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Author Topic: Newspaper Articles  (Read 7202 times)


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Newspaper Articles #212-Part 10
« Reply #225 on: December 15, 2019, 09:01:04 am »

Maura is Missing

By Maribeth Conway and Josh Cutler

Whitman-Hanson Express

July 12, 2007

(10 of 10)

Maura is Missing

By Maribeth Conway and Josh Cutler

After years of being hounded not only by media, but by investigators and family, some key witnesses such as Faith and Tim Westman, Rick Forcier and Butch Atwood are reluctant to speak further about the case.

I felt especially fortunate to score a conversation with Atwood, the bus driver, who was the last known person to speak to Maura. Atwood moved to Florida not long after her accident and has avoided the media ever since. He even refused to talk with a private investigator who traveled to Florida and showed up on his doorstep.

Unfortunately in a case with so little available information, it does not take much for some to cast a suspicious eye. Atwood's story and motives have been questioned in some online forums and clearly he has grown bitter from the entire ordeal.

"People think I had something to do with her disappearance," he said during our phone interview, "I can hear it in your voice; you think I did too."

Atwood explained that as a witness, the case had grown tiresome. "You think you're doing a good thing for someone, but I've learned, next time not to stop, I'm not stopping," he said.

Getting any information from police was even more difficult. I was continually referred to different departments of law enforcement for information requests and ultimately the Attorney General's Office stepped in to handle my questions. Unfortunately, the Attorney General's Office was no better able to answer my questions. Senior Asst. Atty. Gen. Jeff Strelzin agreed to produce certain documents pertaining to the case, but there was always a delay and no records have reached our office to date. Despite this we were able to obtain some key documents from other sources.

Fred must have heard about my trips up north - my meetings with Helena Murray and Maura's mom and sister - because four months after I began digging up information on Maura's case, Fred called. He wasted no time and got straight to the point. He was heading up to New Hampshire and I was welcome to join him.

I met Fred at the Wells River Motel in the town of Wells River, Vermont, just over the New Hampshire border. The Wells River Motel is the same motel Fred stayed at during the first search for Maura. Where do you begin when interviewing someone who spends much of his free time looking for his daughter's killer? I didn't need to know where to begin. Fred dove right in; he explained what he was doing that weekend in New Hampshire, what he had done his last trip and what the future would bring. He talked about the ongoing court case and liberally shared his criticism and mistrust of N.H. law enforcement.

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

All that matters to Fred is "what happened on Wild Ammonoosuc Road."

So what really happened to Maura? I'm as puzzled as most of you. I don't think it's much of a leap to dismiss the suicide theory so favored by police in the immediate aftermath of the accident.

Why did Maura bring her cell phone charger, birth control, insurance forms or school textbooks? Why would she have called a condo resort in Bartlett, New Hampshire just before leaving (A phone call that was not investigated by police for nearly a year). Maura was not driving aimlessly. She had some sort of a plan, a destination.

No doubt something was going on in Maura's life. Maybe she was unhappy or confused. Perhaps she was pregnant or preparing to drop out of school. There were certainly some issues with her relationship with her boyfriend, perhaps more than have been reported. Friends have described Maura as a private person and it is obvious she was a high achiever. Maybe she just wanted to get away as some of her friends suggest.

It is strange that Maura did not tell even her boyfriend Billy where she was headed. But then again Maura did attempt to reach Billy by phone and email on the Monday she disappeared.

It's also strange that Maura bought so much alcohol before her trip: bottles of vodka, Kahlua and Bailey's Irish Cream - none of which were found in her car. Where did the bottles go? They could have been stolen. Maura could have made a stop before reaching the snow bank in Woodsville or she could have brought these bottles with her to wherever she was headed. Was Maura meeting someone? Was she simply treating herself to a mudslide - a beverage made of vodka, coffee liqueur and Irish cream?

Some believe Maura was never at the scene of the Woodsville accident. Investigators who attempted to reconstruct the accident say the damage to Maura's car was not caused by the snow bank on Wild Ammonoosuc Road, where her car was found.

According to Atwood, who apparently spoke with Maura that evening, Maura had her hair down. Interestingly, Atwood later told a family member that Maura did not look like the pictures running in newspapers. Atwood clarified in our interview that the woman he spoke with did look like the pictures on the Missing Person signs, though it is worth noting that he and Maura remained 15 to 20 feet apart throughout their entire conversation and their encounter was past dusk.

Fred said there was an empty beer bottle found in Maura's car. I was told by others that the bottle was in the back seat and the rear driver's side window was open a crack. Perhaps someone was in the back seat of Maura's car at some point?

Nearly everyone I have interviewed over the past months suspects foul play. Fred believes Maura may have been drinking while driving as a soda bottle with an alcoholic smell was found by Maura's car along with a box of wine found inside the car. Maura may have feared a confrontation with police and tried to flee the scene by taking a ride from a passing motorist.

One detail I have not been able to wrap my mind around is the rag Officer Cecil Smith found stuffed in the Saturn's tail pipe. Even stranger, is that the rag was from Maura's trunk. Some people assume the rag indicates a suicide attempt while Fred believes Maura was tending to her rickety car. Maybe there is another explanation. Maura could have broken down earlier and received the help of a stranger. She may have opened her trunk to access her emergency kit and the stranger snuck the rag from her trunk and stuck it in her tailpipe without her realizing.

Considering search dogs lost Maura's scent in the center of Wild Ammonoosuc Road, it is quite possible she got into a passing car. Why would Maura get into a stranger's car? Maybe she knew the person driving by, maybe the person appeared harmless, trustworthy even. Perhaps Maura was unconscious or forced into a passing vehicle. Odds may be slim that a passerby happens to be a murderer but Maura could have been followed from a rest area or gas station. Her gas tank was nearly full.

Many residents in the Woodsville area own police scanners leaving some to theorize that Maura's accident, or the mysterious 7 p.m. accident, caught the attention of someone with nefarious intentions.

Theories abound about possible suspects living in the woods near the accident scene. This is not the forum to toss out names of potential suspects without specific evidence. If you sit in a room with Fred Murray you will easily walk away with a list of five or six suspects - basically the underbelly of Haverhill society.

While covering this story I found many sources mistrustful of police and hopeful that media involvement would shed light on the truth, while others were protective of the police investigation, believing I could interfere with future prosecution. I was also cautioned to not aggravate Fred's relationship with police, though this warning never came from Fred.

In the beginning I was not sure why I was writing this story. After unveiling new information, encountering the bureaucracies of N.H. law enforcement and witnessing a father's pain and determination, particularly his ongoing court battle, it was clear that Maura's story is very much alive and wanting to be told.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2019, 02:13:30 pm by MauraMurrayEvidence »


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Newspaper Articles #213
« Reply #226 on: December 15, 2019, 09:01:30 am »
The Caledonian-Record

August 6, 2007

Reward Increased In Search For Maura Murray

By Gary E. Lindsley

It has been three years and nearly seven months since Maura Murray's black Saturn went off a rural road on a cold, dark wintry night in the town of Haverhill.

Murray, who at the time was a nursing student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, was nowhere to be found when police arrived and has not been seen nor heard from since.

Now, an Arkansas-based group, Let's Bring Them Home, is trying to bring to light what happened to Murray, who was an accomplished athlete in track. The missing person's advocacy group is offering a $75,000 reward to help accomplish its goal.

"I have been compelled by circumstances of Maura's case," said Let's Bring Them Home Director LaDonna Meredith on Sunday. "I am a young person. I drive alone a lot. This could be me. This could be my sister. This moved me."

It was reported on Feb. 9, 2004, that Murray of Hanson, Mass., then 21 years old, lost control of her black 1996 Saturn on a curve on Route 112 near the Weathered Barn and crashed into a stand of trees.

John Healy, who is a member of a team of investigators working on the Murray case in concert with the Molly Bish Foundation, said the team has come up with other theories about what happened that dark February night.

Healy said although police have said Murray crashed her car into the trees, he and the other investigators do not believe it to be true.

He said, based on the damage to the Saturn, that it appears as if the car was traveling at a slow speed when it may have struck the underside of another vehicle; the actual crash site may have taken place somewhere else. Not only that, they believe Murray may not have been the young woman then-First Student school bus driver Butch Atwood saw. They believe the scene where the Saturn was found by Atwood may have been staged.

This does not mean investigators have absolutely ruled out that Murray was at the Route 112 site and simply fled. And they are not ruling out that she was abducted and killed.

Meredith is hoping the $75,000 reward will help bring answers to what happened to Murray the night she disappeared.

"Our hope," Meredith said, "is that this reward will generate the information that will help us locate Maura. We know that someone, somewhere, has information about her whereabouts and we implore them to come forward.

"Sometimes, people feel more comfortable talking to people not associated with law enforcement," she said.

"We knew the reward had to be significant because of the time span [since Maura was last seen]. We do see a big jump [in tips] when a big reward is offered."

Meredith said her group decided to take Murray's case after Murray's family asked for help. The reward is good to the end of the year because, Meredith said, tips usually only come in for a few months after being offered.

Helena Murray, member of Maura's extended family, is hoping the $75,000 reward will help spur people to bring information forward about what happened to Maura and tell where she is now.

"If you have information, now is the time," she implored. "I don't know [if the reward will draw people out]. Maura's not here and nobody is in jail."

Maura Murray's father, Fred Murray, could not be reached for comment. Neither could Sharon Rausch, the mother of Maura's boyfriend, Bill Rausch.

Besides the reward, Let's Bring Them Home is also offering a toll-free tip line: 1-866-479-5284 for people to call in with tips about Murray's whereabouts.

"We are here to support the families' efforts to recover Maura, and we believe that issuing this reward is the first step," Meredith said.

The reward is for the recovery of Maura Murray and the arrest and conviction of those responsible for her disappearance.

For more information on Maura Murray's disappearance or on Let's Bring Them Home, please visit www.letsbringthemhome.org or call 479-966-0471.


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Newspaper Articles #214
« Reply #227 on: December 15, 2019, 09:01:54 am »
Boston Globe/Valley News

August 7, 2007

Group helps search for missing student

By Associated Press

HAVERHILL, N.H. - A missing persons' group is getting involved in the search for a University of Massachusetts nursing student who went missing in New Hampshire over three years ago. Arkansas-based Let's Bring Them Home is offering a $75,000 reward for information that could solve the mystery of Maura Murray, who disappeared Feb. 9, 2004. Her car left the road on Route 112 in Haverhill but she was gone when police arrived. The group's toll-free tip line is 866-479-5284.


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Newspaper Articles #215
« Reply #228 on: December 15, 2019, 09:02:37 am »
The Patriot Ledger

August 7, 2007

Reward offered in missing woman case

By Karen Goulart

HANSON - If anyone knows what happened to Maura Murray on a frigid February night in New Hampshire nearly four years ago, they aren’t talking.

Relatives of the Hanson native and a national organization devoted to helping families find missing persons are hoping that money might loosen some lips.

The national group Let’s Bring Them Home is offering a $75,000 reward ‘‘for the recovery of Maura Murray and the arrest and conviction of those responsible for her disappearance.’’

In February 2004, Murray, a student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, told her professors that she needed to deal with a family emergency. After going to her dorm room and packing belongings, she drove to New Hampshire. She had not told anyone what her destination was.

On Feb. 9, her car went off the road and hit a snowbank on Route 112 in Haverhill, N.H. Murray was nowhere to be found when police arrived.

Authorities consider her a missing person, but private investigators working on the case think she may have been abducted or killed.

Let’s Bring Them Home spokeswoman LaDonna Meredith said members of the Murray family contacted the group about nine months ago.

The nonprofit organization, based in Rogers, Ark., assists families of missing persons through public-relations work and is a clearinghouse of information about educational and support groups.

A picture of Maura Murray and information about her disappearance have been posted on the organization’s Web site. And now, so is a notice advertising a $75,000 reward, good until Dec. 31.

‘‘Looking at the facts in Maura’s case, we thought in order to generate tips we would need to offer a significant reward,’’ Meredith said. ‘‘Historically, when you offer a reward of that size, someone who knows something will talk.’’

Anyone with information is asked to call a toll-free ‘‘no cops’’ tip line.

‘‘It’s not answered by law enforcement. It’s just an answering service encouraging the person to leave a detailed message,’’ Meredith said. ‘‘The success rate with that - when someone does know something, something like this is attractive to them - nine times out of 10 people are going to call the number.’’

Meredith said phones rang constantly on Monday. Many were media calls, but some involved possible tips, she said.

Fred Murray continues to seek and follow leads in his daughter’s disappearance. He recently appealed, for a second time, a New Hampshire Superior Court ruling denying the release of police records about the case. He is thankful that Let’s Bring Them Home is offering the reward and hopes that it will prompt someone to talk.

Murray said any good citizen who had information would already have come forward. A person on the wrong side of the law might be afraid to talk, but the promise of money could change that, he said.

‘‘The reward is a good idea. I’m glad they’ve come forward with this,’’ Murray said. ‘‘It can only help. It’s kind of a play on human nature. It acts as an influence.’’

Murray said notice of the reward has appeared in Haverhill, N.H.-area newspapers. Meredith and Let’s Bring Them Home volunteers plan to visit the town in the fall, and he will be in town soon - as he often is - to hand out fliers.

And there is always the power of small-town gossip.

‘‘The grapevine there is a powerful thing,’’ Murray said. ‘‘The case is a general topic of conversation and the rumors fly. I’ve chased a million false leads, but I don’t mind hearing them. I’ll chase them all.’’

Information about $75,000 reward

Let's Bring Them Home, a national organization for families of missing persons, is offering a $75,000 reward for the recovery of Maura Murray and the arrest and conviction of anyone who may be responsible for her disappearance.

Anyone with information can call this toll-free, ‘‘no cops’’ number and leave an anonymous message: 1-866-479-LBTH (5284).

More information is available on the organization’s Web site, letsbringthemhome.org.

Karen Goulart may be reached at kgoulart@ledger.com.


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Newspaper Articles #216-Part 1
« Reply #229 on: December 15, 2019, 09:03:39 am »
New Hampshire Union Leader / New Hampshire Sunday News

October 28, 2007

(1 of 2)

Missing Maura Murray - [Four years] 45 Months and countless questions

By Nancy West

The longer Maura Murray is gone, the more it looks like the worst may have happened to the then-21-year-old nursing student after she crashed her car the evening of Feb. 9, 2004, on the edge of wilderness in northern New Hampshire.

Nearly four years after she disappeared from Haverhill without a trace, leaving not even a footprint in falling snow, police again are asking the public to search memories of that night for something overlooked -- anything that could be a possible clue.

Why did Maura withdraw $280 from an ATM, lie to professors that she would be gone a week because of a death in the family, buy her favorite liquor, pack all of her school books, a few clothes, a book about dying in the White Mountains, and head north with no word to any of the many people who love her?

Did Maura, a dean's list student at University of Massachusetts, travel to the White Mountains to commit suicide?

Did she drink too much during the first leg of her secret getaway and fall prey to the elements with 2 1/2 feet of snow on the ground?

Was Maura upset because she had crashed her father's new Toyota Corolla about 40 hours earlier, causing $10,000 in damage?

Or did something even more sinister happen, something her family and friends have feared since soon after they received word Maura was missing: that she trusted someone to help her and then died at the hands of a stranger.

Adding to the mystery, her then-boyfriend, Billy Rausch insisted a sobbing, shivering Maura placed a calling-card call to him 36 hours after her disappearance, then hung up.

"We don't know if Maura is a victim, but the state is treating it as a potential homicide," said Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin. "It may be a missing-persons case, but it's being handled as a criminal investigation."

Strelzin said adults have the right to leave and not let family and friends know their whereabouts. But the longer she is gone with no trace, the higher the level of concern for Maura.

Maura's dad

Her father, Fred Murray of Weymouth, Mass., wants the FBI to take over the case. He believes the searches came too little, too late to save Maura, that more should have been done the night she crashed the Saturn.

"The police in New Hampshire can't do it. They've had three and a half years of nothing happening; that proves it," said Murray, a persistent critic of New Hampshire State Police Troop F and Haverhill police. "It's similar to a situation with a fire burning out of control. If the locals can't handle it, they call for help, and 'F Troop' is overmatched."

Murray said police waited 11 days to interview some of the people who lived near the accident site and then did so only after they were prompted. And, he said, police waited months before heeding pleas to call Dominic and Linda Salamone, who rent a condominium in Bartlett, even though Maura's phone records indicated she called their number at 1 p.m. the day she disappeared.

"Why would anybody have a reasonable belief (the police) were going to investigate at all?" Murray said.

It took at least 40 hours before a police brought a dog to track Maura's scent, he said. And then, Maura's scent ended in the road 100 yards from the crash with no hint of foul play, leading police to believe she took a ride away from the scene.

"I can't get it out of my mind that something stinks. I want to know what state trooper John Monahan was doing after the (dispatcher's) call when my daughter was walking down the street in pitch black with no one to ask for help, nowhere to run and nowhere to hide," Murray said.

The accident scene

Butch Atwood, a school bus driver who lived near the accident site, told police he drove past and stopped to help Maura after she crashed the Saturn into a stand of trees. She declined help, saying she had called AAA on her mobile phone, even though there was no cell reception in that location.

Maura pleaded with Atwood not to call police, according to one police news release. According to another release, Maura appeared impaired by alcohol.

Atwood, whose home was near the crash, called police anyway, as did another neighbor. But by the time police arrived about 10 minutes later, Maura was gone, leading authorities to believe at first the driver of the crashed car had fled the scene to avoid a drunken driving arrest.

The Bailey's Irish Creme, Kahlua and vodka Maura reportedly bought for the trip had been removed from the car, as had her black backpack and cell phone. A box of wine was still in the car.

Route 112 is a 56-mile stretch that connects Bath and Conway, winding through the scenic -- but largely remote and at times harsh -- White Mountain National Forest. Police believe she left Amherst, Mass., that day and traveled north on Interstate 91 in Vermont.

Maura knew the other end of Route 112 -- the Kancamagus Highway, east of Interstate 93 -- well, having hiked and camped there with her family since she was a child, even after her parents, Fred and Laurie Murray divorced when she was 6.

Maura's loved ones and police have disagreed on many issues regarding what happened just before and after the crash. Her father insists Maura would be alive today if not for what he sees as a botched investigation.

To date, there is one verifiable fact at the heart of her story: Maura Murray vanished on Route 112 in Haverhill on Feb. 9, 2004, as snow fell in pitch darkness on a cold winter's night.

The boyfriend

Sharon Rausch of Marengo, Ohio, loved Maura like a daughter. She said her son, Billy Rausch, was planning to become engaged to Maura. Though the young couple's relationship had been rocky at times, in early 2004 it was headed toward wedding plans, Mrs. Rausch said.

Billy was an Army lieutenant stationed at Fort Sill, Okla., when Maura disappeared. They had met as cadets at the U.S. Military Academy and continued a long-distance relationship after Maura left West Point and transferred to UMass.

(Billy graduated with Maura's older sister, Julie. Maura has another sister, Kathleen, and two brothers, Fred and Kurt.)

Billy Rausch spent time last week with his parents at their Ohio home, having recently returned from a year and a half in Iraq with a promotion to captain, Mrs. Rausch said. He was also awarded the Bronze Star, she said. He is scheduled to leave the Army in December.

Sharon Rausch had been very active in the search for Maura, reaching out to many media outlets and anyone who might be of help. The story has been told with talk-show hosts Montel Williams and Greta Van Susteren and on the TV news magazine "20/20."

Mrs. Rausch responded to an e-mail request to interview her son saying: "Billy is out of town on a job interview. However, even upon his return, he has decided that he does not want to comment. I agree with Fred (Murray) about Billy "getting on with his life.' I know that each time (Billy) becomes actively involved with the media that it truly re-opens his intense heartache from Maura's missing.

"If Fred ever wants/needs Billy's input, he will be glad to participate, but until then, he wants to remain out of the picture."

Police initially pointed to difficulties in Maura and Billy's relationship to support the theory of a possible suicide, but Mrs. Rausch said the couple was very happy together.

Maura's mother

Laurie Murray believes her daughter is alive. A former nurse, she has battled throat cancer and a bladder tumor during more than three and a half years of fear and hope, waiting for word from Maura.

"I won't give up hope," Mrs. Murray said. "My gut feeling is she was abducted and she is being held against her will. If she gets a chance, she will get away."

Or maybe Maura suffers from amnesia from hitting her head in the accident, her mother theorized.

Either way, "She had to get into a vehicle, in my mind," Mrs. Murray said.

Laurie Murray said Maura's survival skills were honed at West Point before she transferred to UMass. The Murray home is filled with trophies and awards Maura earned in cross-country and track, in high school and college. She ran at least five miles a day and enjoyed long, grueling mountain hikes with her dad.

Asked about suggestions Maura may have had a drinking problem, Mrs. Murray said she didn't believe Maura drank a lot.

"She had just turned 21; sure, she liked to party. It's like a big deal when they turn 21. I don't put too much weight on it," she said.

Mrs. Murray also doesn't believe Maura could have committed suicide.

"She was doing great; she was getting high honors in nursing," Mrs. Murray said.

Since Maura's disappearance, her sister Kathleen has married and her sister Julie, a West Point graduate, has started a new government job in Washington, D.C.

"I'm most proud of Maura for everything, not one thing. She's young, beautiful, with brains, personality -- everything -- and a million friends," Laurie Murray said.

As for the work done by police, Mrs. Murray said: "I think they did what they could. They were limited. It's a very small police department in Haverhill.

"They went out . . . Maybe if they searched more that particular night, it would have been a different outcome. I don't know," she said.

Maura had often camped with the family at Jigger Johnson campground on Route 112.

"Maybe she was heading to Woodstock. I know her cell couldn't work. She knew the area like the back of her hand. She certainly knew how to survive in wilderness," Mrs. Murray said.


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Newspaper Articles #216-Part 2
« Reply #230 on: December 15, 2019, 09:04:07 am »
New Hampshire Sunday News

October 28, 2007

(2 of 2)

Missing Maura Murray - Four years and countless questions

By Nancy West

Not forgotten

Many of Maura's friends who had kept in touch with her have stopped calling over the years, Mrs. Murray said, but the churches in Hanson, Mass., Maura's hometown, have not forgotten.

"Maura is mentioned at every Mass at St. Joseph the Worker Church," the family's parish, Laurie Murray said.

And the coming holidays, she said, will be marked by a close family supporting each other in a time of trouble.

"Julie just came home last week for three days, and she'll be home for Thanksgiving. Maura has a very good, supportive grandmother who is 87 and here with me now," she said.

Maura's mother's hope: "That she will come home, call home. I just pray."


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Newspaper Articles #217
« Reply #231 on: December 15, 2019, 09:04:34 am »
New Hampshire Sunday News / New Hampshire Union Leader

October 28, 2007

Missing Maura Murray - Four years and countless questions - What happened? Theories abound

By Nancy West

During the nearly four years since Maura Murray vanished, dozens of questions have been posed and theories weighed on Web sites and in various accounts of what may have happened in Haverhill on the night of Feb. 9, 2004.

There have been hundreds of pages of Web chatter in which amateur sleuths try to solve Maura's mystery.

Why did Maura, 21, pack her room at University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass., before heading for New Hampshire that night?

Did she call on a calling card sobbing and shivering to her boyfriend, Billy Rausch, 36 hours after she disappeared?

Why was a rag stuffed in the tailpipe of her crashed car?

Was Maura upset because of a hit-and-run accident that seriously injured a fellow student on campus days before she left?

Chatroom investigators have tried to dredge up fresh leads while the people holding the best information have remained tight-lipped because Maura Murray's case is now being treated as a potential homicide.

"It's an open, ongoing case, which limits our ability to say anything substantial," said Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin.

"Part of the difficulty is people try to ascribe importance to different facts, and, realistically, the true importance won't be known until the case is solved. We may think a piece of information is not important and not know its impact until down the road, when it turns out it's done damage to the case."

If you know something

State Police are actively investigating every lead into the disappearance of Maura Murry and make an appeal to the public for any information by contacting New Hampshire State Police at 603-846-3333 or 800-525-5555.

Rag in the tailpipe

Some have speculated the rag found stuffed in the tailpipe of the black 1996 Saturn Maura crashed in Haverhill indicated either a suicide try by carbon monoxide or a predator's ploy to make the car stall.

But Mike Lavoie of Lavoie's Auto Care Center in Haverhill, who towed the Saturn that night, said he later spoke with Maura's father, Fred Murray, about the rag. Lavoie said it couldn't have been used in that manner as part of a suicide attempt.

"Her father said he told her to put it in, that it would keep the car from smoking. It didn't run that well," Lavoie said.

Dorm room packed

Although police believe the belongings packed in Maura's dorm room were another indication she had no intention to return, the mother of Maura's then-boyfriend has another explanation.

Sharon Rausch thinks Maura hadn't yet unpacked her things after a long Christmas break. During one of Maura's visits to the Rausch home, Mrs. Rausch tried to loan her an extra suitcase, only to discover it hadn't been unpacked.

That made Maura laugh, Sharon Rausch said.

"Maura said, You're just like me. I unpack as I use my things.' That's out of her own mouth. Maybe she just never unpacked."

Trembling message

After finally getting emergency leave to head north to search for Maura, Billy Rausch -- at the time an Army lieutenant stationed at Fort Sill, Okla. -- was going through airport security early Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2004, and had to shut off his cell phone.

When he turned the phone back on, he discovered someone had left a voice-mail, he later told his mother.

"He said, Mom, it's Maura. She didn't say anything. She's shivering and cold,'" Mrs. Rausch said.

Billy tried to return the call but found its source to be a prepaid calling card.

Since that time, police say, they have tracked that call to a Red Cross assigned to working on Billy's emergency leave. And the troubling sounds in the recorded message, they say, were merely the result of a bad connection.

That explanation doesn't make sense to Mrs. Rausch, who said she was working with the Red Cross on Billy's leave, and therefore any calls from the organization would have gone to her, rather than to her son.

Distraught on the job

Mrs. Rausch said Maura worked security late Thursday, Feb. 5, 2004, into Friday morning checking students in and out of a UMass dormitory. Maura's supervisor that night said she found her sobbing at about 1:20 a.m. and had to help her back to Murray's room.

The source of her distress, Maura told the supervisor, was a phone conversation with Murray's sister.

Since married, Kathleen Carpenter remembers finishing a phone call with Maura at about 10:20 the night of Feb. 5, but doesn't recall talking with her sister in the early-morning hours.

Kathleen, who said she had talked about troubles with her husband-to-be during the nighttime conversation with Maura, said her sister didn't seem upset.

But, she added, Maura and Billy were having relationship troubles at the time. Kathleen said she takes sleeping pills at night and didn't remember a later call.

"We'd always talk about boy troubles. She was with Billy Rausch and every time they got into a fight or if had a fight with my (now) husband, I'd call her. It was girl talk, always late at night," Carpenter said.

She believes her sister went to the White Mountains to sort out her troubles with Billy.

"I think it was stress. I don't know what her and her boyfriend were going through," Carpenter said. "I kind of think that might have triggered it. They weren't getting along at that time.

"She wanted to go to a place that made her happy and look at the mountains, and something went terribly wrong."

Campus hit-and-run

A series of reports in Murray's hometown newspaper, the Hanson (Mass.) Express, raised the question of whether Maura could have been involved late that same Thursday night or early Friday morning when fellow student Petrit Vasi of Dorchester was injured in an apparent hit-and-run accident about 1?12 miles from the dorm where Maura worked.

Vasi's mother, Aprhodite Vasi, said her son has recovered but still doesn't remember what happened to him that night at about 12:20 a.m. Mrs. Vasi was told at the emergency room her son was involved in a hit-an-run accident, but there was never a follow-up investigation, Mrs. Vasi said.

Mrs. Vasi said Petrit remained in a coma for two months and remained hospitalized for a month after that. He had to cut short rehabilitation therapy, she said, because his insurance ran out.

"He doesn't know what happened, and nobody investigated for him," Mrs. Vasi said.

Sharon Rausch doesn't believe Maura was involved in the accident that injured Petrit. Murray couldn't have left her job long enough to be at the accident scene and return to the dorm, Rausch said.

Police also don't appear to be pursuing a Vasi-Murray link.

New Hamsphire State Police have stated that Maura was involved in only two recent accidents: the one in which she crashed her father's new Toyota in Hadley, Mass., and another that occurred about 40 hours later, when she hit a stand of trees in Haverhill with the black Saturn.


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Newspaper Articles #218
« Reply #232 on: December 15, 2019, 09:05:06 am »
New Hampshire Sunday News

October 28, 2007

Maura Murray mystery timeline

Saturday, Feb. 7, 2004: Maura and her father, Fred Murray, look for used cars to replace her balky 1996 Saturn. After dinner at a brewpub in Amherst, Mass., Maura drops Fred off at the Quality Inn in Hadley, Mass., takes his new Toyota for the night, and joins friends at a University of Massachusetts dormitory party.

Sunday, Feb. 8, 2004: At about 3:30 a.m., Maura crashes the Toyota while driving back to her father's motel, causing $10,000 in damage. Police gave her a ride to the Quality Inn.

Monday, Feb. 9, 2004: Maura departs Amherst, Mass., at about 4:30 p.m., leaving behind packed belongings in her UMass dorm room. She took $280 from her personal bank account. Computer searches later show she looked up travel and lodging information for Bartlett, N.H., and Burlington, Vt., and sent e-mails to her job supervisor and a college professor saying she would be absent from work and school for a week due to a death in the family. There had been no recent death in the family, and she does not tell family or friends of her plans to leave campus.

At 7:27 p.m., Faith Westman calls Grafton County Sheriff's Department to report Maura's vehicle in a ditch on Route 112, on a sharp turn near Westman's residence. A passing motorist later says Murray refused his offer of assistance, claiming she already had called AAA on her cell phone. There is no cell-phone reception in that area, however, and AAA later says it never received a call from Murray.

At 7:43 p.m., a 911 dispatcher relays a second call on the Route 112 accident to the Grafton County Sherrif's Department, saying a woman at the scene is shaken up but not injured.

At 7:46 p.m., Haverhill Police Sgt. Cecil Smith arrives at the scene, finding a locked Saturn and no driver. Fire and rescue personnel who arrive at the scene inform all units to be on the lookout for a female accident victim, about 5 feet 7 inches tall.

At 9:26 p.m., police clear the accident scene.

May 8, 2004 -- Members of New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, New England K-9 Search and Rescue, New Hampshire State Police and Haverhill Police conduct a search in the Haverhill/Landaff/Easton area of Route 112 after a man reported having seen a person matching Maura's description jogging east on 112 about 45 minutes after the accident and 4 ½ miles east of the crash site. The search extends about 3 1/2 miles east of the reported sighting, to the height of the land at the Wildwood campground and picnic area, and for several miles north around Route 116. No evidence is found.

June 8, 2004 -- New Hampshire and Vermont State Police issue a joint press release saying there was no connection between the disappearances of Maura Murray and Brianna Maitland, 17, of Franklin, Vt. Maitland was last seen at work at the Black Lantern Inn in Montgomery, Vt., on March 19, 2004. A State Police news release summarizes the searches for Murray, saying there was about 2 ½ feet of snow on the ground when she disappeared, limiting areas she could have wandered into the woods, and making it easy for searchers to distinguish between human and animal tracks.

July 13, 2004 -- About 90 searchers continue to look for possible clues at and around the accident site in Haverhill. The search, which again includes use of a State Police helicopter, is focused in a 1-mile radius from the accident site. Search areas include parking sites, wooded areas and roadways along Route 112 to the town of Woodstock; and Route 118, from the Junction of Route 112 south to the height of the land at the Woodstock/Warren town line. Investigators do not believe any of the items collected to be relevant.

Sources: New Hampshire State Police, Grafton County dispatch records.


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Newspaper Articles #219
« Reply #233 on: December 15, 2019, 09:05:34 am »
The New Hampshire Union Leader

October 29, 2007

Family: No way it was suicide

Second of three parts

By Nancy West

Whether Maura Murray came to northern New Hampshire Feb. 9, 2004, to end her life is an emotional question for her family.

Her loved ones say it is far more likely she was abducted and killed that night after crashing her 1996 black Saturn into trees about 7:30 p.m., that they were simply all too close for Maura to have been secretly despondent to the point of considering taking her own life.

Authorities are calling Maura's disappearance a potential homicide, keeping most of the records closed in a criminal investigation file.

"A lot of things about the case are unique and troubling," said Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin.

But, he cautioned, the puzzle simply hasn't been solved yet, so there is no way of knowing the truth about the fate of the 21-year-old nursing student from Hanson, Mass.

Maura's case has seemingly headed in several directions -- from police leaning toward the theory that yet another drunk tourist abandoned a crashed car to avoid drunken driving charges that night to potential homicide.

Nothing has been ruled out for certain, including the theory that Maura has gone away to start a new life, although that seems the least likely.

Almost four years later, it is still a mystery, but the suicide theory has been hard for the people who love her to even think about.

Early on, her father, Fred Murray, briefly considered Maura may have committed suicide.

When police assembled the Murray and Rausch families to brief them on the investigation, Maura's father "moaned and rubbed his head and said, 'Oh, no,' " according to Sharon Rausch, the mother of Billy Rausch, Maura's then-boyfriend.

"I remember Fred said, 'I always have told the kids when I got old and worthless I was going to climb my favorite mountain with a bottle of Jack Daniels and drink myself to death.' That was emotional. He thought what if there was something he didn't know about," Rausch said.

She said authorities thought the alcohol and Tylenol PM Maura brought may have been indications she was going to kill herself. "That's what people do, they drink, take a bunch of pills and die peacefully," she said.

But Rausch doesn't believe that was Maura's plan. The Kahlua, vodka and Bailey's Irish Creme Maura reportedly brought with her would likely have been about a week's worth of the drinks Maura liked, Mudslides, Rausch said.

When visiting the Rausch family in Marengo, Ohio, Maura would add Bailey's to her coffee in the morning and drink Mike's Hard Lemonade with lunch, she said. Maura and Billy always had their stash of alcohol because Rausch doesn't drink, but she said Maura didn't drink excessively.

Private get-away

She believes Maura left the University of Massachusetts without telling anyone why or where she was going to have a private getaway to think things over.

Rausch believes Maura had all her school books in the car to keep up with her school work while she decided whether to leave school and go to work to pay for the damage she had done to her father's car after crashing his new Toyota the previous weekend.

She said Billy was upset after arriving from Fort Sill, Okla., where he was stationed.

"Fred arrived in Haverhill early Wednesday. We arrived Wednesday around 7 p.m. They interviewed Billy. He was a prime suspect. He was totally distraught. I'll never forget the look on his face. He said 'I feel as dirty as Scott Peterson. They think I've got something to do with it.'" Rausch said.

Fred Murray recalls that meeting with police, but remembers talking about a movie he had seen in which an old Indian woman walks off to die when she felt she was too old to go on.

"I hadn't talked about suicide," Murray said. "No, I gave them the analogy of the old Indian woman off the bat," he said. "I remember discussing the old Indian ... It was a freaking nightmare. They just dropped the ball."

For the next two weeks, both families believed Maura was alive, that she had broken into a cabin because she was a survivor, was in excellent health and ran five miles a day, Rausch said.

Book lead

The book "Not Without Peril" subtitled "150 Years of Misadventure on the Presidential Range of New Hampshire" by Nicholas Howe was found in Maura's locked car. A gift from her father, the book chronicles tragedies and rescues in New Hampshire mountains.

Rausch said police told the family the book had a photo of Maura's younger brother as a "bookmark" at a chapter entitled "A Question of Life or Death."

But even that is a red herring, Rausch believes, because it was Maura's favorite and she often re-read it, having brought it once on a visit to the Rausch home.

"While it's all true stories about people hiking and either dying or surviving a snow storm, it's also a survivor's manual more than about suicide," Rausch said.

Rausch said Maura was planning to become a physician's assistant after nursing school. She recalled how her son loved Maura, coming home one day to say he found someone with beauty, brains and wit -- and someone who could even outrun him.

Maura's father believes his daughter had too much going for her to commit suicide: a great boyfriend, future career and supportive family.

"Maura was such a personality. Everybody would seek her out. She was extremely popular, lively and fun," Murray said.


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Newspaper Articles #220
« Reply #234 on: December 15, 2019, 09:05:55 am »
New Hampshire Union Leader

October 29, 2007

Could she have decided to disappear? - Could Maura Murray have simply decided to run away and begin a new life?

It is probably the least likely scenario police are considering, but something similar has happened recently in New Hampshire, although for a much briefer time.

Laura Mackenzie of Goffstown was an 18-year-old high school honor student when she sparked a nationwide search after disappearing March 8, 2006.

Mackenzie never spoke a word about her disappearance to friends of family members. In five months' time, she did not use her ATM card, her e-mail account or a cell phone.

Investigators followed leads that suggested Mackenzie might have traveled all the way to California.

She had run away to Florida to avoid facing a shoplifting charge.

She worked as a waitress until being discovered in St. Augustine Beach in August 2006. Mackenzie later reached a plea bargain and agreed to pay for her extradition to New Hampshire.

"I am very sorry for the pain, time and expense associated with the search to find me during the time I was gone," she said after pleading guilty to a shoplifting charge in Hillsborough County Superior Court.


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Newspaper Articles #221
« Reply #235 on: December 15, 2019, 09:06:49 am »
The New Hampshire Union Leader

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dad won't give up on the search

By Nancy West

Fred Murray of Weymouth, Mass., is a man on a sad mission.

Since his daughter, Maura Murray, 21, disappeared after crashing the 1996 black Saturn she was driving Feb. 9, 2004, in Haverhill, he has spent many weekends scouring northern New Hampshire for any hint of her fate.

"I think a dirt bag grabbed her. I said that right off the bat," Murray said.

A few weeks ago, he tracked down tips that Maura had been murdered and her body parts buried in a sand pit.

"It makes me pretty mad. This involves the same people who are my chief suspects and the cops say, 'We looked into that,' but I don't know what that means," Murray said.

Murray talks with people on the street, private investigators and psychics and goes to local bars to find any tidbit of information to lead him to a new search. Many have led nowhere -- like a stained knife someone turned over to Murray, and a search volunteer private investigators conducted of a vacant A-frame.

"That's been debunked," he said.

Murray has been to most surrounding towns on the prowl for "dirt bags" and "renowned dirt bags" in Littleton, Lisbon, Landaff, Bethlehem and Whitefield. He cruises rural roads, looking for turnoffs and secluded areas a killer might seek out.

Critical of police

Murray is critical of New Hampshire police, ridiculing state police Troop F as "F Troop bunglers." Murray is also blunt in his disdain for New Hampshire authorities and angry because he believes Maura would be alive if police had done their job properly.

A more thorough search on the dark, winter night she disappeared, leaving her car locked behind her and no solid clues to her whereabouts, may have meant the difference between life and death, he said.

Murray also heaped criticism on several newspapers, including the New Hampshire Union Leader, and accused them of conspiring to cover up mistakes he says were made by law enforcement.

But despite all of his suspects and tips, Murray is no closer to solving the case. That's why he wants access to police files.

"I don't know who grabbed her. All possibilities exist," he said.

He doesn't know why Maura left the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass., without a word to anyone. He said the family spoke on the phone often and got together regularly on weekends; he and Maura especially liked to hike in the White Mountains.

"There must have been a series of nearly simultaneous things built up that bothered her, no one thing, maybe a handful of things taken together produced an effect of temporary desperation. I don't think there was one major thing, but a combination of events. It was so unlike her to do something like this," Murray said.

The fateful weekend

One thing that bothered Maura a lot was that she crashed Murray's new Toyota in Hadley, Mass., when her father was visiting her at school just 40 hours before she crashed the Saturn in Haverhill.

"On Sunday, she was hurting. She let dad down. I was over that by Sunday night in my phone call to her," Murray said.

Over the weekend, he had been helping Maura find a used car, because the 1996 Saturn was running so poorly. He was staying at a motel in Hadley, Mass., near the campus.

After dinner with her father and a friend at a local brewpub in Amherst, Mass., Maura dropped her father at the motel, took his new Toyota Corolla and partied in a dorm room.

Maura crashed his new Toyota into some guardrails Sunday, Feb. 8, 2004, at 3:30 a.m. on Route 9 in Hadley, causing about $10,000 damage. The accident report cited driver inattention.

After the crash, she got a ride from police to her father's motel.

"We handled the disposition of car repair. She was upset because she let her father down, in her view. My reaction is in 21 years, if this is the only trouble my kid caused me was a car accident, how lucky am I," Murray said.

Maura picked up the accident report forms from the Hadley crash and was going to go over them with her father the night she disappeared. Two copies were left behind in the Saturn.

"She was supposed to call me at 8 that night so I could help her go over them on the phone. She did pick up the accident reports. She had every intention of calling me," Murray said.

Murray doesn't believe his daughter could have been pregnant. "No, she was on birth control pills," he said.

And he doesn't think there were any big problems in her life.

Murray has re-filed his right-to-know appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, after losing his first fight to get access to police files on his daughter's disappearance. No briefs have been filed yet, and that will likely take months.

Murray has also appealed to Gov. John Lynch and his predecessor, Craig Benson, for help.

When Maura disappeared, Murray reportedly worked in radiology in Bridgeport, Conn., but he refuses to say what he does now, although he did say he has held his current job for 2 1/2 years. He said he splits his time between Weymouth and Cape Cod, and doesn't tell coworkers Maura is missing.

"People feel it's an awkward situation. They feel they have to say something like good luck. It's easier on people and myself," Murray said.

Still, every morning when he wakes up, it takes about five seconds before Maura comes to mind.

"I wake up. I know I've got to go to work, but wham," Murray said.

Sharon Rausch, the mother of Billy Rausch, Maura's boyfriend at the time she disappeared, praised Murray's dedication in searching for Maura.

She said she hasn't been as active in the search this year because of family commitments at home in Marengo, Ohio.

"Fred, he is still up there searching. God love him, he's just hurting.

"We've always been here for him," Mrs. Rausch said.

FBI help

Murray wants the FBI to take over the investigation. The FBI conducted some interviews with Maura's friends early on, but nothing substantial, he said, adding authorities should invite them to participate now in the full investigation.

"We need an organization to take a fresh look with an unjaundiced eye," Murray said.

Murray enjoyed spending time with Billy Rausch, who was dating Maura in a long-distance relationship when she disappeared. Rausch, now a U.S. Army captain, has been serving in Iraq for a year and a half and just recently returned to the states. He was stationed in Oklahoma when Maura disappeared.

Rausch and Maura met at West Point before she transferred to UMass.

"I want the kid to be able to get on with the rest of his life without carrying this as an obligation," Murray said.

If by some chance Maura is alive, Murray would want to say to her: "Miss you, kid. Get back home. You're not in trouble. We'll pick up from where you are ... I want my buddy back.

"She was my buddy; we hung around together," Murray said. After his divorce, when Maura was six, he was determined to see his children every day when they were growing up.

Murray has many fine memories of runs and hikes with Maura, but one of the best was the autumn before she disappeared.

"We were concluding our collection of 4,000-footers. I was doing the last three I hadn't done." One day, they hiked to Owl's Head; the next day 23 miles on three 4,000-foot peaks.

"Then she whipped out of her knapsack for finishing my 48th, a Long Trail Ale, and handed it to me on the summit of West Bond.

"It was typical Maura," Murray said.


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Newspaper Articles #222
« Reply #236 on: December 15, 2019, 09:07:14 am »
New Hampshire Union Leader

October 30, 2007

Group offers $75,000 reward, plans a search

By Nancy West

Even the wording for the $75,000 reward echoes a heightened level of fear for Maura Murray.

The reward is for the recovery of Maura and arrest and conviction for those responsible for her disappearance, according to LaDonna Meredith, director of Let's Bring Them Home. It is an Arkansas-based group dedicated to helping find missing people.

The group is organizing another search for Maura in northern New Hampshire sometime in November.

The $75,000 reward expires Dec. 31. There is a separate $40,000 reward posted from donations from family and friends, but that one is for the safe return of Maura.

"We have had tips come through on the hotline, unfortunately nothing new or substantial," Meredith said. "The number to call is 1-866-479-5284. We just need that hotline to ring," Meredith said.

Maura, who was a nursing student at University of Massachusetts, is described as having brown hair, usually pulled back in a bun and blue eyes. She is 5-foot-7 and weighs 120 pounds.

Murray's family hopes the promise of cash and deadline will prompt someone to come forward soon with new information about what happened to Maura.

"What is so surprising is no one has come up with anything, not a trace. We've had the FBI, police, several search teams. People just don't disappear without a trace. That's unheard of," said Maura's mother, Laurie Murray, who lives in the family home in Hanson, Mass.


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Newspaper Articles #223
« Reply #237 on: December 15, 2019, 09:07:41 am »
New Hampshire Union Leader

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

State police make appeal for information

By Nancy West

State Police Lt. John Scarinza, commander at Troop F, said there have been extensive ground and air searches and thousands of hours dedicated to finding Maura Murray since her car crashed Feb. 9, 2004, on Route 112 in Haverhill.

"And yet we have not been able to determine what happened. What else can be done?

"Again, with deer season approaching, if anyone sees anything out of place -- a piece of clothing, anything they feel is important -- please let us know," Scarinza said.

Contact state police at 846-3333 with any information, he said.

Scarinza wants people to search their memories yet again for clues they may have missed, anything at all unusual on or near Route 112 that night.

"The other component we have encouraged over and over again is, if anybody thinks they saw Maura Murray or anybody on Route 112 -- or, more importantly, gave somebody a ride -- it would be extraordinarily helpful to us," he said. "Also, if anyone remembers picking up a hitchhiker. Maura doesn't have to be on 112."

Scarinza believes Maura had a destination in mind when she left the University of Massachusetts-Amherst about 4:30 p.m. the day she disappeared. She knew Route 112 because her family had often camped and hiked along there since she was a child.

"Clearly, she had a destination point, and we have not been able to determine what that is. It's fair to say if anyone has anything on that, we'd like to know," Scarinza said.


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Newspaper Articles #224-Part 1
« Reply #238 on: December 15, 2019, 09:08:29 am »
Boston Globe

February 3, 2008

Return to Me

(1 of 2)

By Stacy Chase

Last year's dramatic rescue of Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby proved that missing children - even those gone for years - can be found. But it also serves as a grim reminder that many parents wait years, decades, lifetimes without ever learning the fate of daughters and sons who vanish.

These are the families' websites for some of the missing children featured in this story:

Brianna Maitland: bringbrihome.org

Kimberly Moreau: findkim.com

Maura Murray: mauramurraymissing.com

Angelo "Andy" Puglisi: haveyouseenandy.com

On May 10, 1986, Kimberly Moreau and a neighbor girl were hanging out in the hardscrabble towns of Jay and Livermore Falls when they met two 25-year-old men cruising Main Street in a white Pontiac Trans Am. The four paired off and partied. Eventually, Kimberly and one of the men ended up in the car alone. At about 11 p.m., they swung by her house on Jewell Street in Jay. The teen ran in, told her 19-year-old sister, Karen, she'd be back in an hour, and then got into the car idling outside. She has not been seen or heard from since.

"This is Marilyn Monroe, this is D.B. Cooper, this is Jimmy Hoffa - I mean, for this area," says State Police Detective Mark Lopez, the lead case investigator.

Dick Moreau, 65, has spent two decades hounding the man in the Trans Am, who Lopez says is a "person of interest" in Kimberly's disappearance. "Any time I get the chance to rattle his cage," Moreau says, "I do it." The enraged father has plastered Kimberly fliers on telephone poles leading to the man's house, convinced him to have a three-hour chat at Moreau's kitchen table, talked him into taking a lie-detector test, and showed up at his brother's funeral last spring with Lopez. "I told him I was sorry for his loss of his brother," Moreau recounts. "Then I leaned into him, squeezed his hand, and said, 'I know exactly, exactly how you feel."

Families of children who have gone missing suffer through an unthinkable saga of fear, uncertainty, guilt, and grief. Often, they cope with their heartbreak by an almost obsessive need to know what happened, turning to private investigators, psychics, or prayer. Many investigate on their own, meeting with law-enforcement officials and other sources and scouring the Internet for clues. Starting next year, they and the rest of the public will be able to fully search the US Department of Justice's still-in-development National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, the first nationwide, online repository of databases of missing-persons reports and records of those who died without being identified. Some families of the missing reach out and console parents who have more recently lost children. Still others retreat into their pain.

It's been a year since the public was reminded of these families' torment when Shawn Hornbeck, then 15, and Ben Ownby, then 13, were rescued from the Missouri pizza-parlor manager who had kidnapped and sodomized them. Shawn had been held captive for four years; Ben, for four days. The older boy's recovery reignited the possibility that other coldcase missing children might be found alive. "It's proof positive that missing children can come home," says Colleen Nick of Alma, Arkansas, a national advocate for missing children whose 6-year-old daughter, Morgan Chauntel Nick, was abducted in 1995 from a Little League baseball game.

But until a child, or a child's remains, are found, searching families are left suspended "between hell and hope," says Magdalen Bish of West Warren, mother of 16-year-old murder victim Molly Bish, whose 2000 abduction from nearby Comins Pond galvanized one of the largest kidnapped-child manhunts in Massachusetts history. Molly's remains were found three years later, 5 miles from her home. (No arrests have been made.) "If you find out your child is dead," says Bish, 56, a first-grade teacher, "your hope is lost, but your hell has ended, because you don't have to worry that anyone is harming them."

The worst child predators are rare. Of the 797,500 children younger than 18 reported missing to authorities in 1999, the last year for which data are available, the vast majority were classified as runaways or "thrown-aways"; were victims of family abductions, typically carried out by parents who didn't have custody; or were only temporarily missing, with a benign explanation. Only an estimated 115 were the victims of what experts call "stereotypical" kidnappings, defined as crimes perpetrated by a stranger or slight acquaintance in which a child is transported 50 miles or more, detained overnight, held for ransom, taken with the intent of being kept permanently, or killed. Of those returned to their families, nearly half have been sexually abused and about a third injured by their captors. Four in 10 stereotypical kidnapping victims - predominantly white teenage girls - end up dead; 4 percent are never found. Last September, the FBI signaled how seriously it takes the risk posed by those who prey on children when it added New Hampshire pedophile Jon Savarino Schillaci to its Ten Most Wanted list, alongside Osama bin Laden and James "Whitey" Bulger.

WHEN THE NATIONAL MISSING AND UNIDENTIFIED PERSONS SYSTEM becomes fully available next year, families of missing children will have more clues at their fingertips. But already they troll websites like The Doe Network and others, picking through grisly case files of unidentified human remains found across the country, looking for a match. Kellie Maitland of DeKalb Junction, New York, has stared at the morgue photographs and forensic artists' renderings of Jane Does - grotesque, wax-museumlike figures with dead eyes - searching for the face of her missing daughter, Brianna Maitland. The bestcase but least likely scenario, she says, is that Brianna "ran off or fell in love with someone and made a split decision, took off to somewhere warm and exotic and is having a good time."

Brianna, then 17, was last seen at about 11:20 p.m. on March 19, 2004, leaving the Black Lantern Inn in Montgomery, Vermont, where she was a dishwasher. The next day, her Oldsmobile Delta 88 was found a mile away backed into the side of an abandoned house, the rear bumper hung up on the concrete foundation. There were no signs of a struggle and no sign of Brianna. "The police tell me that most likely this was a homicide," says Maitland, 47, who helps her husband, Bruce, run their small Highland-Angus cattle farm. "If Brianna's alive, she won't be a teenager anymore. She'll be, like, 21. What if she's been abused? What if she needs rehab? What if? What if?"

In the early days of the search, the mother - who speaks of Brianna in both the present tense and past tense - heard that a body in a garbage bag had been discovered near where her daughter had disappeared. "We tried to go bed that night," she recalls, "and we laid down and we held hands and we just hoped that it wasn't her. `Please, just don't let it be. Don't let it be.' " When morning came, the couple's prayers were answered: The remains were those of a pig.

The anguish of not knowing, and the search for answers, often takes parents of missing children on "horrendous emotional roller-coaster rides," says Nancy McBride, national safety director at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. "A lead will come in; it will look really, really promising and then turn out not to be. . . . You're up and you're down, there's really no steadiness. You're also in this limbo where you can't really move forward."

Brianna Maitland's father, Bruce, and Fred Murray of Weymouth, whose daughter is also missing, became friends as they searched for a possible connection between their cases, though police agencies have ruled that out. Maura Murray, a 21-year-old University of Massachusetts at Amherst nursing student, vanished after crashing her car into a snowbank in Woodsville, New Hampshire, near the Vermont border, the night of February 9, 2004 -the month before Brianna's disappearance. The fathers' newly forged bond is based not only on a mutual effort to find their daughters, but also an unspoken understanding: "We don't say, you know, 'Poor you. Poor you,' " Murray says. "Everybody's grief is personal. He knows how I feel; I know how he feels."

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has a support group for searching families, called Team HOPE, but many families, like those of Brianna Maitland and Maura Murray, create their own informal networks to console and assist one another through the overwhelming trauma. Bereft parents, siblings, even aunts and cousins call and e-mail one another with encouragement, link to other families' websites to publicize their cases, print and distribute missing-child fliers and buttons, participate in searches for one another's children, and send sympathy cards and flowers when a child's body is found.

LYMAN AND CLAIRE MOULTON OF Portland, Maine, have been keeping a private vigil for 37 years for the 16-year-old daughter they knew - and her alter ego, a 52-year-old woman they can't imagine - hoping against hope she's still alive. Their ordeal began the afternoon of September 24, 1971, when Cathy Marie Moulton got a ride into town from her father to buy pantyhose for the YWCA dance she planned to attend that night. She was supposed to walk the 2 miles back along busy Forest Avenue but never made it home for dinner. "One of my greatest - greatest, greatest - sadnesses is that I may die ... and never know what happened to Cathy," says her 83-year-old father, a retired auto dealer, his blue eyes turning moist. "And yet I'm helpless to change it."


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Newspaper Articles #224-Part 2
« Reply #239 on: December 15, 2019, 09:09:08 am »
Boston Globe

February 3, 2008

Return to Me

(2 of 2)

By Stacy Chase

Former Portland detective William Deetjen, who worked the case in the late 1980s, theorizes that, after shopping in Portland, Cathy accepted a ride in a Cadillac from a boy she liked. Weeks later, there were unconfirmed sightings of the pair and another male in remote, sparsely populated Aroostook County - about 300 miles north of Maine's largest city - but no solid evidence she had been there or had been abducted.

For years, her parents have been tormented by something one of the purported witnesses said: that Cathy, working in the potato fields, kept begging to go home. "I've always held out the hope that, maybe, somehow, she has amnesia as a result of a beating or something," says Claire Moulton, a 78-year-old former nurse, "and she is alive and has a life and doesn't know who she is."

Experts say families looking for lost children experience a unique kind of despair. "Parents are fearful about their child's uncertain fate and feel guilty for not adequately protecting the child," says Dr. Sharon Cooper, a Fayetteville, North Carolina, forensic pediatrician and authority on crimes against children. The ongoing absence is like a death, without a body to grieve over.

"It's like your worst, most horrible nightmare that you never wake up from," explains John Walsh, the host of the Fox television series America's Most Wanted and the father of 6-year-old Adam Walsh, snatched from a Florida shopping mall in 1981, killed, and decapitated. (The prime suspect was never charged and died in prison serving life for other crimes.) "And it's not just grief. It's disbelief.

"We celebrate Adam's life, not the horrible day that he was found missing," the 62-year-old Walsh says, "but we're only able to do that because we know where he is and what happened to him. . . . I can name thousands of cases where parents have no idea what happened to their child. Dead, alive? Is the child involved in the sex trade? Child pornography? Where is the child? How were they murdered? Where is the body, so we can go and pay our respects to it?"

MANY PARENTS OF MISSING CHILDREN devise "one view of the future that includes the missing child and another future that does not," says Cooper. They can vacillate back and forth, or they can hold dual perceptions forever. Often, though, when the missing child reaches theoretical adulthood, that coping mechanism collapses. "If the missing child has now become an adult in the parent's mind, if they are still alive . . . the parent is expecting the child to now be able to make the decision that they'll come back home." If the child does not return, she says, the parents must confront four possible reasons: The child is dead; has forgotten the parents (credible for children kidnapped at age 6 or younger); is angry at the parents for not protecting or finding him or her; or is physically restricted or confined.

It took Faith Puglisi of Fountain, Colorado, 30 years to come to the conclusion that her missing son most likely was murdered. Ten-year-old Angelo "Andy" Puglisi disappeared August 21, 1976, from Higgins Memorial Pool in Lawrence, about 100 yards from his front door. Several investigators and family members interviewed for last year's Cinemax documentary Have You Seen Andy? by Medford filmmaker Melanie Perkins are convinced he was stalked and abducted by a sexual predator or predators working in concert. (The case remains unsolved.) "Every now and then, I go into that room that is Andy's room in my heart, where I keep all the information and all the emotions about him," says Puglisi, a 58-year-old pediatric nurse who says she copes by compartmentalizing. "When that door pops open - and I'm starting to connect with all this emotion - there's always that risk I'm going to lose it. A lot of times, I have to slam that door shut."

Some parents never accept the possibility that their longtime missing child is dead. Experts says that's because, psychologically, they have spent years keeping the child alive in their minds, and in everyone else's memory, and by suddenly choosing to believe that the child is deceased - without irrefutable proof - parents feel as though they have killed the child in their thought processes.

"We have a nine-room house here that the children grew up in," Lyman Moulton says, mentioning he and Claire have talked about abandoning their Dutch Colonial for smaller quarters, "but the truth of the matter is, Cathy lived in this house. The truth of the matter is, she knows, or hopefully would know, where this house is." Wringing his hands, he adds: "We've kept the same phone number. I would fight to the end of time to keep this phone number. . . . You could say, 'Oh, my Lord!' but what else have we got?"

Families of cold-case missing children go on missing them - long after the press and public have lost interest - and, in the end, only finding the child or the child's remains can put to rest their searching and waiting.

"You never get to say goodbye, you know," says Magdalen Bish, mother of the Massachusetts girl whose remains were found. "When Molly came home, we just had her 26 bones. We held her skull. We touched her bones, because we needed to say goodbye, but it wasn't the Molly that we knew."

For Dick Moreau, even a fragment of one of the 206 bones in the human body would be enough. Slowly, agonizingly, Moreau had come to the conclusion that his daughter was dead, and he had a death certificate issued in 1993. Now he'd like to bury Kimberly next to her paternal grandparents and her mother. (Kimberly's mother, Patricia Moreau, died at age 48 in 1988.) "All they're looking for now is the major bones of the body, like the elbow, the knee, the hip joint, these kinds of things," Moreau says clinically, having learned over the years about decomposition rates. "We're probably looking for a piece of bone that's 3 by 3 inches - if we're lucky. But that's all we need. It's still her."


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