The most striking set of images were posted on James Renner’s blog recently: digital pictures of Maura Murray. Sans the snow and winter gear, I’m pretty sure these pics took place during the spring or summer of 2003. (I could be wrong). Maura, Billy, Julie, Fred, and an unidentified male are together in a riverboat.
The sight of these snaps cancels the white noise. Maura may have committed some unsavory acts, but she is still a missing person who deserves respect. She shines in these pics. You can see the gentleness in Fred’s face before everything happened. 12 years of agony and pain appears so visible in his expressions today. One friend of mine best summed it up, “His anguish is imprinted on his face.”
Fred doesn’t feel that way not just because Maura is missing but that deep down he knows she was harmed.
Recently I experienced my own car wreck. I became nervous for damaging property that wasn’t my own. The whole time I just wanted to go home. I can’t see how another young woman like Maura wouldn’t feel any nerves in a darkened street –150 miles away from UMASS– in freezing New Hampshire.
James (not the author but a separate friend) and I speak regularly about the case. James has thrown out every theory from plausible to outrageous in my direction. Lately he believes Maura could have come across a police impersonator on Route 112. He isn’t sure what to make of Witness A’s statement of seeing a police cruiser near the accident. Did Karen see a disguise?
The theory into a fake cop stumbling by doesn’t sound far fetched. James’ ex-girlfriend encountered one in upstate New York back in 2007 –back when they were coupling in college. His story goes:
She was babysitting in the Adirondack mountains up north in the wilderness off New York. She would babysit when she went up north to her parents camp summer home. And she was leaving babysitting and heading back to her parents summer home using back roads with no lines painted on them. And a police officer followed her for awhile with high beams on seeing into her car, and then put on the police car lights and pulled her over.
Claimed she was crossing the yellow line and that she needed to get out of the vehicle to take a sobriety test. There was no yellow line. So she pointed that out and argued and the policeman wrote her a ticket for reckless endangerment and left. And the next day her and her parents took the ticket to the police station. It was a fake ticket, fake information, fake officer, the ticket was not even the type of ticket that police department issued.No officer by that name. The guy had full cop car, full outfit, belt, badge, everything. There was even police info and numbers on his car.
While this account has nothing to do with Maura’s case, it still brings up an interesting possibility. If Maura stepped into a fake police vehicle, that would mean she was cooperating all along, despite many people’s beliefs she fled in fear of being caught (whatever that reason may be). Maura wasn’t afraid of owning up to her actions.
An interesting observation I hadn’t noticed before involves how small the states border New England. For one thing I was surprised to learn that Maura and her high school friends would club all the way to Rhode Island in TRUE CRIME ADDICT. In addition, I hadn’t deciphered the actual close proximity from Woodsville, NH to Vermont.
Literally minutes away!
Maura Murray is not the only female to disappear under strange and similar circumstances. Back in March 2000, Leah Roberts road tripped from North Carolina to Washington. The 1993 Jeep Cherokee belonging to the 23 year old was found damaged in a forest embankment by Mount Baker Highway. Valuable possessions such as Leah’s passport, driver’s license, and $2500 in cash were discovered near the car. Leah’s cat, Bea, was believed to have traveled with her, yet the feline was never found.
Six years later, an amazing development happened when two detectives discovered that the Jeep’s starter relay was severed, leading them to believe the car accelerated “without anyone depressing the gas pedal, confirming early suspicions that no one had been in the car when it left the road and thus had been purposely wrecked.”
Foul play much?
The Jeep’s starter relay being cut brings the same hall markings for Maura’s Saturn containing a rag in the tailpipe. While one example appears more deliberate than the other, the mysterious rag continues to be puzzling in purpose.
I’ve read in Reddit before that Maura emailing to her professors about her impending absence from class -because of a family emergency- as a red flag. That’s not a red flag. Haven’t you ever given a BS excuse before? I have missed days of school because I was “sick”. This reminds me of Annie McCann‘s case, a Virginia teen who disappeared on Halloween of 2008, later turning up dead in the ghetto. Annie transported her fate onto Baltimore with her Volvo and $1000 in cash. I can see why Maura depleted her bank account and brought alcohol along for the ride. Same with Annie. They must have had a temporary plan.
Brittanee Drexel disappeared in South Carolina after surreptitiously road tripping from New York in April 2009. The teen vanished walking out of a Marriott hotel. Brittanee, Annie, Maura, and Leah share one commonality in their cases: none of them notified to friends and family they were heading off somewhere, with the exception of Brittanee texting her teen boyfriend in real time until she literally vanished. The lack of information is the crux into crucial clues.
I was the same age as Annie and Brittanee. My resources were limited in high school and college. If I had my own car and money, my outings probably wouldn’t stick strictly to my surroundings. The only difference is I remained in the dark and kept to my environment because I didn’t have much. Experiencing a sense of adventure feels important to any young woman. You pick and choose what is worth dealing with: getting yelled at, missing a few days of school, running the risk of getting lost. Trailing off like that comes at a painful cost whenever people never appear again.
The Murray’s have likely experienced an ambiguous loss. Last summer I read an article about ID’s The Vanishing Women, where in which ambiguous loss was specifically mentioned as the kind where the “trauma one experiences after a family member or close friend inexplicably goes missing.” Families cope differently with this loss when concrete answers aren’t known. Closure is suspended.
I’m no expert in psychology. How I gathered the info about ambiguous losses seems to make sense in this frame. Dr. Pauline Boss coined the term. If you are interested in learning more, Pauline was interviewed on the On Being podcast. Also, this NPR article about the missing Malaysian airliner cross references ambiguous loss.
Maura left UMASS what seems suddenly for a Monday afternoon. Next thing you know her Saturn becomes inoperable in rural New Hampshire…but she disappears. Nobody to our knowledge knows where she went from there and why. No remains have identified Maura. These haunting thoughts and what if’s perpetuate the ambiguous loss of a missing loved one.
How do you go forward?
You simply can’t…
Based on recent Renner posts, the last day to drop out of classes in UMASS -without financial penalty- was February 10. I dropped out of my college courses numerous times this way. Renner also discusses financial aid distribution; not sure if this pertains to UMASS exclusively though. Financial aid was my savior. I had always wondered whether Maura received aid. With the knowledge of impending aid coming her way, I’d find Maura’s actions even more natural for comfortably taking out $280 from her account.
Between working two jobs and picking up a full time class schedule, slacking off in the first few weeks is seemly normal for any student. Maybe Maura wanted to sign up for an online class. In the week she disappeared, Maura was supposed to see Dane Cook in Connecticut. Heading off to the north country before hand doesn’t seem weird or suspicious in my view.
When it comes to college crunch time, especially as a nursing student, I can’t see how anyone would have time off.
I strongly believe Maura is not in the woods. I personally think it’s insane she would hide or die there. People speculate that theory as if she was Shannan Gilbert. Shannan was a New Jersey escort who disappeared in Long Island back in 2010. While the cops didn’t find her immediately, Shannan’s case led the catalyst into Suffolk County police discovering the graveyard of victims by the Long Island Serial Killer. 17 months after Shannan vanished, her remains were discovered in the same Gilgo beach marsh. Whether foul play was involved or not, witness accounts allege that Shannan became frantic and ran off, on the job, so to speak. Armchair sleuths speculate she became unhinged because of being drug induced or a mental psychosis. The facts remain Shannon never left Long Island when she was deceased nearby all along.
Can you see why Maura is just simply not in the woods?
The Rick Graves and Mark Harper episodes of Missing Maura Murray should be enough.
Everybody plays the game of twister with Maura’s case. The credit card charges, the UMASS cabin, the car accidents, her dating life, the Woodsville witnesses…these are some of the reasons that make people metaphorically extend their arms and legs from one theory onto another. People contort the facts into one giant glob of speculation.
The more Maura is discussed, the more she keeps fading and fading.
She isn’t folklore or a figment though. She mattered. And for that I stay grounded.