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.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Is This Maura Murray?



Since this blog began in 2011, the community searching for Maura Murray has grown exponentially. There have been at least a dozen other blogs devoted to the case, run by amateur sleuths and just down right crazy people using fake names. Along with this is a group that is more annoying and dangerous - Internet trolls using IP-masking software to hide their identities just to get their rocks off by creating drama around a missing persons case.

That's probably all this is. But this one takes it to a new level and I feel like we should share it to find out of it's partly legit.

A few days ago, someone created a Facebook account under the name "Joseph Cpaw" and posted a number of photographs they claim is from a video of someone who could be Maura. The pictures do look strikingly like Maura and if it is from a video, it's not one I've seen before.

Does anyone know where these photos came from, originally?


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Final Destination?




I am quickly becoming a believer in the theory that Maura's destination the day she went missing was the UMass Outing Club's cabin in Bethlehem, New Hampshire. To get there from UMass, following the directions online, Maura would have exited off Rt 91 in Woodsville and taken 302 past Rt. 112, where her car was found. An alternate route, though, would have been to take Rt 112 to 93, then North to Bethlehem. Perhaps she thought that could be faster, or easier - this was in the days before cell phone map apps, after all. Or maybe that's the way she was taken there, before.

It makes a lot of sense when you consider she stopped looking for motels and cabins after coming up short. She knew there was a place she could stay up there, for free. Some place big enough for a couple people.

Maura likely knew of this cabin through Hoss Baghdadi, the track coach with whom she was having an affair. Hoss was active in the Outing Club.

I remain convinced that she was traveling in tandem with someone and it was this person (or persons) who picked her up at the accident. I'd like to think that they went on to the cabin or wherever, and then Maura continued on to her new life. I'm willing to consider, though, that Maura died at her next stop. Perhaps she hit her head too hard in the accident. Perhaps something else happened, there. If so, her body is likely near where she stayed that night.

The grounds around the UMass cabin have never been properly searched. And they should be.

I visited the place yesterday. Rugged country. In the summers, the ground all around is covered by thick ferns and it's hard to see what's there. What needs to happen is an organized search by Fish & Game, with about 100 volunteers.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Desolation Trail


There is one big clue to this case that hasn't been thoroughly investigated yet and I'm hoping we can put this one to rest this summer. I'm asking for your help.

A couple years ago someone sent me an email with the title "Stop Looking," signed Ray Rummau (which is a word-scramble pseudonym for Maura Murray). Inside the email were coordinates: 44°06'10.0"N 71°27'29.0"W

Those coordinates lead to a section of wilderness on the north slope of Mt. Carrigain. The best way to get there is to hike up Desolation Trail from the trailhead near Bartlett, it seems.

Whoever sent this email went to great lengths to hide their IP address. It's clear they are suggesting this is the location of Maura's body.

In April 2014, a team of volunteers attempted to locate it, but were thwarted by the snow. Lance & Tim from the Missing Maura Murray podcast ventured out to visit the location, too, but turned back to Boston after they realized someone was stalking them throughout their visit to New Hampshire.

So, who's up for taking a look?

This is a trail and terrain for experienced hikers, only. It's also possible this was designed as a trap for me, so please be careful. But if you're up for the journey, take photographs of the area and share them with us, here. I can't offer much in the way of a reward but I can at least send you a signed copy of the book!


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Long Lost Forum Comment Suggests Detectives Thought Maura Was Running from Family

Recently, a reader was looking back through old posts on Websleuths devoted to Maura's disappearance and found something quite interesting. Ten years ago, someone using the name "Peabody" was commenting about the old rumor that Bill Rausch got a message from Maura on his cell phone after she disappeared (law enforcement later learned that message was actually from the Red Cross). Whoever Peabody was, they claimed to be in contact with Sharon Rausch, Bill's mother. Here's the pertinent quote:

I emphasize that Sharon told me that NH SP traced the mysterious prepaid calling card call while she, her husband and now Cpt Rausch sat in a room with the NH SP in the Haverhill Police Station; that she immediately disputed that the call was from the ARC because they would not have had her son's phone number (because she was the only one that had spoken with ARC and she knew that she had not given them his cell and cell phones do not have directory assistance; also the ARC had her cell and had not called her; her thinking was IF there was any reason they needed to correspond, they would have contacted her). 
When the Rausches insisted the call was not ARC, then they were all told that the police believed that Maura was upset with her family and that she was already in Kenton OH on her way to the Rausch residence (again the Rausches disputed this because Kenton is Northwest of them and they asked if they perhaps meant Canton and the officer became hostile and said there was no Canton OH - fyi Canton is Northeast of the Rausches and would have made some sense) 

Weird, right?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Book Tour!


I have a couple events coming up in Massachusetts and I'd like to finally meet you in person, after all these years.

The first official public reading for True Crime Addict will be at Trident Booksellers Wednesday, June 15, at 7 p.m. There will be a short Q&A and signing after the reading.

The next day - June 16 - I will be signing books at the Barnes & Noble in Hadley, near the campus of UMass, beginning at 7 p.m.

Hope to see you there!