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It's12yrs since I spoke to Annie ..every minute without her a piece of me dies; EXCLUSIVE: FATHER TELLS OF HIS HEARTBREAK OVER MISSING GIRL.

Byline: By JILLY BEATTIE

THE American father of a woman believed murdered by Irish child killer Robert Howard, has spoken of his heartbreak for the first time.

Retired teacher John McCarrick, 63, from Long Island, New York, says he will keep battling to find his daughter Annie after she vanished in Co Dublin 12 years ago.

But he says gardai have not even contacted him about the investigation into her murder in the last eight years.

From his home in the American market town of Mattiuck, John smiles as he talks about beautiful Annie, the daughter he nicknamed Baaboo as a toddler.

He said: "I talk to Annie every day, a hundred times a day. But I cannot feel her, I cannot feel her presence and that really bothers me.

"I came to terms with losing my beautiful girl a long time ago but it just keeps getting harder. It's been 12 years since I last spoke to Annie and that gap widens every minute, and every minute that passes without her another little piece of me dies."

John McCarrick is a big man, a one-time hard-nosed New Yorker who taught people with severe emotional and behavioural problems.

He retired in 1998, almost five years after his only child vanished, and has not worked since.

Over the last decade as he waited desperately for a cheery, singsong phone call from Annie, he watched his marriage fall apart, his health fail and his hope dim.

John explained: "In the end I had to accept she was not coming back. I've grown soft over the last 10 years and now I can see how hard I was.

"I know I was hard on Annie, very hard sometimes and I often wish I hadn't been. She was a dreamer and I was a driven, goals-oriented dad with all the ambition I needed for me and her.

"She was a free spirit and I couldn't pin her down. I couldn't make her see she needed to get a proper job and some security behind her.

"Now I know she lived the right life. She lived the only way she could, the way she wanted. She followed her heart and it took her to Ireland and she loved it there.

"Of course now I wish she hadn't gone, but I was sure she'd be safer in Ireland than she could be in New York.

"But I don't feel bitter towards Ireland. Ireland didn't kill my girl. It's a great place with great people but evil lurks in even the best places and it lurked one night where Annie walked.

"I worry she was frightened in her last moments and that almost kills me. My doctor tells me the stress is making me sick.

"I was a fit man before she vanished, now I have diabetes and have had to have triple bypass heart surgery.

"But how can any parents be well when some terrible monster has murdered their child and hidden her body so her poor old mom and dad could never say goodbye? It's just not possible." Gardai have now re-opened Annie's file, which is still marked "MISSING", but John knows no one expects to find her alive.

The best anyone can wish for now is the recovery of her remains so they can be returned to her fractured, grieving family.

Annie, an English student, was 26 when she disappeared during a night out on Friday March 26, 1993.

Gardai believe she went for a drink in a pub in Glencullen in the foothills of Dublin with a man who has never been traced.

Around the same time five other women disappeared and Irish detectives admitted they were baffled.

Five years later in 1998 the Garda set up Operation Trace under Assistant Commissioner Tony Hickey, to investigate all six cases together.

As soon as Trace was established, the disappearances stopped. However, none of the six women were found either dead or alive. Police sources believe they know who murdered Annie in 1993, Jo Jo Dullard two years later and Deirdre Jacobs in 1998. The finger is pointed firmly in the direction of Robert Lesarian Howard, nicknamed The Werewolf by the public he terrorised for years.

But they need the girls' bodies to find the DNA link to Howard to prove their suspicions right.

Today, Howard is serving a life sentence for the murder of 14-year-old Hannah Williams, who he killed in Deptford, London in 2000.

Hannah's body was unearthed 11 months later in March 2001 when workmen discovered her remains wrapped in a tarpaulin in a disused cement works in Northfleet, Kent.

The DNA led the police straight to Howard, a serial rapist whose criminal record dates back to 1964 when he was sentenced to nine days for posing as doctor and trying to rape a six-year-old in London.

Now aged 61, the scrawny killer is serving out his sentence in the sex offenders wing of Maghaberry jail, Co Antrim, and will be transferred to the notorious Belmarsh Prison in England before the end of the year.

Psychological profilers have stated that they believe Howard is at a 100 per cent risk of reoffending if he is ever released.

John has now read Howard's record, a task that took him minutes and left him physically sick for days.

He said: "No one has even told me about this man, none of the police in Ireland has even contacted me for the last eight years. Why have I not been told about him? Surely I deserve to know something about him?

"I've been living in hell waiting for a phone call from the police but in the end it was left to a newspaper to bring me the news I've waited 12 years for. In a strange way I'm grateful because at least I know this man is banged up.

"If Robert Howard did murder Annie I would happily spend the last moment of my life throttling him with my own hands. Annie and I used to have a game when she was a small child. Last thing at night when she was ready to go off to bed I'd go into her room and beat up her cuddly toys.

"I'd growl and roar and she'd squeal and laugh and try to save them. I called her Baaboo and she would laugh and laugh. She was just my little girl who knew she'd always be safe.

"Annie grew from that child into a happy and confident young woman who had a wanderlust that took her to Ireland. She was a mellow girl, a trusting girl who saw the good in everyone, unlike her old dad.

"In the end I think that's why she was murdered, she trusted the wrong person.

"Today I can't bear to have photos of Annie up in my house because it's too upsetting to see her. But I think about her day and night and I can hear those squeals of delight when we played Baaboo.

"But now those squeals turn to a scream in my mind. That turns my blood cold so I have to stop the memories because they're slowly killing me."

CAPTION(S):

CLOSE BOND; John McCarrick with his beloved daughter Annie when she was 23; MONSTER: Robert Howard
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 6, 2005
Words:1211
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