CONSTANTINE, Mich. (WOOD) — Almost two years to the day 11-year-old Jodi Parrack was murdered, investigators had their best chance to catch her killer.
It was an opportunity missed.
On Nov. 18, 2009, a 12-year-old girl was walking by the home of Daniel Furlong on her way to school, when she spotted him outside in the dark, according to a police report obtained Wednesday by Target 8.
“She noticed a man kneeling down with his back against the house, in a dark corner, watching her,” the report stated.
The girl identified the man to police as “Mrs. Furlong’s husband.”
But when then-Constantine Police Chief James Bedell interviewed Furlong, he denied he’d been outside. The case was closed.
‘THAT COULD HAVE BEEN MY DAUGHTER’
While police had taken DNA samples from others around Constantine, including many who knew Jodi, they did not ask for Furlong’s DNA. If they had, it would have matched the unknown DNA left on Jodi’s body.
Instead, they focused on former Constantine Reserve Police Officer Raymond McCann, whose DNA didn’t match. He served 20 months in prison for perjury.
“I’ve been angry about it for a while because that could have been my daughter,” the 12-year-old girl’s mother told Target 8 Wednesday.
She said her daughter was walking to school before 7 a.m. that day — about a half-hour before sunrise — when she noticed Furlong.
The girl was a year older than Jodi was when she died. She also went to the same school and lived two doors down from Furlong. Jodi had lived about three blocks away.
“She just said he was crouched down, just watching her,” the mother added.
She said her daughter called her on her cellphone, then ran home.
“First thing I thought of was, ‘Oh my God, my daughter’s in trouble, I’ve got to go,'” the mom said.
POLICE STEP IN
“They (police) told told me not to worry about him; he was a good guy and they would go down and talk to him. And they did talk to him,” she explained.
“Nobody ever did anything, and I never allowed her to walk to school or in town. I wouldn’t even let her play in our own yard because I did not trust that man,” she said.
Target 8 obtained a police report on the incident only after learning of it independently. Constantine police had rejected our earlier requests under the Freedom of Information Act.
The woman questions why police didn’t make the connection to Jodi’s murder back then.
“I would have thought after the circumstances of finding her body, that they would have done a DNA test on him to make sure that he isn’t in a database,” she said.
She said she heard nothing more from police until Furlong’s arrest for Jodi’s murder last year following a DNA match. Police took the DNA only after he tried to attack a girl in his garage in nearby White Pigeon.
He confessed to killing Jodi in his garage at the same home where he later watched the woman’s daughter.
Police asked her daughter to testify if Furlong went to trial.
Bedell, the former chief, has retired, was ill and not available for comment Wednesday. His successor, Chief Mark Honeysett, said he doesn’t know why police didn’t connect the cases.
“I don’t really have the answer to that question,” he said. “I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you.”
Honeysett said he doesn’t know if the Michigan State Police cold case team, which took over Jodi’s case in 2011, knew of the earlier Furlong incident.
MSP officials have yet to comment.