Tag Archives: maura murray disappearance

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.

Is there any credibility to the potential sighting of Maura Murray reported a couple of months later by the construction worker? by TheRealFinn

I could make a strong argument that the NHSP have a person of interest in the Maura Murray case.  I can also make an argument – a little less strong – that they know what happened to Maura, but somehow lack the evidence to take the next step.  I’ll revisit this in another post. All of that said, I can’t make an argument that I have heard any solid, convincing evidence against this apparent person of interest (Forcier).  It seems that most everything we cite as evidence is either a rumor, a misunderstanding, or simply odd behavior.  I will grant you, he has been uncooperative, and probably worse. But without any knowledge of the official investigation, I have not seen anything persuasive.

I will focus this post on one incident that seems to have put him on the radar of investigators – the sighting. The origin of this post for me was last June 2019 when I wanted to compare the ATM sighting with the contractor’s description and realized that the information we had about the sighting was incorrect. This post will attempt to build on that finding.

Introduction to the sighting by the construction worker

On May 6, 2004, The Caledonian Record reported that a man had come forward with a potential sighting of Maura Murray on the night of her disappearance:

“There may be a break in the case involving 21-year-old nursing student Maura Murray who disappeared the night of Feb. 9 after she was involved in a one-car accident on rural Route 112 in Haverhill.  New Hampshire State Police Troop F Lt. John Scarinza said a witness has come forward with information he may have seen Murray about four to five miles east of the accident scene. Scarinza said a man, whom he declined to identify, was returning from a construction job in the Franconia area when he spotted a young woman matching Murray’s description hurrying east on Route 112, about an hour after her accident.

Visual of the area near the intersection of 112 and 116.

We later learned that this construction worker was local resident Rick Forcier who lived at the intersection of 112 and Bradley Hill Road. (Note: his identity is confirmed in the Maribeth Conway article if nowhere else). According to the newspaper he reported the sighting on April 29th, 2004. [In this post I will generally refer to him as CW: construction worker, adapted from topix].

At the time, by all accounts, LE considered this a credible lead:

“Based on the description of what he saw, we believe it may have been Maura,” Scarinza said, referring to the witness seeing a young woman fitting Maura’s description about an hour after the accident. “Based on the place and based on the time, there is a good possibility the person he saw on 112 was Maura.”

To follow up on this lead, a search was conducted on May 8, 2004 involving 15 Fish and Game officers accompanied by 6 dogs (from the New England Canine and the Upper Valley Wilderness Response Team). The search was conducted by foot and helicopter “5 miles east of the accident site on Route 112” near the intersection with 116. However, nothing was found.

It seems that the CW then became a key person of interest in Maura’s disappearance.  Although we have heard that he had become a person of interest much earlier based on statements he made to LE and the media [that Maura had come to his door], I have been unable to verify that he made these statements.  From my own read of the timeline, he came onto the radar of the investigation with this sighting a couple of months later.

However, it seems that the story about CW coming forward with this sighting was more complex than noted. On Topix (Jan 12, 2009) poster “White Wash” provided information on this point:

CW and some neighbors where (sic) talking and he mentioned seeing someone running but wasn’t sure when and then he went to look at the missing poster and call NHSP. In the mean time this person told the Store owner who was in almost daily contact with Fred. It was my understanding Fred immediatedly contacted CW.The EX saw it in the news then she jumped on the ban wagon with the LE/PI’s.

On August 3, 2011, James Renner offered a similar explanation on his blog:

I spoke to Diane and Rusty Cowles, who lived across from Forcier on Bradley Hill and still see him to this day. Forcier explained to them that it was only when he was going over his bills that he pieced together that he had been working in Franconia the night Maura vanished and must have been coming home about a half hour after the accident. He thought back on that night and figured it must have been the same evening he saw what he thought at the time was a teenage boy in a hoodie crossing the road quickly in front of him, near 116, several miles East of the crash site. He wondered if it could have been Maura.

It has traditionally been thought that the construction worker saw a female, wearing a dark coat and light colored hood.  Questions were raised about whether this matched the previously unreleased ATM footage. In other words: did this witness have information that had been “held back” by law enforcement?  And indeed, when the ATM footage was released we saw Maura was wearing a light jacket – did it possibly have a light hood consistent with the sighting? However, if we look more closely, there is no indication that CW claims to have seen 1) a female; 2) a dark coat or 3) a light hood.  In fact, it seems that he described seeing what he thought was a “teenage boy” in a “hoodie”. By other accounts he did not know if it was a male or female but reported he saw “someone”.

The Caledonian Record 5/6/04 calls the sighting “about an hour” after the accident, whereas the Boston Globe 5/7/04 notes “The witness said he saw Murray around 7 p.m. on Feb. 9, around the time she disappeared.”  Law enforcement verified his work records. A Topix poster indicated that it was confirmed that he left Franconia at 7PM however, I have no additional confirmation of this time.  If we estimate that it is a 27-36 minute drive from Franconia (generalized) to CW house, then this sighting would be around 7:15-25 and he would have arrived home at 7:27-7:36.  We can move these time estimates around to look at different scenarios.

We know that CW didn’t see Maura at 7PM or 7:15 or 7:25.  He might have seen her at 810PM+ if we believe she was running at high speeds.  Or he might have seen her at 8:30-9PM if she was running at slower speeds. But if LE verified that he left Franconia at 7PM and drove at an average rate of speed without stops, then we know he didn’t see her on his way home.  And if we believe that he left Franconia at 7PM, there is no reason to think he saw her after 8PM. In other words, he might have seen someone but there is no basis to believe that he actually saw Maura that night.

Many find it odd that he didn’t realize she went missing on Monday 2/9.  So the next question: would he have seen lights and vehicles when he returned home?  Given everything happening on 112, it would seem that he would have seen all kinds of activity as he pulled into his driveway.  But it turns out he parked on Bradley Hill Road – so it’s not clear that he would have seen much of anything. In addition, it wholly depends on the exact time he arrived home.  Some moments he might see Maura’s flashers. Other moments he might see police lights. But there are other times when he might see nothing at all. According to one person who is local to the area “I could easily see him going home and noticing nothing at all”.  So it begins to seem possible that he could have arrived home without seeing the commotion on the road. 

True it is odd that CW didn’t realize that Maura had disappeared on this particular night.  It would seem that quite a bit of activity was happening on the street – both that night and in the days to follow.  On Wednesday the NHSP ran the sniffer dog and a helicopter was flying overhead. The following week, police set up a blockade to stop cars to see who was coming through on the same day and time as Maura’s accident. But he might be extremely private, busy or whatever the case. We might find many of things a little odd. But none of this rises to the level of making him a suspect in a potential criminal disappearance.

Is there any chance that CW saw Maura that night?  I would say that if LE verified that he left work at 7PM it seems impossible that he saw Maura.  If he left at, say, 8PM then we might want to reconsider the sighting. The next question: did CW suspiciously come forward a couple of months later to divert attention from his own location?  That perception seems wholly incorrect.

Sources:

The Caledonian-Record, May 6, 2004, Police Have New Lead In Maura Murray Case, By Gary E. Lindsley
https://mauramurray.createaforum.com/evidence/newspaper-articles-57/?message=478

The Patriot Ledger, May 6, 2004, New tip on missing Hanson woman, Joe McGee
https://mauramurray.createaforum.com/evidence/newspaper-articles-57/?message=479

Boston Globe, May 7, 2004, New lead is reported in search for student – Woman was seen along N.H. road, David Abel
https://mauramurray.createaforum.com/evidence/newspaper-articles-57/?message=482

Boston Herald, May 7, 2004, New lead gives hope to missing girl’s kin, Jennifer Rosinski
https://mauramurray.createaforum.com/evidence/newspaper-articles-57/?message=483

New Hampshire Union Leader, May 7, 2004, In Brief – Police get new lead in Murray case
https://mauramurray.createaforum.com/evidence/newspaper-articles-57/?message=484

The Caledonian-Record, Monday May 10, 2004, Families Issue Emotional Plea For FBI Help, Gary E. Lindsley
https://mauramurray.createaforum.com/evidence/newspaper-articles-57/?message=488

Journal Opinion, May 12, 2004, Missing woman’s parents plead for FBI, local help, Cicely Richardson
https://mauramurray.createaforum.com/evidence/newspaper-articles-57/?message=489

The New Hampshire Union Leader, May 14, 2004, Dad can’t give up search for daughter, Mike Recht
https://mauramurray.createaforum.com/evidence/newspaper-articles-57/?message=490

The New Hampshire Union Leader, May 16, 2004, Lost — and sometimes found in the White Mountains, Lorna Colquhoun
https://mauramurray.createaforum.com/evidence/newspaper-articles-57/?message=491

http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/3620dfnh.html

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5164245.James_Renner/blog?page=28

Reddit discussion:

EXCERPTS:

  • Caledonian 5/6/04: “4-5 miles east; young woman “matching Murray’s description” hurrying east on route 112 about an hour after her accident
  • Boston Globe: 5/7/04: “The motorist, apparently a local contractor who commutes along the route every day, told police he saw the woman turn down a dirt road as he approached, said Laurie Murray” “State Police Lieutenant John Scarinza said the man reported seeing someone fitting Maura Murray’s description along the road in Haverhill, N.H., the Associated Press reported. The spot was 4 or 5 miles from where Murray had a minor car accident that disabled her vehicle just before her disappearance. Police said they will search that area this weekend. The witness said he saw Murray around 7 p.m. on Feb. 9, around the time she disappeared, police told the Murrays.
  • JR blog per neighbor Cowles: “a teenage boy in a hoodie crossing the road quickly in front of him, near 116, several miles East of the crash site. He wondered if it could have been Maura.”
  • DOE network: At 8:00 to 8:30 pm, a contractor returning home from Franconia saw a young person moving quickly on foot eastbound on Route 112 about 4 to 5 miles (6 to 8 km) east of where Maura’s vehicle was discovered. He noted that the young person was wearing jeans, a dark coat, and a light-colored hood. He didn’t report it to police immediately due to his own confusion of dates, only discovering three months later (when reviewing his work records) that he’d spotted the young person the same night Maura disappeared.
  • SOCO Article: “..New Hampshire State Police said that Maura was reportedly spotted four miles down the road shortly after her accident. A man reportedly saw Maura between 8 and 8:30 p.m. The person believed to be her was wearing jeans, a dark coat, and a light-colored hood.”
  • MMM podcast 76: “… there was a pretty publicized news story a couple of months after Maura went missing… a new witness came forward .. a young person wearing black jacket light hood moving quickly on foot wearing near the intersection of 116/112 which is 5 miles down the road approximately 30 minutes to an hour after


The search for Maura Murray. What if the initial dog track was accurate after all? by TheRealFinn

I have been critical of the initial dog track that was done on Wednesday, February 11th.  And although I still believe there is significant reason to question the validity and integrity of that process, in this post I am going to propose: what if it was accurate?  I can’t concede that the track was absolute proof of anything, but it’s worth considering the evidence it would give – or negate – if it’s accurate.

On Wednesday, February 11th, 36 hours after the crash, a dog from the New Hampshire State Police was brought in to track Maura’s scent.  The track was ultimately run about 39-40 hours after her accident on a “clean clear morning” with no fresh or additional snow since the accident.  The wind speed was estimated at between 2 and 4 MPH – considered low (good) for tracking a scent as wind disperses scent particles.  On the other hand, running a track after 39-40 hours, on a paved road with cars possibly dispersing the scent, is less than optimal.

The bloodhound ran the track twice. Both times the dog headed east and stopped down the road “within sight of the accident site”.  This track has been quoted as being “under 600 feet” “100 yards” and “near Atwood’s driveway”.   But on the Oxygen show, Todd Bogardus of the New Hampshire Fish and Wildlife, who was the supervisor in charge of Maura’s search in 2004 noted the dog track ended “at the intersection of Bradley Hill Road”.  However, the subsequent illustration done on the show references “Butch’s cabin” and the end of Butch’s driveway. 

It has been widely quoted that the dog stopped “in the middle of the road” but on the Oxygen show, Bogardus didn’t specifically state that the dog stopped in the middle of the road. I can only find the reference to the “middle of the road” in the Conway article. Tom Shamshak who worked with the New Hampshire League of Investigators also mentions “middle of the road” in an interview on the 10 year anniversary of Maura’s disappearance.

The NHSP dog was given a scent article – reportedly a leather glove that Maura had been given for Christmas.  Fred and others were disappointed in this choice since it was a new glove that Maura may not have even worn.  The best scent articles are items that are very “close” to the individual such as sweaty clothes, a toothbrush, shoes, underwear. Therefore, and given that there were many other items in the Saturn, the choice of an unused glove seems unfortunate at best.

Another problem with the scent article: it was reported by at least 2 witnesses that the door to the Saturn was open after police arrived at the scene on February 9th –  with at least one witness reporting that police were “searching” the vehicle.  This should at minimum give us doubts about the integrity of any article taken from the car.

It has been proposed that the dog was actually tracking Cecil Smith who went over to Butch’s home after arriving at the scene on 2/9. This is another reason it would be helpful to know the exact location where the dog stopped. It would, of course, also be helpful to know if Cecil was in Maura’s car on the evening of 2/9 and may have touched the glove.

On the other hand, the NHSP dog was affirmatively tracking something.  The dog was not confused or meandering, did not give vague indicators and repeated the same track both times.  John Healy of the New Hampshire League of Investigators (who was not involved in the case at the time of the dog track) notes that the initial track didn’t give us anything probative aside from possibly “… the direction she chose to walk in”.  On the other hand, Bogardus the supervisor notes on the Oxygen show “… it’s possible she may have been picked up by a vehicle there”.  [We should obtain the full transcript of his interview to determine if this was his ultimate conclusion, or just the clip shown on the show that didn’t represent all of his thoughts on the topic.]  In any case, the lead supervisor of Maura’s 2004 search seems to believe it is possible or likely she went off in a vehicle.

Episode 8 of the 107 Degrees podcast featured an interview with Katharine Dolin, an Assistant District Attorney from Missouri.  Ms. Dolin has not worked directly on Maura’s case but comments based on her experience: “… if the dog sniff died – which it sounds like – in the middle of the road, from my experience it’s much more likely that that person was put into a vehicle or got into a vehicle.”  She notes that if (Maura) had walked to a home or trailer, the dogs would have tracked her there (to her final location) and not just stopped.  She concludes “It sounds much more like she was transported from a vehicle from the area“.

This leads to one of the more puzzling aspects: why didn’t Butch see her? At this point we can’t assume he did or didn’t. We don’t know if he was a reliable witness. Some of us assume he was covering up for RF, but I can’t think of any plausible scenarios where RF picked her up in front of his house and drove her 10 feet into his driveway.

​It is also important to underline this finding: the dog didn’t track her going up to someone’s door, or hiding behind a tree, or ducking in the woods.  This may be one of the more important findings: we can’t simultaneously claim that the dog track lends suspicion to RF when it doesn’t lead up to his door or trailer.  We really can’t have it both ways.

I’m skeptical of the initial dog track.  I think there are many reasons to call it into question.  But if it tells us anything, it seems to tell us that she got into a car. Maybe more importantly it does not support the theory that she walked up to someone’s door – at least not at that intersection.

What is the linkage between the October 2003 trip and Maura’s February 2004 destination? by TheRealFinn

In October 2003, Maura and Fred took a trip to four sites: Mt. Mansfield, Camel’s Hump, Owl’s Head, and West Bond. Two of these are near Stowe, VT and two are in the White Mountains. These sites link very closely to Maura’s web searches and phone calls prior to leaving Amherst. Last year I created a series of maps to lay out these linkages.

Without drawing too many conclusions, I wanted to note the following:

– Maura was looking at effectively two areas: Stowe/Burlington and The White Mountains. These “areas” are 135 miles apart.

– Maura had a map to Burlington, VT and a note card mentioning Burlington, VT (leading to or mentioning the Winooski VT exit 15 off of I-89) However, at some point she would have bypassed the exit to Burlington (Exit 108 near Lebanon) and continued north on I-91 (unless she went up 93, etc.). In any case, at least that night, she seemed to have made a choice to head to the White Mountains rather than Stowe/Burlington.

– She could have been choosing a single destination or she could have been planning a multi-stop trip. Or she could have had no destination or a “type” of destination. [I personally think the party or meet up theory is less likely given that she was calling places so far apart.]

– My own thought it that, these four locations would be worthy of further look.  My additional thought is that the map provides a powerful visual with the linkage to the prior trip – although I would stop short of drawing any conclusions about her psychology. I would say it indicates a lack of firm destination, and a very clear linkage to her prior trip.

– What do others see when they look at these maps? What would be next steps in looking into these locations?

Map : Larger map showing all calls, web searches, combined with the October 2003 trip

Map: More general route map

Thank you to Clint Harting for spurring my thinking on this and for many others who added to excellent discussions on Reddit.

How I Think it Happened

By Tyler from Pittsburgh

– February 6, 2004.

Maura Murray felt helpless. Her eating disorder was out of control, she had been committing petty crimes and her relationship with her longtime boyfriend was in shambles due to infidelity by both parties. To top it all off, her latest local flame had just dumped her. Her life was falling apart. At her job as desk security at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she sat quiet; reflective. Maura began to break down. By the time her supervisor walked in, she was having a full-on panic attack. After mumbling an excuse as to why she had her cell phone with her against work regulations, Maura was relieved of her duties and escorted to her dorm room.

– February 7, 2004.

Maura’s father is in town for a visit. They spend time with each other and go shopping for a car. Maura picks out a vehicle she likes and her father agrees to the purchase. However, the price tag is a little more than he anticipated and they agree he will return to Amherst to buy the car at a later date.

– February 8, 2004.

Maura is feeling uncomfortable at a gathering of friends. It’s early in the morning, she isn’t in the mood to party and feels as if she may break down again. Her father had let her borrow his Toyota Corolla because Maura’s Saturn was in poor shape. Such bad shape in fact that she had recently shoved a rag deep into the tailpipe in order to prevent the vehicle from spewing smoke. As it were, her father felt safer letting her drive his car around for the weekend.

She attempts to excuse herself from the party several times explaining that she should return her father’s car. Her friends tell her it would be silly do so at such an hour. Eventually, Maura departs the group under the pretense that she will retire to her dorm room. In reality – she intends to follow through with her plan to drive to the hotel. Maura had been spending nights at her now ex-beau’s place since returning to school from winter break. And with her dorm still nearly entirely unpacked, dad’s hotel room is an inviting alternative.

It’s a short drive to the Quality Inn, but Maura is tired. She falls asleep; jolted awake just as the Corolla makes impact with a guard rail. The car is towed, and despite the possibility of alcohol in her system, the officer doesn’t arrest her. She appears to be a nice young girl who simply made a mistake. Maura is dropped off at her father’s hotel and spends the remainder of the morning there.

– February 9, 2004.

Throughout the day Maura spends time researching information on lodging in Vermont and New Hampshire. She tends to some personal calls and prints out directions to Burlington, Vermont. She feels like she needs to get away from it all for a while. Maura fabricates an excuse that will explain her absence in an email to professors. The trip up north will be a heavenly retreat from all the built-up stress which has climaxed in Amherst.

Maura embarks for Vermont. She stops at an ATM for some cash and purchases liquor — plenty of it. She’s enjoying the drive. Impulsively, she decides to take a detour towards an area she has always loved to visit — the White Mountains of New Hampshire; just for fun. She is driving well above the speed limit and drinking. Before she can realize the cause, she spins out, coming to rest facing the wrong direction in the wrong lane. Another accident. She can’t believe she has wrecked AGAIN. The weathered barn curve had come up on her so abruptly.

She fumbles around with her phone. Her boyfriend’s family had given her a AAA membership for Christmas. That will come in handy. Suddenly, Maura realizes that she has open alcohol in the vehicle. She knows what getting a DUI will mean for her future. She hurries out of the car and begins dumping the alcohol.

A bus pulls up. The driver asks if he can be of any assistance and mentions calling the police. Maura thanks him, but deceptively explains that she has already dialed AAA and sends him on his way. The bus driver continues to his residence just a short distance down the road. He parks his bus in an unusual manner in an attempt to get a better viewpoint of the accident. He informs his wife of the situation then returns to the bus. Nearby, several of his neighbors are also paying attention to the crash.

Maura makes quick work of the opened alcohol and tries to call AAA. No service. She walks around the Saturn in an attempt to get a signal. Nothing. She retrieves her backpack and puts the rest of the liquor and some other items inside, then begins walking towards the driveway where the bus driver had pulled in — she was going to need his help after all.

As Maura makes her way towards the man’s house, a vehicle rolls up next to her. She speaks with the stranger in the driver’s seat through his window and accepts his offer of a ride into town. It’s a godsend. She can handle the car tomorrow; after the buzz has worn off. Thanking him, Maura opens the passenger door and climbs inside — never to be seen again.

Police eventually obtain valuable information from local witnesses. Some of whom are instructed not to share their observations with the public.

– March 19, 2014.

Authorities believe foul play was involved in Maura Murray’s disappearance. But ten years later — she has not been located and no charges have been filed.

The Internet WILL Find Maura Murray

not without peril

The old blog was deleted shortly after Bill Jensen’s excellent article was published. Right now we’ve just started rebuilding; and your contributions will help.

First of all: Thanks, Bill, for writing such an accurate and informative piece.

I found three portions of the article particularly noteworthy.

1. “Maura’s 1996 Saturn … was ‘smoking something fierce,’ according to Fred Murray.’I said, “You can’t drive this car. The cops will pull you over in a heartbeat,”‘ he recalls. As a temporary fix, Fred says he suggested she put a rag inside the tailpipe to hide the smoke. He says he withdrew $4,000 over the course of eight ATM transactions and that on that Saturday he took Maura to purchase a car in Northampton. They ended up a couple of thousand dollars short, though, so Fred figured he’d go home, round up some more money, and come back another time.”

Fred’s recollection reinforces a portion of my theory from the blog: “On Saturday, Fred came to visit Maura as he had done in the past. He wanted to have a few drinks with his daughter, but he didn’t want her driving back to the dorm in her car. If Maura drove the Saturn back to campus, he thought, she would be practically begging for a DUI.[The police would] take one look at the car –— smoke coming from the tailpipe, a student sticker on the window — and she’d be done for. He insisted that Maura drive his car, instead.”

2. The article describes the items found in the Saturn. Significantly, it mentions “a MapQuest printout of directions to Burlington, Vermont” — there is no mention of the directions to Stowe reported by Maribeth Conway. This was one of the details that, admittedly, I obsessed over. See Jensen’s article (“[The items found in the car] would be obsessed over for the next decade”)

As reported on the blog, I contacted Helena Dwyer Murray. She recalled there being a single set of directions: to Burlington. I emphasized, to Jensen, the importance of addressing this detail. He said that he had contacted Maribeth Conway, that he hoped to speak with her and that he would ask her about the Stowe directions. It’s unclear whether he spoke with her. In any event, I am satisfied that Jensen investigated the issue and concluded that there was a single set of directions: to Burlington.

3. Jensen’s description of the Saturn accident does not appear to be consistent with James’ theory. Instead, it is somewhat ambiguous. Jensen wrote: “[Maura] took a shaky turn and crashed into a snow bank.”

I find this noteworthy because, in the past, I have disagreed with James Renner’s theory of the accident.

I hope that you will share your thoughts.