Category Archives: Uncategorized

Maura Murray’s Crash Site

Here is a compilation of photos from throughout the years that I was involved with the case.

2013 (all pictures taken by me)

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Not Without Peril | The Maura Murray Blog
Not Without Peril | The Maura Murray Blog
Not Without Peril | The Maura Murray Blog
Not Without Peril | The Maura Murray Blog
Not Without Peril | The Maura Murray Blog
Not Without Peril | The Maura Murray Blog
Maura Murray
maura murray crash
NotWithoutPeril.Wordpress.Com(VIII)
NotWithoutPeril.Wordpress.Com(VII)
NotWithoutPeril.Wordpress.Com(VI)
NotWithoutPeril.Wordpress.Com(V)
NotWithoutPeril.Wordpress.Com(IV)
Maura Murray
Maura Murray

2019 (video by me)

2019 (all pictures taken by me)

My profile pic

2020 (all pictures taken by me)

https://www.google.com/maps/place/44%C2%B007’09.7%22N+71%C2%B056’09.8%22W/@44.11937,-71.9382387 I measured exact location of the impact from the drain marker. I then found the coordinates of the impact. I linked to those coordinates on Google Maps here.

2021 (photos unknown)

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maura murray
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My Motion to Reconsider was Denied. The judge considers all materials submitted

The bad news is my motion for reconsideration was denied. The good news; the judge, in his discretion, considered all materials submitted. Including Erinn’s descriptions of the photos provided to her by an anonymous source. That means, for purposes of an appeal, all materials (including the descriptions of the photos) will be treated as evidence by the appellate court. The descriptions, in essence, will be treated as accurate and were not challenged.

Petrit Vasi Still Remembers Nothing

Back in 2009, someone named “Petrit” posted on Topix. The odd thing is, his location showed up as Saint Paul, Minnesota, and later as Boston, Massachusetts. So I had always assumed that it was a troll.

Just this week I emailed Vasi with screenshots of the Topix posts and asked if he made them.

I thought for certain he would say it wasn’t him. I don’t particularly care for the Vasi theory to be honest. My goal was to figure out who has been behind some of the elaborate hoaxes in this community that go back to as early as 2009 with the original Canada post, and continue to present day.

But, to my surprise, he said it WAS him.

Since some people like the Vasi theory, and since my email establishes that the 2009 post was actually him (and that his knowledge hasn’t changed since then), I feel compelled to share this with the Community.

I’m asking the judge to reconsider releasing Maura Murray’s accident scene photos — with Erinn Larkin’s help.

As you know, my first attempt to make the crash site photos public was unsuccessful. I lost the first motion in court.

After I had filed the first motion, however, Erinn Larkin contacted me and offered her assistance for the next stage of my suit.

Well, I took Erinn up on her generous offer.

Today, I filed a “Motion for Reconsideration” – it’s just what it sounds like it is. I basically asked the judge to reconsider denying me the photos. So I had to give him some better reasons to give me the photos, and that’s where Erinn comes in.

Erinn’s affidavit, which is a written statement that’s signed under the penalties of perjury, provides evidence that I want the judge to look at while reconsidering whether I should have the photos.

In the text of the affidavit itself (i.e., without the Exhibits), Erinn relates an anonymous source’s description of the ACTUAL PHOTOS – this source saw the photos, took notes, and related the info to Erinn.

The descriptions raise some questions and answer others, such as: “Were police in the Saturn the night of Maura’s disappearance?

Then there are the exhibits to the affidavit – documents that Erinn attached to it.

The exhibits include:

  • Never before seen pictures of the Saturn, including pictures taken inside the Saturn, that were included in the Black Box Report, which Erinn did a two-part podcast on, as well as some interesting text from the report describing the pictures. That’s in Exhibit A to her Affidavit.
  • The actual false tip emailed to the Cold Case Unit and the Murray family this summer. This false tip included a fake confession that was apparently made using photoshop. The judge denied me the photos partly because he was afraid that after the photos were released to the public, someone could change them using photoshop to make more false tips. That’s in Exhibit B to her Affidavit.
  • An Affidavit from Witness B, describing her observations. That’s in Exhibit G to her Affidavit.

My conclusions.

I just want to note that I personally have not drawn any conclusions – good or bad –about police conduct in Maura’s case in light of Erinn’s  Affidavit.

I have never EVER theorized that Cecil Smith had anything to do with Maura’s disappearance, and even in light of Erinn’s affidavit that is not a conclusion I draw.

Having said that, I trust that the information Erinn provided is accurate and, although I don’t know the identity of her confidential source, I know that because Erinn says the source is trustworthy, the source is trustworthy. Period.

Thanks for your indispensable help on this Erinn.

I look forward to the discussion that will come from this.

***EDIT***

Due to to confusion, I have been asked to emphasize that the “false tip [that] included a fake confession” referenced above was fake.

Are there any lessons or leads from Maura’s October 2003 trip? (revisited)

A few summers ago we took a family trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. To get there we drove up Wisconsin to the Upper Peninsula and then ultimately back down Michigan. There were some favorites: Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Pictured Rocks on the Upper Peninsula, Mackinac heading back to Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Sometimes if we get sentimental we google Sheboygan or Grand Marais or Sault Ste Marie or even Kalamazoo – places that are hundreds of miles apart. But the linkage: they are sites on a memorable trip.

In October 2003, Fred and Maura took a trip to climb four “4,000 foot” peaks.

So likewise, I would suggest that if we look at the totality of Maura’s calls and internet searches leading up to her departure on 2/9/04, they seem to closely match the trip taken with her father Fred in October 2003. Specifically, at approximately 4AM on the day of her disappearance (2/9/04), Maura did a computer search for directions and overnight accommodations for Bartlett, NH and Burlington, VT.  That afternoon she called two numbers to inquire about lodging: Bartlett, NH (1PM) and Stowe, VT (2:05PM) although neither resulted in a reservation. In her car she had mapquest directions for Burlington, VT which we now understand to be transcribed directions on a note card.

What does this mean? To me it suggests that she didn’t have a specific destination or purpose. In other words, I would conclude that she wasn’t meeting up with someone in Middlebury or Montpelier or Plymouth (examples) – no job interview, no doctor’s appointment. I would suggest that she was thinking of places she remembered or liked from the October trip – just as I might look at hotel rates in Sheboygan along with Sault Ste Marie.

The October 2003 trip could also show us something about her familiarity with some of these areas. According to Julie, Maura and Fred came up 93 from the South Shore (MA) and stayed in Bartlett. They visited in the order 1) Owl’s Head; 2) Mount Mansfield; 3) Camel’s Hump and 4) West Bond – Fred’s 48th 4,000 foot peak. [The blue route is map generated – to follow this sequence they likely went back up 93 after Owl’s Head]. We also learn from a newspaper article that they visited the town of Burlington that weekend: “Murray’s father said he also discovered a note card that mentioned Burlington among many personal belongings she had packed in her car. The two last visited the Northern Vermont city on Columbus Day Weekend when they hiked nearby Camel’s Hump and Mount Mansfield.” Boston Globe 2/21/04

To add to this, we can include other favorite sites or places of some importance: Mount Tripyramid – a childhood favorite, Mount Washington – said to be her all time favorite – along with Mount Carrigain – the site of the infamous coordinates (covered later), and Mount Madison – the specific place where MacDonald Barr perished from the chapter of Not Without Peril.

So this might tell us something about Maura’s destination and familiarity with the areas. Does any of this give us any plausible leads to find Maura? To start, Burlington has, in effect, been searched:

New Hampshire State Police Lieutenant John Scarinza said yesterday that for several days police have been checking motels and hotels in several Vermont communities. Investigators know of no one Murray might know in the Burlington area, he said.

“Vermont State Police, Burlington police, and other local agencies have canvassed motels in Burlington, South Burlington, Colchester, Shelburne, and surrounding towns to see if she checked in anywhere around,” he said. Boston Glove 2/21/04

The site of the coordinates emailed to Tim and Lance was first searched by two community members 6/30/17 before it was covered again by the Oxygen cast and crew.

The same hiker commented on the four sites from the October 2003 trip:

All of the peaks listed (Mansfield, Camel’s Hump, West Bond, and Owl’s Head) are all on the New England 4000 Footers list, which is probably why they were a destination for her and her father at all. While I have no idea if they were ever searched specifically in relation to Maura’s disappearance, they are extremely popular due to peakbagging and are some of (if not) the most visited wilderness areas in all of New England, despite the remoteness implied by some of these areas. Even Owl’s Head sees multiple peakbaggers every day (I see it in the Facebook groups), and that’s a 20 mile hike. I’m doubting there’s anything in any of these locations myself (being at least familiar with all of NH’s 4000 footers myself and having already gone on a wild goose chase to one of them), but YMMV, as the hikers say. u/BreathingPermafrost

A dog handler who contributes to the reddit sub describes some potential techniques for approaches large scale areas:

Not sure what kind of searches have taken place before but my gut tells me, bring some well trained HR dogs to search these areas. There are so many K9 handlers out there that would do it for free- professional SAR teams are almost always entirely volunteer. We have a passion for this. If someone put a team together I’d come up in a heartbeat. I made the offer to organize some time ago but wasn’t taken up on it.

Most SAR dogs wear a GPS collar. SAR people also carry a GPS. You take a dog to an area, think of the human searchers as words on a page, and dogs as the highlighter around it. We don’t have to go dig around in the woods as much because the dogs are doing for it us. Anyway, all that information from the GPS can be downloaded and tracks are mapped. You can see where the dog went, areas missed, etc. and calculate probability of detection. This is what I’d like to do in these areas.

Besides what most people normally think of HR dogs finding (a decaying corpse), they can find bones. They can find objects that were in contact with decay (although in MM’s case, not sure if too much time has passed), for exp. one of our dogs trains with pieces of a rocking chair someone committed suicide in. u/kristin1441

Do we have to be sure of a theory before we search? As one searcher commented:

I think the needle in a haystack applies to the pros too. It’s been proven before.
There’s a lot of ground and it’s so uneven. There’s also tons of fallen rocks and trees, steep drop-offs, and the rocky river bed.
This amounts to lots of opportnuities for both peril and shelter.  Being confident means nothing without results though…

Could Maura have wandered into the woods? An overview of searches done in the Maura Murray case

This post will attempt to provide an overview of the searches that have taken place for Maura Murray since she disappeared February 9, 2004.  It will focus on search efforts by land, air, and dog teams rather than, say, property searches executed by law enforcement or other investigative work. 

In summary, the following search operations have taken place:

– New Hampshire State Police through New Hampshire Fish and Game conducted 5 searches in 2004.

– The New Hampshire League of Investigators conducted three large searches, the first in 2006.

– Friends and family searched for the first few weeks after Maura’s disappearance.  A team involving Fred Murray, Rick Graves, and others, searched “every weekend” for the first year.

– Boots on the Ground has been conducting annual searches since 2017.

– Many other searchers have been going out formally or informally, individually or in teams or groups to search for Maura.

The Night of Maura’s Disappearance 2.9.04

There was a “cursory” search for the driver of the Saturn on the night of Maura’s disappearance 2.9.04.  Lieutenant John Scarinza of the New Hampshire State Police reports that police made a presumption that the driver of the Saturn wanted to avoid contact with the police:  

“… the initial accident investigation led police officers to believe this was simply a case of someone who had been involved in a motor vehicle accident and wished at least initially that night not to have contact with the police.” (ID Disappeared)

There were still some efforts to locate the driver of the Saturn by police (Cecil Smith), a NHSP officer (the aforementioned Lt. John Monaghan), local neighbors and some members of the Fire Department and Emergency Services.  In total the foot search that night covered the game trail, Old Peters Road, and up and down both sides of 112 and was conducted for “about an hour” (APN interview). Indeed, the Fire Department arrived at 7:56PM and left at 8:49PM.  

Resident Butch Atwood took his personal vehicle and drove a loop to Mountain Lakes for “about 15 minutes” (it is estimated he left around 7:55PM)..  Lt. Monaghan arrived at the scene, spoke to Cecil and then drove towards Swiftwater, into Woodsville, and looked at Mountain Lakes then ultimately drove off to attend to other matters.  I estimate that he left the scene around 8:02-5PM although this is up for debate. Cecil Smith was on the scene from his arrival (noted in the dispatch log as 7:46PM) until he was called to another case at Lime Kiln Road at 9:26PM.  During that time he took seven photos including the tire imprints in the snow in addition to other duties such as talking to neighbors and making several calls.

On Tuesday, February 10th after executing a search warrant of the Saturn, police identified Maura as the driver.  After later speaking to Fred Murray as well as Kathleen Murray Maura’s sister, the case shifted to one of missing endangered and a search effort was organized.  The large scale search effort began about 36 hours after her disappearance on Wednesday, February 11th.

OFFICIAL SEARCHES BY NEW HAMPSHIRE STATE POLICE (FISH AND GAME)

Starting Wednesday, February 11, 2004, the NHSP conducted five official searches for Maura.  The search operation was supervised by Lieutenant Jonas Todd Bogardus (“Todd”) of New Hampshire Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division out of Littleton.  Bogardus served as Team Leader for Fish and Game Law Enforcement’s Advanced Search and Rescue Team. In total these five searches covered “12 miles of roadway, 1-2 miles into the woods with dogs and even places up to 50 miles away that they knew Maura loved to visit.” (Oxygen)  They never found any trace of Maura or any item belonging to her.

Wednesday, February 11th

Official Search 1: Wednesday, February 11th (36 hours after Maura’s disappearance)

Personnel: Supervisor: Todd Bogardus of NH Fish and Game; NHSP bloodhound, helicopter equipped with FLIR, local and state police, state Fish & Game officials

Range: The NHSP bloodhound ran the track from the Saturn twice; helicopter covered 10 miles of roadway

On the morning of Wednesday, February 11th, the NHSP began its search supervised by Todd Bogardus of New Hampshire Fish and Game.  The team was brought in 36 hours after the crash on a clear cold morning. The temperature had remained steady since Maura’s disappearance and there was no new snow on the ground.  Bogardus reports on Oxygen there was “about a foot and a half to two feet of snow with a thin crust on the top”. He noted that anyone walking off the road would have easily left a footprint.

The team also used a helicopter equipped with a FLIR unit (forward looking infrared).  They searched the immediate area and “toned out” several miles away from the area. Bogardus notes: “had she been out there and giving off any heat signal we would have been able to pick that up.”

Bogardus indicates they covered the significant area at least 112 and outlying roads over probably 10 miles distance.  At the end of that day they had “no human foot tracks going into the woodlands off of the roadways that were not either cleared or accounted for”. Bogardus goes on to say that “at the end of that day the consensus was she did not leave the roadway”.

That same morning, a NHSP bloodhound was brought in to run the track from the Saturn.  The dog was given gloves as the scent article. The dog ran the track twice, both times ending down the road.  Bogardus notes that both times the dog ended “at the intersection of Bradley Hill Road which is just within sight of the crash site”.  (However, it is believed that the track effectively ended in the vicinity of the Atwood residence/see map). Bogardus notes on Oxygen “It’s possible she may have been picked up by a vehicle there.”  Indeed, according to multiple newspaper accounts, it seems clear that at the end of the first day of searching, the predominant theory was that Maura was picked up by a vehicle.

Could Maura have been missed by the helicopter and the additional search efforts?  On Oxygen Bogardus responds to that question:

  • Maggie Freleng: we’ve heard from people we’ve interviewed that it’s hard to find a body in these woods because they are so thick.  Do you agree with that?
  • Todd Bogardus: I do agree it’s hard but I can tell you I’m not a big believer in people levitating and going long distances.  So she had to have left the track for us if she went into the woodlands. I’m fairly confident to say she did not go into the woods when she left the area

Official Search 2: February 19th (10 days missing)

Personnel: Supervisor: Todd Bogardus of NH Fish and Game; 3 canine teams (2 New England K-9 Search and Rescue Group; 1 New Hampshire State Police); state police, fish and game officiers, helicopter

Range: 2 square mile area along the Wild Ammonoosuc River and Route 112; searched both sides of 112 within a half mile radius

(MF: in case they missed something a second search was organized 10 days after the crash to inspect the woods – this time with three cadaver dogs who were trained specifically to find human remains)

TB: yes – those dog teams went into the woodlines and searched (in) different segments on both sides of route 112 within the half mile radius … any time we’re searching we’re looking for people yes but more importantly we’re looking for clues

Burlington 2/20/04

Around the same time, police examined Maura’s computer and discovered that she had searched for directions to Burlington on her computer.  On 2.20.04, “Vermont State Police, Burlington police, and other local agencies have canvassed motels in Burlington, South Burlington, Colchester, Shelburne, and surrounding towns to see if she checked in anywhere around,” he said.”

April 2, 2004

On April 2, 2004, Gary E. Lindsley reported.“Although an official air and ground search was declared concluded by New Hampshire Fish and Game and Troop F State Police officials in February, K-9 teams from the Adirondack Rescue Dog Association will resume their search of the Haverhill area this weekend.” Rausch said one of the teams is Marilyn Greene, a team trainer and private investigator, and her K-9, Buddy, from Guilderland, N.Y. “This weekend, like last weekend, K-9 teams from the Adirondack Rescue Dog Association will conduct a search of the area surrounding the accident site.”

Official Search 3: May 8 (89 days missing) 

Personnel: Supervisor: Todd Bogardus of NH Fish and Game; 15 fish and game officers with 6 dogs from,New England Canine and Upper Valley Wilderness Response team; a helicopter

Range: Searched woods about  miles east of accident site on Route 112 (this followed the CW sighting)

On May 8, 2004, Mike Recht from the Associated Press reported, “About 15 Fish and Game officers, joined by the New England Canine and the Upper Valley Wilderness Response team with six dogs, searched the woods for Maura Murray, a University of Massachusetts student, about five miles east of the accident site on Route 112.[This search was conducted in response to the construction worker’s report that he saw a hooded figure running along Route 112 near the location where it intersects with Route 116.]

“As a result of this new information, a search was conducted on May 8. Canine teams with six dogs and 15 Fish and Game officers searched the area where Forcier may have seen Maura running. No new leads were reported.” A dozen people resumed the search yesterday on foot and in a helicopter. Scarinza said that was more than enough manpower to scan the rural terrain. It was likely the last time a search crew will venture into the woods. If Murray had wandered off the road, finding her would be easy because there is about 1½ feet of snow on the ground, Scarinza said. and it has not snowed since Feb. 9.

Official Search 4: May 17th (98 days missing)

No information

Official Search 5: July 13th (156 days missing)

Personnel: Supervisor Todd Bogardus; 100 searchers including state police trooper ans conservation officers

Range: One mile radius of the accident with “line searches”

Nearly 100 people, including 60 state troopers from as far away as Exeter, conservation officers, and volunteers from search-and-rescue organizations, spent the day on line searches

“Another ground search was initiated on July 13. More than 100 searchers, including state police troop-ers and conservation officers, spread out across a one-mile radius of where Maura’s car was found. No reason was given for why this search was conducted except to say police were looking for anything Maura may have left behind, such as the black backpack she was believed to have been carrying when she left the scene.”

Searches by the New Hampshire League of Investigators

The New Hampshire League of Investigators, ten retired police officers and detectives started working on the case in 2006 pro bono.  In total they conducted three large searches. 

NHLI Search 1 of 3 – 10.21.06

The first NHLI search was a two day search (Saturday and Sunday, October 21 and 22, 2006).  They searched “within a few miles of the site of (the accident).”. They used dog teams from the Connecticut Canine Search and Dukes County Search and Rescue out of Martha’s Vineyard.  

They selected six areas including a wooded area near the search site, gravel pits, and the Mountain Lakes area.  One site was a sand pit not far from Maura went missing (I am not sure if this is the same as the gravel pit). It was noted that some of the site selection was based on “information Fred Murray and other people (had) provided.”  The A-frame was searched at this time, presumably as one of the six sites.

NHLI Search 2 of 3 July 2008

In July 2008, volunteers led another two-day search through wooded areas in Haverhill. The group consisted of dog teams and licensed private investigators

Additional Details Learned about the NHLI Searches

In 2018, Guy Paradee of the interview did an interview under the auspices of the 107 degrees podcast.  He reports that there was a hit by a cadaver dog down Old Peters Road “well within the 5 mile radius of the Saturn’s disappearance”. Guy reports that they found some items at the site of the dog alert and when neither the Haverhill police of the AG’s office responded, they dug and found some things, notably human clothing and some sort of rubber/latex square.

 We further learn from the interview that they did a grid search of the 5 mile radius.  He describes that they “took tape, did grids of the whole five mile area we were going to search.  The teams consisted of the dog handler and dog, one of (NHLI member who was armed), and each team had a video camera and still camera.

IIt was noted in 2019 by Maggie Freleng that:

Yes, back in the day Terry O’Connell and some of the NHLI searched French Pond with divers and sonar. The ammonoosuc river is actually not really a river, it is incredibly shallow, maybe 1 inch. I was there in the winter, same time Maura went missing, a body would be seen and dogs with GPR went all up and down the road that follows it for 5 miles. They would have smelled a body.

Fred Murray Team

Every weekend for the first year searching with Fred consistently.  Did a circle, moved out. Estimated searched about 15-20 miles perimeter around the crash site.  About 4-6 people including distant cousins/relatives who would go out to support. “beat the hell out of those woods – gravel pits, etc.”.

Almost every weekend since Feb. 9, he has made the eight-hour round-trip drive from his home in Weymouth, Mass., to the Woodsville section of Haverhill. He searches the vast forest or knocks on doors and questions neighbors who might have seen something. He also hands out fliers with Maura’s picture.

His daughters and Maura’s boyfriend, who is in the military, were able to help at first, and occasionally some volunteers join him. Last weekend, a couple from Vermont, the Maitlands, whose own daughter disappeared in March, searched with him.

During the winter, he searched the snow for footprints. The snow is gone now, so he searches the woods alongside the road. He even climbs through culverts under the road, head down, looking for any clue.

He even searched the Kancamagus Highway — one of her favorite places about 25 miles away — should she have contemplated suicide, though he is quick to point out, “I don’t think she did.”

Since February night, Murray has been searching fir his daughter, crawling through every bridge and culvert, pressing the police, checking bus stations and asking bus drivers if they saw his daughter. He has checked topographical maps to identify where a vehicle might have gone, checked with neighbors as to what was accessible, and searched.

Decision in My Suit for the Crash Site Photos

The Superior Court decision in my suit for the crash site photos was filed today.

The short of it: I lost the Motion. But I still have options, such as Motions for Reconsideration and Appeals.

I will discuss those options after I have had time to read the denial in depth. But I wanted to get this to everyone right away.

Thank you, everyone, for your support.

Complete and Unredacted Decision of the Superior Court

Details of the early family search for Maura Murray: approximately 2/11-3/2/04 by TheRealFinn

In the first ~3 weeks following Maura’s disappearance, in addition to the official search headed by Fish and Game, a group of family members conducted their own search on foot and by car. They drove from Canada down to Massachusetts and from Vermont over to Maine – distributing flyers and checking hotels, motels, hospitals, bus stations, etc. Closer to the Weathered Barn Corner they drove and/or walked every road, trail and wooded are in the vicinity of her accident – with most focus given to 112 and Bradley Hill Rd. They searched east because of the dog scent and because, as Bill Rausch notes “police told us she was heading east”.

I have compiled two maps/graphics to provide an overview of this search.

This graphic shows an overview of the family search:

This graphic focuses closer to the Weathered Barn Corner heading approximately 5 miles to the east:

Further reading:

Overview of all searches for Maura “Why searchers don’t think Maura ended up in the woods”:

https://notwithoutperil.com/2020/01/26/could-maura-have-vanished-into-the-woods-an-overview-of-searches-in-the-maura-murray-case/

Compilation of information from Bill Rausch “What we’ve learned from Bill Rausch” (source of the direct quotes)

https://notwithoutperil.com/2020/07/20/what-weve-learned-about-mauras-disappearance-from-bill-rausch-on-reddit-may-2020-to-present-by-therealfinn/

“Steers the narrative” almost always means “has an opinion that differs from mine” – Post by TheRealFinn

“Steers the narrative” almost always means “has an opinion that differs from mine.” – Redditor

People talk a lot about “narrative steering” in this community.  It seems to be shorthand for “I don’t like you” or “I don’t like your theory” or “I don’t like the topic of your recent post/blog/podcast”.  Most of the time it’s used purely as an insult “he’s a steerer from way back”  whereas other times it is used almost incomprehensibly “They are not “official” steerers, just clueless/illogical coincidence theorists that get triggered.”

The steerer designation also suggests that our discussions are very, very important.  Whether or not the case is solved depends on stopping the steerers!  Undoubtedly Cold Case is tracking us closely, ready to arrest any of us who say the wrong thing or make a post that tries to change the topic.  But in fact, by all indications, LE doesn’t care much about our discussions calling them simply “not detrimental” to the extent we spread awareness of the case.  

With that introduction, I jotted down my “top 10 reasons why police are not going to show up at your doorstep for “narrative steering” in the Maura Murray case” — and to be clear, I am not speaking of calling up someone with a fake lead but rather of the online discussions in the case:

MY TOP 10 REASONS WHY POLICE ARE NOT GOING TO SHOW UP AT YOUR DOORSTEP FOR “NARRATIVE STEERING” IN THE MAURA MURRAY CASE

1. Narrative steering as used in the MM community has no real or consistent meaning.

I scoured the professional literature for a definition of narrative steering and came up with very little.  I acknowledge that in debate, politics and other fields we have various types of spin and propaganda.  But in this community it has come to mean either “I don’t like you” or “I don’t like your theory” or “I don’t like the topic of your post/blog/podcast”.  There might be relevant uses of the term (a recent episode of the Prosecutors Podcast had an interesting discussion in another case).  But that is not this.

2. We have developed false dichotomies

One common use of the narrative steering insult in the community seems to be the dichotomy between Maura as “All American Girl” vs. Maura as an “extremely flawed person”.  I think most people recognize that the truth is somewhere in the middle and that when Maura went missing she was a 21 year old college student with ups and downs in her life.

If we want to call those who see the good in Maura as “steerers” then we should do the same at the other extreme – those who are intent on exposing her skeletons, mistakes and family secrets. 

3. UMass vs. New Hampshire is not a real thing

We also hear that there is a dichotomy between “Amherst” and “New Hampshire”.  Somehow we are told that whenever someone tries to discuss “U Mass” they are met with significant pushback.  But really, people who want to discuss UMass should discuss UMass.  There are no rules of any group or sub as far as I know that “Amherst” is off limits.  Simply go to a reddit sub and go to “create a post” and write about UMass and then discuss it.  It’s really that easy.  However, if you propose a theory you might be asked to back it up with evidence. And being asked to provide evidence for your theories is also not “steering”.

The truth is that many of the people accused of “steering” away from UMass have actually frequently discussed many aspects of Amherst and UMass.

I’ve seen suggestions that this dichotomy refers to people who think she was/wasn’t at the Weathered Barn Corner. I respect many people who make the case that we have scanty evidence that Maura was the driver, or that Maura left Amherst, or that Maura was seen by Atwood. Now I personally think that it was Maura at the WBC and that my time is best spent with that assumption. These are complex decisions about how different people weigh and interpret evidence and use inference. But it’s not steering.

If you think it was not Maura in New Hampshire, then develop that case. I (as a surrogate here for the community) could be persuaded but reasserting over and over that there is no proof beyond the ATM video just keeps us at a standstill.

4. People have a right to disagree; people have a right to ask for your evidence

Here is the tricky part: people do not have to agree with you.  I know that is a difficult concept.  People are free to disagree with the theories of others.  People may insist that you provide evidence for your theories. They may also provide evidence to contradict the theories that you put forward. This is not “steering”.

5. People have a right to talk about what they choose

Related to the previous point, people have the right to research what they think is important (and to NOT research topics they deem not important).  If someone wants to talk about the accident timeline, they can.  If someone wants to talk about Vasi, they can.  If someone wants to talk about Butch Atwood (rest his soul), they can.  But people do not have to engage with your post or podcast.  There is no law that people interested in looking at search maps have to engage in a post about the damage to the Saturn.  

I personally try to avoid discussions of the accident timeline and tree vs. snowbank.  I figure that there are other minds on these topics combined with too much animus in getting in the fray.  And my interests and aptitudes are elsewhere.  I guess that’s my right.  I also have personally eliminated/resolved many things in my own mind although I could reconsider if new evidence emerges or if someone offers a compelling new theory.  

6. Don’t go “real life” here

In a different case, someone made a set of suggested guidelines for the community and one was “don’t go real life”.  That statement is a joke in the Maura Murray community where we are gnawing at one another’s limbs in some perverted version of Dante’s 6th Circle .  When I stumbled upon this case in 2017 I never dreamed that people would be friending me with fake accounts, scouring my personal photos, running credit and background checks, and far worse – and I am just me.  One reddit poster had an interesting observation as to why this community has gone cannibalistic:

This is […} symptomatic of what seems to be happening in this community. Without very much to discuss regarding the actual case, people have to look elsewhere for drama/conflict/content to discuss. And if they can’t talk about the case itself, they turn to the next best thing–they look for drama and intrigue among the people talking about the case.

Redditor 2020

We probably could benefit from a good “community sociologist” to try to decode what is happening here. But investigating each other is just silly. Investigating the volunteers and posters is silly. Now, whether or not you can post these things depends on the specific guidelines of whatever group or forum or subreddit. But people can and will push back and that does not make them steerers.

7. No leads generated by the online community have panned out

We talk about narrative steering as if our discussions are extremely important to the course of the investigation.  But in fact, Strelzin et al. indicated in Missing Maura Murray episode 27 “Questions and Answers” that no leads from the online community have actually panned out – at least by that time:  

“The attention this case has garnered has generated some leads, although none have panned out when investigated.  However, efforts to keep people’s attention focused on the case are not detrimental if they have the potential to generate new leads.”

Missing Maura Murray episode 27: Questions and Answers

Let me reiterate: no leads from the online community panned out when investigated.  We’ve had family forums, topix, websleuths, facebook, reddit, twitter, and probably others not to mention tv shows and podcasts … and yet nothing panned out.  And so where do we get the idea that talking about x vs y is a matter of top secret security clearance? I hate to break it to everyone but “not detrimental” doesn’t suggest that they take these discussions extremely seriously.

8. Law enforcement is not going to knock on your door for your topic of choice

Likewise it is inferred that law enforcement is watching us and will charge people guilty of narrative steering with obstruction. [I’m not speaking here of someone faking a lead or witness]. Again, I don’t get the feeling that law enforcement cares a whole lot about what we’re discussing.  Who here has sent them an email?  Did you get a response back?  As someone pointed out: they didn’t even call Linda Salamone for 9 months – and we think they care that we are “steering the narrative” in 2020?

9. This community is not made up of professional steerers and CIA agents

I found one person who tried to list the types of steerers in the Maura Murray case – technically this person gave 3 but then mentioned the 4th so I added it:

  • 1) circle of friends/professionals/DC people that run the steer for EL/BR and possibly other agencies
  • 2) non-affiliated with EL/BR, and mostly just covering up upper agency “stand-down”.
  • 3) Also it seems there are steerers that are not affiliated with each other, but are exercising their agendas (1 and 2) separately without knowledge of each other. 
  • 4) Then there’s a separate circle of clueless coincidence theorists obsessed with “civility” instead of truth.

No, this community is not made up of a network of professional propagandists.  Some people have ties to the family.  Some are interested in true crime.  Some like puzzles.  Some have other reasons for being involved.  There are definitely all different types of people but … this is a missing persons case not a national security operation.

I used to live in DC but moved away over a decade ago. I somehow don’t think the National Science Foundation’s atmospheric science division is interested in “steering the narrative” in the Maura Murray case.

10. Keeping the conversation going is probably the most important thing

There IS value to the community.  We might come up with a clue or lead.  We might do searches and find Maura or one of her possessions.  We might share a post that reaches someone who didn’t know they had a valuable piece of information.  We might put pressure on someone involved in Maura’s disappearance.  We might put pressure on LE to do more or release records.  We might help the family simply by our interest, dedication and encouragement. There IS value but we are simply not as important as we think we are.

Someone I respect a great deal phrased it well:

This case should be a collaborative effort to help the Murray family find their missing loved one. A select few have lost sight of that principle. They’ve been blinded by hate, greed, and obsession. It’s become a circus of endless drama. Redditor 2020

Honestly, a post asking about Maura’s favorite color is probably just as valuable to the big picture as one looking at suspects. We are just keeping the conversation going in the hopes that it leads to something. Elevating our conversations to national security status is a little silly.