Tuesday, July 26, 2016

My Article on Being a True Crime Addict is Now a "Cracked Classic."

I wrote this piece for Cracked.com awhile back. It was just made a "classic" post, which is pretty sweet but doesn't come with any cool perks except maybe Internet points.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Oh Boy. Missing Maura Murray Goes Down the Rabbit Hole.


Firstly, I love what Lance & Tim have done with the 'Missing Maura Murray' podcast. It has helped bring so much attention to the case. Their new episode is an interview with "Witness A" - real name Karen McNamara. Karen is the key witness to the biggest conspiracy theory that John "Wolfman" "TruthSeeker" "Mellencamp" Smith has been pushing for many years, with the blessing of Fred Murray -- namely that Haverhill Police were responsible for Maura Murray's death and have been covering it up for 12 years. Karen claims she saw a police SUV "nose-to-nose" with Maura's case that night.

[sigh]

I have not written about Karen before because I do not find her report credible. And the theory that police were somehow responsible for Maura's disappearance is both ridiculous and potentially dangerous to the actual investigation. I do not believe she saw what she thinks she saw that night.

Her interview is not conducted by Lance or Tim but by two other people, John Smith (who believes that government vehicles are keeping tabs on his every move) and a man named Alex Clogston, known on forums as "Alex C."

I think it's a good thing that Lance & Tim have distanced themselves a bit from this interview. And remember, what they set out to do was not to solve the case but to document the obsessive minds who believe they could. This is the dark side of that project.

**UPDATED**
I have edited the original post to make it more fair to the participants. I take offense to the suggestion of police involvement but we should remain more civil.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

***Final UPDATE*** Frightening New Troll Claims Murray Family Has Identified Maura In New Video

Last week, I told you about the anonymous Facebook account that posted photos claiming to be from a video of Maura Murray that nobody else had seen before. That person was posting under the name "Joseph Cpaw" using a new Facebook account. Something about this case brings out these weird types who create multiple fake accounts and toss out bits of info to see how excited everyone gets. It gets their rocks off for some reason. This is only the latest, but perhaps the most alarming since Alden Olson.

Yesterday, this person took to Facebook again with a long tirade. Buried in the deranged and delusional manifesto was the claim that they have shared a link to the original video (which they found on a "public site") with the Murray family and that " Initial response was they believe it to be Maura."

They go on to taunt and chide others for not actually helping the investigation, even though this person was too afraid to go directly to the police for fear of losing their anonymity.  Here's a few choice quotes.

"Idiots, fuck-tards, phonies, pet detective wanna-be's...that's all you people are."

"From the bottom of my heart and with all the contempt I can muster...GO FUCK YOURSELVES!"

So much hatred and rage, there. But there's any truth to this troll's tale, there's a video out there somewhere, which was just delivered to the family and not detectives.

***UPDATED***
Family spokesperson Helena Dwyer Murray just dropped this statement on Facebook:

This morning I was contacted by somebody questioning whether I had made a comment regarding a video which some believe is Maura. this was my response, "I'm pretty much alone, but I think it is Maura...but earlier than 2004, regardless of the date it was I uploaded 

 ***2nd UPDATE***
A Redditor by the name "PippaPuppy" whose account is one hour old has found the video. Everything about this is suspect. Check it out. The resemblance is very striking but I don't believe it's her. It's close enough that investigators should check it out, though. The ski resort is Mountain High in California.

***Final Update***
We and the family have been trolled. Here is another video of the same woman, in which you can clearly see it is not Maura Murray.

Another Redditor was able to nab the IP address of the troll via Facebook. It tracks back to a man who is well known to the online community. His social media profiles were taken down recently after he posted threatening messages. It appears he is suffering a breakdown of some sort and may have purposefully orchestrated this new story as some kind of public performance commentary.

We're not going to dox him so I will not approve any comment that mentions his name. He's enjoyed enough of the spotlight already.

Monday, July 11, 2016

A Nexus of Stories

Well, I don't know what to make of this all - and it's probably nothing, right? - but I'm just going to put it out there.

Have you ever heard of the Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers? I mention it in passing in True Crime Addict. It's where Tim Carpenter - Maura's sister Kathleen's husband - was born. A reader pointed out to me yesterday that it was also the birthplace for serial killer Ted Bundy.

The Elizabeth Lund home still operates. It's still a destination for unwed mothers. And it's in Burlington, Vermont... you know, the town that Maura Murray had printed out directions to.

A coincidence? Or more of that "fearful symmetry?"




Tuesday, July 5, 2016

New 'Missing Maura Murray' podcast makes the UMass cabin look very promising.


Lance & Tim are back with episode 29 of the Missing Maura Murray podcast. This week they feature an interview with Rick Graves who was involved with the search for Maura on the ground for about three years. He says the news about the UMass Outing Club cabin is new and believes it makes sense this could be the destination she had in mind the night she went missing.

He also, in my mind, puts to rest the notion that Maura's body could be near the scene of the accident after having wandered into the woods. Of course those woods were searched extensively. Graves was there for it.

Lots of good stuff in this one.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Open Question for Hossein Baghdadi


Two months ago, I learned of the existence of a cabin in the White Mountains used by students at UMass Amherst who were members of the Outing Club. The location of Maura's accident is consistent with this location - directions to it take you right through Woodsville, where she likely exited Rt. 91. And the cabin became even more significant after I discovered that the man Maura had been having an affair with - UMass volunteer track coach Hossein Baghdadi - was actively involved with the Outing Club.

I have been trying to get comment from Hoss since then but he has not replied to emails or phone messages.

Hoss once told me that Maura talked about running away. He always thought Mexico. He is the only person to tell me that Maura specifically spoke about starting a new life. During that conversation, he also mentioned how he and Maura had planned to visit the White Mountains, together. However, he never mentioned the cabin or the Outing Club. And it is unclear to me if he ever mentioned their affair or the cabin to police.

My question for Hoss, if you're reading is this: Did you talk about this cabin with Maura? Did she know the combination to the lockbox with the key?


Thursday, June 23, 2016

New Yorker Skewers True Crime Addict and the Culture of Internet Sleuths


True Crime Addict was just reviewed by The New Yorker and, ugh. Read it here.

What should have been a review of a book instead became an indictment of Internet sleuthing - and open sourced reporting - by the mainstream media. In a weird, condescending tone, writer Michelle Dean, says, early on, that the book "embodies every problem that arises when online obsessives are infected with delusions of detective grandeur."

In fact, there's no actual review of the writing itself. Was it well written? Did it pull you in? Did the characters pop?

But most disappointing, because of the legacy of The New Yorker itself, is that the piece is riddled with errors that would easily be fixed with a phone call or simple wikipedia search. For instance, she talks about how Maura disappeared 45 minutes after her crash in Haverhill.

In the end, the piece stands as an example of the lazy reporting that I warn about in the book. It's the reason why we need open-sourced reporting, the reason why we need Internet sleuths in the first place. She reached out to the Murray family for comment. But she didn't extend the same courtesy to me. If she had, I would have least helped her correct some basic facts.

She ends suggesting Maura walked into the woods and died. Which is weird, too, given the chapters in the book devoted to the large searches by hundreds of volunteers and New Hampshire Fish & Game.

It's clear to me she didn't really read the book. And that's a shame because I think she would have liked it. After all, the book serves to explain everything that is bad about obsessing over crime writing - which is the point of her "review" too.

But it's clear Michelle Dean came into with a white-knight agenda. It's her thing, as you can read about in this article from the Washington Post in response to the hit piece she wrote on another writer who dared say controversial things. A Gawker writer contributing to The New Yorker? What strange times we live in.