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Published: Tuesday, 12/11/2007

Lawyer's kidnap story was fabrication, chief says

BY LAREN WEBER AND IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITERS

Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre confirmed this morning a pregnant Toledo lawyer fabricated a story that she was kidnapped last week by three people, forced into a vehicle, and dumped off three days later just outside of Atlanta.

Karyn McConnell Hancock, a former Toledo councilman, was reported missing Wednesday and turned up Saturday morning outside an amusement park in Cobb County, Georgia.

She said two white men and a black woman kidnapped her, Cobb County police said.

Chief Navarre said no charges have been filed, but he said police are talking with the city prosecutor about possible charges of filing a false police report, a misdemeanor.

The chief said police don t believe Ms. McConnell Hancock s husband, Lawrence, or her father, Judge C. Allen McConnell, knew the story was false.

Judge C. Allen McConnell (back to camera) is hugged by close family friend Jimmy Gaines before this morning's press conference about the fabricated abduction of Karyn McConnell Hughes. Judge C. Allen McConnell (back to camera) is hugged by close family friend Jimmy Gaines before this morning's press conference about the fabricated abduction of Karyn McConnell Hughes.
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A law enforcement official, who declined to be named, said Ms. McConnell Hancock yesterday recanted her story while being questioned by Toledo police for more than nine hours last night.

Cobb County police Sgt. Dana Pierce yesterday morning said police there were not putting any credence in her story.

We haven t found any evidence to support what she is saying, and we haven t found anything to the contrary, Sergeant Pierce said.

Two days after the Cobb County police impounded Ms. McConnell Hancock s car, it had not yet been processed for evidence.

Additionally, there were no suspect descriptions released in that jurisdiction, Sergeant Pierce said.

Police Chief Mike Navarre refused to answer questions yesterday regarding the case.

However, last night he said a news conference would be held this morning.

The abduction story grabbed national headlines.

Bishop Lawrence Hancock holds back tears as he talks to the media this morning about the fabricated story by Karyn McConnell Hancock. Bishop Lawrence Hancock holds back tears as he talks to the media this morning about the fabricated story by Karyn McConnell Hancock.
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Ms. McConnell Hancock s husband, Bishop Lawrence Hancock, and her father, Toledo Municipal Court Judge C. Allen McConnell, appeared on national television shows before and after she was found Saturday.

The couple could not be reached for comment last night; Judge McConnell declined comment last night.

J. Christopher Anderson, a Lucas County assistant prosecutor, said that if any charges are filed, they could be either misdemeanor, felony, or a combination.

Among them could be felony obstructing justice if authorities believe lies were told regarding being a victim in a criminal activity.

Other possible charges could include making false police reports, which is a misdemeanor, or inducing panic, which could be either a felony or a misdemeanor.

Judge C. Allen McConnell talks to the media this morning in Toledo's Public Safety Building about the fabricated story. Judge C. Allen McConnell talks to the media this morning in Toledo's Public Safety Building about the fabricated story.
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Ms. McConnell Hancock, 35, was last seen at her law office on North Michigan Street in downtown Toledo about 9 a.m. Wednesday. Bishop Hancock said he received a call that evening from a day-care center saying that his wife had not picked up their 3-year-old son. He reported his wife missing at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Toledo police said that Ms. McConnell Hancock s debit card was used to withdraw several hundred dollars Wednesday night and that she withdrew $1,000 cash from a credit card account Nov. 14.

On Thursday, Bishop Hancock told police, he received a two-minute phone call from his wife in which she told him she had been kidnapped near the Lucas County Juvenile Justice Center building downtown.

Family and friends held prayer vigils for Ms. McConnell Hancock s safe return.

She was found in Cobb County, 14 miles northwest of Atlanta, about 7 a.m. Saturday. She said her abductors let her out of a vehicle that was not her own.

Cobb County police found Ms. McConnell Hancock s 2005 black Chrysler 300 later that day about 1 miles from where she was found.

Bishop Hancock, who was not in the room at the Safety Building when his wife was being questioned, left police headquarters twice during the afternoon to put money into a parking meter on Beech Street, where his Mercedes Benz was parked.

Each time, Bishop Hancock asked reporters to respect him and his wife by leaving them alone.

Bishop Lawrence Hancock, husband of Karyn McConnell Hancock, returns to the Safety Building yesterday after tending a parking meter. He declined to respond to questions from reporters. Bishop Lawrence Hancock, husband of Karyn McConnell Hancock, returns to the Safety Building yesterday after tending a parking meter. He declined to respond to questions from reporters.
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Today and under these circumstances, this is not appropriate, he said. He did not elaborate.

Ms. McConnell Hancock left the Safety Building through a side door about 6:30 p.m., avoiding reporters who were waiting in the lobby to talk to her.

Bishop Hancock is founder of Final Harvest Church in South Toledo.

On Sunday, Judge McConnell told the media that he thought his daughter s abductors were targeting him. The judge said he received suspicious phone calls last month, but said he had no idea who the callers were. He said his daughter did not know or recognize her kidnappers.

Ms. McConnell Hancock flew back to Toledo Saturday evening.

Scott Wilson, a spokesman at the FBI s Cleveland office, said that if someone is abducted and taken across state lines, it falls under federal statutes.

The FBI over the weekend said Toledo police would run the investigation. Yesterday, Agent Wilson said it was a joint investigation.

Bishop Hancock on Saturday disputed a police report that indicated he said a piece of luggage was missing from the couple s home the night he reported his wife missing.

[Police] came to my house and asked if any luggage was missing and I said no, he told The Blade. It was a communication error.

Bishop Hancock said he looked, while police were in the home, for a small bag his wife often used. I found the bag and told them there was none missing.

Ms. McConnell Hancock was sued in Lucas County Common Pleas Court Nov. 27 by a former client who claimed she had negotiated a $10,000 settlement for him in a car accident case, but that he never received payment.

Ms. McConnell Hancock owes the Internal Revenue Service $97,524 for unpaid income taxes for the years 2001, 2002, and 2003, according to liens on file with the Lucas County recorder.

The records showed she owed $39,789 for 2001, $43,928 for 2002, and $13,807 for 2003.

The IRS filed liens for the 2001 and 2002 tax obligations in August, 2005, and followed up on Sept. 21, 2006, with a lien for the year 2003.

Lee Banks, chief deputy Lucas County recorder, said the liens have not been released by the IRS, which indicates that they are still in effect.

Staff writers Tom Troy and Mark Reiter contributed to this report.

Contact Laren Weber at:lweber@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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