Monday, March 6, 2017

A Good Primer for Those New to the Mystery

YouTuber Kendall Rae has a new video that sums up the major plot points of Maura Murray's mystery quite well. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

**Updated** New Interview for Missing Maura Murray Podcast

Lance & Tim asked me on the show to talk a bit about the case and why this blog is locked as an archive.

UPDATE: In the episode we discuss Witness A. You can choose to believe what you wish. I believe her memory is not reliable and was unintentionally manipulated over the years. But she clearly means well.

The negativity and anger shown in the comments on social media after this episode have reminded me why it's important for me to step back from this case.

I have seen the email Witness A sent in 2005, a year after the disappearance. In it, she calls the vehicle a "car" and not an SUV or truck several times but does say it was "001." I still believe the vehicle she saw was simply Cecil Smith responding to the accident scene. Since she does mention "001" I will eat a hat made out of fruit rollups at CrimeCon. :)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Join Me On a New Adventure

If you're looking for a lighter mystery to solve, come join me on a new adventure.

In 1982, a young publisher named Byron Preiss buried 12 keys around the United States and Canada. Each key can be turned in for a real gemstone worth about $1,000. To date, only 2 have been found. The clues to finding the keys are hidden inside paintings and poems that appear in the book, The Secret: A Treasure Hunt. Do you have what it takes to find one of Byron's lost keys?

Friday, December 30, 2016

This Blog is Locked as an Archive

As of today, I am locking this blog as is and disabling further comments.

Going forward, this blog will serve as an archive of clues in the case and a record of the span of time I spent looking for Maura Murray. I began the search in 2010, when I believed Maura may have been the victim of a homicide or kidnapping. Over the years, I have become convinced that she had a plan to leave and has remained hidden in order to protect a child. As such, I am no longer actively searching for Maura Murray - in fact, I hope she remains hidden.

Of course, I cannot be 100% sure. Not in a world of Ariel Castros. So the blog remains for other people to parse through the evidence. It will remain as an archive until Maura is found safe or until there is a major break in the case.

I have disabled comments because I am focusing my time on other projects and can't responsibly keep up with deleting the insults and threats that come through.

For those new to the mystery, please spend some time clicking through the documents section for reliable information.

My book on the case is available here in print, ebook, and as an audiobook.

There is an excellent podcast about the case here.

Thank you, constant readers - especially those silent types who came back day after day just out of curiosity. Thanks for your help. In our best moments, we showed what good social media can do for unresolved cases.

James Renner

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Did Maura Take Off With More Money Than We Thought?

Here's a comment that came in today from a reader who works with financial aide:

I'm a university academic advisor with expertise in financial aid, so I wanted to offer some insight on this.

At a school like UMass, most students receive the following types of financial aid:
-- scholarships
-- Pell Grant
-- Direct Loans
-- PLUS Loan

Direct Loans are fairly small ($3,750 per semester for juniors/seniors), but the PLUS Loan exists to supplement whatever is not covered by the other forms of financial aid. The PLUS Loan can also provide a substantial refund (often around $4,000+) to be used for books, supplies, and other expenses.

The PLUS Loan is always in the parent's name, and the PLUS Loan refund always goes to the parent unless the parent authorizes the school's financial aid office to issue the refund directly to the student. Some parents use private loans (such as Sallie Mae) instead of the PLUS Loan, but usually the PLUS Loan has a lower interest rate.

HERE'S THE IMPORTANT THING: Maura went missing around the exact time she would have gotten her spring semester refund check. If you look at UMass academic calendar for spring 2017, for example, you'll see that classes start on January 23, and the last day to drop or add classes is February 6. Financial aid disburses after the last day to drop or add classes, and students receive refunds approximately one week after the last day to drop or add classes -- putting it squarely on February 13.

If Maura was indeed planning to disappear, she may have been waiting to receive her financial aid refund check. She could have picked it up, cashed it, and left town.

Universities cannot release any information related to student financial records because of FERPA. They can't even release information to parents unless the student signs a consent form, but they would of course release information to law enforcement if warranted.

Monday, November 28, 2016

No, I Do Not Think Maura Is a Sociopath.

The latest Missing Maura Murray podcast is out, today. It's a kind of Best Of episode, catching listeners up on all that has happened so far. They revisit episode 6, which was recorded over a year ago. That was the episode where I called Maura a sociopath (based on actions like credit card fraud, identity theft, affairs, etc.) and said she was "at her best when she was with Billy Rausch."

Boy do I wish I could take that back.

I have since learned that Bill Rausch lost his job in D.C. after coworkers claimed he assaulted a woman in the office, pushing her down onto a table in a drunken state when they were alone. That's one of several alarming stories I've heard about Bill.

To be clear, I no longer believe Maura was a sociopath. I believe she was a survivor. I believe that when she left UMass, she was leaving Bill behind as well as other sources of stress in her life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Maura Murray on the Principled Uncertainty Podcast

I'm the featured guest on this week's Principled Uncertainty Podcast, with T. Blake Braddy. We discuss everything you want to know about the Maura Murray mystery but were too afraid to ask.

Check it out here.