Friday, June 28, 2013

Forget the Past

Here are some interesting comments from Fred Murray, when asked about the days leading up to Maura's disappearance:

From South Shore Express:

One line Fred repeated throughout the day was, "it doesn't matter." If you ask what he did for a living, or why Maura packed her things, or didn't tell anyone where she was headed, he'll just answer, "It doesn't matter." "We'll never know why she came up here," Fred said. 
All that matters to Fred is "what happened on Wild Ammonoosuc Road."

From the Patriot Ledger, February 9, 2005:

The Stage Shop owner about Fred: “He’s just wrong. He’s not telling us anything about her and what he’s done is turned neighbor against neighbor up here.” 

From WCVB:

"If she was upset and wanted to get away to find peace, it would be here. It doesn't matter what brought her here to this point. Once she got here, something happened," 

From 20/20:

“Regardless of what brought Murray to that remote area, her father wants to know where she is now.”

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fred Murray was losing his home the week Maura vanished.

Just when you think you know everything about this case...

An astute reader found this filing in Norfolk County, Mass. It's a notice from the tax man, dated three days before Maura disappeared. Seems the county was about to seize the property in Weymouth where Fred was living when he wasn't staying in motels.

Does this change anything or is it just another red herring?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Horizon Beckons

Topic Post
June 19, 2013

Without even the faintest of hard feelings, I decided to move on from posting to James' blog.  I still think that James has a real chance to solve this case and I support everything he is doing.

I have some interesting new things to turn my attention to.  If you have been in touch already, please drop me a line, you might find my next thing interesting.  If you have not been in touch, feel free to contact me and say hi.  I'm at

As for some other information I collected and developed during my trip, I will make it available to James at some point, although I need a breather for now.  I will make it available to anyone else also.  Just email me.

Keep up the good work here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Law Enforcement Source: "dog track in Maura's case one step up from useless"

Topic Post
Wednesday - June 19, 2013

In recent weeks, via this blog, we have developed a value law enforcement source.  He is quite knowledgeable about Maura's case, although he is in a different jurisdiction.  He has many contacts close to the case and is especially knowledgeable about the the types of dog tracks and dogs used in New Hampshire and has handled them himself in a professional capacity as an officer.  He considered the facts of Maura's case with another colleague of his who is a recognized expert on dog-based tracking and came to some conclusions.

According to our LE source, the dog search in Maura's case is "one step up from useless."  At most it indicates that she did not leave the roadway into the woods within the first 100 yards east of the scene, but even that is unlikely.   This primarily because:

(1)  On a flat wide surface subject to air being kicked up along the surface (by cars) the scent will disappear faster.  Although some anecdotes and practitioners have indicated that searches can be successful after 72 hours, most experts put that at 48 hours, under ideal conditions, such as over tall grasses in dry weather during the summer. The conditions during Maura's track were very adverse.  It is very unlikely that the dogs could have followed Maura's track over a roadway in the winter with cars going over it, two days later, because if she left one at all it was gone by then.

(2)  The result of the track suggests that what the dogs actually followed was an officer's scent.  If the officer who conducted the track also retrieved the gloves, the dogs - in doing their jobs - might have simply followed his scent.   It also could have happened if the first responding officer was ever in the car or touched the gloves.  This would have occurred had the same officer walked that distance at some point, either immediately before the search or on the night of the accident (for example to talk to Atwood). The dogs are trained to evaluate all the scents on the gloves, which would have included every scent in the car, along with the officer's scent if he went in the car to get the gloves or handled the gloves. They then look for one they can follow.  There is a very good chance that they may have followed the handler's or the first responding officer's scent.

Note that NH uses two types of tracking canines.  I did not bother with the distinction here, but the conclusions apply to the specific dogs used in Maura's search and in fact both kinds of dogs used in the state.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

"No, He Was Nice"

Topic Post
Saturday, June 15, 2003

On may home now.  I was in Haverhill/Woodsville/Bath, as well as Amherst and Northampton.  I have had some powerful emotional reactions and learned some new things.  Posts and updates to come.  For now, an anecdote.

I rolled in Woodsville around 1:00 am earlier this week.  I explored, walking along 112 and BHR, then probing cautiously up a few trails trails or rutted paths off 112, just to see how things looked and felt at night.  Upon starting my car to leave, about 3 miles east of the accident scene, I was heart-in-throat surprised as my headlights dawned on a moose trotting off the trail I had just been on, right in front of my car.  I followed the slouchy-trotting creature at about 5-10 miles per hour for a minute or soas he moved along the road.  He disappeared up a steep gravel driveway behind a house.  I headed for the only middle-of-the-night food option; a Cumberland Farms (CF) mini mart and gas station in Woodsville. Then I slept in my car on the periphery of the new Walmart's parking lot.

At CF, I got to chatting with the friendly and articulate woman working overnight.  She has worked for more than 10 years.  I didn't say why I'd come to NH. But starting with the prompting comment, "what a beautiful place, it must be crime free up here huh?" we first talked about the Walmart shooting and then she said "and then there is Laura Murray (sic)."

(If you are reading this, friendly lady from CF, I am sorry that I deceived you and I really enjoyed talking with you.  I wanted to hear what you had to say without being direct and possibly annoying you.  Also, please forgive me for having forgotten your name.)

She knew the story well, although she thought that Fred had died a couple years ago, possibly having conflated him with Laurie upon passed around news of her passing.  Here is what she told me.

  • Fred used to into come into Woodsville businesses and restaurants and - without introducing himself - throw down Maura posters, brusquely demanding, "you need to hang these in your windows and ask your customers if they have seen her!"  The way she mimicked his manner called to mind the way Kurt described Maura coaching him, applying the same discipline that her father had applied to her.  It also reminded of the call Coach Lafreniere got, where the voice on the other and responded to her hello without introduction by blurting "do you know where Maura is?"  
  • The CF manager manager once had to forcefully ask Fred to leave because he was bothering their customers.  "Did you meet him," I asked.  "Yes," she replied. "The guy's a jerk."
  • "For a while," she told me, "they thought he [Fred] had something to do with it, but after he died that went away."
  • "Her tracks disappeared 100 yards away, so she got in a car," she shared.  "The accident was staged."
  • "So she could be dead out there somewhere?" I asked at one point. "Mmm-hmm, she replied with a kind of winking look, "or maybe living it up as we speak ... in Canada ... Tor-ONTO."
  • "There was a writer who came up here too," she told me.  "What was his name?" I asked but she didn't remember.  "Was he a jerk too?"  I asked. "No, he was very nice," she replied, continuing on to offer that "people liked him.  But most of the people who come up here asking about Maura are impolite.  After a while you don't want to talk about it ... it is just like ...."  Her voice trailed off and she looked skyward, her hands making a gesture like the French make when they say 'comme ci comme ca.' I took her meaning: it doesn't matter to the locals anymore and the topic annoys them.  But I thought: the real issue is that you don't want to be interrogated by vain people. She was happy to talk about it to someone who engaged her sincerely first, just to make conversation and be friendly.  I enjoyed chatting with her and would have even if I had not furtively stoked conversation of Maura.
  • I was about to leave when she said, "and then there is Tom Conrad."  So I let the door shut and stayed a while and found about him too.
As our conversation wound down, a large red pick up truck pulled, with three people seated across the front seat.  The driver - a petite, college aged girl as small as the truck was big - jumped out.  She was  dressed like she'd been to a party or bar.  She ran inside, a little flustered but composed herself enough to be polite in the way she urgently asked "can I have a plastic bag!?"  

Running back out with the bag, she handed it off the girl in the middle seat, who - her hand guiding his hand - helped the young man leaning on the passenger side door to throw up out the window and into the bag as the truck roared away.  The store attendant laughed.

I remembered my days in college and those situations and it made me remember how and why Maura is so sad for so many: she at once looked like what we want kids to be and we wanted to be when we were kids, but she was also just a kid in a world that offers so many blind alleys lies and adults willing to compromise a beautiful child with their own ugly needs and wants rather than dealing with their own shit.  And I thought in a kind of stunned way, "my oh my, but for the grace of god ..."  

Maura deserves better than to be left as a New Hampshire folk tale, which - if her truth is never known - is what she will fade to.  Her life is even more beautiful as the flawed and struggling kid she was.  Her truth if known, I bet, would help and inspire many, including perhaps Julie and Kathleen to transcend in transcending their issues, like a gift back to them from their little sister. 

Good thing for that Renner, who I agree is a nice guy and who I admire more and more as the days go by.

Request for info

First, just for the record, I had a great conversation over lunch at Luigi's the other day with blogger John Green and I can tell you he is definitely not Alden Olson.

Second, I'm a good ways into this book, finally, and hope to finish up a draft by the end of the summer, which makes publication in 2014 a real possibility.

I'm currently searching for any documented interview with Fred Murray in which he refuses to talk about Maura's past and the days leading up to her disappearance. Anyone remember where that came from?


Friday, June 14, 2013


In an effort to make it easier for quicker discussion, I am changing the way comments can be written/posted on this site.

To comment, you must register (which many have done, already--thank you). Once you register, you can comment on any post and those comments will not be moderated and will post immediately.

Please be respectful.

Do not post libelous statements without documented evidence.

Please contact me directly if you see a comment that should be taken down.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Self-Sabotage and Subconscious Avoidance

Topic Post
June 13, 2013

James and I had an interesting talk today, that got sympathetically into Maura's mental state.  There is a wealth of information out there, but this "Psychology Today" article is a decent read on Self-Sabotage and Subconscious Avoidance.  I found this quote, in particular, interesting:

"[The subconscious] follows its own set of rules. And these rules can be quite as subjective (and idiosyncratic) as they are paradoxical. To the psyche, winning can feel like losing. And success like failure--and, perhaps even more perversely, failure like success. Although it would hardly make sense to an observer, if failing at something enables you to avoid a situation linked to intolerable fearpanic, or shame, then it does - at least immediately - allow you to emerge triumphant. Even as you experience disappointment, you may breathe a welcome sigh of relief."

I see two ways this kind of subconscious and powerful reaction could have been emerging in Maura's life in he days before she disappeared.

  1. Perhaps Maura's ambitions and rigorous pursuit of them were inventions of her father or family generally, but not truly of her heart's self-identity.  She thus began to sabotage herself subconsciously (credit card fraud, drinking, poorer performance at school and running, irresponsible behaviors at West Point, etc.) to escape the pressure of living up to what she felt a strong conscious desire to be, but a stronger subconscious desire to flee.
  2. If standard putative accounts are believed, Maura crashed two cars in two days.  Are we certain that Maura drank and was drunk on Saturday night?  The officer let off a college kid who drove straight into a guard rail drunk?  And then incurred potential liability for the university or county by putting her into a tow truck dead drunk?  Is it a possibility that she was sober and heading to her father's hotel for a practical reason, such as the trip north that happened on Monday having been originally planned for Sunday? One wonders at the dynamics of Saturday night - and in particular the possibility that Maura had the Corolla because Fred had the Saturn.  (There will be more on this on an update to the "Lot 22" post before Monday, including a significant contribution from a journalist who watches the blog and caught an important detail.).  Is it possible that Maura was avoiding something she found intolerable in crashing two cars in two days?  Refusing, in other words, to go through with some plan and thereby "avoid[ing] a situation linked to intolerable fear panic, or shame ... experienc[ing] disappointment, [while at the same time] breath[ing] a welcome sigh of relief?"

What do you think?  Does this resonate for you?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Message from friend?

Still combing through early articles on Maura's disappearance. Came across this weird detail in an Associated Press story by Kate McCann:

Police are also investigating a message on Maura's phone from a friend she talked to the day before she disappeared.

Any idea what message this is referring to?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

"I don't want to get Maura in trouble."

I'm a few chapters into this book, now, and this weekend I went back to the first articles written about Maura's disappearance to get a better sense of what was known at the beginning. I didn't realize this, but it appears the Boston Globe was actually the first news source to report on the friend of Maura's who was not cooperating with police.

The more details are revealed, the more baffling the case becomes, police acknowledge. Yesterday, Thrasher said that Maura had fastidiously packed all her belongings into boxes before she left school, even removing the art from her dorm room walls. Meanwhile, one UMass friend has seemingly withheld information from police, saying she didn't want to get Maura "in trouble."

This strengthens my belief that Kate Markopoulos and/or Sara Alfieri know a bit more about what led Maura into New Hampshire than they have shared publicly. What could be so important that they would rather not share info with police and journalists when their friend is missing?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Another Teammate Speaks

Original Post
June 5, 2013

Last week, I spoke with one of Maura's UMASS teammates. I am keeping her name out of the discussion because she is one of many former teammates and it is not necessary to name her specifically. I will refer to her as MN.  Below is a summary of her recollections and insights.
  • Maura was not running well during her one year on the team.
  • Maura was friendly but private and tended to avoid detailed conversation about Billy. MN saw Maura's reticence as a normal personality trait, not an indication of a problem and still feels that way.
  • During winter break 2002-03, the team returned several weeks before spring semester began to practice.  They stayed in a local hotel.  Billy visited Maura for a few days during which they did not socialize much with the team. MN recalls briefly meeting Billy and that "everyone liked him."
  • The team was told about Maura's disappearance on a Saturday, February 14, at a track meet.  
  • MN surmises that Coach LaFreniere learned of Maura's disappearance via the phone call from Fred (see the topic post on her statement to me) on Friday the 13th. The team probably did not practice that Friday, because they would have done only a short, light jog was the day before a competition.  Thus, the coach would have been in her office more that day. Moreover, MN believes the coach would have told the team as soon as possible, in case anyone knew something.
  • MN knew Hossein, saying he was "friendly and liked to joke around."  If they were dating, MN said, "nobody knew about it" and it must have been a closely held secret as "gossip like that would have spread quickly."
  • MN believes Maura quit the team simply due to the rigors of the nursing program.
  • MN feels Kate's failure to remember the names of the people at the party on Saturday night is NOT suspicious.  "These could have been Maura's friends," MN said, noting that particularly when you are drinking it is hard to keep names straight and to avoid embarrassment, you stop asking. 
  • During the spring season, on Maura's birthday, Kate organized a moment of silence for Maura during which her teammates released balloons.
  • MN struggles with Maura and Kate driving Fred back to his hotel (a 15+ mile round trip) when Maura's dorm was not far from the Amherst Brewing Company and Kate and Maura were going to a party within walking distance of Maura's dorm. MN wonders if this suggests that Maura needed the car for a specific reason but the Hadley accident changed her plans.  "Was her room already packed up?" MN asked, again rhetorically.
  • MN thought Maura's room may have been packed up because Maura was moving out and she decided to leave town for a week until she could move into her new place.
  • MN wondered if Maura perhaps felt scared or threatened by something in her dorm.
  • MN thinks "Maura is out there in the woods somewhere and died of exposure." She referenced the possibility of a hit to the head and alcohol consumption disorienting Maura, as well as getting cold if she had started to run and sweat formed in her street clothing.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Best Photo from Recent Marathons ***UPDATED***

A while back I suggested it might be worth the time for some readers to check through online photographs of recent marathons. My thought was that it Maura is still alive, she would still be running. A few people sent in some interesting photographs but this is the best possibility so far.

Check out the woman in red.

Now, I'm guessing it's not her. But the resemblance is interesting. It would be great if we could rule this one out. Any help would be appreciated.

Here's the link to the race, Toronto Women's Half Marathon.

That was fast. Thanks for the help. The runner has been ID'd and it is not her.

Monday, June 3, 2013

More disturbing details about those emails...

A couple weeks ago, I received a very disturbing email from "," which referred to Maura as a "white trash ho." The email was angrier than most and referenced torture of women. I forwarded the email to police and asked for help from a reader to track it back to the source. The best we were able to do was trace it to Northern New Jersey.

I've since received two more emails from him.

The emails are bizarre. In them he claims his name is Doug Olive. He also references Heart of Darkness and T.S. Eliot's The Waste Lands.

There's also this:

Time to edu-ma-cate all of those sycophants (including the oh so analytically-eloquent Mr. Green Jeans, JD-Harvard, Class of 1996).

I was then contacted by a professional escort from New Jersey who has also been receiving threatening messages from this same aol account. Here are a few snippets:

I was convicted of stalking and terrorizing Michelle Wirth.
U love the taste of Columbian cum lol like that other white trash whore Liz Exline.

Sending these along to the police, too. Does this guy sound familiar to anyone out there??