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"Our bloodhounds picked up Equilla's scent and they led us down to Webster Ave. by the tracks of the Metro-North line," McDonald explains. "We had heard from the neighborhood people that a lot of homeless were camped out in the enclaves down there, so we went to do a search."
At that point, though, the searchers ran up against the logic of Metro-North's bureaucracy. It took McDonald hours to get through to the agency to get permission to search the tracks. The railroad didn't want to stop the trains, thereby inconveniencing their commuters. McDonald let them know that the neighborhood might not like the fact that train schedules were considered more important than a little local girl's life.
"We never did get them to stop the trains," he says. "They only slowed them down. We looked for quite a while but found nothing."
When McDonald got back to the 52nd Precinct, the search had become a news story. Only the story wasn't about Equilla Hodrick's disappearance, it was about how some cop had slowed down Metro-North. A reporter from Channel 2 stuck a mic in McDonald's face and demanded to know who'd made the decision to slow down the trains. McDonald looked at the female reporter and responded, "Nobody made that decision. We made the decision to search for a missing child. What is your story? That an eight-year-old girl is missing? Or that a few assholes from Westchester came home to a cold dinner? I don't have anything more to say to you."
"The media gave this case no play..." McDonald says now. "Very different from Etan Patz."
McDonald spent his last two years as a cop on the Hodrick case. He chased every lead obsessively, but nothing ever came of it.