Man exonerated after serving prison sentence in connection to 2007 murder of 11-year-old girl

Raymond McCann, person of interest in cold case murder

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Mich. -- Thursday the St. Joseph County Circuit Court exonerated Raymond McCann, 50, for his perjury conviction related to the 2007 murder of 11-year-old Jodi Parrack.

Jodi Parrack, 11, 2007 murder victim whose killer Daniel Furlong took a plea deal and was convicted in 2015 for 30 to 60 years.

McCann served 20 months for perjury after taking a plea deal for a crime the court now agrees he did not commit. When he was asked by Crime Watch Daily if he had anything to do with Parrack's murder, McCann answered "No." He is now the fourteenth person the Michigan Innocence Clinic helped exonerate, working alongside the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University's Pritzker School of Law.

"It’s a terrible story," said David Moran, Michigan Innocence Clinic director to FOX 17 Thursday. "I really have never seen a case like this where such a good man was ruined for nothing."

The tragedy began 10 years ago, Nov. 8, 2007, when 11-year-old Parrack went missing in the small St. Joseph County town of Constantine. At the time McCann was a reserve Constantine police officer off on sick leave for vertigo, and helped the search team locate Parrack's body by suggesting they search in the nearby cemetery. Soon after Parrack's body was found there.

"[Jodi] just looked like she was sleeping on her side and her hands were up," said Valerie Jo Gilson, Jodi Parrack's mother to Crime Watch Daily. "Her hair was all pulled over her face."

The murder case went cold, but when McCann became a person of interest Moran says a Michigan State Police detective used tactics like repeatedly lying to McCann and his family. The detective told them they had evidence allegedly connecting him to Parrack's murder including his DNA on Parrack and Parrack's DNA in McCann's truck. This police claim was false. McCann eventually took a plea deal, and pleaded no contest to perjury he did not commit.

"What’s really disturbing is that they didn’t just lie to Ray, they lied to Ray’s wife, they lied to his son, they lied to his sister, they lied to just about everybody around him in what appears to be a deliberate tactic to isolate him," said Moran, who added that McCann is now divorced and estranged from many including never having met his grandson.

In response to FOX 17, MSP Public Affairs Manager Shanon Banner wrote in part:

"The Michigan State Police fully cooperated with the Michigan Innocence Clinic in this matter, as we also have no interest in seeing someone wrongfully convicted."

While in prison, Jodi Parrack's killer made this chilling to confession to police in 2015: "I killed Jodi and that's it," said Daniel Furlong, 65. "I didn't kill anybody else."

Police found Furlong when Mackenzie Stafford, 10, came forward and told police she escaped after Furlong lured her into his garage.

"He asked me if I could go in his garage and help him and I said, 'sure,'" said Stafford.

"All of a sudden he pulls me back and just grabbed me. He said, 'Shut up or I'll kill you.' I just turned around and kicked him and punched him," she said.

According to police interviews, Furlong told police he did not know McCann. And McCann maintains his innocence and that he does not know Furlong.

"I would pray that now that everything’s out they’d have more of an understanding and realize I was just out there to help like everybody else," said McCann.

St. Joseph County Prosecutor John McDonough was unavailable for comment Thursday, after McCann's Motion for Relief from Judgment was signed.