What we’ve learned about Maura and her disappearance from Bill Rausch on reddit (May 2020 to present) by TheRealFinn

Starting around May 2020, we’ve been lucky to have the participation of Bill Rausch on reddit. Bill was Maura’s boyfriend when she went missing in February 2004 and has been sharing his recollections of Maura, her disappearance, and the subsequent search. In mid July I collected and organized his answers. I basically copy/pasted his answers to questions, took out filler and organized into categories. I will attempt to keep updating this.

Please bear in mind that he is answering questions asked. In some cases you will see I have pasted multiple responses to the same question.

Google doc of the same:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1sbGJgG0lDdQnw5Ar7y7ma2LBrnUY5CLtTOjFwrF2L5M/edit?usp=sharing

I organized Bill’s comments into the following categories:

  • On Maura as a person (there is a more in depth section about this but I wanted to start with this)
  • On Fred
  • On Maura’s mindset/destination
  • On whether or not Maura was planning to return
  • On the condition of the Saturn
  • On her love of New Hampshire and of hiking
  • On Maura’s friends at UMass
  • On why Maura drove to Fred’s motel
  • On car shopping/car dealership
  • On the call with Maura after the Hadley accident
  • On Maura’s dorm room
  • On the “email/note” said to be left in the dorm room
  • On the whimpering call/Red Cross call
  • On why so many calls to Kate on Sunday morning
  • On the Holiday Inn North Conway
  • On the necklace and watch
  • On the jacket Maura was wearing in the ATM video
  • On the backpack/duffel bag (this is the pic of Kathleen at the motel)
  • On why LE thought she had a backpack and dark coat
  • On accessing the phone records and voicemail
  • On the phone record/roaming charges
  • On the phone records
  • On Maura’s computer/habits
  • On Butch
  • On general theories and suspects
  • On whether it was Maura in the Saturn
  • On his itinerary (OK to NH)
  • On hitchhiking
  • On a good samaritan theory (picked up by good samaritan)
  • On the FBI
  • On the police investigation and release of records
  • On the search
  • edit new: On the gloves (as scent article)
  • On a specific sighting he remembers
  • On survival training
  • On West Point
  • On the theory that Maura is in the woods
  • On whether she was drinking and driving (and re HB)
  • General facts and characteristics about Maura
  • General Feelings and “why he’s participating on social media”

COMMENTS BY BILL RAUSCH ABOUT MAURA AND HER DISAPPEARANCE ON REDDIT FROM MAY 2020 TO THE PRESENT (LAST UPDATED 7/20/20)

On Maura as a person (there is a more in depth section about this but I wanted to start with this)

She was a lovely young woman, inside and out.

Maura was the loveliest of girls, she really was. 

… her fun personality and her competitive spirit. Two things that melded perfectly together 

She was lovely in every sense of the word. And fun. Silly even!

She was as bubbly and brilliant as they come.

Maura placed great value on kindness in others.

Maura was one of the loveliest, brilliant, and badass girls you could ever know.

Beyond cute, 100%! re tomboy, she def was and elegant at the same time. She would literally jump from a tree top into the Saco river one day, and the next day be the most radiant woman at any formal event. She was one of a kind.

Maura was loved by everyone who knew her and her love for us was as lovely as you might imagine. I believe if not for that accident, she would be here today and none of you would know her name. She would be happy and so would her family. She would be a great mother and partner to whomever was lucky enough to have married her, maybe even me.

On Fred

Fred is a rockstar. I still wonder if people realize that he drove to NH every weekend for years and years searching for Maura.

On Maura’s mindset/destination

You asked about her mindset weeks leading up to her accident/disappearance. During our time together over the holiday’s we had a really lovely time together. She was happy and we both enjoyed seeing family and friends. She was already planning for the upcoming summer when we planned to spend more time together. We communicated daily and the only time I realized she was upset was after she called me not long after having an accident in her dad’s car. While she was initially upset, she seemed fine by the time we got off the phone.  I wish something would have tipped me off to her taking a trip to NH and most of all, I wish she would have never been in that accident. If that accident doesn’t happen, I believe strongly that Maura would be with us today.

I was in OK the weekend before she disappeared so I wasn’t physically with her to gauge her “mindset.” I was worried about her after the car accident in the Corolla, which she called and told me about. She did not suggest or mention getting away. I was aware that Fred was visiting and they were car shopping that weekend.

While it’s possible she was going to meet someone, there’s no evidence to suggest she was. I’ve always assumed she was taking a break in a place she loved (her love of NH being something she often wrote me about), but I could be completely wrong

I agree that everyone seems to be at a loss for why she left UMASS. IMO that might be why there are so many wild theories out there, esp as people start to replace facts (Maura loved her father more than anyone) with fiction (Maura was running away from her father!!!) in promoting certain theories over others.

I can say confidentially that Maura was likely not mentally ill. She did however have issues and challenges. Things that have and should be considered in her disappearance. Mental health is a serious topic and those suffering should not be ashamed bc they are not alone.

On whether or not Maura was planning to return

I’m unsure if you are suggesting Maura ran away. It’s clear to me that she wasn’t running away and the evidence in her car, her emails, her letters, phone calls, etc all point to her returning to school. I can appreciate that this is prob debated on this sub. I don’t believe Maura did anything wrong. I’m unsure if folks here understand how bold and independent she was. She def shouldn’t have been driving the Saturn but am I surprised she did? No.

On the condition of the Saturn

The car had several issues and wasn’t reliable. She knew she shouldn’t be driving it. I can’t speak to if or why she did or didn’t try to drive the Saturn after the accident.

On her love of New Hampshire and of hiking

It was her home away from home. 100%. Not only was it a place with fond childhood memories it was a place that remained a key part of her life. From HS to college, USMA to UMass, etc. Those 4,000 foot hikes, NYE parties with her friends there, and the list goes on. 

She had several fav spots and her father/siblings prob know more than I do. That said, we had a v special trip that included a hike to the top of Mt. Washington, a horrible storm, and a literal race back to the bottom (no comment on who won). Several photos from that hike are here: https://twitter.com/RauschB/status/1047810431283355648

Maura’s connection to the White Mountains was real. NH was a special place for her since she was a child going camping and hiking there with her family.

I do not recall combining a trip/stay at UMass with a trip to NH. We went to NH on extended trips several times. Once or twice with Fred. Here’s a photo of the three of us on one of those 4,000 footers. https://twitter.com/RauschB/status/1258011895849725954

Maura was an above average athlete. She was a record holder at her HS, D-1 college recruit and all around badass. We never found ourselves in a situation that we couldn’t handle physically.

There was a broad passion she had for hiking that included a goal of hiking all the 4,000 ft mountains in NH. Something other folks are also passionate about: http://4000footers.com/nh.shtml

Additionally, it’s a great work out, she loved being outside and for me the views from those mountains were beyond beautiful. The hikes we went on were special. Everything we did together was special from going on canoe trips, to hiking Mt. Washington. I felt like she was revealing more of herself to me every subsequent trip and in my opinion NH was a home away from home for her. She loved it there and I loved being there with her.

On Maura’s friends at UMass

Kate was Maura’s closest friend at UMass. It’s my understanding that Sara was not as close to Kate or Maura.

I knew Kate better than Sara.

One correction, Kate was a Senior and Maura was a Junior.

Bottom Line: Kate has been helpful, has given interviews, and wants to know what happened to Maura.

On why Maura drove to Fred’s motel:

That said, I’ve never found it odd Maura went back to Fed’s hotel room. I never stayed in my barracks/dorm at West Point when my folks visited. I always stayed with them in their hotel, even when I’d peel off with friends at night. Same goes for Maura from what I recall. A hotel room with your folks beats a crummy dorm room any day of the week IMO.

On car shopping/car dealership

I bought my 1999 Saab 9-3 in 2002, not far from UMASS. I owned it until 2009 when I traded it in on a new car. 

On the call with Maura after the Hadley accident:

She told me she had been in an accident. She was never afraid of Fred.

On Maura’s dorm room:

Maura and I last saw each other over Christmas break, correct. The email Maura sent her HS friends that someone recently posted is a good source for that. I did go into her dorm room during the search. That was the first time I had been on campus in 2004. The first time I heard the theory of Maura not unpacking her room was during an hours long phone call I had with the Texas Crew Productions team prior to the release of the Oxygen series. According to the link below, classes at UMass started on Wed. Jan 28, 2004. https://www.fivecolleges.edu/academics/academic_calendars/academic_calendar_03-04

I specifically recall a large suitcase (I recognized) on her bed. I believe there were boxes and/or other bags as well. I recall nothing being stacked “two high” on the bed. I believe UMass police had already been in the room altho I’m not certain of that (seems like a fair assumption). I remember at least one officer going into the room with us, altho both may have.

I want to say she had a printer in her room, although I cannot say for certain she did and do not specifically remember seeing one in her room.

to be clear I do not know if Maura packed up her room or never unpacked. Our initial assumption was that it was packed up. I had not heard the theory/idea that Maura never unpacked until an hours long convo with the producers of the Oxygen special who asked me if it was possible she never unpacked.

I believe I’m the only one on reddit that was in her dorm room and I do not know if Maura packed it up or if she never unpacked it. 

Some believe it was packed up. Others believe it wasn’t unpacked as she had just moved into the room ~1 week earlier.

On the “email/note” said to be left in the dorm room

There was no “recently received personal note” on top of boxes when I was in her dorm room. I did find an email from ’02 tucked into the pages of a basketball program that was beside her desk

There was no note [that I am aware of]; however, there was an email. IMO the note NHSP refer to is prob the email. Why would they call it a note and not an email? I have no idea. It could be a generational thing with the older officers considering a printed out email a note. It could be an effort to support their theory she was suicidal. Or there could be a note they didn’t tell me about – this seems unlikely as they shared everything else with us. Or I’m a liar and I’ve convinced my parents, the Murray’s, the McDonald’s and Maura’s friends there wasn’t a note when there was in fact one or convinced them to lie and join me in the conspiracy.

I did discuss the email with LE while answering their questions about the topic of the email. I talked to them about anything and everything that we/they could think of to try and help. I was at the police station nearly everyday, if not everyday, while I was in NH and we were in direct communication during the search.

I recall standing beside her desk when I read/saw the email. I not recall if it was on her desk or perhaps on top of boxes beside her desk.

On the whimpering call/Red Cross call:

Looking back, I don’t know if it was Maura, altho I believed it to be at the time. I received the VM while going through airport security at the Roy Rogers airport in OKC, the morning of Feb 11.”

I never spoke with the alleged caller from the Red Cross. I took the police at their word. In hindsight, given shortcomings in their investigation, I regret not “trusting but verifying” what they said.

I don’t recall if or how police made or received a copy. I do know they listened to it bc I remember standing/sitting beside one or both members of the NHSP involved in the search and playing them the VM several times.

Yes, I believed it was Maura. Folks should really check out the Discovery ID episode. Both my mother and I speak to the VM and what it sounded like. Given that no one spoke on the VM it was impossible to say it sounded like her or anyone else. I did believe it to be a woman (again watch the ID ep). What was going through my mind? Practically speaking I wanted to pass the information along. I believe I called my parents and the NHSP (folks on here can reference my phone records) immediately. I already wanted the plane to fly faster than it ever had before and this made that feeling even stronger. When the NHSP said it wasn’t her, it didn’t change much as it pertained to our search. We were laser focused on finding Maura and nothing could knock us off track, if that makes sense? For years I continued to believe it was her. I replayed the VM a million times on my phone and in my mind like I did with everything else that reminded me of Maura. I wasn’t able to stop listening to the VM and other things until I deployed to Iraq in 2006 where I was forced to focus on things that didn’t allow me time or mental head space to think about Maura or much of anything else.

I can’t say what the NHSP do or don’t have (the recording). I have thoughts on what they should have but I would be speculating to say they def have the recording.

Looking back, I don’t know if it was Maura, altho I believed it to be at the time. I received the VM while going through airport security at the Roy Rogers airport in OKC, the morning of Feb 11. The Discovery ID episode does a good job of providing details re when I received the VM, and what I thought of it at the time using my own words. My mother also discusses the call. You can watch that ep on the Murray’s website at www.mauramurraymissing.org/media, if you scroll down a bit.

The NHSP informed us they tracked the call back to the Red Cross. We did not independently verify this, altho I wish we had given the issues/problems with the police investigation we later discovered (LE not interviewing witnesses, not calling phone numbers Maura called the day she disappeared, refusing help from the FBI, etc).

I received the VM at the airport on Wed morning while going thru security. Of that, I’m certain.

I don’t recall how they took it into evidence. I know I played it for them on speaker several times at the station. My mother might remember, but unfortunately I do not. I would hope they have a recording of it.

I’m open to anything being possible. That said, I remember taking my phone off the x-ray machine belt with my bag, belt, etc at the airport and seeing the notification I had a VM and then listening to it for the first time moments later.

After I spoke with Fred on 2/10 I was hyper alert for any incoming calls or new VMs. I do not recall skulking any. I also recall receiving the VM in question after going thru security at the airport.

With regard to LE having my phone, again, totally possible altho I do not remember it. I do recall playing the whimpering VM for LE at the station; however, I do not know if they recorded it or took my phone to make a copy. Again, totally possible.

On why so many calls to Kate on Sunday morning:

I was worried about Maura after she called me crying having just wrecked Fred’s Toyota.  I called Maura and her best friend to see if she was okay.  You ask “why so many calls” but for me I ask why I didn’t try harder to see if everything was alright given she drove to NH on Monday without telling anyone.

On the Holiday Inn North Conway:

I stayed at Wells River with my parents, Fred, the McDonald’s, and members of the Murray fam. I do not recall if I stayed at the holiday inn with Maura in the past. It’s possible. I also do not recall why I called that holiday inn. Perhaps bc Maura and I stayed there in the past or maybe looking for a hotel before everyone decided to stay at wells river. I’m unsure.

On the necklace and watch:

the necklace was a gift. Not nearly as lovely as her but the best I could afford back then!

I believe the watch (I bought it at the cadet store at West Point) was with her necklace and possibly diamond earrings I gave her as gifts.

On the jacket Maura was wearing in the ATM video

No, I do not recognize that jacket.

On the backpack/duffel bag (this is the pic of Kathleen at the motel)

 I believe the unaccounted for backpack was one she had from West Point. The bag to Kathleen’s right isn’t Maura’s backpack from West Point.

On why LE thought she had a backpack and dark coat

We assumed she took her backpack bc it was unaccounted for. Same goes for assuming she was wearing her dark winter coat. I believe we confirmed that was unaccounted for as it wasn’t in her dorm room. There may be additional reasons others have uncovered over the years I’m unfamiliar with.

On accessing the phone records and voicemail:

My mother was the account holder which is why she called Sprint for access to VMs. We printed off the phone records at the police station bc LE were waiting on a subpoena.  

Access to Maura’s VM was gained after and bc she disappeared. We learned of the three men at the party after Maura disappeared.  These are the facts according to the Murray statement that align with my memory of what took place.

Bottom Line: There was no “cheating VM.”

On the phone record/roaming charges:

Sprint had a national network. Roaming calls were calls made off the nat’l sprint network vs regional areas which other cell providers used at the time. This was a big factor in selecting Sprint as a carrier when I first got my phone at West Point (hence the New City no.) bc after graduating I would be moving somewhere outside the NY tri-state area.

On the phone records:

My mother and I provided Maura’s phone records (and mine) in full to the NHSP, Helena Murray, producers at 20/20 and others.

NH has not released her phone records to anyone with or without redactions. It’s my understanding Renner received them from John Smith.

On phone signal availability

I don’t think I had signal at the motel, altho Im not 100%./I also do not recall a specific place we went to make calls. The folks we needed to communicate with the most were all together at the motel./I believe the motel had landlines, bc I remember doing a radio interview from my room. I assume we used those phones as well.

The evening of the 11th we met Fred and LE at the police station where we received an update from LE. This was when we were told that Maura would prob show up in a day or two, we asked a few questions, and gave some answers to LE questions./We all stayed at the Wells River Motel every night. From what I remember each room had a different theme, e.g. lighthouse, etc./I remember having limited to no cell reception nearly everywhere we went during the search. The number of calls made/received were dictated by cell coverage vs our desire to make/receive calls. It made things difficult during the search which is why we would meet up several times throughout the day (with each other) to provide updates, check ins, etc./I do not recall LE taking my phone for a day altho that’s certainly possible.

On the roaming charges

I did not participate in any helicopter flights/searches during this time and the phone records were for my phone and Maura’s phone only. There is no third phone.

Someone mentioned on another thread that the phone records show a roaming call from Burlington, VT on 2/11 which is interesting bc my parents drove us straight to Haverhill after picking me up at the airport./IMO that’s a good baseline for understanding that the roaming location for calls clearly does not match up with my physical location.

On Maura’s computer/habits:

Maura and I communicated via AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), and she also used AIM to communicate with HS friends. It’s possible she also used Yahoo messenger but given LE do not mention AIM, it leads me to assume they confused the two.

On Butch:

I met Butch but frankly have nothing negative to say about him given there’s no evidence to suggest he’s responsible. He’s also not around to defend himself. 

On general theories and suspects:

While I have thoughts on what may or may not have happened after Maura’s accident, I do not have “a suspect.” I want to emphasize that IF I did I would not mention that person’s name publicly or privately for risk of destroying their lives. Something I haven’t enjoyed being on the receiving end of.

I don’t think it’s likely but anything is possible and everyone/everything should be looked at as Julie has said. I witnessed police make many mistakes; however, that suggests they were incompetent. It’s a big bridge from incompetence to being involved. re Butch Atwood, again I do not want to comment on him despite having met and spoken with him in 2004.

From what I’ve read, many people are puzzled by the short time frame she disappeared in – you’re def not alone.

Many people talk about “what are the chances” when discussing this case. I totally get why folks do that but look at it from my perspective. What are the chances that your boyfriend or girlfriend will go missing without a trace? Prob not high and yet it happened to me. It happened to Maura.

On whether it was Maura in the Saturn:

While I do not believe someone other than Maura drove the Saturn to NH, I admit that nearly anything is possible. 

My mother and I have never believed that Maura wasn’t at the accident scene bc there is no evidence to support that.

On his itinerary (OK to NH):

I don’t recall the airline or the layover city off the top of my head. My parents picked me up at the airport after driving there from Ohio and the three of us drove north to Haverhill, NH to see Fred/LE and check into the hotel.

While I’m certain I left from OKC (something that is confirmed by the person who drove me) and arrived in CT (something my parents can confirm as they picked me up), maybe folks here can determine where the lay over was?

In this instance, there is an actual person who drove me to the OKC airport. That person is happy to share that fact, as my parents are happy to share that they picked me up from CT in their car, that we stayed at Wells River not a holiday inn, etc.

Yes, I stayed at Wells River which is where EVERYONE stayed.

I do not remember my connection so it’s possible, perhaps likely, it was DFW. That said, I recall vividly going thru security at OKC and then listening to the VM there. I’ll be the first to admit my memory isn’t perfect, but I’ve confirmed I flew out of OKC and that I arrived in CT. Just as folks in this sub know details of Maura’s case better than me, I certainly know what I do and don’t remember better than others

My whereabouts while in Haverhill have been confirmed by LE, Fred Murray, Rob and Christine McDonald, my parents and others. All evidence, to include my phone records, validates this fact.

On hitchhiking:

I’ve shared the story of Maura hitch hiking many times before.

I was driving my dad’s truck the time she recommended picking someone up, and after the hike mentioned in the ep, the I believe the vehicle Maura flagged down was a truck. I don’t recall if she flagged it down bc it was a truck or it just happened to be one.

On a good samaritan theory (picked up by good samaritan)

For all the talk of theories, the idea that someone with good intentions giving her a ride somewhere has fallen by the way side. I love the idea of reconsidering it. Obviously, the best way to rule that theory out is to get the word out on Maura’s case to ensure that EVERYONE knows who she is so we can find that good samaritan if they exist. 

in the first few days we wondered if she was picked up by a stranger who gave her a ride someplace (we were willing to consider any theory frankly, that we could action on). After a couple weeks and later months our assumption was that we’d covered so much ground with posters (5,000+ btw) and done so much local, regional, and nation media (print, tv, radio) that we felt if a good person picked her up they would have come forward saying they’d seen her.

On the FBI:

re FBI, NHSP also refused to ask them for help after receiving a tip Maura was seen at a gas station off an exit north on I-91 in VT. My father and I drove there to investigate and the woman who called in the tip had left work and we were unable to interview her – at this point we had already met several neighbors near the accident scene who had not spoken with police so we were conducting our own interviews and then sharing them with LE. We returned to ask NHSP to invite the FBI into the investigation given the tip coming from VT, they refused.

After that we contacted a family friend at the FBI in the midwest who contacted his counterpart in NE, which generated an offer from the FBI to NHSP for assistance. NHSP refused.

during the days/weeks after Maura’s disappearance we made a significant effort to have the FBI take over the case and the NHSP would not entertain the idea. It was our understanding at the time that a formal offer was made by the FBI and refused by local law enforcement.

Apologies if this isn’t relevant, but every time I see FBI and Maura’s name in the same sentence I think back to right after the accident and our efforts to get the FBI involved being actively rejected and it’s still disappointing to this day.

I don’t know if LE is involved, and there’s no hard evidence to suggest they are. There is a TON of hard evidence that shows they totally dropped the ball in taking Maura’s disappearance seriously and it seems that trend has continued which is really disappointing. This is something that should get more attention IMO and def a topic I want to spend time talking on more at length given the best medium. I still don’t know what happened, just like most of you. I find it interesting that so many people are attached to theories

On the police investigation and release of records

I’m sure they have their reasons (some good some not so good maybe), but it’s regrettable they haven’t released more. Esp given all the shoes Fred wore out over the years looking for Maura. Give the man something for goodness sake. And re notes, phone records, etc to your point fulk – we gave them all that stuff. Denying a FOIA request for something that was public seems strange to me. That said, I’m not suggesting they are bad folks bc I don’t know their reasons. I do know they the dropped the ball doing their job while I was there. That said, special thanks to you and to Erinn for submitting those requests. 

In the days following Maura’s disappearance everyone who the police asked to speak with talked with them and shared what they knew. This is a fact. I was there, and everyday we would take multiple trips to the police station to check in. The Police should have spoken with Julie, but they didn’t. IMO they made numerous mistakes, esp in the early days. Fred spoke with the police everyday and it was not until years later when he sued the state for answers that the direct conversations stopped. Now they are ongoing again with Julie.

Bottom line, there isn’t as much secrecy as you suggest. Yes, people have made personal decisions to speak with some bloggers and not others. Post on some sites not others. That’s their choice and it’s my choice too. I was silent for a long time and just now am joining the convo. I want to focus on Maura tho and avoid the drama. If I get off course, you can set me straight.

On the search:

I arrived in NH on Feb 11, 2004 and helped search for Maura along side the Murray’s, my parents, and Maura’s friends. I consider all of those individuals to be extremely honorable and respectful people who knew and loved Maura dearly. Few have done more to find Maura and I am proud to be associated with them.

we drove and/or walked every road, trail and wooded area in vicinity of her accident to include 116. From what I recall, we hit the stretch of 112 between the accident scene and the 112/116 intersection the hardest along with the smaller road (the first right turn after the scene heading east). It was ~6/8mi in length from what I remember. Pls check that bc I’m going off memory here, not my notes or google maps! The thought was that bc the dog scent went east from the car and the police told us she was heading east.

Surprised folks don’t know more details about the actual search. We hit darn near every business in NH with a flyer. From VT to ME and Canada down to MA. In fact, we were going through flyers so quickly, a printing press co. in OH cranked out an additional 5k and overnighted them to us in NH – the local office store in NH couldn’t keep pace with flyer production. Heck, one big reason (there were many) the McDonald’s came up to help was bc we wanted more boots on the ground to intensify our search.

We walked most of the ~20 mi between the accident site and Lincoln.

We drove from Canada down to Mass and from VT over to Maine.

In short, we searched everywhere we knew or could think to search. That said, we obvi didn’t search far or fast enough.

We obviously didn’t find anything during our search, to include the authorities.

To be clear, we were able to see our own footprints in the snow from the search for days after going over a period of ground. I’m familiar with the type of conditions you describe from growing up with winters in Ohio and my time at West Point. The conditions you describe were not present in the area near the accident scene. While the conditions could have been different prior to our arrival, the fact remains that none of our footprints were masked over in the way you describe for many days.

I’m not a footprints expert but I know the snow was untouched almost the entire way east on the sides of the road and the snow was deep. When we would stop one day and return the next we could see where we searched/walked the day(s) before.

FYSA: The River was covered in snow/ice in the days after her disappearance altho you could hear the water running underneath it. We walked Rt 112 on foot heading east and did not see any foot prints in the snow between the rd and river. As someone mentioned, there was a section or two where the river and road were side by side but even there we did not see footprints in the snow or a break/gap in the snow and ice on the river. 

I think I remember a McDonald’s sighting but nothing really comes to mind. If it’s helpful the way we were organized was generally at least one person at the police station, and teams of folks going out on specific routes to search, knock doors, hang posters, etc. Fred coordinated most everything altho obvi there was plenty of cross talk. Fred knew the area better than us (my folks are from Ohio, the McDonald’s lived near USMA) – of course, everyone in the Murray fam knew it better than us as well. Bc cell coverage was unreliable and unpredictable no one left on random trips. So if a tip came in (usually to police) and we heard them discuss it, we’d go check on it. If several of us were at the station, two would peel off. If only one of us was there (usually my mother), then she would try to get hold of someone who could go chase it down. At the end of each day we would do a debrief of sorts over dinner or at the hotel once everyone was back together. Then we’d talk about the next day, come up with a plan, talk about Maura and do our best to smile and laugh thinking of her and how lovely she was hoping she was okay and determined to find her.

in the first few days we wondered if she was picked up by a stranger who gave her a ride someplace (we were willing to consider any theory frankly, that we could action on). After a couple weeks and later months our assumption was that we’d covered so much ground with posters (5,000+ btw) and done so much local, regional, and nation media (print, tv, radio) that we felt if a good person picked her up they would have come forward saying they’d seen her.

Our search continued well beyond those intersections. I referenced our search of Bradley hill rd and 112 to and from those intersections bc I recall going back and forth on that stretch of road/woods exhausting every inch on foot.

The thing about our search (most searches I’m guessing) is that we covered areas closest to the accident scene more frequently than further away. Logistically you start in the center and work your way out. That’s how we got up to Canada and down to mass. Into VT (it was v close) and over to ME. I think I talked about that in the ID discovery episode.

FYSA: We searched Jigger Johnson and found no evidence Maura or anyone else was or had been there.

To confirm your assumption, she was familiar with North Conway.

I don’t recall taking photos. I can ask the others if they did.

I don’t recall walking the entire distance on 116 you ref Altho we drove it numerous times and also searched some of it on foot.

[On 116/112] It doesn’t have a road number on it but yeah that looks right. I think there was an intersection a bit before you got to 116 but other than that there were no roads from that immediate right after the Saturn until 116. We covered that area on foot as good as anyone could IMO.

The 6/8mi is what I have in my head as the distance to be from the accident scene to where 112 intersects with 116. I remember us doing over that area over and over and over again on foot. Most of it wasn’t residential and obvi the river ran along side 112 and we check it for footprints as well as best we could.

[On Bradley Hill] We hit all of that road as well. I remember more houses being on that road. Obvi we knocked on all those doors. The stretch of 112 was more isolated which is why it stuck out. It felt like there was more to cover on foot well off the road into the woods and the river was snowed over so we focused a lot of effort there. We didn’t walk on it Altho had we seen footprints we prob would have. I remember you could hear the water running underneath of the snow/ice.

On the gloves (as scent article)

The gloves I’m thinking of were a gift from me to her Christmas, 2003. She wore them a few times I’m aware of, likely more. If she wore them enough for a K-9 to pick up her scent, I cannot say as I’m not an expert on that topic. 

On a specific sighting he remembers:

The VT sighting could have been significant, and LE were aware. I’d like to think they followed up but given the other mistakes LE made, I just don’t know. It was prob ~1-1.5 weeks before we understood how many balls they were dropping and started to spend more time on leads before handing it over to LE.

The one I’m referring to – which motivated us to beg NHSP to ask for help from the FBI – was right off an exit on I-91 so likely a different one. We def hit every gas station, hotel, business, and any place that would let us put a flier up. I found a stack of the originals the other day.

It was a reported sighting (LE should have a record of it) after the accident. I don’t remember much other than how fast we drove up there (v fast). It took a bit of time, maybe 10-20min altho I should say it felt like forever like most drives to a specific location. It was a typical gas station, right off the exit. The shop wasn’t that big. Wasn’t a new gas station. I don’t recall if it had a garage (there may have been one). Maybe four pumps.

On survival training:

At the risk of disappointing some folks who I’ve seen comment a lot on her “military training,” the 1.5 years at USMA did not provide her with any specialized tools for winter survival. Re Maura leaving West Point that’s something I’ll be taking a deep dive into given that’s how we met and I can provide personal and professional insight into the situation.

On West Point:

Maura was recruited by Harvard out of High School, a pretty good university.

West Point consistently ranks as one of the top public universities in the nation, has a top 5 engineering program (Maura was majoring in Chemical Engineering), and outranks many ivy league universities in certain academic areas.

Maura did not fail out of West Point.

Bottom line: she was not kicked out and most likely would not have been had she wanted to stay.

Time under the code and severity of the offense are two key factors in determining the outcome of a cadet who violates the Honor Code. In Maura’s case the theft took place ~13 mo under the code and stealing makeup would be considered a minor infraction. To be clear, any violation of the Honor Code warrants separation; however, the process and factors Clint describes strongly supports the fact that Maura would have remained at West Point had she wanted to. Of course, we know that she did not.

Clarifying a few names 

Dr. Rob McDonald and his wife Christine knew me and knew Maura. They helped with the search.

I know a Bob McDonald; however, he has no connection to Maura, the search, etc. and he is a different person to Rob McDonald.

Bob McLean is a West Point grad I knew at school.

On the theory that Maura is in the woods:

16 years on I struggle with how she’s not been found yet if she stumbled off from the accident location given how much attention that area has been given. Does that make sense? I should note, I’m not wedded to a theory – I just want to know what happened and where she’s at. 

On whether she was drinking and driving (and re HB)

Could she have been drinking and driving? Sure, it’s totally possible and some could even say they think it’s probable. I don’t know and I wouldn’t say that’s an attack on her. Saying she was an alcoholic would be an attack IMO bc there’s no evidence to support the theory, but I haven’t seen anyone promoting that idea (I could be wrong).

I don’t see how saying (over and over) she had an “affair” with a GA humanizes her bc it’s a lie. He wasn’t married. In the same vein I don’t see how it humanizes Maura to say that she and Kate had an “orgy with respectable business men” which was said by a common poster on this sub.

General facts and characteristics about Maura

She graduated (high school) in 2000.

We met in 2001 while we were both Cadets at West Point and started dating not long after that.

Yes. I believe she was a week into the new semester [at umass] (someone correct me if I’m wrong).

[she was a] Junior. [at UMass]

I was fortunate to get into West Point and even more fortunate to have met Maura there. She was about as badass as you might imagine, altho always smiling while crushing whatever she was doing.

(commenting on a picture posted) I remember how much everyone adored her from the moment they met her for the first time. I specifically remember her talking with my cousins son about baseball for ages and recall my other cousin ragging on me for how badly Maura would prob beat me in basketball one-on-one (he was a great player as well). It was an unforgettable weekend.

She was a lovely young woman, inside and out.

Maura was the loveliest of girls, she really was. 

… her fun personality and her competitive spirit. Two things that melded perfectly together 

She was lovely in every sense of the word. And fun. Silly even!

She was as bubbly and brilliant as they come.

Maura placed great value on kindness in others.

Maura was one of the loveliest, brilliant, and badass girls you could ever know.

Beyond cute, 100%! re tomboy, she def was and elegant at the same time. She would literally jump from a tree top into the Saco river one day (that’s a great story btw), and the next day be the most radiant woman at any formal event. She was one of a kind.

She was quiet, I would agree with both of them in that regard.  If anyone here is a basketball fan think of Kevin Durant or Tim Duncan. Both are amazing talents, extremely assertive, and quiet! They are also champions who overcame adversity.

She could legit ball. Have you heard the story of her winning a free throw competition at Boston Garden? She was a #badass. Def miss playing one on one ball with her.

The Murray’s would prob be the best folks to confirm if Maura took solo trips to NH. She was very independent and travelled by herself regularly to visit me, her friends, etc. She went on hour long runs by herself. So, while I was surprised she left school without telling anyone it wasn’t unbelievable to me if that makes sense?

Assertive is a word you could use accurately IMO. She was extremely confident of her abilities while not being aggressive. Her light heartedness made her assertiveness that much more appealing to me and many others. Julie talked a little about this with Erinn in a FB Live Q&A they conducted Monday. Julie talks briefly about pre race interactions with Maura during track and how light hearted Maura was while Julie was extremely serious. Then Maura would go out and smoke the competition. Heck, 33rd in the country in the 2mi as a Sophomore is a HUGE deal. So saying she was competitive is incomplete in my mind. Long answer, I know.

Her hero? Easy, Fred. I’ve noticed many folks on line totally being unaware or misinformed of their relationship. Maura talked a lot about her Dad with me and he was someone she looked up to and someone who loved her unconditionally. Heck, his effort searching for Maura is unmatched as far as I know relative to other missing persons cases. Something that isn’t surprising if you know Fred.

Her smile and laugh are what anyone would remember most. She would smile and laugh (or giggle) at the perfect moments in time. Always.

We made each other mix cds constantly for the other person to listen to and would often recite lyrics to some of our fav songs when writing each other. I read an old letter the other day where she starts it off, “I think I’m back in my phish phase!”

She loved twizzlers and fire balls! Many a reference to both of those in old letters as well. We liked to cook altho given we were in our early 20s I wouldn’t describe either of us as excellent cooks! 🙂

Thank you again for asking. What disappoints me most about this “community” is the misinfo about Maura. She was an extremely intelligent, super athletic badass who accomplished more in her time with us than most people do in a lifetime. That includes treating people with respect and love in a way I’ve seen few others emulate.

Maura was loved by everyone who knew her and her love for us was as lovely as you might imagine. I believe if not for that accident, she would be here today and none of you would know her name. She would be happy and so would her family. She would be a great mother and partner to whomever was lucky enough to have married her, maybe even me.

General Feelings and “why he’s participating on social media” 

There’s nothing more powerful than Maura’s written word (I have loads of letters from Maura that show how amazing Fred was as a father), and I witnessed how remarkable he was first hand.

I realize that Maura had morphed into a fictional character that did not accurately reflect who she was as a person. I talk about this on Erinn’s podcast btw. So, here I am attempting to share my personal experience and memories of Maura to inform a community that has told me that want to know who Maura actually was.

My hope is to speak candidly about who Maura was as a person vs this character she’s been made into by people on the internet. In doing so, perhaps it can draw more awareness to the case and possibly help Julie [or anyone] find Maura and bring her home. It’s that simple.

If she perished in the woods I would say her life, liberty and pursuit of happiness has been taken from her.

Bottom line, we never had issues with VMs, phone records, etc during the search. Only years later have both topics been manipulated into conspiracy theories (e.g. “pg 9”) and lies via reddit posts, blogs, tweets, etc.

While Maura’s disappearance is heartbreaking, there are moments when I find myself having pleasant memories even in the midst of a sad moment. This is a good example, bc I remember being at the house in Hanson and her going through old photos and seeing one similar (maybe the same one?) and her laughing at her “Texas flag shorts” and cool car!

For me, bc Maura was someone I loved, I tend to think of the positive and happy times. For others, it seems they get fixated on her troubles. Obviously, reality is and was somewhere in between for Maura like it is for most folks. I think it’s telling that everyone who knew her speaks highly of her and for those interested in her case that is a great way of understanding her IMO.

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