Saturday, December 17, 2011

Back after the holidays.

Just a quick update. I've gotten busy with some obligations related to my novel that's coming out in February. While I have managed to do some interviews in some spare time, I don't feel it's appropriate stuff to post during the holidays.

I should be able to share some new info after New Years.

There will be dry periods like this as I move forward. Gotta pay the bills, after all. But don't think I've given up.

Have a good holiday!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Wild Ammonoosuc

Having visited Woodsville and the Bath area where Maura disappeared, I figured the Ammonoosuc River was pretty tranquil. It hardly seemed more than a stream. In fact, there was so little water there in the summer I could walk across boulders sticking out of the river to get to the other side.

But this is what happens every year at the start of mud season, sometime in March.

That river would basically get rid of any evidence someone put in there. Scary stuff.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Who lived in New City, NY *2 UPDATES*

What you see here is a screen cap from the episode of Disappeared that showcases Maura's case. It's a quick shot of Maura's cell phone bill (which was paid by Bill Rausch's family). Some late calls to a number in New City, NY in the days leading up to her disappearance.

Anyone have a clue?

Several readers have pointed out that New City, NY is not far from West Point. So, it's possible it could be a classmate, her sister, Julie, or even Billy. Though if they're on the same plan, I'm assuming that would be apparent.

**UPDATE 2**
Some readers have pointed out the 3:40 am phone call Maura made the day she broke down at work. That appears to be a call to the Domino's in Hadley, which is open till 4 a.m.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Request for info: Maura's Last Weekend at UMass

I'm running up against a bit of a vacuum in my reporting, specifically when it comes to that final weekend at UMass (in between the upsetting phone call Maura received Thurs night and her accident in New Hampshire on Monday.) This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Most times, when I've investigated a story and run into a lack of facts it usually means the narrative we've been given is not accurate. I'm beginning to suspect that is the case here. And I could use some help.

Here's the problem: Most of what we assume about Maura's last weekend comes from one source, her father Fred. The only proof we have that the reason for his trip into Amherst that weekend was to help her look for a used car is his word. No one has publicly verified their supposed trips to used car lots, or anything else about that weekend. If they were looking for used cars, why didn't they purchase one? There would be a lot of used cars for sale in a college town like Amherst. Why spend a weekend looking for cars if they didn't have money to buy one? More to the point, how do we know her car was even acting up?

Here's what I can verify about that important weekend in Maura's life:
1. Her father came to visit.
2. They went to dinner with Kate Markopoulos.
3. Maura went to a party in the dorms with Kate and was walked back to her dorm by a guy (Kate claims she cannot remember the name of a single person who attended the party.)
4. Maura decided to not call her dad, but to drive out to his motel at 2:30 in the morning.
5. She got in an accident along the way.

Help me fill in the missing info. Is there anyone else who can speak to what happened in the spaces between what we know?

Is there anyone who attended the party with Maura and Kate?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Forget the Skull in the Horse Cemetery

Ever since New Hampshire reporters broke the story in July that human remains were found in an old horse cemetery in Littleton, 20 miles from Haverhill, the rumor mill has wondered loudly if it was Maura Murray.

Though officials have still not commented publicly, I can tell you the Murray family has been told the remains are not Maura's.

My hunch is it's just an old family cemetery.

The search for Maura Murray, alive or dead, continues...

Friday, November 11, 2011

About that alcohol in the car...

Some people have pointed to the alcohol that Maura bought the day she disappeared as evidence that she intended to drink herself to death. Sometimes, we don't see the forest for the trees, as this Websleuth points out in the screen cap above (click to enlarge).

In case you're interested in the Penn State story...

I investigated the disappearance of Ray Gricar, too.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why Maura Left West Point

Two investigators who worked Maura Murray's case (one public, one private) say she committed an honor code violation at West Point shortly before she transferred to UMass. Drinking was a factor. It's unclear whether she was forced out or simply chose to transfer to avoid a hearing.

I would be interested to hear more about Maura's experience at West Point. If you knew her there, please contact me.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NH police: We would tell you if she was alive.

If Maura Murray is alive, the NH state police don't know about it.

There's been a lot of speculation lately that Maura may have made it out of Haverhill, alive, after getting into the car accident. Some people have suggested that the police may know of her whereabouts, but, since it's not a crime for an adult to run away, may be protecting her privacy by not saying they've found her.

Not true, says Jeff Strelzin, a prosecutor with the NH AG's office.

"If we knew she was alive, we'd let you know. We'd close the investigation. We don't know where she is."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fred, at the beginning.

This is from Maribeth Conway's 5-part article that appeared in the Whitman-Hanson Express, Maura's home paper. It references a press conference held on Feb 12, 2004 in New Hampshire.

After wrapping up their own search that day, Fred and Billy met with reporters in an outdoor press conference in Bethlehem, N.H. on Thursday night. "This is very unusual," Fred explained to reporters. "It's not like her to just take off."

Fred pleaded for Maura to come home. "I don't know what the matter is, or the trouble you think you might be in, but it isn't anything we can't solve," he said through the media. "It's me - you can tell me. We'll work it out until we solve it."

Three days after her disappearance, Fred was sure Maura had run away. There's no mention of foul play, that he talks about later. At that time, he's sure she's run away, even though the only real evidence anyone has at that time is that she got into a wreck, was alone for less than 10 minutes, and has not been seen again.

Even in light of the ATM withdrawal and the note to her teachers explaining she was leaving, her car has been found abandoned in the middle of the North Country. And she's missing.

What does he know that makes him so sure she's run away from the crash site? What motive would cause Maura to run away, not just from school, not just the accident, but from him as well?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fred Tells Maura's Friends to Keep Quiet.

When Maura lived in Hanson, she was part of a popular group of girls that stuck together through thick and thin. Katie Jones. Carly Muise. Erin Devine. Andrea Connelly. Laura Rideout. Leader of the gang was Liz Drewniak (pictured above), who ran with Maura and would later go on to become valedictorian.

About a year ago, I started reaching out to these women but got no response. When I visited Hanson earlier this year, I spoke to Drewniak's mother at length, who provided me with a lot of background on Maura. Connelly's mother, as well, was much help. But the women, themselves, still did not return messages. I later found out why.

Turns out Fred Murray spoke to Liz Drewniak and said they should not talk to me. He, again, reiterated that he did not want a book or more publicity about his daughter's disappearance. For misguided, though understandable, reasons Liz then told her friends to keep quiet.

Hopefully they change their mind before the book goes to print.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Where Fred lived.

Fred Murray is still listed in the phone book as living at 22 Walker St. in Weymouth, Mass, but he hasn't lived there in some years. According to family, he lives on the Cape now, in Falmouth, though attempts to find him have not panned out (though I have left messages on his cell phone, asking for comment).

The house on Walker is vacant, now, and, apparently condemned. But his cousins still live across the street and his neighbor, Becky, says she remembers Maura visiting him there shortly before her disappearance. Records indicate the Murray family owes back taxes on the property.

For a time, Fred did live here while Maura and his other children lived with their mother, Laurie, at the house in Hanson. Fred's brother, Danny, and his sister, Rita, also lived at this house on occasion. I mention the house for a couple reasons.

Whoever lived there has issues. Serious psychological issues. I was able to get a good look inside through the many windows and what you can see is like an episode of Hoarders. Except, the only thing they are hoarding is garbage. There are piles of frozen dinners and beer boxes literally five feet high. In the kitchen, there is a pile of dog food cans stretching almost to the ceiling. This isn't a place to bring your kid.

Also, in the back I found some adult magazines among strewn junk and old mail addressed to Fred. Stuck in the pages of the magazine were xeroxed copies of girls from old high school yearbooks (maybe from the 50's/60's?). Specifically photos of Barb and Patricia Curran. I haven't been able to locate these women to figure out an explanation for this. Anyone know who these women are?

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Let's be clear. I'm not suggesting Fred Murray had anything to do with his daughter's disappearance. I don't know what the hell happened in those 5 minutes she was alone.

However, considering the details of the days leading up to Maura's vanishing act, I believe there is a strong probability that suggests Fred may be the one other person who knows why Maura went to New Hampshire in the first place.

Consider: The accident reports.
Maura picks up the reports related to the Saturday night accident. She is supposed to give them to her father, Fred. They are found in the car she was driving when she disappeared.

Consider: The location.
Many early reports of Maura's disappearance treated Haverhill as this weird out-of-the-way place Maura would never go to. But she had been on that very road dozens of times. She camped with her father at Jigger-Johnson, down the road, every summer. When she traveled to that area, it was always with Fred.

Consider: The alcohol.
Maura bought more booze than any one person could drink.

Consider: The Londonderry ping.
I believe this search warrant. And if its real, than someone near Rt. 93 called Maura earlier in the afternoon the day of her disappearance. That is the route one would take if you're driving up to the Lincoln/Jigger-Johnson area from the eastern region of Massachusetts. I believe whoever placed this call was the person she was meeting up there.

Consider: The rag in the tailpipe. I spoke to Mike Lavoie again. He says the rag was stuffed way up in there. The only reason you would stick a rag into a tail pipe like that would be some strange attempt to keep it from running. The only person who has given an explanation for the rag is Fred Murray, when he stopped by Lavoie's home, where his car was being impounded in the days after the crash. He said he'd told her that placing a rag in there would keep it from smoking. What. Utter. Bull. Shit. If I'm looking for a missing family member and I hear that someone has placed a rag in her tailpipe some time before she crashed and disappeared, I'm going to be all over that. Even if I suggested something so stupid as that it might keep smoke down, I wouldn't admit it. It's a clue. And a clue that would keep police interested in finding her. The ONLY reason I can see mentioning it is if you know your fingerprints are gonna be all over it. We don't know where that rag came from or who put it there. But Fred wants you to know that he's touched it at some point in the past.

Consider: Fred was unreachable after Maura's disappearance. Police tried to call him at home and only got a message. He didn't call them back until much later.

Consider: Fred's vehement aversion to anything that happened to Maura in the days leading up to her disappearance or why she was up there. "It's not important," he said over and over and over again. Again, as a parent who supposedly doesn't know why Maura went up there, I'm going to assume everything could be a clue.

Consider: Fred's reluctance to sit down with detectives. He refused to be formally interviewed, on record, by police for 2 YEARS. 2 Years, his daughter was missing and he wouldn't meet with police. And when he does, he brings lawyers. What was said in that interview will remain secret until this case is solved. But more than one source has told me off the record that some of the questions pertained to the nature of his relationship with Maura and why on earth she came to his motel room at 2:30 in the morning and stayed through the night.

Fred's a master manipulator. Good at spin.

But if you look at the probability, you come to the conclusion that the most likely scenario, in fact the only one that explains the evidence, strongly suggests Maura was driving up to New Hampshire to meet her father and, perhaps, even did meet with him somewhere before she vanished or ran away or was killed.

Is Maura Alive?

That was the question that led to this latest adventure into the North Country.

Several weeks ago, I received what I believe to be a credible tip from one of the three main people who have reached out to police believing they have seen Maura Murray alive after her disappearance. This person told me that she was sure she saw Maura with a child at a house on Firefly Lane in Hillsborough, NH.

Coming as this did at around the same time I learned of this mysterious "Londonderry ping," I was very interested-- Hillsborough is within 20 miles of Londonderry and the call to Maura's phone the day of her disappearance could have originated from that area.

I'm sorry to say, Maura was not there. I spoke to two women living in the houses around there that looked kinda sorta like her. They both had young children. And could have been mistaken, I guess, by someone driving down the road, but, no doubt about it, neither one was Maura Murray.

That left me with some time to track down some other leads. I spoke with the tow truck driver again and visited a very frightening house connected to Fred. Lots to talk about in the coming days. I'm still not sure what Maura's ultimate fate was, but I believe I have a much clearer idea of why she drove to New Hampshire in the first place. And I think I understand the rag in the tailpipe.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Open question.

A couple people have mentioned an "ad" that Fred Murray or the family took out in a local newspaper just after Maura's disappearance. The ad asked Maura to come home.

Does anyone have the name of the paper and the date that it ran?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Some sightings tracked down...

Spoke to a source close to the investigation today. One topic of conversation was the alleged sightings of Maura Murray after her disappearance.

Police responded quickly to one sighting, driving to a home, only to discover Julie Murray at the door. Seems the sisters are so similar in appearance they often still get mistaken for each other. It's happened a couple times since the disappearance.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Official Response

Because there has been so much conflicting information given to journalists who have reported on Maura's disappearance over the years, I am trying to get some definitive answers. Easier said than done.

Earlier this week, I sent the following questions to Lt. Todd Landry, the lead investigator in the case.

1. Is this search warrant a hoax? It appears on this website, with your name. If it is an actual document, the fact that it has been released by a state organization makes it public record now by default:

2. What items were taken from Maura's vehicle? Several state police reps have commented on the record about this, which allows you to offer comment as well. Unfortunately, each time they were quoted, the info was slightly different.

3. Who was first on scene? Some reports have trooper John Kapp-Monagham as first on scene, some have Cecil Smith.

Here is Landry's response:

Mr. Renner, In response to your questions I offer the following:

The investigation is and has been on-going since the night Maura Murray went missing. In order to protect the integrity of the investigation I am limited to what can be released. In conferring with the lead prosecutor that is overseeing the case I can only confirm that the first responding police officer that was on the scene was Sgt. Cecil Smith of the Haverhill Police Department.

For reasons explained above, I would not be able to meet with you as no other information will be provided to you. Thank You for your understanding in this matter. Respectfully, Lt. Todd Landry

In any event, I think it says a lot that police are still treating this like an open and active case. The only reason to play that close to the vest would be if they believe there's a possibility of some sort of criminal charges at some point in the future.

Monday, October 24, 2011


I'm very interested in taking a fresh look at the reports of Maura Murray sightings since her disappearance.

If you think you saw Maura, or know someone who has, please contact me at

Saturday, October 22, 2011

More thoughts on the "Londonderry Ping"

So I guess we're calling this clue the "Londonderry ping." Sounds good to me.

Some people have been wondering if this call that came into Maura's cell phone the afternoon she went missing, the call that "pinged" the Londonderry tower, could have been Maura checking her cell phone. When you check voicemail on some cell phones, the phone literally calls itself. Mine is like that.

However, the way I read the search warrant, it appears they were trying to identify the person who owned the number that called Maura. Obviously, they would have recognized Maura's cell phone number. It seems it was either logged on her bill (that would be the bill that goes to her boyfriend Billy Rausch's mother) as a number that they could not put to a name or an "unlisted" number that could be provided by the cell phone company logs.


If it was merely Maura checking her cell phone, this is still significant information. The phone could only have pinged the tower if it was within 22 miles. There's a photo above, showing the area. If it was Maura, she wasn't traveling up 91 N like we've assumed. She would have likely been traveling up 93 N, which begs more questions, like, could she have swung by Hanson or Weymouth before heading into the North Country?

My hunch is it was not Maura checking her phone. I think it came from the person she was meeting up there.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The search warrant and what it implies...

A few weeks ago, I discovered what appears to be a search warrant filed by Lt. Todd Landry of Troop F on this obscure website.

Here it is:

Supporting Affidavit for Issuance of Search Warrant I, Todd D. Landry, do hereby depose and say;

1. That I am currently employed by the State Police and have been for the past ten years. Currently, I am assigned as a Detective at Trooop- F in Twin Mountain, NH. I have received extensive training in the investigation of criminal matters.

2. That on February 9, 2004 at 1927 hours the Haverhill, NH Police Department responded to a single vehicle motor vehicle crash on Route 112 in Haverhill, NH. Upon arrival, Sgt. Cecil Smith was unable to locate the driver of the vehicle. Subsequent investigation determined that the driver of the vehicle was MAURA MURRAY (d.o.b. 05/04/82), 22 Walker Street, Weymouth, MA.

3. A witness at the scene later confirmed that the driver was MURRAY.

4. An extensive search of the area has been conducted and MURRAY has not been located.

5. During the course of this investigation, Cellular Telephone records have been obtained by Law Enforcement that were used by MURRAY. A representative from Sprint Corporate Security advised this affiant that during the late afternoon hours of February 9, 2004an outgoing telephone call was made to Murray from the Londonderry, NH Sprint tower. This call had to have been made from within a 22 mile radius of the tower. The identity of this caller and telephone number has not been made as of this date.

6. That identifying the caller of the telephone call could be pertinent to the ongoing investigation and may lead to the whereabouts of Maura Murray.

7. Based on the foregoing, there is probable cause to believe evidence in the suspicious disappearance of Maura Murray may be found through Sprint Wireless Cell Tower Telephone Records, including any outgoing calls from the Londonderry tower of Sprint to Maura Murrays Sprint PCs number ********** for February 9, 2004 from 0001 hours to 2400 hours.
Todd D. Landry

I spoke with Christopher King, who runs the website and, as he recalled, he was given the search warrant after filing a public records request with a lawyer who represents New Hampshire police.

I have also spoken to Lt. Landry, himself.

It appears to be authentic.

The more I look at this case the more convinced I become that Maura was meeting someone in New Hampshire.

Whoever called her cell phone the day she disappeared dinged a cell phone tower in the southeastern part of New Hampshire, possibly near Rt. 93. She either knew someone around there or someone was traveling toward her to meet up with her. At least that's how I read this discovery.

Monday, September 26, 2011

There was no second crash site.

A lot of people are saying the damage to Maura's Saturn does not line up with the official explanation of her accident. This rumor started on other boards and has taken on a weird frenzy in recent weeks. Please let me put this to rest so we can concentrate on other clues.

The reason the damage does not seem to match with the report is simply because what was reported was not accurate. As I reported in the summer, Maura's accident did not happen the way newspapers have reported. According to one of the first people to arrive on the scene, it was obvious that Maura's car had crashed through a snowbank on the left side of the road before spinning around and coming to rest on the other side. The snowbanks were high and could have caused the damage to her hood that we see in the photos

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Credit Fraud and Lying Witnesses: What the Private Eye Found

Private investigator, John Healy, was one of the first sources I spoke to when I started looking into Maura's disappearance earlier this year. Healy, 62, served 20 years with the New Hampshire state police, working his way up to Lieutenant. Since then, he's been a P.I., working on famous homicides and writing the occasional mystery novel. He was contacted by Helena Murray and was instantly gripped by the case.

He has a daughter about Maura's age. She's blind in one eye, which sometimes makes her less aware of her surroundings. One day, while hanging out in her college room, she looked up to find a large man standing in her bedroom. He seemed to lose his nerve when she caught him and he backed out of the room and ran away. She was so shook up it took her 20 minutes to find her cell phone to call her dad. "There but for the grace of God goes my daughter," he says.

The first thing Healy did when he agreed to look into Maura's disappearance, was to speak with Jeff Strelzin, the chief prosecutor at the AG's office, who happened to be a childhood friend. He wanted to give them a heads-up before he started interviewing witnesses. Shortly thereafter, Healy spoke with Fred and Maura's family. In 2006, with the help of a dozen other PI's and a slew of local volunteers, Healy organized a massive Search and Rescue operation, using cadaver dogs capable of sniffing out a body under cement or water. "We've searched pretty much everything within a 5 mile radius of where Maura wrecked her car."

But, for the most part, the searches have yielded no clues. "We found a piece of rug with some blood in an old abandoned house but I'm 90% sure it had nothing to do with the case. We gave the location to police."

Most of Healy's investigation has been conducted in New Hampshire, but he did learn a little about Maura's life at UMass and some things that might have stressed her out enough to want to get away for a little while. "She was caught using someone's credit card inappropriately. What we were told was that she had ordered pizza with a credit card that was not her own."

Healy and his friends interviewed a number of strange characters near where she went missing. One of the people he looked at closely was the man he refers to as "that shithead, Butch Atwood. He gave us 3 different versions of what happened the night he talked to Maura on the side of the road." In one version, Maura spoke to him from the car. In another, she was standing outside when she spoke to him. Healy even went to Florida, after Butch moved there, to question him again. But Butch wouldn't say anything other than to tell the PI that he had once been a police officer in Taunton , Mass--another lie, as Butch was never a police officer, though he did work for local government in Taunton for a time. In the end, it appeared Butch was nothing more than a tale-tale teller, a guy prone to exaggerating stories, "a pathological liar."

Rick Forcier was another strange puppy, as far as Healy is concerned. "When we went to talk to him, he wouldn't let us in his trailer."

As for his relationship with Murrays, that has disintegrated over the years. "Fred is a volatile man," he explains. "But I can't fault him."

Healy believes Maura was murdered. "We're sure she was killed. Her death was caused by the intervention of another human being. And we're pretty sure we know who did it. Everything points to one direction."

His personal theory is that Butch may have seen someone stop and pick up Maura. He thinks it might have been someone who Butch was afraid of. Afraid enough to keep it secret even on his death bed.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Team Captain Butted Heads With Hoss

When Maura was on the track team at UMass, her team captain was Crystal Therrien.

Therrien was what they call a "multi-eventer," a sprinter-jumper, while Maura ran distance with Markopoulos. She remembers Maura as having the whitest teeth and the biggest dimples she's ever seen. "I remember her smile. She was always smiling. We used to hang out at these track parties, where the whole track team would go to somebody's house off campus."

Therrien remembers Hoss being at some of these parties but never knew they were dating. Hoss, she says, had his own way of motivating the women during practice. "He was not a very good leader," she says. "We'd have them running hills and he'd try to motivate them by yelling at them. 'Suck it up!' That might work for some people. But not everybody. He just had a cocky way about him."

Still, other teammates like Nastaran Shams saw good in him. More than they heard about Maura's boyfriend Billy, back at West Pointe. "[Hoss] was great. He was an incredible runner. He was in incredible shape. He had a big crush on her. So we tried to hook her up. Let's just say we weren't big fans of Billy."

Why Some Comments Are Not Posted

I have held back several comments over the last couple days. Please keep these guidelines in mind:

1. Do not identify suspects by name, unless you have supporting evidence.
2. No libelous or mean rants about anyone, except me. You can say stuff about me. That's fine.
3. No crazy conspiracy theories. They distract from the truth. Also, there are other websites for that.
4. Tips should go to my email:

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Her Best Friend

Finally got a chance to speak with Kate Markopoulos this week. Kate was a distance runner at UMass, like Maura, and they were quick friends. Everyone on the team I've spoken to referred me to Kate, as she was never far from Maura on and off the track.

Two days before Maura disappeared, Kate went with her and Fred to a brew pub in town and then returned with Maura to Kennedy Hall, where they went to a party at a friend's dorm room. The room was stuffed full of people, some they knew, some they did not, an even mix of men and women. She and Maura drank Skyy vodka mixed with Franzia blush wine, their drink of choice. Around 2:30 am, Kate and Maura left the dorm, accompanied by a male student. Maura said she was going to bed and the male student walked Kate back to her dorm. That was the last time Kate saw her friend.

She tells a different story about Fred than Hossein. "She talked about her Dad all the time. You could tell he really loved her. She loved him. She loved hiking with him." They traveled to New Hampshire together a lot, she says.

Oddly, Kate does not recall Maura mentioning that Fred had come into town that day to help her look for a new car, but is unsure if time has fogged her memory.

At the time of her disappearance, Maura was under a lot of stress, she says. She had quit track to focus on school work. And she was not thrilled about plans to move to Oklahoma with Billy after graduation. "She thought it was in the middle of nowhere, but she was going to move because she loved him."

After she vanished, Kate spoke to several detectives who were not too pleased with her imperfect memory. "What do you mean you don't know who was at the party?" they asked her. "There are good cops and bad cops, I get that. But they were not nice. They couldn't understand why I didn't remember."

Kate misses her friend and wonders often what happened. It's obvious the disappearance still affects her profoundly, today. In light of the news about Hossein and the location of Maura's last known whereabouts, Kate realizes there was a lot Maura must have kept secret. "The more I think about it, the more I realize I didn't really know her. I don't know what she was doing behind closed doors."

Friday, September 9, 2011

To Maura, If You're Out There...

I'm still very much treating the research for this book like an investigation into a murder. The most likely explanation to me is that she traveled to the North Country planning to meet someone (possibly picking them up along the way, or meeting them in the area and following toward some other location) and then something went wrong.


After speaking to Hossein, members of the track team and getting this info about the bank, as well as a very interesting tip on a recent sighting of Maura with a child, I am open to the possibility that she is alive and choosing to live a new life. If that is the case, and Maura is reading these posts I'd like to make a request:

Please let me or the police know you're alive and well. If this isn't a case of murder, you have the right to continue on with this new life away from the ones you left behind. Verify that you're okay and the police can close their investigation, I can stop researching the disappearance, and you can stay in hiding. Right now, though, everyone is kind of assuming the worst.

The real Maura Murray

We are all sinners. All liars. All complicated little petty people with our own agendas. Examine anyone's life and you'll start to find their demons. Maura is no different. And some of the stuff I've heard this week--which I'll be covering in the next few posts--paints a different picture of the young woman that family and friends tried to paint as a saint. But that doesn't mean she was a bad person. In fact, she was strong. She was happy. She was just complicated like the rest of us.

Some of her happier times were spent with Hossein Baghdadi, the assistant coach of the track team, in 2003. At the urging of friends, they started seeing each other in the Spring of 03 and had a hot and heavy relationship that went into the summer. Sometimes they went to movies, restaurants, or went running but they kept it on the DL, because he was a coach, even though she had stopped running and participating in track by then. Alone with "Hoss," Maura referred to Billy as an "ex." With Hoss, she never mentioned her father. "I never knew her father was even alive," he says. They talked about taking a vacation to the White Mountains so she could hike and he could go fly fishing.

Maura drove to Amherst to visit Hoss that summer and stayed with him for a bit. But shortly thereafter, "She fell off the face of the earth." She stopped returning his phone calls, stopped answering his emails. When they returned to UMass in the Fall of 03, Maura explained that she'd gotten back with Billy.

"He seemed very chauvinistic," says Hoss. "He wanted her to be in certain places at certain times. He was checking up on her. I think he was demanding with her, but that's just the impression I got." He also got the impression from Maura that Billy could be physical. She felt she couldn't really get away from him.

After Maura went missing, detectives visited Hoss and he shared what he knew with them. One of the things he shared was a conversation he says he had with Maura when they were alone one day. "She talked about running away. She said, 'I wish I could disappear.' When I heard she was missing, I though, 'holy crap! Maybe she did it.'"

Later, he learned she'd been sleeping with other members of the track team. "She was very promiscuous, it turns out."

But that doesn't change the image he has in his mind of the bubbly girl he fell for. "She was super energetic. Always seemed happy. But she was sad, too. Underneath."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

UPDATED: Banker says Maura has open, active account.

I don't know what to make of this. On the surface, it seems very exciting. It suggests Maura may still be alive and laying low (everyone's secret wish, I believe). Or, perhaps there is a simple explanation.

If she did just start a new life, law enforcement are under no obligation to tell anyone they found her. She's an adult, after all. But they certainly seem to still be searching for her, too.

In light of this tidbit and this news about a secret suitor at UMass, I'll have to check in with police in the next couple days. I'll update here.

So here it is. This came in via email today. I've been able to tentatively verify the identity of the person who sent it and it seems to check out. For obvious reasons, this source will remain confidential.

This probably doesnt mean anything, I don't know. I was always terrified to post on websleuths, topix, or the MM forum because everyone who doesn't agree with the official party line gets attacked.
Anyway, I have always been kind of weirdo and looked at the Doe Network, then the Charley Project, etc. In 2007 I worked as a bank teller at a "chain" bank that has branches in NY, PA, and New England. It would get pretty boring sometimes, and I am nosy, so during lulls I would go through the database and search for people I knew, famous people, random missing people, etc. One time I searched "Maura Murray". As of the end of 2006/early 2007, there was a Maura Murray, born May 4, 1982 with an active account opened in New Hampshire. If I recall correctly, it was attached to a car loan, and the account was active in that it was collecting payments. I remember the information looked pretty familiar, so I wrote it down and checked it against the Charley Project profile when I got home. I was always afraid to say anything, maybe it is a coincidence and I'll look stupid, and at the time I didn't want to get in trouble at my job. I saw this blog and figured what the hell.
thanks and best of luck
id prefer to remain somewhat anonymous

Editor's note: It was a Citizens Bank.

Some clarification from my source:

Citizen's Bank no longer does car loans, but they did then. To have one, you needed a checking account that was attached to the car loan for payment purposes. By "active", there had been payments within the last 30-60 days on the car loan, because once a person was late and sent to collections, the account would read 0000 next to the name and be flagged. So if this was in fact an account related to her, it was after she was missing. As I didn't work in the vehicle finance department, I could only see partial info.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

BREAKING: Maura's secret suitor.

Some info came in from a reliable source last night that kind of rewrites the narrative we've been given about Maura by her family and Billy Rausch.

It turns out Maura was considering ending things with Billy. Seems she had gotten very close to a nice, ambitious young man at UMass and her friends were pushing her to drop Rausch for this new guy. It was a relationship she had to keep secret at the time for a good reason.

I have the man's name but I'm waiting for him to respond before I go into it too much.

I would very much like to speak to anyone who knew Maura at UMass. Please contact me at

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Haverhill Police Chief Who Worked on Maura's Case is a Troubled Man

When I visited Haverhill earlier this year to speak to people familiar with the investigation into Maura's disappearance, several sources pointed me toward former Haverhill police chief Jeffrey Williams. In 2004, when Maura vanished, Williams was chief. He's not anymore. We'll get to that in a second.

It didn't take long to track him down. Haverhill, Bath, and Woodsville are small towns. Everyone knows everybody. I was directed to a property on Bradley Hill Road, about a mile from where Maura got into her accident. Williams' house is a mansion, with a gigantic barn/garage he built himself, topped with an ornamental golden cow. Not bad digs for a former public servant.

When I knocked, Williams opened the door only a little but it was enough for me to get a sense of his size. He's a big man. Intimidating. Ruggedly handsome. And pissed off. When I told him I was a reporter, he slammed the door in my face. I went to his car and began to write a note, so that I could leave my contact information. At that point, he opened the door and shouted at me to leave his property, "before I kick your ass." I obliged.

It was an odd response from a former chief of police. But after speaking to neighbors, I learned that Williams has gone through a bit of a rough patch over the last couple years and has reason to fear the media.

His troubles began in April of 2009, when he wrecked his Harley when he collided with a pick up truck in Woodsville. And then, on July 24, a Haverhill cop spotted a car speeding along Rt. 10. The car tried to get away. The cop gave chase. Eventually, the car pulled over near the Bath line on Swiftwater Rd. The driver was Jeff Williams. He was charged with DWI and disobeying a police officer and that was the end of his career.

The car he was driving was not his own. There's been a lot of talk about who it belonged to. A woman who was not his wife. But let's not get into gossip.

Fred Murray was perhaps the first one to call out Williams' character. He believed Williams' intentionally mislead newspaper reporters about how intoxicated Maura appeared after the crash.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Why did Maura leave the party?

Saturday, Feb. 7, two nights before she went missing, Maura was having drinks with friends in the dorms at UMass. At around 2:30 am, she told friends she was going to bed but, instead, left the dorms, got into the car she had borrowed from her father, Fred Murray, earlier that night, and drove it toward the motel he was staying at in nearby Hadley. On the way, she ran into a guardrail and caused $8,000 in damage to the vehicle, causing Fred to get a rental to drive home the next day.

I thought the accident happened some distance from UMass, but you can see from these pictures it was relatively nearby. That is the guardrail, and the other is pointed the other way. You can clearly see UMass from the scene of the accident.

Why in the world was Maura going to her father's hotel room at 2:30 in the morning?

-A special thank to Clint for sharing these photos.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Is it a clue?

I've been trying to verify this tip with limited success so I'm putting it out there to see if anyone knows more. This one comes from a source close to the crime scene.

Word is police were once interested in a pair of brothers who made snow out at Loon Mountain in Feb. 2004. They drove to work every evening along Rt. 112 and would have passed the scene of Maura's disappearance. My source was told by police that the night Maura disappeared, the brothers did not show up for work.

If you know who these brothers were, please email the info to me so I can attempt to rule in/rule out this pair.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Blackberry not Jigger Johnson

Turns out some websites related to Jigger Johnson have some erroneous info. Jigger Johnson is, in fact, closed for the winter months and would have been closed when Maura disappeared. However, Blackberry Crossing Campground, in Conway, is open year-round. It's a little closer to Haverhill than Jigger Johnson, on Rt 112.

Thanks to those who found the mistake. Another reason for this blog is to suss out the facts before publication.

Again, I'm not saying she went there, only that she was very familiar with the campgrounds around Jigger Johnson and may have had that area in mind before and after the accident. There are hotels in and around Loon Mountain and also Woodstock that may have been her destination. I'm even open to the possibility that she had made plans to meet someone over there. Point is, she knew that heading East would have taken her to an area with lodging that she was familiar with.

New Section Added

Check the pages above this post. You will see I've added an "Evidence" section where I'll be linking to documents related to this case which you can read through/download for further study. Many documents, including the accident reports, can be viewed right now.

A couple things I found interesting. Check out Fred Murray's FOIA request. I've never seen anything like it from the parent of a missing family member. I've seen requests like that before, but usually from defense attorneys seeking discovery before a trial. Also, the lawyers Murray used to file his appeal when the records were denied appear to be copyright/trademark attorneys.

Let me know if you find anything of particular interest.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Lavoie Says Fred Murray Explained Mystery Rag

While in Haverhill last week, I caught up with Mike Lavoie, the man who towed Maura's car from the scene of the accident the night she disappeared. His first reaction when I asked about Maura and that night was anger. "Can't you see I'm working? I'm busy. And I'm tired of talking about it."

Eventually, he calmed down, though and shared some details about that night 7 years ago.

"I was laying on the couch when I got the call. I got the truck, got out there pretty quick."

He noticed the rag and asked Fred Murray about it later. "He said he told her to put it there to keep it from smoking. The car was not running well."

It was an odd thing to say to anyone who knows cars. A rag in a tailpipe is a good way to stall a car.

Okay, here's my problem. I have a kid. I try putting myself in Fred's shoes to understand where he's coming from. Think about finding yourself in this situation. Your kid's gone. Missing. And there's this weird detail about a rag in a tailpipe. Even if he really did tell her something so incredibly wrong as "stuff a rag in the tailpipe if your exhaust is smoking"--and we're talking about a guy who understands nuclear medicine, here--would you try to explain that detail away if you didn't know for sure? If there was a possibility that some bad guy had stuffed the rag in there to stall her car? Why would you give a defense as to why the rag was there? Why was it important for police to know that he, Fred, had given Maura that rag in the first place? The whole thing is hinky.

Friday, August 5, 2011

In her brother's words

Kurt is the youngest of the Murray siblings, but shared a special bond with Maura. She was the one who played catch with him in the cul-de-sac outside their house on Joanne Drive in Hanson. Ground-ball drills. If he botched a play, she'd make him run laps.

"We went on adventures in the woods, too. She'd take me to the river tucked in back there. We used to go on camping trips every year. Jigger Johnson was our favorite spot. Sometimes she'd go with her father and I'd come along. Sometimes they just went themselves."

When he'd travel there with Maura, they would jump off bridges into the river together. There was a rope swing for a while, at the Jigger Johnson campground, too. Maura was fearless, he says. "She'd always put on a show. She'd jump off that rope swing and do these all twists in the air before falling into the water."

The routine of running the home eventually fell to Maura when the older kids moved out or got jobs and she would shop for the family's groceries, taking Kurt along with her to the local Shaws. She turned it into a game, leaving items at the end of isles for Kurt to race to and then return to the cart. She taught him to bargain shop.

"I hated running, so when she'd go running, I'd ride my bike along with her."

Kurt came home from school one day and the whole family was there. Maura was missing, they told him. Everyone packed up and drove to New Hampshire. They stayed at the Wells River Motel for a bit and then at a condo in Lincoln owned by Fred Jr's boss. The siblings searched for Maura, or her body, in the woods, though Kurt once told his aunt it would crush him if he ever were to actually find her remains.

It makes sense that she would have gone up there with the intention of clearing her mind, he says. "I think she needed a break. All this talk of suicide...why would she drive all the way up there to do it? Doesn't make sense. That place was special for us. I think she went up there to take a breather and then something happened."

When their mother, Laurie, got sick, Kurt moved back home and took care of her until the end, dropping out of school so he could work to help with living expenses. The kid's been through a lot more than most, but he still has a quick smile and a laid back disposition. He's more than a little inspiring to tell the truth.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Forget Butch Atwood and Rick Forcier

Rick Forcier

Butch Atwood

Once you get past the published news reports on Maura Murray's disappearance, you might find yourself reading through various messageboards where people have written thousands of posts about this unsolved mystery. On these unregulated boards, people can post rumors with no verification and name "suspects" with little fear of libel charges. Two of the most commonly named suspects are Butch Atwood and Rick Forcier. And, in my opinion, neither one had anything to do with Maura's disappearance. In fact, both tried to help in their own ways.

First, Butch Atwood. He was the bus driver who stopped to ask Maura if she needed any help shortly after the accident. He offered to call the police but Maura pleaded with him not to. She said she had already called Triple-A. Of course, having lived in Haverhill for some time, Butch knew this was a lie--phone reception is for shit up there, even worse in 2004. Ask anyone up that way about Butch being involved and they will laugh at you. You see, Butch was a fat man. Morbidly obese. Maura could have easily have run from him. Secondly, Butch's house was not vacant. He lived with his mother and common-law wife at the time. They were home. He was seen sitting in his bus. Oh, and he--or his wife, rather--were the ones who called the cops. Butch was never a viable suspect, in my opinion. He has since passed away.

Then there's Rick Forcier. He lived across from Atwood, on the corner of Bradley Hill Rd. and Wild Ammonoosuc. At the time, he lived in an ugly trailer next to the house he was constructing in his spare time. Today, only the house remains, and it's a beauty. Forcier becomes part of the story several months after Maura's disappearance when he comes to police and mentions he might have seen Maura running near East down Ammonoosuc the night she disappeared, on his way home from work. People were immediately suspicious, wondering why Forcier waited so long to come forward.

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.

Of course, Forcier is at least a little responsible for some of the suspicion people have about him. When people asked him about it, he liked to joke that Maura was living in his house and that "she's a great cook," according to the Cowles. That was Forcier's sense of humor. When the police started asking pointed questions and demanding to search his trailer, he figured his ex-wife might have shared that joke with detectives.

Rusty Cowles says eventually Forcier sold his trailer and had it trucked away. When he did, the state police pulled the truck over and searched the trailer from top to bottom, a clever way to get around a search warrant. Forcier has since moved away from Haverhill to be closer to his kids. He has not responded to a request for an interview.

Niether of these individuals seem like viable suspects to me. I'm a little confused why Fred Murray made such a big deal about them.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Maura was in New Hampshire for New Years, 2004.

Consider this rumor officially confirmed.

The mother of Andrea Connolly, one of Maura's close friends from Whitman-Hanson, tells me detectives were very interested in the news that Maura spent New Years Eve at a house owned by Connolly's friend in Goshen, New Hampshire, a month before she disappeared. Nobody was living there the week Maura went missing, but they did call up to neighbors to have them check the house. But it was empty.

Goshen is about an hour and a half drive from Haverhill.

What the witnesses saw.

One thing that has been re-reported with little verification over the years is the story by Faith Westman, who lived in the house across the street from where Maura's car came to rest on Wild Ammonoosuc Rd., in which she says she saw a man in Maura's car smoking a cigarette. That's not exactly right, she told me last week.

"I heard a crash and then I went to the window. I saw the car. There was a red light in the car, which I thought might be the light from the end of a cigarette," says Westman. "But I never saw a man and the red light could have been anything. Maybe a cell phone light as she was trying to find a signal to call someone."

She saw the woman in the car get out and walk around the vehicle as she called the accident in to local authorities--crashes on that curve in the wintertime are not unusual in themselves and she has to do this at least once every season.

John Marrotte is an old, earnest fellow who lives in a house on the North side of the street. Since the trees were bare at the time, he was able to see the car--and the woman--from the window of his kitchen.

"I saw her get out and walk around the car. When I looked out again, the police were there. She was gone. I don't know what happened. Only man who knows is up there." he points to the sky.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The forgotten "second outburst".

One of the stories everyone comes back to when reviewing Maura's case is the "breakdown" she had the Thurs. night before she disappeared, after she spoke to her sister Kathleen on the phone. But there was a second outburst, according to an article published by Seventeen several years ago. On Saturday night, Maura dropped her father off at a nearby motel and returned to the dorms where she hung out with friends and drank Skyy Blue and wine.

A couple times during the night, Maura told her friends that she wanted to drive back to the motel that night instead of waiting until the next day to return her father's car. Even her friends told her that didn't make sense.

According to Seventeen, Maura left the party at 2:30 am, telling everyone she was going to bed, but instead, got in her car headed for the motel. On the way, she would crash into a guardrail and cause several thousand dollars in damage to Fred Murray's car. They had a lot to discuss when she got there. But, why in the world was she going there in the first place?

How the accident probably happened.

Tucked away in the scant public records made available on Maura's case is a letter from the Woodsville Rescue Ambulance to then-chief Jeff Williams. It lists the names of EMS and fire dept. crew who responded to the scene of the accident on Wild Ammonoosuc Rd. Then, below that, is this auspicious sentence: "Also, Dick Guy mentioned that he had noticed a couple of odd things at the MVA [motor vehicle accident] that he is curious if HPD [Haverhill police dept.] was made aware of."

I found Dick Guy last week at his TV repair shop in Woodsville. He's an affable guy who considers EMS more of a hobby, a part-time passion.

"Everything about the scene of the accident was weird," he says. "If she had just lost control of the car coming around that corner, she would have impacted the North side of the curve. She didn't. She clipped the corner. She sheered the snow bank clean off and continued on to the other side, where it turned the car around."

Guy then drew a freehand map of what he saw that night, which is posted above, showing the sheered-off corner.

"To me, I'd say the car stalled and she was trying to regain control as she came to the turn."

And that brings us to the strange rag they discovered stuffed into the tailpipe. It's a good way to stall a car, he said. Guy doesn't think a car would get a mile down the road before it stalled out with a rag stuffed into it like that.

"There's only two explanations for the rag in the tailpipe," he says. "One, someone stuffed it in there to get her to stall. Two, someone put it in there after the accident to muddy the waters."

I believe Guy's interpretation of events. Impacting that corner better explains the damage done to Maura's car, too. But if someone did stuff a rag into the tailpipe to make the car stall, when and where, exactly did that happen?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Billy was a player.

I've discussed before that the phone call the Rausch's have long claimed came from Maura the day after she disappeared was just a Red Cross worker trying to help Bill get leave from the military. No calling card was used. But his distortions of the truth don't stop there.

There was something about Bill Rausch that Maura couldn't walk away from, even when she knew he was bad news bears, according to her aunt Janis.

"He cheated on her. Cheated on her with her sister Julie's friend as if that wouldn't get back to Maura. Then he'd buy her expensive jewelry. Maura was heartbroken. She came to me sobbing. I told her he wasn't worth it. But she always went back."

One detective went further. "He's a scumbag, the way he treated Maura. If she did go up there with the intention of committing suicide, it's because of the way he treated her."

Bill Rausch has not responded to requests for an interview.

Items found inside Maura's Car:

Some of the items Maura left behind in her car, like the bottles of alcohol, have been removed, but others still remain, including the coke bottle that allegedly contained booze of some sort.

Beside the bottle is a tag from a place called the Lynwood Cafe, located in Randolph, Mass, which is kind of an odd place for Maura to have visited. Here's a quote from one review:

The place is called the Lynwood Cafe, and it is located at a deserted-looking crossroads in a rather gritty part of Randolph. Aside from being relatively little-known, the Lynwood is nearly impossible to find if you don't know the area, and indeed, even people who have been to the place a few times (including this writer) still have trouble finding it. But for bar pizza, it may be the best in the Boston area, which makes it well worth seeking out if you like that style of pie.

Also does anyone know what the strange packet is resting in the change holder? I don't know what the metal contraption in the door compartment is, either, or if it was something left behind from the towing company. The parking pass was on the ground beside the car and may be unrelated.

Maura's Car

Maura Murray's car is still parked outside behind Troop F's barracks near the white mountains. It's locked, but I could clearly see red stains on the ceiling inside.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Finally, people are beginning to talk!

There's a bit of a cultural divide between NE Ohio and eastern Mass, I've discovered. The people out here on the east coast still have manners. They keep things close to the vest and still think pride is a sin. It's a nicer way of living. From New Jersey, west, we're only too anxious to share what we know about everyone and to tell you what's so great about ourselves.

The very culture out here makes my job so difficult. It's like pullin teeth to get people to open up. But finally, I'm making a little progress. Last night I spoke to Maura's aunt Janis, her mother Laurie's sister, a big influence on her life. Great woman. Lots of stories. And just an hour ago, I sat down for an interview with the youngest sibling, Kurt Murray. What a great guy. He reminds me of a young Ben Affleck, except with red hair.

Still no response from the father, Fred. Though he continues to tell Maura's friends not to speak to me.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Thoughts from the road...

Just wanted to thank everyone (except maybe Bill Matteson) I met over the last couple days in Haverhill. Everyone knows everyone up there and is only too willing to help.

Thanks, too, to all the people emailing me new info I did not have. I'll try to get through everything when I get back to Ohio next week.

One tiny bit of new info for today: I was surprised to find Maura's Saturn still parked behind Troop F's office. The coke bottle is still in there, too. I took a bunch of pics and will post them soon.

A new theory

I spent yesterday re-interviewing the people of Haverhill who witnessed Maura outside her vehicle moments after the crash as well as the people who responded to the accident. I'll be posting a lot of new info about the crash (it did not happen as reported) and the moments surrounding it in the next week.

For now, I will say this. I no longer like the theory that she may have checked into a hotel before the crash. I agree with Fred at this point, that she was on her way to Bartlett. I think her plan was to stay a night or two. I also believe she left on foot shortly after the accident and continued East down 112, where she was seen by Rick Forcier about a half hour later near the intersection of 116.

If this is what she did, it increases the time she was alone. The probability that a bad guy happened upon her then is not so astronomical anymore. It's about 16 miles from the scene of the accident to the next town, Lincoln. At this point, I think she was picked up somewhere in the quiet distance between.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Incident at Swiftwater Stage Shop

I'm up here in Haverhill, trying to confirm some information about Maura's disappearance. One of the details I'm trying to run down is this business about Rick Forcier. Forcier lived at the intersection of Bradley Hill Rd. and Rt 112/Wild Ammonoosuc, within sight of Maura's crash. He came forward months later and told police he saw Maura running down the road the night of the accident. It's always been an odd detail. Forcier, unfortunately, has moved and is proving hard to track down.

Forcier is a friend of Bill and Winifred Matteson, who own and operate the Swiftwater Stage Shop just down the road, in Bath. It's a quant little convenience store that serves as a grocery to some of the people who live in the area. In the past, Winnie has been very nice. But today, Bill was working.

Bill's a medium sized guy with a mostly bald head.

"Do you know how I can reach Rick Forcier?" I asked.

"No," said Bill. "And I'm not telling you a damn thing."

Obviously, I was taken aback. "Why?" I asked.

"Because I'm tired of answering questions about that girl. And you're trying to make a buck."

"I'm not..."

"Get out of my store or I'm going to beat your head in."

It's a strange thing to actually hear said out loud. And it took me a minute to react. "Why are you so angry?" I asked.

"That's it," said Bill. He reached under the counter, grabbed a long wooden rod and came at me. I didn't budge because I didn't think he'd really do it. He grabbed me by the shirt and pushed me out of his shop. I suggested we call the cops, have them ask him why he was making such a scene. And then he swung the bat up and I really did think he was going to lay me out. He seemed to think better of it at the last second, though, as two bikers were watching us from under an umbrella in the parking lot. Bill walked back into the store.

It's a weird goddamn reaction to some simple questions about something that happened over 7 years ago. But he's not the only one I've met up here who's acting weird.

No alcohol missing.

Official word from Haverhill PD: all booze was accounted for. Vodka. Baileys. Wine. Maura left it all behind in the car.

Like I said, little things have been mis-reported for years. Best to start from the ground up and see where it takes us.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Back in Mass.

Having some baked ziti at Venus III in Hanson, right now. Just came from the high school, where Mr. Floeck was nice enough to help me with some scans from the yearbooks.

Here's some new pics.

Off to the North Country now. Might be out of touch for a couple days.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Any true crime blog will eventually get a few resident trolls. I learned this with Amy's case. I think I have literally around 800 profane messages that have been sent to me through that blog. They've started here, already. Here's a couple of the best so far:

It appears that you have decided to try to make money off the Maura Murray case, as you shamelessly did with the Amy Mihaljevic case.

Please note this is not the Mihaljevic case. We have real qualified professionals working on this investigation - the New Hampshire League of Investigators, the Molly Bish Foundation, Let's Bring Them Home, and countless volunteers who actually live in New Hampshire and know the area and people. We don't need another failed newspaper journalist, desperate for work with no investigative training or skills whatsoever, trying to play Columbo.

You are not going to "crack" this case by interviewing people and visiting the scene of her disappearance. The only thing you are going to accomplish is the same thing you have accomplished in the Mihaljevic case - distract the real professionals from doing their work and leaking information that will hinder the real investigation. We've all seen how successful your efforts have been in finding Amy Mihaljevic's killer.

There is no need for you here. We have very qualified and skilled investigators working on this investigation. No one reads your blog. No one in NH cares about the book you're going to try to write about "your" meaningless investigation. No one needs an unemployed journalist getting in the way of real investigators who actually have a chance of solving Maura's disappearance.

Thanks, but no thanks,

And then this one, which seems to be a vague threat towards my four year old son:

Please respect Fred's wishes. He doesn't want you to write a book about his family's tragedy to make money.

You have a son. If he tragically disappeared, would you want an out-of-state novelist to show up at your doorstep asking questions and fishing for information to try to get a book deal?

***UPDATED*** Clarification on time of Maura's breakdown.

One of the reasons I started this blog before publication of a book is so that I can work towards "sussing out" the details of this case from the beginning to the end until we find the truth. I don't like to rely on any one else's reporting and so I have to interview everyone again. Sometimes it's hard to recollect exact times from seven years ago. I got a chance to contact Karen Mayotte again and here's what she says:

I think I might have screwed up with the times that I originally gave you, and if is that the case, I apologize. That Thursday night, the receptionists had to work until 1:45 (2:45 on Fridays and Satursdays). I think when I first talked to you I got mixed up as to the day of the week, becuase on Sunday-Wednesdays till 11:45. That night, after I visited the other areas of campus, when I got to Southwest I met up with the other coworkers at the eatery in SW (can't remember the name, can find it after if you are interested for more specifics). I didn't eat, but when visiting with the others another area supervisor told me that Maura was upset and that I should go check on her. At that point I did, and you have the specifics from that visit- I do remember when signing her out early, thinking that she would have to wait about 45 to an hour until I could get off shift to bring her to Dunkins or the counseling area. I got off shift at 2:30, so I would've started packing her up at 1:15pm. (30 min before she would get off) Too bad we couldn't grab the police report I filled out the following morning at UMass Police, which would have had the exact time of signing her out to the specifics. Also to clarify my job title- I was an area supervisor.

It's no fault of Karen's. Take a moment and try recalling in detail times from a specific day several years ago. I expect this will happen now and then as we move forward. In the end, though, I believe we will have a more concrete version of events than has been published before. You're seeing the reporting as it's happening here.

I've also been waiting on public records before I start listing an exact timeline of events. I have those now and will be uploading them soon.

Now, off to New Hampshire.

Spoke with Karen again. What she meant to say was that she filled out the police report the day after she learned of Maura's disappearance, thinking it may be helpful to the case.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

On Running

Maura was a runner. A damn fine one, in fact. A state record holder. She trained daily. People in Hanson remember seeing her jogging around the school grounds on Christmas with her father and her sister, Julie. A runner, especially an accomplished runner, has a certain mindset that non-runners can't understand without a little explanation.

I'm no award-winning marathoner. But when I hit 32, my metabolism went to shit and now I run a four mile course three or four times a week. Having never run before, I thought it would be easy. Just listen to some Zeppelin on my iPod and have at it. What I discovered was that distance running is a lot like writing a book.

First of all, you cannot think of the entire course at once, you have to consider it as little accomplishments: can I make it to the end of that bridge without stopping for a break? can I make it around that turn before I slow down? can I make it to the halfway point in twenty minutes? Writing a long novel is like that. You have to think chapter by chapter or the sheer length of it will get you down.

It's also addicting. And I don't mean addicting like the way you think you're addicted to chocolate or TV. It's addicting like a drug. Like good coke, even. That adrenaline that surges through your body after a good, hard run. And like any drug, you have to go a little farther the next time to get the same high. Eventually, you find that you're chasing it. That you crave it.

Running trains you to control your mind, your emotions. You retreat into your mind on long runs, even if you're listening to music. Like the kid from the Neverending Story who was faced with his own reflection in the middle of the snowy wastes, you are forced to confront your true nature on long runs. You make a peace with yourself or you simply cannot do it.

This was Maura. She knew control better than the average person ever could. Better than even a part-time runner. Mostly I'll never believe she committed suicide because she was such a good runner. She was hard-wired to make peace with herself. Through running and also through her military training.

I think she was getting away (running away if you want) to get her bearings again. I think she only intended on being away for a couple days.

If she is alive out there somewhere, she'd be running, still. She couldn't stop if she wanted to. Unfortunately, that probably means she would have been spotted by now.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Returning to the scene.

I've decided to return to Haverhill and Hanson next week for some more interviews.

If you knew Maura personally I'd love to talk with you while I'm out there. I think we may be closing in on the answer to where she was going and why she was leaving in such a hurry.