Boyfriend denies involvement, responsibility in Ashley Mason’s d - WSMV News 4

Boyfriend denies involvement, responsibility in Ashley Mason’s death

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For nearly a year, the family of Ashley Mason has said they believe she was killed by the hands of her boyfriend.

Hendersonville police quickly opened an investigation but found no evidence a crime was ever committed.

No one was arrested or charged in connection with Mason’s death. In fact, her death was ruled an accident, leading police to close the case in late 2015.

Now we may be hearing Mason’s boyfriend’s side of the story for the first time.

In video obtained by the Channel 4 I-Team, McCammon told police Mason was his best friend.

He also wanted to make something very clear.

“I want to start by saying I came in on my own free will,” McCammon said during an interview with Hendersonville police. “Me and Ashley loved each other.”

At that point, Mason had been gone for nearly a month. Police did not hesitate to ask serious questions.

“I got to ask you if you killed her,” said one police officer.

“No sir,” McCammon replied.

McCammon described a weekend that was supposed to be fun.

“We was happy,” he said. “We was enthralled about being around each other, we hadn't see each other for a while."

The couple had just reunited after McCammon’s stint in the Sumner County Jail.

Part one of the I-Team’s investigation revealed their conversations behind bars showed a troubled relationship, compounded by court records detailing charges for assault.

“Ashley, I know you want the same thing,” McCammon said in a recorded jail call obtained by the I-Team.

“No, I want to be left alone," Mason replied.

Mason also revealed she had been seeing someone else.

“Listen, I love you but I don't want to be with you,” she said. “I met a guy."

But when McCammon was released, Mason agreed to meet him. They ventured to a lake near where they were staying in Hendersonville.

McCammon mentioned the pair had been drinking - enough for Mason to allegedly flip their canoe twice.

“The water is so shallow right there … this time when she came up, it took her a second to come up,” McCammon said, describing the second time Mason fell into the water.

According to a timeline compiled by investigators, a witness told police he saw two people moving around in a canoe that night.

But roughly 40 minutes later, a neighbor’s surveillance camera captured an image of a boat and a canoe, with only one person sitting upright.

“You said she was out of it and … didn't help you paddle,” police said to McCammon.

“She was laying down, basically sunbathing,” McCammon said. “Sometimes she'd sit up."

McCammon said Mason then tumbled walking back to shore. But no one saw her fall, not even McCammon.

“So you don't know if she hit her head on anything at that point?" police asked.

“I turned around, I saw her lying there,” McCammon said.

So McCammon enlisted the help of a stranger, Joe Cole, who lived nearby.

Cole told police he placed Mason in a wheelbarrow after finding her in the grass. Cole said he pushed her to the road, and when they got there, Mason seemed “with it,” even helping herself into his van.

Reports state Cole then drove the couple back to their condo.

That's when neighbors started calling 911.

“There is a naked woman, coming straight at me, with what looks like a boat paddle in her hand,” said one neighbor in a 911 call.

Cole said it appeared Mason stumbled toward the wrong condo, which may explain why this neighbor sounded so scared.

“I think they're on some kinds of drugs or something," the caller said.

But another neighbor saw it differently.

“When I saw her laying on that sidewalk over there, I knew something wasn't right,” said Danny Harp, who lives next door.

Harp said when he came outside to smoke, he saw McCammon standing over Mason. He said Mason’s bathing suit was partially off.

Harp said the scene looked suspicious, so he also called 911.

“Not sure if the girl is, you know," Harp told a dispatcher.

“We should have police officers there right now,” the dispatcher said.

Cole stated he helped Mason into the condo, but by the time police arrived, the couple was inside.

And while detectives said officers talked to McCammon, they left before ever seeing Mason.

That's the moment Mason’s mother said could have changed everything.

“Why did they not look at her to make sure she was all right?" asked Laura Fiscus-Mattson.

“[Officers] were there that day. Why didn't they go inside and check on her?" asked reporter Alanna Autler.

“My understanding is they talked to Mr. McCammon and he said everything was fine,” said Det. Jim Bachman.

According to police, officers responded to a call for public intoxication because the call came in as a “public intoxication.” That means police had no legal right to enter the condo without a warrant, said Det. Sgt. Jim Vaughn.

“If someone said he pushed her down, we would have gone inside to check it out,” Vaughn said.

More than 15 hours passed before Mason received medical help. McCammon said he didn't realize something was wrong until the next morning. He told police it was typical for Mason to sleep for a long time after drinking.

“She generally is a late waker anyway, she sleeps a lot,” McCammon said.

“Did you view him as reliable witness?” Autler asked.

“There was nothing to show he was not being truthful,” Bachman said.

McCammon claimed he heard Mason get up during the night. But in the morning, when Mason wouldn't wake up, McCammon asked his dad to come over to take a look.

Thirty minutes later, they called for help.

The I-Team obtained part of that call through an open records request.

“Do you need fire, police medical?” the dispatcher asked.

“Just medical,” McCammon said.

Mason was rushed to the hospital. Three days later, she was pronounced dead.

A toxicology report found no drugs in her system and trace amounts of alcohol. The autopsy stated Mason died from an acute subdural hematoma, which is a bleeding around the brain.

Dr. Craig Powell is a neurologist with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He said a bad fall could definitely cause a hematoma, as could any rapid impact.

“I think if she had gone [to the hospital] while she was conscious, that would have made a huge difference in this case,” Powell said.

The autopsy also indicates no scalp lacerations and no skull fracture. Yet the report does note discoloring and several abrasions throughout the body.

Mason’s family pointed to pictures and questioned how Mason became bruised.

In phone calls several days earlier, Mason herself gave several explanations about her bruising to McCammon, who was in jail at the time.

“I got a seizure and I fell down the steps,” Mason told McCammon. “I'm covered in bruises and covered in poison ivy.”

McCammon was never charged in relation to Mason's death. But the I-Team learned police did talk with prosecutors, specifically about what McCammon didn’t do.

“Why was he never prosecuted for not getting help sooner?" Autler asked.

“We talked to the DA about that, and there really was not a statute that will address that,” Bachman said.

In a phone interview, District Attorney General Ray Whitley said there was not enough evidence to “charge anyone with anything.”

Whitley said there is no statute that addresses a failure to render medical help if the person is not responsible for the injury.

“There was no way we could be successful in any criminal prosecution,” Whitley told the I-Team.

Hendersonville police closed the case in 2015.

Bachman said the department followed every lead, but in the end, investigators could only follow facts.

“The case is where it should be at this time,” Bachman said. “If something changes, we'll absolutely be more than willing to reopen it.”

But the notion Mason died by accident is one Mason’s mother refuses to accept.

“That's something you're never ready for,” Fiscus-Mattson said. “You're never ready for anything like that.”

The I-Team tried finding McCammon at his most recent address and called phone numbers tied to his name. Family members either didn’t know where to locate McCammon or did not return calls by deadline.

When reached by phone, McCammon’s father, Gordon F. McCammon, said his son cooperated fully with the investigation.

The father also added that he never had any fears that Lain McCammon was involved in Mason’s death.

As part of their investigation, police collected numerous pieces of evidence including the wheelbarrow, the canoe and the boat oar.

Results showed no human blood, no skin and no proof the items were used as weapons.

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