Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Phone Problem

I want to believe Maura is alive. I want to believe she pulled it off, found somewhere safe, a better life. I will never believe she went up there without telling someone - and if that's true, there must be a good reason that person did not share that info. And I believe Maura was not traveling alone. However...

There is one clue that, on the surface, really suggests she never made it off the mountain - her cell phone.

It wasn't in the car. It went with her (unless we are to believe it was already thrown away). But it never rang again. Bill was trying to call her that night. And everyone was trying to call her the next day. But we know it didn't ring because of the phone records. No calls are getting through. Which means either it was turned off, or it was never again in range of a cell tower - that it never left the mountain, where there is no service.

In fact, for me, this would be case closed - evidence for sure that she ran into the woods (regardless of no footprints, the scent dog leading to the middle of the road) and died there, if not for one frustrating detail: we know Maura turned her phone off earlier that day and we don't know why. Bill was trying to reach her in UMass and after a while those calls don't connect. We know the phone was off as she drove toward the White Mountains. She turned it on once, to check voicemail, and then off again. It was likely off at the time of the accident.

The question is, why did Maura turn off her cell phone? Was it to conserve battery? Or was it so Bill couldn't follow her, couldn't call her?

Since it was off, did she just keep it in her purse, instead of, say, the cup holder or the passenger seat? So when she left, it came with her?

Again, we come to the fork in the road: either she ran away and the plan was already in motion, or she's dead in the woods. If she ran away, though, all the drama that happened in the days leading up to her disappearance (the email from Bill on the packed boxes, the party, the father visit, the money, the lying friends, searching for a condo with 2 bedrooms, etc.) make a certain sense. If she's dead in the woods, it's all just noise and she never told a soul. That's still really hard for me to buy.

73 comments:

  1. My mother grew up in a tiny mountain village in the Apennines range of northern Italy in the 1950's. It would be hard to imagine a place more crime-free anywhere in the world today. I told her once about the Maura Murray case, and she told me the following story.

    One day when she was a child an old man from her village went for a walk down the road to the next village to buy a pack of cigarettes and never returned, nor was any trace of him ever found. No one knows what happened to him, but the people in the village suspect to this day that he was hit and killed by a drunk driver who carried away his body to cover up what happened. She said probably the same thing happened to Maura Murray.

    James, have you ever considered this possibility? I think it covers all the facts, and I don't know of any problems it would create with the evidence we have.

    In case you're wondering, no, I don't think it was the police who ran her over, contrary to what John Smith seems to believe. That idea seems completely improbable to me. If it happened it would have been a civilian.

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    1. I wonder how accurate the accounts are that the person driving the car that night walked around it. It was night. While it might be hard to see something like that, a interior car light was probably on.
      She couldve been hit. Doesnt explain the dogs sniffing out scent in front of her car then stopping though.

      Why would she (the person) walk around the car? What was the tailpipe thing? That's a specific action.

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    2. "That idea seems completely improbable to me."

      Why? Is there a certain spectrum of the population that's untouchable because of their station? That's pointed bias in this argument and it's grossly naive. AND, it has happened in other cases. Read up on it, please.

      Of course ... there's no solid evidence this is indeed what happened. Or any other theory, for that matter. As always, ALL avenues need to be vetted, or work is not being done.

      Lastly, don't forget this: Guilty parties often are Good Actors. They have to be, or the jig is up!

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    3. That could have happened, indeed that's the likely explanation of the Tara Calico disappearance, but in Maura's case it would have been a case of one-in-a-million bad luck. Her crash was on a road that got maybe ten cars an hour, and any mishap would have had to happen within a time window of about five minutes.

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    4. I would think that the person doing the hit and run would leave the body where it is and get out of Dodge as fast as possible.

      John Avellar

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    5. I am the person who posted the story about the old man who disappeared up above.

      I want to respond to John Avellar's question: "I would think that the person doing the hit and run would leave the body where it is and get out of Dodge as fast as possible."

      I can only conjecture here, but I think they figured they would be less likely to get caught if they brought MM's body with them. If they had just driven away and left MM by the side of the road, someone else would have driven by and seen her lying there within a few minutes, if not sooner. They would immediately call the police, who would be there within another couple of minutes. Her body would have paint flecks of the vehicle that hit her, which would tell the police the make and model of the vehicle. This is a small community, and it would be a simple matter to go visit everyone who owns that particular vehicle in a 50 mile radius, and find out which one had sustained body damage that night, either by examining the car or by asking the neighbors.

      Even if they weren't able to get paint flecks off MM's body, they would still be able to ask everyone along Route 112 which cars they had seen driving past, within just a few minutes of the accident. They could canvass the neighborhood and ask them who they had seen driving past in the past hour, and come up with a very short list of highly probable suspects.

      All of this would be simple police work if her body had been left on the road.

      However, let's suppose for the sake of argument that my theory is correct, that someone did just dump her in the trunk and continue driving. Because of this, we don't know if she was killed at all, or where, or how. The first response of the police was to search the woods, and if I recall correctly they didn't even consider her a crime victim at all until somewhat later. People have spent uncountable hours going over every inch of the area and examining every minute of her life in the days prior to her disappearance. There are even a lot of people who don't think she's dead at all, but is living happily ever after somewhere.

      If she were run over, and the person that hit her took her body with him to divert attention from himself and make it impossible to find out what happened, the plan definitely worked.

      Again, I don't believe the police were involved in this in any way, shape or form.

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    6. To John Avellsr- I agree. I just cannot fathom that , if someone did hit her, they then carried off her body. Wouldn't that take several minutes? then they would run the risk of being seen by another passing car?

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    7. "I would think that the person doing the hit and run would leave the body where it is and get out of Dodge as fast as possible."

      John Avellar: I absolutely agree. But ... there was a confirmed drunk on the road that night. There might be an incentive to hide one's doings.

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    8. To Adrienne...

      Yes, I suppose it probably would take several minutes. Obviously they were a chance either way, regardless of what they did. But from my analysis, I think they would be practically home free if they managed to get her in the trunk and back on the road without anyone seeing. Whereas if they had left her there and driven away they would be much more likely to get caught. It's a matter of taking a small additional risk to virtually guarantee you would get away, as opposed to to running away blindly and hoping for the best.

      I don't know how long it would have taken to hit her, size up the situation, reach a decision put her in and get back on the road, but I think two minutes would be ample. And from what we've heard about that road, it's easily possible to be alone on that roadway for that long, if not much longer.

      I want to emphasize that this is all just speculation, but I think the odds of something like this are higher than stolen identities and sneaking across international boundaries and things of that nature.

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    9. Thank you, James, for at least considering this theory. It has long made me upset that you have outright shunned it in the past. But, let's face one fact. She was a long distance runner. And though we don't know if there was a head injury, her instincts could have kicked in. The weather was very temperate for that period. (I checked. Even after dark, it never went under 30 degrees over the three day period. If you are used to extreme winter weather, you know that's survivable for a period of time.) She could have easily ran out of the range of where they searched, which would explain why there were no footsteps and she wasn't found in the limited range that was searched. And seriously, there is NO way to say there are no footprints. Even in rural areas, wildlife, snow falling off trees, and melting (which was possible in those conditions) can mess with any snowfall. Not to mention the dozens of people who responded and Trekked all over the area. It's a true possibility and one that makes sense, given the car accident she had.

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    10. Jim Clemente & Laura Richards (from Real Crime Profile) talk a lot about the different post-offense behavior exhibited by locals vs. passers-through.

      -A local would be likely to assume there's less risk to them spending a few minutes getting Maura in their car than leaving her on/near the road--because they have to stick around the area and an investigation by local authorities could lead to them if/when Maura was found. (This would be different, however, if Route 112 were a busy road.)

      -A passer-through would be likely to assume there’s less risk to them leaving Maura on/near the road than spending time getting her in their car- -because they’re just passing through the area and are less likely to come up in an investigation if/when Maura is found.

      Both scenarios involve risk, of course, and these are split-second decisions—so there are no guarantees about how anyone would behave. But these are profiles (or at least my simple explanations of them) based on Jim’s & Laura’s experience.

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    11. I am the person who posted the story about the old man who disappeared up above.

      I want to respond to John Avellar's question: "I would think that the person doing the hit and run would leave the body where it is and get out of Dodge as fast as possible."

      I have tried to answer at length but various HTML problems arose.

      In any case the area is vast and if Maura were to have crawled under a log or a huge boulder her remains could be hidden forever. The only way I could see someone who hit her taking her with him would be if she were alive and he truly wanted to get her to the hospital but she died in route and he panicked and hid her body. It is so dark up there that a perpetrator could reasonably hope to get away unseen rather than risk stopping to deal with a bloody body. Remember that while Butch was trying to call the police he thought he heard a few cars drive by; so far, no one has a clue who they were. Anyone from the area would have believed that they could get away if they just took off and left the scene of the accident far behind them.

      Thanks for your response.

      John Avellar

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    12. This was a very dark and isolated area. If she was hit by a car it would be an accident. Why would someone who hits another person accidentally, go to the senseless act of picking up the victim not knowing if she is still alive and risk being seen by another incoming vehicle?



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  2. It would really be helpful to know where cell phones had coverage back in those days. In other words, how far would you have to go down the road in either direction before you got back on the network? That would give us an area that we know Maura never left with her cell phone on.

    The Westmans saw her booting up her phone to call AAA (at least I think that is the most likely explanation for the light in her car), and finding out that it had no service. At that point it seems the most probable that she started walking down the road to get cell service, but she never got within range.

    I guess this doesn't contradict the tandem driver theory, because she could have turned her phone back off once she got into her friends' car.

    I wonder something. How many people knew that they could be tracked through their cell phone in 2004? If she were running away, would she have thought of ditching the phone so it couldn't be located? Wouldn't she have gotten a burner phone for emergencies if she were leaving her life for good? The idea of taking her phone with her but keeping it off seems more consistent with the idea of just going on a temporary vacation and not wanting to hear from anyone for a while, rather than making a permanent break from her entire world. In fact, it's hard to see why she would take her phone with her at all if she were leaving forever, since she couldn't use it anymore anyway, even if she didn't know how cell phones can be traced through GPS and the towers they connect to.

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    1. One piece of information that partially illuminates an answer to your question ...

      Today, in Woodsville, you cannot get a cell signal anywhere, unless you go to the Walmart that was build a few years ago. It is about 10 miles from where Maura crashed.

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    2. cell phone in that area is still incredibly spotty to this day. I can't (reliably) make a call in the closest town of Woodsville/Haverhill.

      It was pretty much the same back then. I could text, and maybe get a call to connect if I was standing in the exact right spot. However, Maura seemed to be walking AWAY from this area after the crash, heading in that direction she wouldn't have had reliable service until Lincoln/Woodstock. Even in the present this is a LARGE dead zone.

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    3. It's definitely possible she had another phone and ditched hers, if my recollection is correct, she had two phone chargers/adapters in her car, which I always found interesting. Wasn't this on the list of things in her car?

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    4. The tandem theory makes little sense. There would have to be some sorta cyber or phone trail for her to do this. Her computer was checked, and so was her phone

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    5. I went to the crash site last week, all the way from manhattan. I had no cell service at all. I wanted to see for myself. Nothing.

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    6. IF Maura's plan was to run away from it all, she certainly would NOT use her cell phone which is connected to her boyfriend's account, she certainly wouldn't want to leave a trail. IF she wanted to make a clean break, she would have taken that phone with the battery taken out, and never used it again. I'll bet she had another phone all along, anyways. She seems like the type that would want to make some private calls, without her boyfriend AND BOYFRIEND'S MOTHER seeing every single number she is calling each month! So the fact that her cell phone was never used again makes sense to me. IF she was running, she certainly aint going to leave any bread crumbs. I truly can only wish she is not dead, also...but it would be so heartless to put the people who love you and are worried sick about you thru so much grief and heartache for all those years...

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  3. If it were on, is there really a way to trace location after the fact?

    The phone is a clue alright, though.

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  4. Distracted driving? At 21 NO ONE is responsible enough to fend off a call. I suggest that at some point during the trip, it was destroyed, taken and hacked, whatever. But the lack of phone activity tells me she's not alive.

    It took me a looong time to come to that conclusion because, as yourself, she couldn't, shouldn't be dead. But 13 years and no word? At all to anyone? Highly unlikely. I don't think her family situation was THAT broken. Messed up, who's isn't? But broken? No.

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    1. No one at the age of 21 is responsible enough to fend off a call? That's quite a generalization to assume, and, not to mention, a little offensive.

      I don't subscribe to the runaway theory, but why does the lack of cell activity tell you she's dead? Literally, all that really says is the phone was not on for whatever reason. It seems like a pretty big leap to get from the phone not being on to her being dead.

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    2. Mac, I have to respectfully disagree. How do we know that nobody has heard from her? I think the opposite, in fact . There is no explanation for her best friends, Sara and Kate, to never speak about this--- except that they DO know what happened to her, and know where she is. if they knew Maura was dead, they would be able to talk about her publicly. But if Maura is alive, it makes sense that they won't , as they would want to protect her privacy.

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    3. Yes, and I think that's exactly what James is thinking. Her father doesn't know ... and someone owes him that knowledge ... based on our knowledge.

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  5. Well, we know (if the story is true) that someone lied about calling for help post crash because no reception.

    I never thought about the phone before. It kind of does lend to the theory she ditched it and got a new one.

    MY problem remains though. She didn't have that much money (dont like your refund theory). She left before paychecks would be deposited which affects the runaway theory for me.

    When I was i college I went to a friends going away party. She and her boyfriend were moving to the next state, his home state and also here her family resided, when she chose to drop out of school due to unhappiness. I had 2 drinks and got roofied with one of them, ended up leaving with some random man, and ended up having him take me to my work place during a brief moment of clarity. The next day, my friend called me when she had just left. A man answered and told her he found my phone on the bridge. My car was still at the bar along with my wallet, which ended up with management. I finally contacted my friend a few hours later when I asked her former roommate for her number. But I would imagine the phone fell out of my pocket in his car and he chucked it after dropping me off. BTW when I stumbled out of the car my pants where half off and I was surprised.

    To ALL parents, please teach your sons to not be pieces of shit.

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    1. I was roofied in college as well. Many women have been. There are many pieces of shit out there.

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    2. "MY problem remains though. She didn't have that much money (dont like your refund theory). She left before paychecks would be deposited which affects the runaway theory for me."

      Yes, and she spent a substantial chunk of her limited funds on alcohol. Hard to see a runaway doing stuff like that.

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    3. To anonymous, nov. 12, 7:31 am. I only want to say that no one lied about calling for help, except Maura.
      Butch Atwood, the bus driver, did call the police even though Maura begged him not to. And faith, the woman in the house across the street, called the police as well. I am sure both of these people used landlines. There really is no cell phone reception there. I went there two weeks ago because I wanted to see everything for myself. Maura told the bus driver she called AAA but they have no record of that . Plus there just is no cell service. Maura couldn't have called if she wanted to.

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  6. I find it hard to believe that if she were alone driving she would not have her phone close to her in case of emergency

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    1. In what emergency type scenario is having your phone close to you going to help more than it being a little further?

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    2. Different anon, but good point, Lauren! However, I too would prefer having my phone close to me, just because it feels like I would have better chances to reach out to someone in case of emergency. It's not very realistic to be able to make a phone call if your car crashes etc. but I think it's just kind of a human nature to still hold on to the belief that the phone could help? I don't know... Having my phone close to me have helped me to relax in numerous of situations even though now thinking back, realistically I don't think the phone would have helped me

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  7. I wonder if someone gave her another phone for keeping contact.

    I definitely think something immediate had to happen for her to leave, even temporaily, so suddenly.

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    1. Definitely possible since her phone was in the Raushes name. If she was running from Billy, that would be the first thing to ditch and we already know Billy was blowing up her phone with calls, I would have got a second phone too, and quick.

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  8. Devil's advocate: it could've been because she wanted some moments of peace and a frequently ringing phone is the most annoying thing in the world.

    I still have a hard time believing shed buy booze , which isn't cheap, if she had plans to run away.

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    1. And if she were running away to protect an unborn baby, she wouldn't be buying booze either.

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    2. Although I don't believe she was running away, I have no problem with MM buying booze even if she was running away. She may have had a serious drinking problem, in which case booze would be on the top of her list of things to buy.

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  9. If there's a chance she's dead in the woods somewhere, there's a chance some creep grabbed her.

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  10. The point being, Maura LEFT her phone at the party. We don't know, by the phone's activity, IF she EVER got it back. Period. She never SPOKE on that phone after that party. Which means ALL its "untalking" activity was done by someone ELSE. To throw everyone off the track. There's a chance that Maura, her cell phone, and what she had with her, NEVER left Amherst MA. The tandem driver theory was 2 people ditching her car up in Bartlett NH, but never made it there, so they left it in Haverhill NH at the spin out, and left.

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    1. If she were running away, why would she ditch her car halfway across the state. This was mentioned in the latest episode of Missing Maura Murray. The detective said if she were permanently running away she wouldn't have done it in her own car. Too traceable. She would either have gotten her friends to give her a ride at least part of the way, or she would have hopped on a bus or a train.

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    2. RE Anonymous 8:42 AM: Maybe the reason she "left her phone at the party" was because she was in danger and had to leave quickly. Also,maybe that's why instead of sleeping in her dorm room that night, she drove her father's car to his motel and got into an accident on the way.Continuing with this scenario of being in danger, maybe that is also why she made plans for her trip North and actually left her dorm around 4 PM Monday afternoon.

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  11. James, do you have any sense of how attached Maura was her phone. I'm a year older than Maura and I don't remember having a cell phone until after I graduated from college. So the possibility that Maura turned off her phone and then set it aside, never to be used again, might be credible.

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    1. That was also in the days that you had to be careful not to go over your allotted amount of minutes.

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    2. Not to mention there were crazy roaming charges when you traveled even the shortest distance, AND we didn't really text much back then, so didn't have the constant need to have the phone turned on..

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  12. Maybe she kept her phone with her in case a hitch in the plan arose between points A and B - whatever those points were. Once she reached point B, she disposed of it.

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  13. If I were running away hoping never to be found, you wouldn't find my known cellphone anywhere near any place I didn't want people to know about.

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    1. I agree, 100%, if phone attached to Billy, possibly the reason I was running, it would definitely be gone right away!

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  14. I had always assumed she ran off to avoid being arrested. Maybe she did walk down the road to try and get cell service. Well, no, that doesn't match up to her dumping the booze out. So much confusing info.

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  15. Any chance she ran into the woods and fell into some water? Since the weather was warmer the night before, the ice on top of the water could have easily broken if she accidentally walked onto it. The phone would have died instantly if it got drenched

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  16. She WAS running away...to the white mountains.

    Not permanently obviously. put the two together and it makes perfect sense.

    She does not have a good driving record, the conditions are pretty bad, she is distracted by the fact she is drinking from a soda can?bottle? she runs off the road, wants to avoid police, pours out the soda and takes the alcohol she can carry, goes in an unknown direction eventually into the woods and never comes out.

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    1. I know this blog discussed it in the past, but can we establish exactly how cold it was that night?

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  17. Maybe her phone was tossed after the last call.Its possible the red light the Westmans saw was a perps phone as we really dont know if Maura or her phone left Amherst.

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    1. Yes. I keep going to that lately. Back to the beginning. Do we actually know if she left Amherst?

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    2. Yes, we do. Butch Atwood identified her as the driver at the scene of the accident.

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    3. Back years ago when I was a constant visitor to the family site run by Helena Murray, there was said to have been a fellow student (a man) who saw her going to her car at about 4:00 in the afternoon on the day of her disappearance. There was never a soul who claimed to have spoken to him or claimed to have known his name. He also made another observation but, alas, I cannot recall what it was.

      John Avellar

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    4. Butch did ***not*** identify Maura's picture uncategorically. He was shown a picture of Maura with her hair up which is how she wore it at the time but the girl he had seen had her hair hanging down. This one fact threw a monkey wrench into his making a definitive identification.

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  18. There was something going on with her and the phone. I think it was mentioned that the phone was a Christmas gift by Billy's mom. So, I assume that it was basically brand new. I also understand that the phone charger that plugs into the cars lighter outlet was either missing or left in the car. So we can deduce that she brought it with her on the trip. I don't know what make of Maura not having her phone after the party Saturday night. But the email she send to Billy about not wanting to talk with anyone certainly reflects her state of mind at the time. I think about the phone call Maura had with Fred late Sunday night. Fred stated that they talked about the insurance forms and talking the next night at 8:00 pm to go over them. I don't know how much I can believe what Fred says as there is no evidence that after missing this call, Fred ever tries calling her that night. But Maura did get the forms, so if she was planning on calling around 8:00, then I would conclude that Maura was going to be in an area with cell reception and likely in the area where she was going. If she crashed around 7:15-7:30 then that only leaves somewhere under an hour drive from where she was. I think it is obvious that LE got Maura's phone records in an attempt to track her route and location. That is evidenced by the call that didn't go thru from the Londonderry area that they found out about. I think she was avoiding someone or maybe multiple people and probably why the phone was turned off during most of the day. I think there was someone on Reddit that looked into her model of phone and concluded that there is no red light on it. If so then it either wasn't that phone the Westman's saw or they saw something else entirely. I do think Maura turned on her phone and tried to make a call. I think I read that her AAA card was found on the passenger side seat. It would make perfect sense that she would first try to drive the car away (which I think John Marotte heard) then after that failed, tried calling AAA. The interior light would have to come on to read the card (which I think the Westman's witnessed) and after she realized there was no cell reception scrapped that idea. I think this is where Butch shows up and they have their encounter. She had to know that the cops would be on the way shortly. It is my opinion that Maura puts the rag up the tailpipe at this time. She could tell the cops the car stalled and she lost control because of that. If they tried to start the car it wouldn't run with the rag in the pipe. The alcohol smell in the car can be blamed on the spilled wine box. Maura certainly had some experence with what happens at an accident scenes as she just went through one less then 48 hours before. It is also my opinion that the phone was still on when she locked her car and left. Either she turned the phone back off or it never made it to another area with reception.

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    1. Great comment Steve! I agree with it all. Never sit right to me that she ran away for a new life with a tandem driver. Why would she leave clothes. toiletries, nearly everything she packed? Why would she of picked up the DMV forms to fill out on the phone with her dad that evening if she was planning to go off the grid? I think she was at her breaking point with bf troubles/car accident and just needed to get away for a week or so to clear her thoughts with the plan that she would return but something went wrong.

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  19. Maybe she just wanted or needed to save the battery life of her phone. If she didn't have a car charger then she would have to wait until she got to a place where she could plug it in especially if she didn't know how long she would be on the road.
    I tend to think she had either changed her mind about where she was going or missed her exit when she was supposed to get onto I-89. She ended up in familiar territory when she took I-91 and decided to go to Lincoln (Loon Mtn.) area which is another ski town. I only think that because she had been searching ski areas and I would have done the same thing if it was familiar and I had gotten off track at night.
    As for the rest of the story it's anyone's guess. Mine is that she met with foul play. I think she would have used her cell phone to call someone for help after the accident if she ever made it to Lincoln. I would at least try to arrange for a tow truck in hopes maybe they would get there before the police.

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  20. I didn't read any of these comments, so hopefully this isn't beating a dead horse, but...

    If Maura intended to disappear, she could have purchased a track phone before she left and removed and discarded the sim card from her original phone to kill any mobile trace of her. It would be interesting if someone could find a way to look into track phone purchases in the Amherst area in the month leading up to her disappearance. I would imagine there weren't too many stores that carried them close to UMass Amherst. And I don't think online shopping was as ubiquitous then as it is today. Then again if Maura was truly trying to cover her tracks this would have been purchased with cash.

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    1. A track phone would make sense- or using no phone at all until at a chosen destination. If Maura was getting help from someone and/or an agency of some sort to get away, one of the first things I would guess they would say was "you have to lose the phone permanently". To me that would be an obvious first step to get off the grid. Getting a track phone would make sense for the short term arriving where she wanted to go.
      I really want to believe she is still alive, but at this point I'm really 50/50. I just want it solved.

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  21. I am a cop and have been for eight years. I've read everything about this case, and I truly believe what happened is this:

    The overwhelming stress of school, her failing relationship, the car accidents, the arrest for the credit card fraud, all became too much for her. I think she initially planned on just "running away" for a week, but after yet another drunk driving accident on route 112 she became suicidal. I think she stuffed the rag in the tailpipe herself, hoping she would kill herself by carbon monoxide poisoning. I think the suicide attempt was interrupted by the neighbor when he pulled up beside her.

    I think when she walked off, she took the phone (with no signal or dead), some alcohol, and the bookbag. I think she walked into some location in the woods and drank more. I think she passed out and froze to death overnight, and her body is somewhere in those woods. Honestly, that is the only reasonable thing that makes sense. I'm just shocked that after all this time no one has come across her remains.

    I think a lot of what you guys think happened as far as foul play or criminal involvement is simply too far fetched to have actually happened given the circumstances. I really believe she will be found with more searching in the woods around the accident scene.

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    1. Chris, Thank you so much for this rational post from someone who has seen the real world of what happes to people as a cop for 8 years. I think so many people let their judgments be clouded by what they wish to be true or by what we see on TV/the movies/read in books but the mostly likely thing is that she just wanted to get away for a while. Just like she had done before once in high school w/o ever telling a soul. That's why she turned off her phone. Thats why she drank (escape) thats why she drove to the woods. That's what i've been feeling and wanting since all the dang politics and cr*p during this whole election. I think she would not have taken her phone or books or bothered to call the prof if she was leaving forever and maybe would have even left a note had she planned to commit suicide. She just wanted to get away for a bit and ended up dying, probably an accident and is dead somewhere in the woods close to the scene. That is the most likely scenario. It has happened many times before in many cases people have been found close to where they were last seen and in areas that had been searced before. Its a convoluted case and a crazy world. Anything could be true but THIS scenario is the MOST LIKELY.

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    2. This is an interesting response, and one of the best explanations for the tailpipe rag.

      The idea that she ran into the woods seems like one of the most obvious explanations, and it's been discussed many times, but the evidence against it seems strong to me.

      The road on either side of the crash had snowbanks. If someone had walked over them, there would be footprints. The responding officer walked a ways up and down the road, I believe in both directions, and found no prints leading off the road into the woods.

      The other thing is that James Renner interviewed the cop in charge of the search, I believe his name was Scarinza. He said they spent hours flying around over the crash site in a helicopter, low enough to the ground that they almost brushed the tree tops, and were able to see and follow the footprints of a fox running through the woods. He is absolutely certain her prints were not in the woods. And there hadn't been any snowfall since the accident, so it's not like they got covered up by more snow.

      I used to believe she was lost in the woods too, but if this man is a professional and had such close involvement in the search and assures us that there is no possibility that she's in the woods then I have to take his word for it.

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    3. I know a lot of folks discount that she's in the woods for these reasons but it is an oversimplification to assume that just because footprints weren't seen in the immediate accident vicinity, that she must not have walked into the woods. She was a runner. She may have sprinted away from the scene then walked off road somewhere in the far distance. It could have been on either side of the road and under tree cover. We know the dogs had a new glove and so they would not have had the info needed to detect her scent properly. The dogs actually did their jobs perfectly, they sniffed the new gloves, then stayed in the area that *the gloves themselves actually stayed* (near the car) they were 100% accurate, that is where the gloves were. They did not have Maura's scent. They were tracking the new gloves and they were right. The new gloves did stay at the accident scene and not go off road or down the road.

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  22. James, no one knows better than native Granite Staters how unforgiving the terrain here can be- especially when it comes to looking for that which is lost.

    I believe Maura is, indeed, in the woods, and has been from the very beginning. I have no rational explanation for this belief except anecdotal evidence from those who've tracked things or loved ones who've been lost and either found too late or not at all (or perhaps a better term would be "not found YET".

    I am reminded of two stories- the first of Russell Bussiere, a hunter who went missing in Bear Brook State Park in the late fall of 2007 and whose body was not found until the following spring, and the case of the Learjet that went off radar on Christmas Eve in 1996 and which was not located until almost three years later on Smarts Mountain.

    And those are just two stories of the many which still circulate. My point is, New Hampshire is still very much a wild state, and its terrain is such that most of it will never be tamed.

    The state is full of secret pitfalls- old cellar holes, mines, caves, et cetera- and crisscrossed with old roads, paths and trails that once led to somewhere but now dead end deep in the wilderness.

    Or perhaps it's just just some odd configuration of geography that keeps you going in circles, returning to the same point again and again.

    Many a traveler in their wanderings has encountered these particular dangers, and while most are fortunate enough to recognize and steer clear of them, others are caught up and never return- at least not alive.

    This is what I think happened to Maura. I believe she went into the woods off of Route 112 that fateful night, and the combination of not knowing where she was, the time of day, and her state of mind all contributed to drive her deeper in, where she encountered one of those pitfalls, and it killed her.
    It's also possible (but unlikely) that she came across a large animal- a bear, maybe, or a moose- and was killed by it. Or she could have just gone to sleep and died of exposure.

    The point is, I think she's out there still- or what might remain of her, given the amount of time that's gone by and what the elements and nature do to an exposed body. If she is indeed out in the woods, there's very little left, and what there is may be scattered or covered.

    I also think that the possibility of knowing for sure decreases with each passing day, but that does not mean I hope anyone with a vested interest in solving the case gives up. It's both maddening and tantalizing at once to sift through all of the variables, and until the case breaks one way or another- or if the woods finally gives up its dead-we all continue to walk that fine line between what we know, and what we wish we knew.

    Keep up the good work, and keep the faith.

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  23. I just want to know why she was driving 2.5 miles north of campus where was she going? It sends chills down my spine the fact there were no footprints at the crash site. Was someone in her car? Did they kill her and run off and the time passed so much that the snow overtook the footprints and covered them up?

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  24. Having your phone in an out of service area drains the battery super fast - so it could have also died before she got into a service area. We don't know how charged it was before she left or if she had a car charger af all. Also, back then phones weren't smartphones so really had no use unless you were gonna call someone. Even texting wasn't big. so she didn't have huge reason to turn it on anyways

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  25. http://www.pjstar.com/article/20150121/NEWS/150129783
    These strange stories do sometimes have an ending

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  26. I think in this day and age, it is highly unusual for someone to just turn off their phone.

    It seems pretty straightforward that she turned the phone off once -- earlier in the day, presumably in her dorm -- and once again later in the evening -- after the accident as Renner posits.

    If she did it earlier in the day in her dorm, I imagine she had a charger with her, likely ruling out that it just ran out of power.

    In missing persons cases, foul play or runaway, turning off a cell phone is an extremely important action. It means someone is deliberately trying to hide someone's location.

    Now it seems if she did it earlier in the day, at that moment she was presumably not in danger and doing it on her own to hide her location. I think that indicates she was running away.

    Now if she ran into a killer on the side of the road while running away, you could argue that was the reason the phone was turned off the second time.

    But if she checked her voicemail, presumably with a password known only to her -- and why would a killer want to check her voicemail to begin with? -- and then turned off the phone again, that could indicate that she was checking to see if anyone had noticed she was missing and was on her trail.

    TL;DR: If she turned her cell phone off herself earlier in the day in her dorm, that means she was trying to conceal her location and run away.

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    1. To expand upon this, it seems clear to me that that afternoon Maura's plan was to run away. Maybe for a weekend, maybe for good.

      But then she had that accident. After that he running away plan was thrown for a loop. Whether then she just wandered into the woods and died or was picked up by another person or ran into a killer --- that's debatable.

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  27. Perhaps her turning off her phone was a metaphor for her cutting off ties to a toxic life. When she was at West Point a wave of sexual assaults occurred and if someone she was close to was a victim of sexual assault she might have had bystanders guilt. By silencing her phone she made have unknowingly made a statement about the silence concerning sexual assault victims as much at it was tearing herself from all who didn't understand her.

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