The following is my transcription of the interview with Todd Bogardus from Episode 5 of Oxygen’s “The Disappearance of Maura Murray”. This post contains no additional analysis. (I am currently studying the ground search so this is a very important piece of that analysis).
Interview with Todd Bogardus from Oxygen’s The Disappearance of Maura Murray (Season 1, Episode 5, “Something Bad Happened”) – starts at 12:18
(MF: If Maura was so intoxicated she became disoriented in the woods and died is it possible the multiple search parties missed her?)
(MF: Art and I are meeting with Todd Bogardus at the crash site to find out. A 24 year veteran with NH Fish and Game he was the supervisor in charge of the official search for Maura which commenced a day and a half after she vanished)
MF: How many search and rescue missions have you done?
TB: I’d say I’ve been participating and managing in the hundreds
MF: how many of those are still outstanding missing people?
TB: there are still 2 that are unfounded
MF: and Maura is one of them?
TB: she is
AR: what was your initial involvement in the search?
TB: … the law enforcement – they had done most of the cursory searching that evening as well as the next day
(MF: Todd’s team was brought in 36 hours after the crash on a clear cold morning)
TB: we had about a foot and a half two feet of snow there was a very thin crust on the top but if you or I were to walk off this road into the snow we would very easily leave a footprint
(MF: because the temperature remained steady and it didn’t snow again the snow on the ground had not changed since the crash – the search party used this to their advantage)
AR: did you have any helicopters?
TB: we did. we searched the immediate area and we had them tone out and go several miles away from the area. that helicopter is also equipped with a FLIR unit which is forward looking infrared – so had she been out there and giving off any heat signal we would have been able to pick that up. after covering the significant area at least 112 and outlying roads over probably 10 miles distance the end result was we had no human foottracks going into the woodlands off of the roadways that were not either cleared or accounted for. At the end of that day the consensus was she did not leave the roadway
(MF: 10 miles of roadway checked just on that first official search and not a single footprint that could have been Maura’s)
(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)
MF: so at that point you could have been looking for a deceased person
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
AR: in clues you mean like clothing or a backpack or a cell phone …
TB: Anything any human object
MF: did you ever find any?
TB: no clues to my knowledge that were directly related to Maura
(MF: Todd’s team went on to conduct 3 more searches one with 7 dog teams. In the end they searched 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. They never found a single thing related to Maura. With her missing for 6 months the official search was called off.)
MF: 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?
TB: 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
MF: where do you believe she went?
TB: There’s a NH state police bloodhound that was brought in on our first day of searching. That dog did run a track off the crash site. He actually did it twice. And each time he ran a track from the crash site it ended at the intersection of Bradley Hill Road which is just within sight of the crash site. It’s possible she may have been picked up by a vehicle there.
In January 2006, Fred Murray went to the Grafton County Superior Court to obtain the case files relating to Maura’s disappearance. When his request was denied, he appealed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Although the court also denied his request, they did require the state to explain further about the nature of the evidence in their possession. The following are my “non-expert” observations from reading the documents available from this proceeding as well as listening to available hearings from the NH Supreme Court, and the 107 Degrees Podcast episode 3.
VERY QUICK BACKGROUND ON THE PROCESS
I am not a lawyer so I will try to start with a brief “easy to understand” overview of the process for obtaining information. New Hampshire has a “Right-to-Know” Law (RSA 91-A) that functions in conjunction with the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). All of the FOIA provisions also apply to the New Hampshire law. The New Hampshire law has exemptions that center around personal privacy – in other words you can’t obtain someone’s school records, bank records, and other types of personal/confidential information. Those exemptions alone would not go far in denying Fred’s request for information. However, “FOIA” has a key clause 7A exempting materials that could interfere with an ongoing investigation, specifically:
“… to the extent that production of such law enforcement records or information . . . could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.”
In the end, Fred’s request was denied partly because it contained some of the personal information exempted by the New Hampshire law. But his request was largely denied due to the FOIA exemption 7A. What does this mean? It means that they argued that it was an ongoing investigation and one that had a “reasonable likelihood” of leading to an enforcement proceeding (“reasonable likelihood” was determined to be the operative legal standard).
RSA 91-A and FOIA:
New Hampshire Right to Know (RSA 91-A) exemptions:
Building on that background on RSA 91-A and FOIA, the following are my “Top 10” surprises or takeaways from reading the materials from the materials obtained through Fred’s legal case aka Frederick J. Murray v Special Investigation Unit of the Division of State Police of the New Hampshire Department of Safety et al.
1. THE MAURA MURRAY CASE FILE IS EXTREMELY LARGE
Maura’s case file appears to be a large one consisting of:
66 law enforcement personnel narratives
106 witness interviews
19 written witness statements
3 transcribed witness interviews
The online community has noted any number of gaps in the State’s investigation. We can either conclude that their investigation has not been thorough OR that we are not understanding the focus of their investigation.
2. THE DOCUMENTS MENTION A GRAND JURY
At this point the notion of a grand jury in this case is fairly well known. Art Roderick has told us that there were at least two grand juries that were “investigative in nature”. However, we first learned of the existence of some form of grand jury process from these documents which state – among other citations: “There are Grand Jury subpoenas that are not public and which would pinpoint the focus of the investigation.”
We know a Grand Jury was held prior to April 2007 due to the record of a hearing on the Fred Murray matter on April 13, 2007 and subpoenas submitted as early as March 15th. We can also reasonably conclude that there was no indictment coming out of any grand jury in this case. Some legal experts have stated that the function of a New Hampshire grand jury is to indict an individual in a criminal proceeding and thus, it seems unusual or improbable that these would be investigative in nature.
3. THE INVESTIGATION IS OVERWHELMINGLY FOCUSED ON NEW HAMPSHIRE
Although this is hardly breaking news, it is worth pointing out that – if we go by the affiliations of the law enforcement personnel – the investigation centered on New Hampshire. In other words, it was not national, it was not international. The investigation only tangentially ventured into other states (this will be covered in the next bullet). For what it’s worth, there is nothing in Oklahoma or Ohio or Canada or Florida or Tennessee – a few jurisdictions that have been discussed. The investigation in Massachusetts seems focused on Amherst/Hadley.
SUMMARY OF LE UNITS INVOLVED BY NUMBER
NHSP 44 (5 of these Major Crimes Unit)
Haverhill PD 9
UMass PD 7
Rochester PD 3
NH Fish and Game 2
Sullivan County DOC 2
Amherst PD 1
Exeter PD 1
Grafton County Sheriff 1
Hadley PD 1
Oxford County ME 1
4. THERE WERE SOME UNUSUAL JURISDICTIONS INVOLVED
Some LE units jump out as unusual although we are able to find explanations in most cases:
Rochester: this is accounted for by a sighting of Maura that “went nowhere”
Oxford County, ME: Oxford County Maine is where Bill went to check the hospital in Norway/Paris but this reference is still not fully understood or explained.
Sullivan County DOC.- there is a nearby Sullivan County in NH; Sullivan County in NY has a prison – but this is unexplained. Edit: confirmed to be the county in NH (site of Goshen, etc.).
5. THE STATE LISTED 20 CATEGORIES OF EVIDENCE
To respond to Fred, the State provided a page with 20 categories of evidence. (See the documents for the full description of each of these categories)
Subpoenas (including search warrants)
Credit card information
Criminal record checks
Narrative reports by investigators
Witness interviews (tapes and transcripts) – 19 written statements; 3 transcribed interviews
Polygraph examinations (4)
Possessed property reports
Policy/dispatch call logs
One-party intercept memoranda
Maps and diagrams
Investigative duty assignment (nothing in this category)
Employment personnel files
6. WHAT IS A ONE-PARTY INTERCEPT MEMORANDUM?
One of the more interesting details in the list of 20 is the “one party intercept memorandum”. We understand that this refers to either the wiretapping of a phone or someone “wearing a wire”. In New Hampshire, wiretapping is governed by RSA 570-A
But what is the “memorandum” noted? We find the answer to the memorandum question with the approval requirement specified in section II(d):
(d) An investigative or law enforcement officer in the ordinary course of the officer’s duties pertaining to the conducting of investigations of organized crime, offenses enumerated in this chapter, solid waste violations under RSA 149-M:9, I and II, or harassing or obscene telephone calls to intercept a telecommunication or oral communication, when such person is a party to the communication or one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to such interception; provided, however, that no such interception shall be made unless the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, or an assistant attorney general designated by the attorney general determines that there exists a reasonable suspicion that evidence of criminal conduct will be derived from such interception. Oral authorization for the interception may be given and a written memorandum of said determination and its basis shall be made within 72 hours thereafter. The memorandum shall be kept on file in the office of the attorney general.
In other words, if a law enforcement officer wants to record someone, they must get prior approval in the form of a memorandum. That said, the memorandum noted in Maura’s case would seem to give LE approval to go forward with recording someone. However, we don’t know if it was executed and we don’t know the target.
7. THE ATTORNEY FOR THE STATE INDICATED THERE WERE SUSPECTS UNDER CURRENT INVESTIGATION
Despite telling us “we can’t rule out that Maura may have left at her own volition” we do learn that there are suspects currently under investigation:
Prosecutor Nancy Smith … “revealing anything about Landry’s investigation, even in general terms, might identify suspects from a small community …” … “The people – the identity of those people is fairly well known.”
Ervin: “Is the investigation into those individuals currently ongoing?”
What can we conclude from this? We might conclude that the investigation into this potential crime is focused on individuals currently (then) living in New Hampshire or in the broad vicinity of the accident site. I am not sure what to make of the “fairly well known” identities. Does this mean that they are known to their community or that they are the names actively discussed? We don’t know.
8. WHAT IS AN “ACTIVE INVESTIGATION”?
The State insisted that the case was an active investigation but provided little clarification as to what that meant. It was noted that there was a detective “monitoring the case each day” and that the records were “actively being used”. They discussed such things as “following up on leads”. To me the investigation sounded less than proactive but as we don’t know the nature and focus of the investigation we can’t draw conclusions.
9. THE PHRASE “WOULD PINPOINT THE FOCUS OF THE INVESTIGATION” IS USED CONSISTENTLY
The documents consistently note that revealing x or y would “pinpoint the focus of the investigation”. Because the phrase is used consistently, each specific usage seems to provide little insight.
10. 75% CHANCE OF WHAT?
Strelzin ultimately quashed Fred’s request by stating that there was a 75% likelihood of a future enforcement proceeding.
Q: You indicated in responding to Attorney Ervin that you could give him a percentage that you have in mind of likelihood. What is that percentage regarding likelihood of this results in a criminal case?
The question becomes: was Strelzin speaking in generalities about the likelihood of bringing “this type of case” to a criminal case or was he speaking specifically about the Maura Murray case?
According to Fred Murray:
“The judge asked the assistant attorney general what was the percentage of bringing charges, and he [Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Strelzin] rolls his eyes, looks at the floor and then says, ’75 percent.’ He pulled it out of his back pocket (ass),”
“My question now to the [assistant] AG is, what is 75 percent of nothing? You said 75 percent two years ago. You made that up. Nothing has happened,”
One poster on reddit summed it up as:
75 % chance of eventually having enough information to convict.
As in 75% of the time we get one of these cold cases, it works out.
Parts sold separately.
Some assembly required.
And another explains:
“Strezlin and company were trying to argue in generalities, because quite frankly, they were getting their butts kicked in court. The judges were not buying the reasons that police wouldn’t release the records because they hadn’t established that a crime had taken place by a long shot.
So instead, Strezlin and company turned to prosecutions in general. they brought up other cases (one was like 20 years old where they finally got a conviction) to show the court that since a crime can’t be ruled out in maura’s case, it is possible (no matter how much time passes) that they can still convict. so that is why they shouldn’t release anything to fred.”
I don’t think that it was an abstract number. The preceding question was “What is that percentage regarding likelihood of this results in a criminal case?”. At best Strelzin was playing on the ambiguity of the situation. According to one source, Strelzin bragged outside the courtroom that there was a 75% chance he would be filing charges – then turned his back when a grand jury failed to indict (no body). That’s hearsay but to me it has an air of truth.