Unconcluded: The mysterious disappearance of Jennifer Kesse

Crime, Itunes, Podcasts, True Crime

I might be hooked with Unconcluded.

Unconcluded, the podcast which premiered today about the disappearance of a financial analyst, Jennifer Kesse. Those are the narrator’s words in verbatim.

I caught wind of Unconcluded leading more than a week ago. Jennifer’s case was one that fitted for potential podcast material in my mind. I wondered about compiling my own material but alas more fitting creators came around. As you listen to Episode 1, “Past, Present, Future,” you’ll understand Shaun’s narrative point of view on how and why he first encountered Jennifer’s story.

Shaun’s exact words echoed mine before I even heard the first show.

Proximity.

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Jennifer Kesse

I already became interested with the upcoming release of Unconcluded since Jennifer’s case centers in Orlando, Florida. I’m exclusively from South Florida –born and raised in Miami. While I’ve only visited Orlando once in my life, the overall vibe strikes almost the same if you drive down I-95 to Broward and Dade County. I’m a Florida native just like the creators, so I found it confounding that the word proximity popped up in our brains first thing.

I too hadn’t heard of Jennifer’s disappearance until 2015, nine years after she left without a trace. The simple fact that Shaun and Scott were longtime in the dark is astonishing as nearby natives. Beforehand I thought this was case was major news in Central Florida. I for sure didn’t hear or see anything on television further down south.

While only one episode premiered, I haven’t listened as intently to something like this since Missing Maura Murray. Again it’s proximity and the details about this puzzling case that had me all ears. When a show covers an investigation that happened essentially in your neck of the woods, you will want to know what’s up.

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Unconcluded the podcast

Last night I mentioned that this show seems like it’ll be special. I believe so. I hope so.

While people will probably associate Missing White Women Syndrome with Kesse’s case, I for certain wasn’t in the know for nearly a decade. How does a motivated and astute woman disappear? These are the answers the Kesse family are desperate to discover.

I’ve seen the Disappeared episode. I’ve run into Reddit and Facebook posts covering Jenn’s story. While you’re trying to uncover the utmost info, all you can do is click exist on the tab at the end of the day. I believe whole hardheartedly Jennifer was abducted. She didn’t possess a high victimology profile of living a risky lifestyle. The motivation to hunt Jenn most likely involved rape and/or robbery.

I’ve run through my head that CCTV tape, the unremarkable yet creepy figure walking away from Jenn’s Chevy Malibu, and the interim between her clocking out and being reported missing to the Orlando Police Department.

There’s just so many questions.

When the cold case officially turned 10, I reached Jenn’s age (24) when she disappeared. Being in someone’s shoes like that must be really surreal. What made her the target?

We’ll come to know when Unconcluded continues two weeks from today. I believe the podcast community will embrace this series since this case floats commonly in the TC bubble. I think her investigation deserves this kind of spotlight. Good things should come about.

Episode 1 was very well produced. The narrative is appropriately paced. The delivery was just right. I have a feeling these guys will accomplish with storytelling.

Unconcluded can be heard on Itunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and the podcast’s website.

The Cold Show

Itunes, Podcasts, True Crime

Episode 18 of Missing Maura Murray features a sit down with the elusive yet expressive anonymous figure by the name of Cold N Holdfield. Cold is no stranger in my eyes. We first encountered each other when Undisclosed was halfway through analyzing the Adnan Syed case in a legal scope. He began a podcast called Catcher in The Lie. So moved by his raconteur approach, along with his straightforward commentary on the Baltimore case made popular by the Serial podcast, we began to privately message. Without a doubt Cold possesses very high intelligence.

Pretty soon I introduced him –if not I encouraged him to listen–to Missing Maura Murray. His blog posts on the cold case hit off right away with Lance and Tim. I was happy to hear they acquainted pretty quickly. I’m down for all eyes and ears on the mysterious disappearance.

Even though I’ve grown intolerant of Cold’s actions behind the scenes, I still think very highly of him and his appearance on the show. His point of view provides a prospective no one else envisions. Many people have shared negative sentiments towards his interview. If you’ve never had more than one conversation with Cold, the overall confused reaction of from the audience comes with the territory. Many felt the fat needed to be trimmed during the first 40 minutes. For one I liked the Come to Jesus Midlife Crisis moment.

Cold began to display himself when addressing the Westman couple. I agree the Tim Westman statement about the case never getting resolved was insensitive. Some people lack perspective if they think that way. James Renner certainly possesses open mindedness– or else he wouldn’t continually investigate for a handful of years later. The same should go for James Smith. When I first heard the audio behind the Tim encounter, I became uncomfortable with the abrasive tone John displayed by grilling the guy. Any kind of confrontation makes me nervous. As time went by I actually began to feel the case needs the directness and forcefulness John exudes.

The Cold critcism reminds me of the Ann episode of Serial Dynasty –which is now Truth & Justice– where a renowned Reddit commentator on the Adnan is Guilty Side was invited to share her thoughts on the teenage murder case. Goes to show no opinion goes unheard, even for two un-arousing hours when she explained her side of the guilty fence. I say this because the Reddit and troll talk is a popular board of discussion lately. They view Cold as a troll. They viewed this episode as baggage.

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The most popular topic remains what people believe happened to Maura.

  • She committed suicide in the woods.

I didn’t think of that conclusion before the show existed. Realistic? Sure. No one goes to Haverhill, New Hampshire to commit suicide though. Sudden car crash…lemme just succumb to the freezing elements.

No.

Robert Durst ran away to Galveston, Texas. While credit card fraud does not compare to dismemberment, there is connection in my eyes of both individuals wanting to disappear off the grid.

I have to bring up the missing alcohol she bought on February 9; $40 worth of beverages. You have to ask yourself the importance of the missing alcohol. Her priorities weren’t to call AAA or 911 if she vanished with the brew. Forget the alcohol if my own life was on the line. Why carry it? I did propose two scenarios to Lance that perhaps she either A) frantically stashed the alcohol in the woods or B) knocked on a neighbor’s door for a promise to hide it in her favor. However, there are grey areas in these scenarios.

Commentators question why Tim and Lance are still continuing the podcast despite the belief she succumbed like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

Many speculate they’re doing this for entertainment. Bring buzz to their documentary. Stop listening to the show if you really think they’re being opportunistic. Others share that the material is running dry. People are disenchanted with the way they’re presenting the podcast (“endless speculation”, “non-credible”, “rambling”).

Perhaps I wasn’t paying enough attention or ruminating on the little details people point out. You have to remember certain recordings were made weeks and months in advance. Opinions change as the show goes on. Literally the podcast debuted in the summer, here we are reaching Christmas and 2016. The truth remains a unique opportunity is being presented here. I would have still watched the documentary with or without the podcast.

The entertainment factor gears me towards Cold’s criticism on listeners being true crime fan freaks, displaying the pom poms full center. While he is super philosophical, if anything the continual blog posts further indicates his growing fascination. He’s not immune from getting entrenched. You’re not any different from the rest of us, Cold. This is not an attack. This is a message to naysayers who don’t understand why true crime followers like Cold and I would seek space and discussion for outlets of this kind.

However I’ve been reading on the Reddit boards he might have doxxed someone. If so, c’mon. You’re better than that, Cold. I actually wonder at times whether an MMM or Serial listener will recognize your voice, and out your true identity. Knock on wood. I say this with love.

  • She ran away

I believe that. Maura and I are in the same age range. Let me pre-warn I don’t have serious issues. Every other day a thought does pops up on my braid to go off the grid. Billy Rausch cheating on Maura is a reason to temporarily disperse into obscurity, if not permanently. An outstanding blog post from weeks ago on Renner’s blog displayed the strain of their relationship.

When police entered her dorm at UMass they found her belongings packed neatly into boxes. On top of the boxes was an email from Bill to her which she printed out and left. The email was about Bill cheating on her.

That’s a giant Fuck You in my eyes. I could feel the inner seethe. You better believe I’d be devastated. Maybe this relationship was not meant to be. They did meet in the midst of her West Point stealing scandal. In addition the bitter tone is evident in Cecil Smith’s, former police chief of Haverhill, comment on Billy possibly fueling Maura’s motive to disappear.

“It was her scumbag boyfriend that made her want to drive up here,” he said. “He came out in the news and was all, ‘We loved her.’ Well, fuck you. He was cheating on her. If it was a suicide, it was because of what he was doing to her. But if it was a suicide, where’s the body?”

I love the uncensored angry tone, especially in Renner’s regard for Billy lying to him. Humanity is in full display. So this isn’t merely entertainment. The call sheet for Billy and Maura’s cell phones are descriptive. A volume of calls to a slew of mysterious women makes you raise an eyebrow. The most endearing but sad part was seeing Billy repeatingly calling Maura in the wake of her disappearance. That action indicates “I’m sorry. Please come back. I hope you’re okay.” You forget everything in the moment. The silence behind the unrequited calls is real. Palpable in the fear she is dead. Palpable in the fear of her never returning. Palpable in the fear of the unknown.

Here is why MMM is a success, despite the criticisms, people are listening.

  • She was murdered.

Plausible. The contents in the Saturn indicate motive for a temporary getaway. If Maura did run away, why use up your limited resources? The alcohol shouldn’t be that vital. Suspicions may be she was an alcoholic. The 20something bottles of shampoo and conditioner could really just be over packing. The shampoo amount could insinuate a female companion joining her for a girl getaway. In that “flurry of activity” surrounding the crash, vanishing before the eyes of the witnesses who claim to have seen her, it all happened so fast. The most plausible scenario is Maura hitching a ride with a stranger or tandem driver.

Who killed her? The most puzzling question is why. Very easy for dirty locals taking advantage of her. Every man on the street is a threat. A person who actually knew Maura that in fact killed her is the bigger mystery. Father of the baby?

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A little sock action doesn’t hurt anybody. And more notes.

In the meantime rumblings are occurring in the north country. John Smith is starting a blog on the cold case. The sheer silence from Tim and Lance as of lately might be they’re reaching ground. James continues to blog despite the recent release of his fictional book, The Great Forgetting. The inner workings of these three groups might unleash some satisfying information soon.

In the absence of the Murray family participating on the show or agreeing to talk to James, whatever they think happened to Maura, they should look into submitting their DNA. I say this in case unidentified remains link to Maura.

One final note. After that long two week hiatus, it was really good to hear Tim and Lance again. I remember thinking they’re such well speakers. Mostly they’re just curious crusaders. Even if nothing comes to fruition, listening to Missing Maura Murray has been cool.

We just want a bit of dish.

Serial: One Year Later

Itunes, Podcasts, True Crime

Lights out.

Nestled in bed.

Nothing but the glow of my Iphone.

I pressed play on The Alibi.


For 54 minutes I became hypnotized. This obscure murder case from Baltimore brought on a sudden obsession. My life shifted on the night of November 8, 2014.

Before officially listening, I was immediately sold on the premise of a podcast dedicated solely to a real life murder. Subscribed to Serial without notice. This occurred before becoming aware of any specific details.

I feverishly binged through the first 6 episodes. Each served a unique and fascinating chapter such as a breakup, body dump site, reenactment of drive from A to B; giving that very necessary breakdown. Juicy backstory and character analysis were only made possible by Sarah Koenig.

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Sleep whispered way past midnight. I woke up in wonderment to finish wherever I left off. As you can see above, my Timehop photo shows the time stamp of The Opposite of the Prosecution. The Deirdre Enright episode called in for a smoother morning, with her talking straight for 15 uninterrupted minutes about the Innocence Project. I’m pretty sure by now I was starving and needing to pee since I hadn’t left the room –much less hopped off bed– beginning Serial from the night before.

The murder mystery resonated a connection beyond me.

James Renner wants to talk about being a True Crime Addict. Before r/serialpodcast became a minefield, I couldn’t get my hands off Reddit. Concentration and monitoring strictly pertained to discussion boards. I was lucky enough for another –and more civilized– group to magically come my way. We are still kicking a year later.

Before Serial I was frustrated with social media. Mindless memes and 6 second viral videos circulating my feed everyday. I didn’t have any outlet to express myself. My friends list was outdated with high school friends who bared little connection to my life at that point. The podcast changed my life because a community welcomed my thoughts and observations. People from many walks of life congregated in many pockets of the internet, sharing their insight as to why Hae Min Lee met her demise.

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During this time the web infiltrated with endless, gargantuan chatter. I even began following Rabia Chaudry on Twitter. At that time I was probably secretly wishing to be her BFF. I was always searching for Serial related tweets. Watched any and every interview. She participated in a weekly Google Hangout session called Conversations on the Serial podcast with a professor from Atlanta, Pete Rorabaugh. Either in recap or real time I’d watch those in between episode premieres.

Thursdays were the real deal. Right off the presses I’d wake up around 5AM refreshing my feed for the latest and dearest episode. You could always count on discussion boards leading new threads by the time the episode concluded.

A Serial subculture made way with jokes about the Crab Crib, Christina Guiterrez’ grating banter in the courtroom (IS IT NOT?!), parodies following Sarah impersonations and listeners showcasing their own infatuation. Let’s not forget the unforgiving months when nonstop people proclaimed, “But Jay knew where the car was!”.

Serial was in the air. While the podcast was very entertaining, the material possessed a rawness never heard before in media. Adnan Syed’s participation made Serial grade A. The intro call from prison became as transcendent as the brilliant music. I loved it so much so, I bought the original score by Nick Thornburn and soundtrack by Mark Henry Phillips.

I won’t get into the nitty gritty. I’m just sharing my experience when the podcast happened in real time. Most who have encountered me should know my opinion by now. I believe Adnan was wronged into a life sentence. Jay served as a pawn and puppet to the state. Hae encountered evil on January 13, 1999. Don or one of these Baltimore rapists/predators killed her. Evidence does not line up with Adnan or Jay being the murderer.

One of the major reasons the podcast became a juggernaut success was race. Here we have a Muslim teenage figure, his Korean girlfriend, then the weed dealer acquaintance from an underprivileged black background. No wonder Serial succeeded internationally. The story was expressed ever so greatly but the people involved connected with the audience in a multitude of ways.

Minorities are the norm in my neck of the woods but hearing about Adnan Syed and Hae felt unique. This wasn’t your Natalie Holloway of the day. I did connect with both figures in the same way of feeling restricted in my adolescence. After reading Hae’s diary recently we were one in the same: love-stricken, attached, and doting. One of my favorite things is the love story in The Breakup.

I was sprinkled with love dust when Kc & JoJo’s “All My Life” played in the junior prom sequence. All young women desire love. If they don’t tell you so, it’s because they’re being dishonest or hiding their inner wishes. It was a beautiful thing for these two individuals getting together since they possessed separate cultural, racial, and religious backgrounds. Young love ever so sweet.

In the Jay Intercept interview, there is mention he attended Warped Tour. So did I! I attended during most of high school. I’d imagine the bands he saw fall in litany with Blink 182, No Doubt, Sublime, and Green Day. In episode 9, The Deal with Jay, friends described him with a punk streak (lip piercing, dyed hair, listened to “rock and roll”). A misunderstood kid, perhaps. Minus the weed thing I could probably see us hanging.

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Another reason to love Serial is 1999.

I can vicariously place myself in the position of these kids. We all bum rushed home for TRL, eagerly watched the TGIF lineup, and laughed at Saturday cartoons. I’d trade my senior prom experience over theirs. You guys got it good with your dream MTV playlist: NSYNC, Mariah Carey, and C’mon N’ Ride It (The Train). All I remember is Justin Bieber’s “Baby” playing in the dance floor, in addition to whatever mainstream hip hop made the airwaves. Girls twerking left and right. Conservative and shy, I remained mostly sedentary with my date.

Speaking of music, I loved the creativity fueled with parodies and music remixes, like this one with Biggie. When something is so adored, people find outlets to express their appreciation.

Coming across on Hae’s death I remembered of a homicide during my senior year. Whenever I didn’t feel like riding the cheesebus with annoying underclassman, I’d hop on a city bus in a specific metro stop blocks away from school. On a February afternoon, an 11th grade student was stabbed to death in that stop. If I witnessed the stabbing I’d probably mildly suffer from PTSD. Social media thrived enough within hours where rumors became reality: a student from my high school died. A Facebook photo of the guy presented posthumously before me. The next morning, the air was heavy on the heels of students and faculty acknowledging the young man’s grisly death.

Months later sitting on stage, my graduating class bearing our white caps and gowns, the girl next to me began softly crying. The principal mentioned the boy’s passing. The girl ran in his social circle. Recovering, she wanted me to observe if any makeup smudged her face. Politely I said nothing was wrong. Those few minutes served witness to a person grieving her dead friend.

Just like that you forget.

Since I’m bringing up my adolescence, I’ll have you know I’ve followed true crime since childhood. Robert Stack sealed the deal. I relished any Unsolved Mysteries rerun on a sick day or holiday break from elementary school. Yes I adamantly fanned out to my favorite Nickelodeon shows but I loved learning about mysteries, murders, and missing people. The stuff did scare me as a kid, no denying that. The opening theme is legendary.

As a nerdy Unsolved Mysteries fan, I even remember when Robert passed away. Shocked, I ran to my dad. I made him glare at our jumbo Compaq computer monitor with AOL news headlining his death. We even shared the same birthday. If you do a google search, you’ll know everything is connected. Unfortunately, at the moment, Unsolved Mysteries reached the end.

So with that, crime shows were my only fix. I didn’t dig deep in the web for after show discussion because I thought there was none. Serial happened during the right time and place. Soon after I learned a host of crime/mysterious podcasts actually existed beyond the This American Life spinoff. Articles recommended listening to Criminal, Sword and Scale, Generation Why, Thinking Sideways, True Murder.

So I did just that.

Here I am. Subscribing and discussing mysteries everyday. Without x, y, and z, I wouldn’t come across cool, intelligent, and insightful people across my path. Amazingly the case of Adnan Syed still remains as a powerful and popular topic, especially on the heels of Serial season 2 premiering any day now, all the while staying atop of the Itunes podcast charts.

For years my family would bewilderingly ask, “Aurelia, why do you watch this?”.

“Because I like it.”

Running If You Call My Name

Amazon, Itunes, Podcasts, Television, True Crime

Let’s get on track with the Spreecast livestream, James Renner, John Smith, and Twitter.

Lately I’ve seen much buzz on new listeners just discovering Missing Maura Murray. The podcast is getting more traction, with comparisons being made to the Peabody award winning Serial podcast. I’ve been saying this since the beginning. @Gootz from Twitter expressed that MMM is Serial 1.5

I agree.

Officially the podcast has surpassed more episodes than Serial. I am always making parallels between both shows.

Recently I poured into Maura’s yearbook from senior year. I had a kick looking back through memory lane. The year 2000: best known as the millennium (or the title of a Backstreet Boys smash album). Maura makes appearances with friends, in the sport section for track and field, and in one picture where she adorably wears micro pigtails. West Point is listed as her college of choice. Seems like her college career was already planned out before she even walked the graduation podium. (I for one was clueless when I accepted my diploma onstage).

I further traced back to her freshmen, sophomore, and junior years. She participated in track and field for the 4 years she was enrolled in Whitman-Hanson high school, as evidenced by pictures and quotes she is tagged in. Maura echos Julie Murray in similar ways by both enlisting in West Point and track and field. In particular I noticed Julie thanking Fred Murray in her senior quote in the 1998 yearbook. Fred is noticeably absent from Maura’s description.

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This all brings me to episode 12 which features Clint Harting speaking about Maura’s brief stint in West Point. Enrollment includes a 5 year military commitment and paid tuition. Clint expressed that being in WP would “break you down.” This is a classic case of college stress. Lance points out she may have gone through an identity issue. I can agree with that. The only criticism I’ll give to Fred is he may have been a pushover. Nothing wrong with wanting your children to excel but Maura might have assumed by following Julie’s footsteps, things would go according to plan. (As the youngest of three, I thought I’d follow the exact same replica in my siblings’ footsteps. Personally, professionally, socially.)

Fall 2002 semester at Umass she majors in chemical engineering, soon changing to the nursing program.

Skipping ahead to Maura’s friends being interviewed 10 days after her disappearance. I really liked how they didn’t sugarcoat her demeanor. They described her as being a “secretive person.” She didn’t express transferring from WP to Umass. I consider myself secretive and private too.

In my last blog I asked what were the little things she identified with. Maura’s friends stated The Onion as her favorite website. Bottle Rocket, a 1996 film starring the Wilson brothers, was her favorite movie. In ways she actually parallels the teenagers documented in Serial. Adnan Syed was a track and field athlete. Hae Min Lee played for lacrosse and field hockey. Maura, Hae and Adnan resided in the upper east coast. Their graduating classes were only a year apart. All were equally ambitious and adventurous. People continue speculating and commenting because we are transported back in time –1999 and 2004– while still trying to figure out motivations in the situations and characters behind these cases. The enigma persists.

I’m going to take pause and speak about the Spreecast livestream. Firstly, the chat was super fun. Two days before the Crime Writers of Serial podcast interviewed Tim and Lance. I learned the Alden Olsen videos were one of the reasons why L really gravitated to the case. In the Spreecast I posed the question as to why. He became obsessed and frightened upon first sight, refreshing videos every three minutes. In specific the ski resort ticket video posed a “Ken Burns effect” with the zoom buildup. Somehow the video reminded me of The Thin Blue Line, a 1988 true crime documentary that is surprisingly tolerable and progressive for it’s time. The doc possesses this The Jinx/Robert Durst feel. Anyways it was cool knowing L got deep in the weeds like us listeners do.

The live chat presented an effervescence in the room. My perspective changed when I heard it by audio only (episode 12). A void in expression was evident. The sidebar chat was omitted from viewing whatever topic the listeners were feverishly typing about. The discussion suddenly turned more intimate and revealing as if T, L, and James Renner were only having a conversation among themselves. People who missed the live stream did not see the transparency across their faces.

The laughs, wonderment, and curiosity reflected in their expressions. Actually it was the first time many viewers saw them in the proverbial flesh, me being included. murray_maura4

Since I previously referenced docs and podcasts, I’ve been meaning to recommend MISSING. The UK based podcast just concluded their season, where in which Tim Weaver covers 8 episodes on why people disappear. Meanwhile, I am reminded every now and then about a little Starz cable show called The Missing. I watched this in January of 2015. I’m not exaggerating or lying when I say it is captivating. Binge watched the whole thing. I couldn’t wait to see the next episode, buying my way all through Amazon. Even though this is scripted, I believe viewers will be moved by the plight of a missing child. In addition with seeing the spider web effect conflict a group of people from all walks of life.

IMG_8688MMM is taking a life of it’s own. I feel each new momentum when a tweet or episode comes our way. A redditor was so inspired that they created a mock poster. I was excited and hyper from seeing this beautiful creation.

Now let’s get onto episode 13. Right away I was scribbling “yesss!” to T and L saying how ridiculous it is for people to believe James Renner is investigating the case for publicity. I’m sure J.R. really relished the moment when a Swiftwater attendant threatened to bash his skull. That’s Get-Off-My-Lawn mentality. I’m reminded again about the backlash/disappointment coming from fans when he stepped down from posting the big blog reveal.

Yeah it sucks. I don’t mind J.R. silencing himself though. Naturally I’m a cynical person, so I expect these things to happen.

Episode 13 featured John Smith, a former police officer and private investigator. You can adamantly hear and see his stance for public awareness on the cold case. He is a straight talker. I personally believe John is genuine. I like that someone hasn’t stopped searching for answers. We know dormancy can make people idle and comfortable with possibly never knowing finding the truth.

I’m not going to get into the technical stuff on Maura’s crash and why she probably didn’t strike a tree. Someone far better could express that. I love hearing the humanity behind some moments though, for example when John turned down Fred’s request to investigate the case. My stomach was sensing a confrontation would happen in this story. Thankfully a scuffle didn’t occur at the Franconia supermarket.

I’m sorry if this is the 28th comparison but this scene could strike as one out of Serial.

The moment was really humanizing because John was threatened with arrest from detectives. He feared backlash and imprisonment. The issue being sensitive as it was brought disappointment to Fred’s face. Eventually they reunited for searches, dinners, and interviews. In the 11 years since grabbing this case by the bullhorns (literally quoting Fred here), John’s personal life was compromised in a few ways.

There are pits and falls. Pros and cons. Facing the music won’t always be pretty. Knocking on doors like Fred, John, and James have might sound titillating. While people vicariously wished to undertake James’ job in episode 4, we don’t wish for harassment by trolls and threat of assault by deadly weapon under our belt. Losing a long time partner because you’re so invested on a mystery like in John’s situation. Or how about a cancer stricken mother dying on her missing daughter’s birthday. Going to the grave not knowing what happened to her child.

This all really did happen.

John is one of those who wishes her disappearance won’t turn into folklore. I think developments can happen with the help of the podcast. There’s something there. We just don’t know it.

The Quiet Things No One Ever Knows

Crime, Itunes, Podcasts

I’ve been slacking. The last thing I covered was those Fred Murray letters. A host of subjects were broached in the last three episodes.

Out of curiosity I watched the Disappeared episode again. Before Missing Maura Murray, the only piece of information that served my memory was the car crash. The first time I saw Disappeared I was not aware of James Renners’ participation with the investigation, along with Maura’s legal troubles –things inevitably omitted from the ID series. The way the episode was produced possesses that campy and curious feeling that leaves you dreading for more answers as the credits roll up. Anybody not familiar with MMM would speculate Maura went on a spontaneous trip. Guesses are made from there.

I actually learned a few things from the episode.

    • Not Without Peril, a book about the New Hampshire mountain trail was found in her car.
    • Fred worked in Bridgeport, Connecticut at the time.
    • Billy and Maura dated since 2001.
    • Billy bought her a cell phone for Christmas. Paid her monthly bills too.
    • Maura had an AAA membership.
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OMG BUTCH!

Years later I didn’t think a podcast would take place. MMM has become an experience. The midnight releases murmur those of Serial, which dropped around 5AM for devout east coast listeners like myself. From the melancholy piano section in the intro to the cover art of an illuminated girl running into obscurity, you are in for a story. I’ve mentioned the podcast to a few people in passing. They get the gist of the case: Maura Murray, college student, goes missing after car crash. People won’t expect inquiry absent from the Disappeared episode: Alden Olsen, the $4000 withdrawal, you-fill-in-the-blank. Speculative data that makes you go, “Oooo!”.

The cool thing about MMM is Tim and Lance are riding on the mystery roller coaster too. Their inner dialogue and sentiments are expressed: Lance getting spooked at Maura’s mugshot, tweets about the boys feeling chills during the Lori Bruno session, Tim shaking his head at Fred rebuking Renner. Also, I like their willingness to interview anyone. Due to that, the list of characters lending their voice rises. The boys are bringing texture.

I agree with Renner that people like to insinuate themselves into a case. Blog and podcasts are a part of a developing and changing narrative. Aren’t I insulating myself somehow by writing this blog? Not maliciously and taunting like Alden Olsen though. His maniacal laugh petrified me at 5AM, as Renner spoke about Olsen’s creepy involvement into the narrative. I appreciate J.R. (can I call you that?) taking a stand in his protection and safety. Alden has repeatedly engaged in classic stalking behavior, including harassing J.R. and his family. The cool thing is he wasn’t deterred from reporting the case. Personally I would have been shaking in my boots.

Speaking of insinuating, I recall that creep who put on a show for the cameras, falsely claiming involvement in the Jon Benet Ramsey case. I had just entered high school as a freshmen. 6AM wake up calls were daunting for this 14 year old, trying to eat Cherrios as the news junket flashed headlines of the day. Super tired and nourishing myself before leaving for the school bus, this creep stopped me in my tracks. I was terrified. Firstly it was weird he’d even publicly put on a parade about murdering a little girl.

This is uncommon. Any attention is good attention for weirdos. Back to the program.

Onto the psychics. I’m a skeptic. My bullshit meter is high but I’ll hear anything Tim and Lance puts on the table. The audience got a tease of their documentary with J.R. telling the story of when he cruised through a boardwalk, stopping by for a quick psychic session from an old Hungarian woman. If you visit the MMM Youtube page, you will see a dosage of reel on Lori speaking in episode 10. The Lori session appeared like a scene out of Serial, where you felt present in the room too. Right away she feverishly spewed her visions.

“Icy cold.”

“Fine snow coming down.”

“Big ass truck.”

Listening to the passion behind her voice, especially on details like the White Mountains or Franconia Notch possibly being the epicenter of Maura’s whereabouts, I just want Tim and Lance to immediately search for those areas. Even recently Brian Ladd, schizo psychic dreamer, provided new inquiry on a separate location. I liked that Lori and Brian both echoed a “Ben” being involved. Possibly to be around a 30 year old white male with law enforcement connections.

We shall see.

Screenshot 2015-09-24 at 1.31.21 PM

I’d like know more about Maura. Who was her favorite band? Where did she shop at? Simple things of that nature. She might have been a sick or conflicted person, but it’s the little things that connected her to loved ones. This could be reflected the same way as how Hae Min Lee was presented through her diary entries in Serial. A teenage girl smitten for love, the adored star student from Woodlawn High. Favorite drink: Sprite. Favorite movie: Titanic.

If Maura is alive and found, she will not surrender to her old way of life. She has assimilated to a distinct lifestyle. Living off the grid or masquerading under a false identity, Maura is not the same person from 2004. Billy is not going to propose to her. Sara and Kate will not invite her to the local pub. Maura cannot walk up the graduation podium to grab her nursing degree. The crazy and sad part is that these events cannot be reenacted. The course of events shifted everyone’s lives. I wish Billy and Maura would have married. He really seemed devoted and caring. A nursing career would have sufficed.

In the last episode, a New Hampshire professor of forensic psychology, Dr. Robert Eckstein shared his analysis. I agree she was under stresses like any regular college student. The nursing program sounds like no picnic. I relate too by having those stresses. Not only with my education, in my personal life as well. Moody and irritant I’ve wanted to leave home. Doesn’t necessarily mean I wanted to disappear but I wanted to be away from reminders that brought me down.

It is possible Maura was the problem child of the Murray family, finding herself to be a nuisance to everyone. Even before Robert mentioned the possibility of alcohol abuse, I started to think she was alcoholic. Added with the rumor of being bulimic, she certainly must have masked her problems one sip and upchuck at a time. Those are very serious things. I usually procrastinate or snack to forget about my problems.

I proposed the pregnancy theory before coming across some Renner blogs recently. They focus on internet searches about pregnancy on her UMass computer.

Now that’s something any woman in her 20s dreads. We WEB MD the hell out of Google. If she was pregnant for real, then her problems just became 5 times worse.

The possibility of Maura perishing in the woods actually seems like the most plausible. Most likely she got cold feet, ran to the woods to avoid detection, scared and feeling like a fuck up for wrecking the car. Against her fragile and limited judgment, she fell asleep in the woods. This scenario is the saddest out of all the theories floating around. Even if she Gone Girl’d her way to obscurity, I would have wanted her to recognize that her problems or stresses do not define her.

“It’s like I get her,” Lori murmurs.

Me too?

By the way…..there is buzz among the community about MMM continuing with a second season. I’m down. Out of all the crime podcasts, I’m mostly in favor of Tim and Lance investigating a new case. Especially as documentary film makers they have that added advantage. Personally I don’t view them taking lackadaisical approaches, while always appearing reciprocal with guests. You can tell they are best bros too. Eating orange chicken together like the real armchair detectives they were destined to be on Earth.

Call 872-25M-AURA or 872-256-2872 to leave your theory on the case.

Breadcrumbs

Crime, Itunes, Podcasts

1AM. I swallow my prescribed antibiotic. Turn on the living room tv. Scroll through Twitter. A notification luminescent in red in my podcast station app indicates a new episode arrived. Missing Maura Murray this early?! I dig in right away.

The discussion behind episode 8 focuses on Fred Murray’s letters to fellow former New Hampshire governors, Craig Benson and John Lynch.

The Benson letter show cases a pinball action of strong statements, shifting from one topic to the next. Fred mentions the possibility of Maura being seriously injured by the spider hole on her driver side window. With a fuzzy injury like that she was vulnerable and susceptible in succumbing to whatever measures she would settle for. Then, he turns the tables on possible police neglect. From alleged belated actions on the North Haverall force and state police to failing to interview a witness in the 24 hour window of the accident, he feverishly points out these are the reasons Maura was deterred of being found safe and alive.

I get nearly physically sick…” is the most humanizing and surreal line. In one swoop this sentence expresses the heavy sentiment of how Fred feels waking up each day, due to the failure of rescuing his daughter. Simply put it’s a hook.

Then in the Lynch letter Fred conjures up more descriptive language. Failure to contact sources related to a Murray family vacation stay made him feel like he was “struck across the face with a two-by-four.” Later he calls the force “ostriches” in not fulfilling their obligation with the investigation. He also points out the law enforcement’s potential reasoning for what might have happened: hypothermia, runaway, suicide. It is easy to suggest they would not pursue further past a car accident investigation if those were the possible circumstances.

In summary the Benson letter was a very straight forward, concerned, and compassionate take from a grieving father. The overall tone was bossy but not grossly threatening or dominating. The same could be said for the Lynch letter. Fred sounded very desperate in finding the truth.

My MMM notes.

My MMM notes.

Let’s say Maura’s real intentions were to escape. Running through the frigid temperatures, she must have felt like a maverick. Invigorated in evading the law, family, and friends. She’s a 21 year old woman leaving the past behind. There is something brash in her convictions to take that step. In the least I really hope she is alive.

Since the beginning, the community has cast suspicion on Fred. He is the Nick Dunne of this disappearance. Everyone is eyeing his next move. He is in shut down mode with the press and police because he does not want them digging into his past; not necessarily Maura’s per say. The truth may be more about him than Maura. For example, he could possibly have been a gambler or adulterer. Just like Renner finding out Maura’s legal troubles, in a way Fred shut down for not having his skeletons exposed. These troubles would not add insight or fact to the case — just speculation and data at best. On the flip side Maura’s troubles might not even be peripherally related to her disappearance; however, these facts add context to the individual known as Maura Murray.

Tim asks what Fred is doing these days, since he adamantly went as far as writing letters -twice- to New Hampshire governors. Simply put a cold case will turn anyone dormant. When you’re heartbroken by a tragedy, with no leads bringing resurgence into a case, you’re going to turn stagnant. I tweeted to Tim and Lance that I see no reason why a 60 something year old dad could fake being a torned loved one for this long. Even the baddest of fathers, Godfather style Francis Ford Coppola would not want their daughter missing.

The point of this whole entry is breadcrumbs. Last week Renner made a cheeky Facebook post. Prior to even reading it, I percolated on my own breadcrumbs. If I went missing today, people would judge on my recent activity with online dating. My participation with multiple apps might raise suspicion. Authorities will find out I am speaking with a gargantuan body of men. Persons of interest rise up. Even more damning is private diary entries on some suitors. A story is spun from here. These are my breadcrumbs if I suddenly vanished into thin air.

Being a true crime writer, especially working on the Maura Murray case, I am always aware of the bread crumbs I’m leaving in the world. Whenever I go through a toll, I hear Robert Stack’s voice in my head, saying, “At 7:05, Renner paid $2.50 at the toll booth and then exited onto I-77. He was never seen again…”

So much in finding the trail for breadcrumbs you will find yourself in a rabbit hole. The same thing occurred with investigative journalist, Clint Harting, who was interviewed in episode 7. Clint traveled to New Hampshire. He visited the massive UMASS campus. Dined at the local college grub hub. He even interviewed Maura’s former work supervisor. Clint placed himself in the same shoes in finding the truth like Sarah Koenig did in approaching the Hae Min Lee case for Serial. She interviewed former classmates of the victim, recreated the murder drive route of the prosecution’s timeline of events, and even uncovered some unsavory things Adnan Syed did in his past. Journalists place themselves in these situations to get a taste. Each new bit of information salivating their pallet.

I relate with Clint in discovering the case through Disappeared years ago. The ID series sparked traction and appeal. The case garnered more attraction with Netflix streaming the show. Picking up further internet steam, the podcasts for Thinking Sideways and Generation Why presented episodes on the disappearance.

Pretty soon MMM was born.

This is why people are interested. Tim brought up a great point. We cannot let the case turn into folklore. There is a chance for people with important information to come out of the woodworks. We have a unique opportunity with a new medium, which was not available at the time of Maura vanishing. The podcast is happening in real time. If that does not help, perhaps the 2016 releases of Renner’s book and Tim & Lance’s documentary on the case will bring truth.

Closure is underneath it all.

Gone Girl

Crime, Itunes, Podcasts

Thursday mornings are my new-found ritual in listening to the latest and dearest Missing Maura Murray. I suddenly clutched for my phone at the surprise 7AM, early release. The perks of being an unemployed, college graduate outweighs most.

James Renner, reporter and upcoming author of “True Crime Addict”, passed by as the episode’s guest. James has been investigating the Murray case for years, bringing in very interesting information to the forefront. By his words he became a “character in the case” from the beginning.  This week’s episode was very grappling and fascinating, reminding me of Serial goodness. (Another podcast I devoted waking up at 5am on Thursdays).

I love the part James highlighted about Maura not being the all American girl. I pointed this out in a previous entry. Everyone possesses skeletons in their closet. Fred, Maura’s dad, is protecting the image of his missing daughter. Tightening up against the police seems unnecessary especially when he didn’t cooperate with them for two years. In my opinion his concerns are only for law enforcement, so the focus isn’t shifted towards the Murray family’s private life. Not cooperating with journalists actually brings in more ambiguity and mystery to the case. On the surface the public’s perception is that of a Natalie Holloway: photogenic, beautiful, single white female, young and vivacious ready to grab the world by her hands.

Maura was flawed, as we are in life. She changed courses from cadet to nurse. Hearing about her stealing makeup at Fort Knox reminded me of a former best friend of mine. She and I were 16, hanging out at malls like every regular teenager does. Once in a Nordstrom store I was adamantly gazing at cheap jewelry, when suddenly my friend scurries for us to immediately leave the store. Puzzled, I asked what the hell is going on. Tucking her hair behind her ears, she reveals the chunky gold hoop earrings she stole from the store, the very section I was innocently glancing by.

I was shocked. I was disappointed she would bring herself to such low measures. The situation couldn’t be rectified, especially when suspicion might be cast upon you as a co-conspirator. Pretty soon I learned she was fired from a clothing retail store for stealing a shirt. I asked why would she do this. The simple answer was I don’t know. Then in Junior year I befriended a new girl who became my after hang out buddy. She personally expressed that she stole clothes from American Apparel. I didn’t appreciate that very much but that still didn’t stop me from getting enabled. Confession: I once stole clothes from AA too. I’m very much a goody goody, however by acquainting with her I was enabled into doing stupid shit. We did not get caught. My point about these friends will make sense later.

The 4K cash withdrawal was revealing. Making intermittent ATM breaks sounds like a nuisance. SMH LANCE SMH. Learning about James’ interactions with Maura’s friends -Kate and Sara- was revealing too. Coming from Kate her responses were rehearsed and deceptive. There are loose strings regarding Sara as well. The way James described popping up at her apartment, it very much reminded me of when Sarah Koenig ambushed Jay at his front step in episode 8 of Serial.

“How did you find me?!”

SLAMS DOOR SHUT.

I. Love. It.

The real life Amy Dunne.

James confronted these women because there were rumors of an off campus party occurring the days before Maura disappeared. I wonder why these women are lip-shut. My theory is that they all blew some coke or smoked marijuana. Perhaps, Maura cheated on Billy at the party. If any of these things were the case, who really cares? 11 years has passed. Why be secretive? These group of friends were probably enabling each other. This is why I brought up my high school friends. They weren’t sociopaths but they did things I didn’t condone in the least. One was a semi-kleptomaniac while the other learned tricks because her friends worked at AA. She knew cameras weren’t present in the stores; thus, getting away with bad behavior. Even I was enabled into stealing. I swear that is the only bad thing I have done. 17 and afraid.

Perhaps Maura already had her klepto ways before college. The scorpion seed was planted in her. When you add in young and impressionable women into the mix, some less than savory things might go down. If these women are trying to protect their image from college, I don’t really see any benefit in that. I would spill the beans if I truly cared about helping my missing friend out.

Maybe Maura was pregnant at the time. This theory naturally came up when I heard the episode. I have no explanation for it other than this could be a reason why people are being secretive. Listening to James’ reporting was enticing. He has reason to be believe Maura may very well be alive. I learned something new by the way: if you are not declared dead, you can still receive benefits from social security and taxes. Also, he was responsible for discovering Maura’s legal troubles through FOIA (Freedom of Information Act).

I think James is the person who will crack this case. He sounds so sure of himself. I’m so impressed with the lengths information is being sought out. Aside from foul play, I’m starting to believe something Gone Girl-esque is happening here.

Maura Murray Blog

James Renner Twitter

Itunes MMMYoutubeStitcher MMM

Poof

Crime, Itunes, Podcasts, Stitcher

I threw in my last entry the possibility of Maura’s disappearance involving suicide. I strongly believe she met foul play, ever since I saw Disappeared. Suicide is not a strong enough motive, which is why I indicate the theory as a possibility (very meager in my eyes).

Drunk. Car crash. No cell reception. Tipsy/disoriented. Walking alone in cold weather. Asks/accepts ride from a transient. Gone.

That’s the most plausible scenario.

Lance kinda feverishly points out a “local dirt bag” should have surfaced in the investigation- a calling card of sorts that may be hidden from the public. Immediately it made me strongly believe a transient is maliciously involved with Maura vanishing.

If she had called a friend prior to meeting at this mysterious and sudden drive, they would have come forward with information. Things don’t really seem to be suspicious; therefore I am to believe she wanted a solo trip, or was intending to call friends once she got to her destination.

Considering her activity before and during the road trip (gas, calling her boyfriend, emailing work staff), she was doing normal, responsible things to prepare for a big day ahead. I’ve done the same (minus buying alcohol) to let family know ahead I’m leaving for a road trip and stopping for sustenance.

I believe if Maura encountered a car crash, lost in foreign territory hundreds of miles away, she would have wanted to make her way back home. You’re not going to abandon your wrecked car then hitch a ride straight to paradise. The right thing is intending to contact the most important people in her life. Once during a three hour trip on I-75 -bordering Naples to Broward County- I was riding in the passenger seat of my sister’s purple Scion, along with my 2 year old niece in the back. In the middle of the day with storm clouds approaching, we noticed a small red entity ahead in our lane. We thought it was those nothings you drive over every so often (dead animal, bags, etc).

Seconds later the entity grew larger in close up and became intertwined with the bottom of the car. Pulling quickly to the curb we couldn’t drive any longer with this gas tank stuck beneath.

I was scared. This was in 2013, btw. I immediately texted my brother to let him know we were deserted –at least 2 hours away with very little cell reception. My sister and I became frustrated that some idiot intentionally or mistakenly dropped a tank in the middle of the highway. I suggested calling the police. My sweet niece in the back noticed the disturbance and began to cry for mommy, which made me even more nervous. Meanwhile not many cars were passing by. Luckily my sister rigorously poked the tank out with an umbrella. We were able to safely drive again.

This is the culprit right here.

We almost encountered a dangerous accident; Maura on the other hand did. There is no way she would have gone MIA under the conditions without calling family and friends. We are vulnerable young women capable of being hurt in the middle of these tricky circumstances. In 2004, people weren’t whipped with phones. Understandably I get why Maura would conceivably hitch a ride with a stranger.

The details regarding the alleged witnesses remain murky. A bus driver and neighbor remain as the only people who supposedly viewed the aftermath. Faith Westmen witnessed a flurry of activity from her kitchen window pertaining to a mysterious man smoking in the car, and other things happening with the trunk. She later recanted. Butch the bus driver wanted to help Maura but she supposedly rebuked the offer. Eyewitness testimony is deem worthy of being faulty. Faith retracting her statement brings in even more ambiguous insight. In my opinion, the most interesting activity was the BOLO alert sent out at 7:54 pm. In addition the guys point out a Red SUV was seen in the vicinity. Whatever happened on February 9 remains to be a mystery.

Accident crumbles down to disappearance.

The James Renner teaser reminds me of the Sarah Koenig psychopath dig in the final seconds of episode 10 of Serial. As any journalist, they try to undercover clues in their research. Going as far as attempting to decipher personality disorders. I’m not surprised that Renner “believes” Maura was a sociopath. He’s just trying to get into the mindset of a missing girl. I’m very eager to hear his reporting on the case.

Three Sides to Every Story.

Crime, Itunes, Podcasts

With the brilliant term “arm chair detectives” coined by Tim and Lance from the Missing Maura Murray podcast, there is a ton of room for amateur sleuthing. They question and squeak every little thing -whether Maura slept in the same hotel mattress as her dad to comparing distances from condos to ski resorts. These guys scrutinize fact and fiction for the right reasons.

My number one favorite thing about Missing Maura Murray and the case is the discussion behind the profile of who Maura Murray was in the days before her disappearance. She was/is very much a flawed person, especially in comparison to the cookie cutter type who gets national attention in missing person cases. That is not meant to be a rub. In the public’s eyes they’re happy, smiley, high achieving people who shouldn’t have come in between a tragedy. On the surface Maura is the “all American girl”: middle class citizen, former track athlete, nurse major at the University of Massachusetts. However, the profile that makes Maura more human is her past indiscretions. She made mistakes that crisscrossed into criminality. The narrative behind MMM is left for interpretation because of her troubles occurring at the peak of exploration and discovery in young adulthood.

Three sides to every story exists: life before disappearing, the investigation of the disappearance, and life after disappearing. This case spans 11 years. Events have shifted due to Maura never being seen again. A family waiting for answers. The former boyfriend probably married with kids today. Classmates and friends accelerating in advanced occupations. Maura is stuck in time at 21 years old.

She encountered problems dealing with credit card fraud resulting in probation. A day or two before vanishing Maura crashed her father’s Toyota Corolla into a guardrail while drunk (That car model was nice. My dad owned a Silver edition in 2004). I imagine her father being pissed. She ditches class on February 9 (been there done that) for a spontaneous getaway; potentially to a ski resort or a Bartlett condo located in New Hampshire. She buys alcohol on the way to a mysterious destination after emailing and calling her work supervisors, professors, and boyfriend one final time. A strong odor emitted from a diet coke bottle left in her crashed vehicle leaves the strong possibility Maura was drinking while driving. Wine was supposedly left in the backseat. Was the alcohol intended for a party of one or two?

I get the sense she felt like a screw up. She seems self destructive in my opinion. I don’t judge because she was only 21. Now that I think of it Maura was of legal drinking age. With that added benefit she was without parental supervision, living in a dormitory.

Out of sight. Out of mind.

I didn’t experience these things at her age. Personally I just think she felt lost and did not want to confront her problems. I’m the same way with things (mundane in comparison) at 23. I’d feel like a crippled fuck up if I crashed cars and stole credit. That’s not exactly a normal way to approach things. It’s very possible she was feeling depressed.

Depression precedes suicidal tendencies but also gives into lackadaisical behavior like one of the guys mentioned. When you’re depressed you’re going to be very selfish. You’re deep thinking about yourself – and not in the nice way. You feel like you’re the only person who can help yourself, while also feeling hopeless at the same time. Catch 22.

Perhaps Maura didn’t want to be a nurse. It could have been as simple as that, plus the other bad stuff. Since we are similar in age group and experienced some things, I feel I can get into her mind for a bit. With the suicide theory I’m reminded of a case where a Montana teen purportedly crashed her car into another oncoming vehicle. When you are young and acting out of impulse, unforeseeable consequences are bound to occur.

Montana Teen Kills Family of 3.

Missing Maura Murray – the new Serial?

Crime, Itunes, Podcasts

That headline might be a hyperbole, but the significance behind the podcast of a cold case disappearance should push the envelope. Since the juggernaut success of Serial (80 million downloads, Peabody award winner, and a slew of comedy impersonations), the case behind Hae Min Lee’s murder became bigger than life. Even though Adnan Syed was convicted for life for Lee’s murder, people are doubting his participation in her death and the state’s case. These doubts have risen thanks to Serial and Undisclosed (a second podcast dedicated to uncovering and debunking information related to the Lee investigation).

In February 2004, Maura Murray vanished in New Hampshire after encountering a car crash. I already knew about Maura through an episode of Disappeared. Even a couple of podcasts have covered the case. Just this morning, a syndicated episode of 20/20 on ID dedicated a segment on her disappearance. (Interesting timing)

I believe Missing Maura Murray is a brilliant approach in bringing awareness to her case. Immediately when you hear the first few seconds, the search and story is personal. A personal reminder of family and friends longing for answers in a disappearance spanning 11 years. That longing may very well happen with listeners. Podcasts have the intimate ability of making a story reach through imagination.

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This can very well be the new wave in breaking news. Gone are the days of calling Unsolved Mysteries with information on a suspect or lost loved one; getting results within minutes of a telecast. The internet is a vast medium. Answers may not come fast but discussion will spew wide interest in Maura’s case. Much like Serial, this podcast was sprung from ordinary people -not the New Hampshire cold case division (if one exists) honing in on the public.

In this modern age, anyone has the ability to tell a unknown story from scratch. Junction, the podcast penned by a young 20 something about a Colorado mass murder in 1975. Breakdown is an Atlanta Journal Constitution podcast series about the possible wrongful conviction of Justin Chapman. All of these podcasts don’t possess the peril of possibility innocent people and important information left in the shadows, not to be ever discovered. They exist to bring momentum.

I will follow Missing Maura Murray intently. Her tale is one of a million missing person cases in America. Unique but heartbreaking to many families searching for truth.

Hope is real.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/missing-maura-murray/id1006974447?mt=2