Ray McCann is innocent.


We can't undo the trauma that Ray experienced, but at least we can establish that he never committed the crime he was accused of. In fact, a crime was committed against him.


One of the arguments against allowing police officers to lie during interrogations is that it creates a culture in which lying is acceptable not only during interrogations, but when police officers come into court and testify about cases. And that may very well have been what happened here.


You're allowed to lie to get a confession. Why not lie to get a conviction?


It's one of the strongest arguments for banning deception during police interrogations.


When you allow police to lie, that sends a message that truthfulness is not essential to the task of enforcing the law. And of course, it is. It's vital.


And that's the story of Ray McCann. Join us next week when we take you to ADA, Oklahoma, to tell you about Tommy Ward. After detectives learned about a strange dream he had, Tommy was accused of a local woman's murder and found himself on death row. Tommy remains behind bars to this day, but a team of lawyers, including our Center on Wrongful Convictions, is fighting to end Tommy's nightmare. Wrongful conviction, False Confessions is a production of Lava for Good Podcast's in association with Signal Company No.


One special thanks to our executive producers Jason Pflum and Kevin Autists. Our production team is headed by senior producer and pope, along with producers Josh Hammer and just Shane. Our show is mixed by Jeanie Montalvo. John Colbert is our intrepid intern. Our music was composed by Jay Ralfe. You can follow me on Instagram or Twitter at Laura Nightrider and you can follow me on Twitter at S Dreazen.


For more information on the show, visit wrongful conviction podcast NORCOM. Be sure to follow the show on Instagram at wrongful conviction on Facebook, at Wrongful Conviction Podcast and on Twitter at Wrong Conviction. For NPR ex.