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Published: Tuesday, 12/11/2007

Charges Yet to Come, Apologies Already Made

TUESDAY

UPDATED: 12:30 PM

On my way upstairs to Mike Navarre's news conference this morning, I got into the elevator at the Safety Building with a police officer I've known for awhile.

He asked: "News conference?"

I nodded yes.

He pulled his shoulders high up around his neck, a kind of cosmic shrug, and said: "I mean, did anybody believe that story?"

Well, if anybody heading to the presser did, doubt should have been removed just by the sight of Law Director John Madigan. I got off the elevator and found him milling around the hallway outside the oppressively small conference room where Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre used his best monotone to deliver a careful statement to the assembled media.

The investigation has conclusively shown that Ms. McConnell-Hancock was not kidnaped as she reported to her husband ... Further, the investigation has shown that Ms. McConnell-Hancock traveled to Georgia alone and by her own free will.

When the chief finished, he was peppered with just the questions you might have expected. And he and the six serious-faced, tie-wearing guys he walked in with -- other TPD cops, some FBI, the law director -- gave just the answers you might have expected.

No, it doesn't look as if the husband or father knew.

No, they haven't decided yet which or how many charges will be filed against the attorney.

Yes, they "took them outta the equation pretty early on," those alleged hostile clients of Ms. McConnell-Hancock's.

Yes, "a lot" of law enforcement resources were put into this investigation.

But how, over the course of that long day's questioning yesterday, did the tale-telling lawyer explain all this?

"Basically," the chief said, "that she was tired and she had wanted to get away."

Later -- after Chief Navarre and all the other people with badges and/or law degrees cleared the room, and after the podium bearing the Toledo Police logo was carefully removed, leaving the media to prop their mics on a bare, "unbranded" table top -- later, Judge C. Allen McConnell (The Father) and Lawrence Hancock (The Husband) stood somberly at the front of the room, gave statements, and then, incredibly, took questions.

That's when we learned from Mr. Hancock not only that his wife had "a melt-down," but that this "melt-down had been occurring over multiple years." Did she ever share her troubles with her family?

"The tough answer is," her husband told us, "she kept it bottled up."

The family told us she is currently undergoing treatment, but wouldn't disclose (and why should they?) whether this is on an in-patient or out-patient basis.

Yes, her husband conceded, after he learned the truth he was angry with his wife. Initially. But he's going the forgiveness route now, which I guess it pretty much what should be expected -- demanded? -- from a man of the Christian cloth.

And from the judge, the most simple and complicated of statements: "She's my child and I love her." Regardless of what happens next, Judge McConnell said, "I will always love her." He was, he reminded us, "a father before I was a judge. And I'll be a father after I'm a judge."

Maybe I really have lost my taste for blood. Or maybe I'm just sick and tired of some of the ignorant, blowhard, crapola speculation I've been reading on some local blogs. But what I saw this morning was a pair of men who, after giving themselves rather freely to both local and national media, didn't take the easy way out by going home, unplugging the phones, and hunkering down.

Walking out of the Safety Building this morning into the spitting rain of this gray day, someone allowed as how the bishop and the judge must have been "well-advised" from a PR standpoint, since their humbled appearance before the media today not only saved them the bother of being hounded later by reporters, but also maybe even generated some sympathy.

Yeah, maybe. And maybe not. Who knows?

Personally, my interest is in all this is over. I am already feeling today as if I've peeked into the neighbors' windows too long as it is. I don't think I really care beyond this morning's events. The woman is back home. The woman clearly has a few issues. The woman clearly needs some help. The woman is said to now be getting that help. Prosecution will follow.

Boom. Case closed. Whadya say we leave these poor people alone now?

And yeah, maybe I've just lost my taste for blood.

Sue me...



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