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?