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Thread: Patric McCarthy

  1. #1
    Senior Member jjmcgo's Avatar
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    Patric McCarthy

    Does anyone know why the Patric McCarthy death investigation has been reopened? What new evidence has been offered?
    He's the 10-year-old Cape Cod boy who died near Lincoln in Oct. 2003 while vacationing with his Dad, stepmom and stepbrothers. He was close to their rented condo when he became "separated" from his brothers. It was hard to understand why his body was found so far uphill when he had a short, level distance to get home in what has been referred to as a "race" with the other boys.
    Are family members suspect? Are they considering a link to the disappearances within a few months of the two women on the west side of the White Mts.? The woman east of Pinkham a couple of years ago?

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    Senior Member poison ivy's Avatar
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    I heard a bit on the radio last night that just said the investigation has been re-opened based on information provided to police by a private investigator hired by the McCarthy family.

    There was a post on AMC a while back from someone who said they were a member of the McCarthy family looking for some of the searchers who found him and suggesting that there was evidence that Patric did not die of hypothermia.

    - Ivy


    Edited to add: Whoops, sp1936 was faster than I was.

  3. #3
    Junior Member Sir Edmund's Avatar
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    I heard that the private investigator spoke with a person who found Patric and learned that Patric had dirt in his nostrils when found.

    Apparently there are many more red flags pointing to the possibility of foul play.

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    Senior Member jjmcgo's Avatar
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    Thank you

    Thank you, Sir Edmund. That's an excellent account.
    This leaves both the McCarthy and Murray families upset and mystified by the actions of northern New Hampshire police departments. Over in Vermont, cops tried to write off another woman's disappearance but the family had political connections and the governor stepped in to keep the investigation open. You have the unsolved murder of a woman in Pinkham Notch.
    Are these police departments incompetent, covering up or in the right?
    While this might seem off-topic, it seems like an area we like might have a serial killer on the loose and that's something that visitors should know.

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    Larry Gonzales wrote an excellent book that addresses being lost in the wilderness.
    It is titled DEEP SURVIVAL, who lives, who dies and why!
    In it he discusses the behavior of lost children. I quote " And yet one of the groups with the poorest survival rates is children ages seven to twelve...
    they have some adult characteristics, such as mental mapping, but they don't have adult judgment. They don't ordinarily have the strong ability to control emotional responses and to reason through their situation. They panic and run. They look for shortcuts. If a trail peters out, they keep going, ignoring thirst, hunger, and cold, until they fall over. "
    I also read that these children will even cross a paved road and rather that wait for someone to come along they they keep right on running and go back into the woods on the other side.
    He goes on to say that "the category that has one of the highest survival rates are children six and under. Despite the fact that small children lose body heat faster than adults, they often survive in the same conditions better than experienced hunters, better than physically fit hikers , better than former members of the military or skilled sailors....
    small children do not create the same sort of mental maps adults do. They don't understand traveling to a particular place, so they don't run to get somewhere beyond their field of vision. They also follow their instincts. If they get cold, they crawl into a hollow tree to get warm. If they're tired they rest, so they don't get fatigued. If they're thirsty they drink. They try to keep themselves comfortable, and staying comfortable helps keep them alive. (Small children following their instincts can also be hard to find; in more than one case, the lost child actually hid from rescuers. One was afraid of "coyotes" when he heard the search dogs barking. Another was afraid of one-eyed monsters when he say big men wearing headlamps. Fortunately both were untilmatley found.)"
    This book is an excellent treatise on human behavior when we get ourselves into these situations and he discusses at length how to behave if we should have the misfortune of being "lost in the woods."
    A very good read!
    I am not implying that the investigators should not continue to investigate Patrick's death as a possible criminal act. No stone should be left unturned in cases such as this one.

  6. #6
    Senior Member jjmcgo's Avatar
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    Thank you

    Good post, Maddy. Thank you for directing me toward the book.
    Obviously, it's possible he got lost and did everything wrong ... but, taking off his shoes and socks and replacing only the shoes? Clean fingernails, etc.?
    A long time ago, I suggested the possibility of national or regional rapid-response teams that would have better resources and contacts than rural law-enforcement agencies and none of the "oh no, don't scare the tourists (Jaws)" concerns.
    We've got the Vidocq Society, a group of mostly retired law-enforcement professionals that investigates cold cases. Wish we had something like it that could assist police before a case gets cold.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Jasonst's Avatar
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    Wow, what a sad case. It sure does sound fishy and I am interested to know why it was never investigated...

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    Senior Member cooperhill's Avatar
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    This was a very sad case. I took part in the search and rescue effort for Patric. I would agree that the case should probably be investigated. I'm surprised the crime scene wasn't preserved as that is usually the case or at least what we are taught in SAR.

    However, Maddy brings up some good points. Lost Person Behavior characteristics (which many SAR groups use) say that children from 7-12 may "become upset or confused when lost causing them to act irrationally; will frequently become trail runners getting them farther from the PLS (point last seen)". While the case may be suspicious and should be investigated, it is not out of the question for a lost child to roam 2 or more miles from the PLS.

    Also the Capenews.net article reads "Despite the official conclusion that Patric died of hypothermia, the autopsy report includes very few indicators of hypothermia, said Mr. OíConnell, and the lowest temperature the day the boy died was 43 degrees, said Mr. OíConnell". I was there and the conditions were bad - the temp. may not have been that low but it was steady rain and cool conditions. Hypothermia doesn't just happen in cold weather.

    Whatever the outcome, it was a very sad case.
    Chris

    USFS Trails Volunteer / Adopter: West Side Trail (Mt. Chocorua), Sawyer River trail; USFS vol axe instructor; Chatham Trails Association (CTA), Trailwrights

    "If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend four sharpening my ax" Abraham Lincoln

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    Junior Member Mushroom's Avatar
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    Yes very sad. The socks removed and shoes replaced could still be the work of a confused young boy perhaps. People with hyperthermia are not known to be rational. Maybe he wanted to take off cold wet socks but realized he'd still need his shoes? So hard to know.

    As for the temperature; I was out at the Guyot shelter the first night Patric was missing (the night they presume he died). I was in a 15 degree sleeping bag and was barely warm - it was much colder than 43 degrees!

    We were so sorry to hear a child was missing when we got out of the woods the next day. Still makes me sad to look at the pictures of our trip knowing he was lost out in the woods that same night.

    Hope they come to a conclusion soon, it must be awful for the family.
    Last edited by Mushroom; 01-06-2005 at 05:36 PM.

  10. #10
    Moderator David Metsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robohiker
    the State has so far not reopened it despite evidence that foul play was involved and that the cause of death was not hypothermia.
    While there may be new evidence, it's not clear that it supports the hypothesis that foul play was involved or that death was not due to hypothermia. Public knowledge and advocacy is a good thing, but not if it overrules reasoned and unimpassioned examination of the facts.

    I'm not taking a stand on the facts here, but I'm just reminding people that the family and private investigator are very personally and emotionally involved, as they should be. However, if the evidence doesn't support the hypothesis then the case shouldn't be reopened. Re-examining the evidence may or may not be warrented, but it might not lead to reopening the case for good reasons.

    -dave-

  11. #11
    Senior Member jjmcgo's Avatar
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    Thanks SARs

    One thing that shouldn't go unmentioned is the effort and sacrifices of search-and-rescue people in these cases. As cgarby notes, they do a lot of work (education, training, etc.) long before they're called out. Many voluntarily give their time and put themselves at risk, almost always on behalf of strangers and many times for people who foolishly put themselves at risk.
    Even if, individually, we never create a need for their services, we know there are risks in the wilderness and on the mountains we love and that well-trained SARs exist.
    To cgarby and all other SARs, Thank you.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Puma concolor's Avatar
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    From the story linked by Sir Edmund:

    "An autopsy by the New Hampshire State Medical Examiner revealed that Patric had died of hypothermia within 12 hours after he went missing."

    Either the conclusions of the investigating police were correct or you need a new Medical Examiner over in New Hampshire.

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    I believe that was the Grandfather's second posting over on the AMC board.
    While it does not seem natural that a lost child would go up hill I can see from the other posts that some research shows children this age tend to push themselves beyond safety and comfort. Maybe something like a dog, bear or even some people scared him away from where he was trying to go and then he got lost. The taking off of the sox and then putting shoes back on seems to fit with actions of people with hypothermia. I wouldn't make too much about the clean fingernails and hands. I believe it was raining and cold during the time he was was lost and if he was in and out of cold brooks (map shows feeders all over the area) it could have cleaned off his hands. I remember once playing around under one of the freezing cold falls on Lafayette's falling waters trail and being amazed at how the frigid fast moving brook made my hands look as if I had just had a manicure. searched around down below the North side of Whaleback went down the Osseo trial a short distance then followed the the brook south of the trail to another feeder walked around in some very open areas and some steep woody ridges. Saw lots of new red tape on trees ( assume that was marking off areas already searched). I was suprised at how many well used campsites I saw even right on the brook with big stone fire pits and even one with about a 4 foot high rock wall (maybe to block the wind but was on the eastside of the firepit. ?). But they did not appear to have been used recently. That was the day he was found. Hats off to all the professional searchers who were out there in cold, rain and darkness.

  14. #14
    Senior Member SAR-EMT40's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cgarby
    I'm surprised the crime scene wasn't preserved as that is usually the case or at least what we are taught in SAR.

    However, Maddy brings up some good points. Lost Person Behavior characteristics (which many SAR groups use) say that children from 7-12 may "become upset or confused when lost causing them to act irrationally; will frequently become trail runners getting them farther from the PLS (point last seen)". While the case may be suspicious and should be investigated, it is not out of the question for a lost child to roam 2 or more miles from the PLS.

    Also the Capenews.net article reads "Despite the official conclusion that Patric died of hypothermia, the autopsy report includes very few indicators of hypothermia, said Mr. OíConnell, and the lowest temperature the day the boy died was 43 degrees, said Mr. OíConnell". I was there and the conditions were bad - the temp. may not have been that low but it was steady rain and cool conditions. Hypothermia doesn't just happen in cold weather. .

    I have stayed out of this conversation as I have mixed emotions about the whole event. I was in the Bartlett area when this happened but was tied up with other things so I wasn't able to join the search which bothered me immensely but I followed it closely. My personal opinion was there were too many people and the Incident Command was having a hell of a time coordinating all of it. No ding on them. It was an overwhelming response to a terrible situation by many untrained people. I have seen this happen before. It winds up being more of a gaggle then a search. The results are that the IC is trying to get the crews that they can determine have training, out in the woods and the other teams out doing something that may or may not be useful without getting them lost or injured so that they eventually have to be rescued. Itís not easy and it saps resources and wears heavily on the command.

    Having said that, there was nothing to indicate that the searchers were dealing with a crime scene. When the body was located everyone in the team should have stopped and one rescuer (hopefully the one with the highest medical training) should have moved in a direct line to the body and checked to see if this is now a rescue or recovery. Once that it was discovered that it was a recovery then that rescuer should have come away from the body on the same path that s/he approached it. The area should have been roped off around the body in as large an undisturbed area as possible and the police should have been notified. When the police/coroner had decided if it was a crime scene or not only then should the body have been moved. Again, I donít know if this was done or not. It may have been.

    43 degrees with high winds and soaking rain are IDEAL conditions for hypothermia, especially if the person is exhausted. When I was outside during those conditions I really felt for Patric and had serious misgivings that he was going to survive long. The behavior with his missing socks and his shoes being on is not unusual in a hypothermia case. Late stage hypothermia is characterized by cessation of shivering, slurred speech, mumbling, stumbling, loss of fine motor skills, etc. The brain is shutting down and rational thought is not occurring anymore.

    When I had read where his body was located I personally thought that it was a little unusual. His age puts his thought process at a point that makes it difficult to determine what his actions should be. Many 12 year olds will follow the path of least resistance when lost. 58% of them go downhill. 87% usually stay on the path or trail as well. That should have brought him down the drainage not up. Strange but not totally out of order. 93% of children in this age group are found within 2 miles of the PLS. We will never know what his path was because a tracker wasnít brought in right from the start. I was initially hoping that they would use trained trackers to try to find him and that any hasty teams that they used were at least track/sign aware. That didnít happen from what I can tell. If they used track/sign aware hasty teams maybe the socks would have been found and would have helped find him. I am assuming that the socks were not found but this may not be correct. Does anyone know the answer to that?

    Also, the LPB characteristics, which some of the information listed in the previous paragraph comes from is just a guide. The information that is in it is from the Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia Canada. There are indicators that while it can be useful as a guide, differences in terrain may make it less useful in searches in the northeast. This research was done by them using data from out in the western US if I remember correctly. The Society even tells you that the data is not complete and to use your own judgment based upon your experiences. Donít misunderstand me. SARBC is a top notch group, probably none better, but the LPB may be of limited use in this instance.

    Onn a personal note I have two sons myself and I cannot imagine the depth of the loss that they must be feeling. My heart truly goes out to them. It is my sincerest wish that they eventually get an answer that they are satisfied has been investigated properly, though I don't know that there will be a different determination.

    Keith

  15. #15
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    reopen

    If there is the slightest doubt as to the cause of death and circumstances surrounding this most sad event, I would reopen the case period. Not that it really matters but my taxes pay for investigations like this and IM up for spending the money to make sure no stone is left unturned. This is no slight to law enforcement at all, they have always had my full support, but young childen need to be a top priority imo.

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