I previously wrote my “top 10 misconceptions” about the red truck which focused on overall timeline in relation to Maura’s disappearance. However, there seems to be a great deal of interest in identifying the truck, so this is my attempt to look further into the truck and its characteristics. My friend “fulkstop” has been focused on this aspect so in many cases I defer to his research.
I will add that I am “agnostic” about the importance of the red truck. I tend to doubt that the people in the truck were searching for Maura or had anything to do with her disappearance. I do think the testimony gives us important insights about the timetable. That said, I do think it would be helpful to find the truck if possible in case they noted anything unusual that night – and to eliminate one ongoing uncertainty in the case.
RO’s DESCRIPTION OF THE TRUCK AND ITS FEATURES
I have previously discussed the issue of the Massachusetts plate. To reiterate, she was extremely consistent about the state on the plate with a single exception from 2007 where she indicates that the police told her she might be wrong.
All of these are verbatim from RO. Although there might be other attributions in the community, I am staying with those I can attribute directly to RO.
THE FRONT OF THE TRUCK
The following collages expand the years in both directions to illustrate truck design from 1970-1989 for Chevy and Ford
THE TRUCK BED
In other words, RO identified a REPLACED truck bed. The following describes truck bed modifications and reasons for making modifications to a truck bed.
However, RO did not see slats on top of a regular bed. She emphasizes that what she saw most closely resembles the photo shown with the replaced bed and the wood slats.
This post will compile information on the red truck seen by witness robinsonordway (RO) on 2/9/04. It will start with direct quotes from RO, followed by clarifications from RO in 2019. This is background only and does not contain any analysis or commentary.
RO narrative 1 (date unknown)
“I wish I could give an exact description of the truck but I can not. I was walking that night about 7 p.m to the local store. As I was walking up the hill, a truck passed me and slowed down. When it got to the middle of the hill it stopped in the road. I immediately looked at the plate and noticed it was from Massachusetts. There is only 1 street light there and I could not tell how many people were in the vehicle. As I got closer to the truck it took off up the hill. When I rounded the corner to the store, I could see the truck in the driveway of the store. As I walked into the parking lot, which is well lit, the truck took off toward the crash site,(of course at that time I did not know there was a crash).
As for the red truck, it slowed, then stopped and waited for me to get closer, then took off up the hill. He did not leave the store parking lot in any sort of hurry.
When I entered the store I asked if she saw the people in that truck and she said no, no one had come in. I told her about them stopping in the hill. Then we just forgot about it. I stood in the store a while and was there when the police and ambulance went by. I never saw that truck again. The only way I can describe it is that it looked like someone who delivered wood. That was my first thought about it……..red, MA plates and delivered wood. Either having a wood body or even just slats in the body. It was not a king cab or extra cab. Just a regular truck. That is all I can tell you.
I was in the Swiftwater store for 1/2 hour – 45 minutes. It was about 20-30 minutes after I was there that the police went by. I am not at all Maura’s size and in fact I was bundled up that night. I believe I caught the truck off guard as I was walking well off the road and as they passed I walked back on, which is why I believe they stopped completely. They could not see me without any street lights and maybe went to the store and waited for me to get up there to get a better look??? I don’t know. That is just how it seemed to me.
The truck didn’t scare me. My thought is that they/he/she thought I was someone else. That is what I was thinking that night. When I saw them sitting at the store, I again thought, they really think I am someone else. And as I got closer and I could see the driver moving around – I was thinking, there, I am not the person you are looking for, and he drove off. I wish to God I could remember what I was wearing that night, but I can’t.
Someone asked about the truck and whether it was 4 wheel drive. I believe it was. I have been looking at trucks and have determined that it was definitely a four wheel drive or at least it was a 3/4 ton pick up, because it sat up high. The other thing I remember is that the window in the back was hard to see in….it wasn’t very large…..which tells me it was an older truck maybe???”
RO narrative 2 (Renner’s blog – April 26, 2013 at 5:39 PM
“The red truck was going in the direction of the accident when it stopped in the middle of the hill in front of my house as I was walking…the lighting was poor there, and I thought to myself that maybe they either 1) thought I needed a ride or 2) that I was someone else. As I approached the stagestop, the truck was in the stagestop parking lot. I could tell there was someone watching me and as I got in the light of the pumps, the red truck pulled away, again, towards the accident. When I went into the store, I asked Wini if some people came in the store just now and she said no and I said well, there was a red truck that stopped in the hill with MA plates and then took off and was in your parking lot as I approached. We both shrugged it off as someone looking for someone else. Twenty minutes or so later, the PD went flying by. I continued to visit with Wini until she closed up at 8 and then started walking home. As I was approaching my driveway – in the middle of the hill again where it was dark – the ambulance went by – going towards 302/10 as if it was leaving the accident scene. It slammed on its brakes when it saw me and pulled into the Bunga Road (which is on the other side of my house). Then a state police officer pulled up and rolled down his window…..I said hello and he said oh, its you…and I said yep, just me…he asked if I had seen anyone else walking and I said no, and he left and the ambulance followed him. At that point I did not know of the accident and in fact, I didn’t hear of it for a couple of days later when Wini called and told me and reminded me of the truck. Her and I spent numerous times looking for this truck to no avail. Now, the reason I was sure it was MA plates is because when it stopped in the hill, I looked at the plate and tried to memorize it (thinking to myself, oh great, I am going to get kidnapped or something). Obviously, a few days later the only thing I could remember was the MA plates. Hope this helps clarify things for you. Whether it had anything to do with Maura disappearing, I have no idea. WS Robinson”
New: follow ups from Renner’s blog (after RO posted the statement above she made responses to a few questions – April 28, 2013
Anonymous April 28, 2013 at 11:09 PM No one ever asked me to not discuss the red truck. My memory is that they were normal plates. I did not see if it was a him or her…I know I did state that I thought there was more than one person in the truck.
Anonymous April 28, 2013 at 10:56 PM I have brown hair, I am short, and far from thin..lol 🙂
RO narrative 3 (MM forum 10/12/07)
“I am sorry guys my counts went down and I haven’t felt well enough to get out and get a picture. Let’s see if I can explain it. At first I thought it had a little window and then I saw the truck. It was the body on the truck that had the smaller window if that makes sense. The sides were wood slats. It was not diesel. I would have remembered that for sure. But please remember, I could have been wrong about the plates – according to the pd. You guys really got to see this truck…I will try and find it and take a picture. It was exactly the same, it was incredible. It was definitely a work truck.”
RO narrative 4 (11/13/07) – this does not add much but I am trying to be complete
“Update from 11-13-07 on Pg 421 of New Forum: by RobinsonOrdway who checked with Monahan and reported this to the forum:”
He went to the call only to make sure that the accident did not occur in his jurisdiction, which it did not. He then proceeded down 112 – towards my house – and told HPD that he would look on the way. That is when he saw me and stopped. He was actually on his way to another call for a suicidal boy in Pike.
He does not fill out a statement because it is not required according to Section 106-B:15.
He investigated nothing and saw nothing.
(end of paste).
In 2019, RO responded to questions from reddit user fulkstop
fulkstop: I thought of a way to clarify RO’s report: send her a document with hundreds of red trucks (from a Used Car Site, models no newer than 2004) , number them, and ask her to choose the one that looks most like the truck that she saw. I decided to create a second document with numbered pictures of wooden truck beds, and ask her to do the same, this time looking only at the beds for a match.
The results: RO responded by successfully finding a matching Bed.
And although she couldn’t find a matching truck, she did offer this additional information:
” There was a back window in the truck where I could see the passenger turn around and look at me. I remember it to be oval shaped but I could be wrong. The truck was red. Have no idea the make. Square. Not rounded truck. I noticed it to be Massachusetts plates. “
In response to multiple requests, I asked RO if the truck had an eagle decal. She just responded:
“No I did not see a decal .”
After reading this thread , RO wanted to add some information:
“Just to clarify something. The truck had a wooden body as in wooden sides. Not the whole body. So it wasn’t cut out for the window. “
I want to thank RO, on behalf of all of us, for her willingness to help and enrich our knowledge of her important observations.
i thiink, whatever your theory is about Maura’s disappearance, the red truck is important. At the very least, because RO saw the truck driving in the direction of the crash site, the occupant(s) of the truck are likely witnesses.
Here is some more information that RO just provided:
” From what I recall and mind you this was a while ago, the truck was a regular truck bed with wooden slats. Like we haul firewood in. Or did back then. Please also note that that picture [see above] is the type of body I was recalling. Square. “
” Also for those curious as to why I know it was mass plates is because they stopped in the hill – which freaked me out and I tried to remember the plate # in case something happened to me. Since I was walking alone in the dark. “
” If that night when the state cop stopped me and he had told me someone was missing I probably could have given him the plate number. I still kick myself for forgetting but he never told me what was going on. “
I then said: ” Another thing that has come up; you mentioned a ‘passenger’ in one of your statements and ‘people’ in another. Did it appear that there was more than one person in the truck? “
” Yes. Two people. The passenger looked out that window at me when they stopped in the hill .”
” By the way, I searched weeks for that truck in the local area. Never found anything close. “
I and finn141414 created some additional questions for RO, which I sent to RO and which she answered today. I will set out each question individually, followed by RO’s corresponding answer. Questions are italicized .
A couple of interesting questions have cropped up on the Reddit discussion about the Red Truck. I hope you might take a few moments to weigh in. On your way to the store, other than the red truck, do you recall whether any other cars or people passed by you?
I do not recall anyone else going by me as I went up the hill to the store. It was never that busy on that road that time of year.
You have noted that you were at Swiftwater when the police drove past the store and to the scene. Do you recall whether the police vehicle was using its lights and sirens as it passed by? Do you recall whether it was a sedan or an SUV?
When I was in the store we heard sirens and saw lights from the police and then the ambulance. I did not notice what cop it was or which car.
You have noted that you continued to visit with Wini until she closed up at 8:00 PM. Was it her habit to close up at 8 on the dot, or was she flexible (sometimes closing up earlier or later)? The night Maura disappeared, do you know whether she closed up at 8 (or alternatively, before or after 8)? Did you stick around after the store closed, (for example while she was closing out), or did you leave when the store closed?
Wini usually closed at 8 and it was common that I would stand there while she did that and walked out with her when she locked up which I did that night. I remember we both noted that she had no other customers that night. The people in the truck did not come in the store. She didn’t even notice they were in the driveway when I walked up. They only pulled in there to see me in the light I believe. Hence why it stuck out to me.
Also it was quite common for Wini and I to talk until 8:30 or later sometimes and I do not recall if that was one of those times.
On your way home, other than the state police officer who you spoke with, do you recall whether any other cars or people passed by you?
On my way home which would have been 8:15 or so no one else passed me except the ambulance which pulled over when they saw me. They were in front of the trooper.
Was the ambulance that you saw travelling with the state police officer? I am a bit unclear on that point.
Not when they went up to the scene but when I was walking home the ambulance was traveling down the road in front of the trooper. They had left the scene and was looking for the driver.
Oh, I see. So they were travelling away from the scene together?
After speaking with police about the red truck, did they follow up? Did they seem interested in the tip? Did they ever show you pictures to try to identify the truck?
I spoke to the police on the phone afterwards (a week later) and only because I called them. They didn’t really ask any questions and I can’t remember who I spoke with. They weren’t interested in what I had to say. But neither was Fred when I told him. He dismissed me quite quickly which never set right with me to be honest.
More responses from questions via fulkstop 2019
I hope you are well. One quick question — prior to me, has anyone ever asked you to look at pictures in an attempt to identify the truck that you saw (or any part of the truck?). Thanks, and God Bless.
— Yes. John Smith.
Besides your additional conversation with the police, have you spoken with any other private detectives or amateur sleuths besides John Smith prior to me?