Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Forget Butch Atwood and Rick Forcier

Rick Forcier

Butch Atwood

Once you get past the published news reports on Maura Murray's disappearance, you might find yourself reading through various messageboards where people have written thousands of posts about this unsolved mystery. On these unregulated boards, people can post rumors with no verification and name "suspects" with little fear of libel charges. Two of the most commonly named suspects are Butch Atwood and Rick Forcier. And, in my opinion, neither one had anything to do with Maura's disappearance. In fact, both tried to help in their own ways.

First, Butch Atwood. He was the bus driver who stopped to ask Maura if she needed any help shortly after the accident. He offered to call the police but Maura pleaded with him not to. She said she had already called Triple-A. Of course, having lived in Haverhill for some time, Butch knew this was a lie--phone reception is for shit up there, even worse in 2004. Ask anyone up that way about Butch being involved and they will laugh at you. You see, Butch was a fat man. Morbidly obese. Maura could have easily have run from him. Secondly, Butch's house was not vacant. He lived with his mother and common-law wife at the time. They were home. He was seen sitting in his bus. Oh, and he--or his wife, rather--were the ones who called the cops. Butch was never a viable suspect, in my opinion. He has since passed away.

Then there's Rick Forcier. He lived across from Atwood, on the corner of Bradley Hill Rd. and Wild Ammonoosuc. At the time, he lived in an ugly trailer next to the house he was constructing in his spare time. Today, only the house remains, and it's a beauty. Forcier becomes part of the story several months after Maura's disappearance when he comes to police and mentions he might have seen Maura running near East down Ammonoosuc the night she disappeared, on his way home from work. People were immediately suspicious, wondering why Forcier waited so long to come forward.

I spoke to Diane and Rusty Cowles, who lived across from Forcier on Bradley Hill and still see him to this day. Forcier explained to them that it was only when he was going over his bills that he pieced together that he had been working in Franconia the night Maura vanished and must have been coming home about a half hour after the accident. He thought back on that night and figured it must have been the same evening he saw what he thought at the time was a teenage boy in a hoodie crossing the road quickly in front of him, near 116, several miles East of the crash site. He wondered if it could have been Maura.

Of course, Forcier is at least a little responsible for some of the suspicion people have about him. When people asked him about it, he liked to joke that Maura was living in his house and that "she's a great cook," according to the Cowles. That was Forcier's sense of humor. When the police started asking pointed questions and demanding to search his trailer, he figured his ex-wife might have shared that joke with detectives.

Rusty Cowles says eventually Forcier sold his trailer and had it trucked away. When he did, the state police pulled the truck over and searched the trailer from top to bottom, a clever way to get around a search warrant. Forcier has since moved away from Haverhill to be closer to his kids. He has not responded to a request for an interview.

Niether of these individuals seem like viable suspects to me. I'm a little confused why Fred Murray made such a big deal about them.


  1. I think I would suspect any and every one who had last known contact with my missing daughter, so while a lot of her dad's actions strike me as odd - this ain't one of them.

    That said . . . I agree that neither man is a viable suspect or even person of interest at this point.

  2. Mr Renner,

    I completely agree with your assessment there.

    However, what about the NH State Trooper (J K-M) who was at the scene of Maura´s Saturn, but apparently was unreachable for some 2 hours afterwards?
    I´ve always wondered about that.

  3. Well, I always stuck up for Butch Atwood on the old list, but if Maura had been dazed and confused from the accident along with being inebriated, catching her would not have required great speed. Yet, if he had caught her as you point out there were two other people in the home, so it is seriously unlikely that a sort of Texas Chainsaw Massacre-like family existed in the Atwood home at that time.

  4. I always felt sorry for BA. So many people accused him of being involved and yet he exhibited no suspicious behavior, promptly called police, etc. and his wife would have had to been in on it. IQ's aren't too high on the internet, unfortunately.

  5. I think there was a focus on Butch and Rickie because every news article quoted them slightly differently (e.g., Rick seeing "a youth" running, not Maura running; or Butch saying that she seemed intoxicated or just shaken up or whatever...). That made them seem suspicious. I doubt they harmed Maura. All in all, I think they were just red herrings. And there are MORE.

  6. "I think there was a focus on Butch and Rickie because every news article quoted them slightly differently (e.g., Rick seeing "a youth" running, not Maura running; or Butch saying that she seemed intoxicated or just shaken up or whatever...). That made them seem suspicious. I doubt they harmed Maura. All in all, I think they were just red herrings. And there are MORE."

    This is such a good point, and it a good reason why when one of the P.I.s went down to Florida to talk to Atwood he wouldn't say a word to him. Just a series of slightly different takes on what reporters had heard each man say-and done innocently at that I presume-was enough to put each man in a negative light. But then again there were enough bullies on the old list who loved ganging up on people, especially when said people could not harm them, or so they thought.

  7. This case really needs to be solved for Butch and Rickie to finally clear their names, as well as for Maura's family.

  8. I had disregarded them as suspects many years ago. The fight was with the same people (one person in particular) who made this whole inquiry so toxic in that area by accusing and insisting that they were guilty of misdeeds. Accusing them over and over and people in the area in general of doing something to Maura and then conspiring to cover it up. It was sickening and made virtually every person in the area stop talking to anyone about anything to do with this case.


  9. wasnt rick forcier the guy who sister is the da there? and alot was hidden on questions and maybe covering up that he had mental issues ? or is this another guy in the area?

    also who had the red truck that was later sold and no one can find out where it is now?

  10. Does anyone know how tall BA was?

  11. Let me help a little bit if I may.

    1) The "A-Frame house issue" is nothing at all, it has been completely dismissed. I understand it has a significant wow factor based on the thousand articles I read, however there is nothing there.

    2) The 2 brothers you are referring to are not relevant, that lead has been investigated.

    3)There was no man in the car with Maura, that has been completely investigated.

    4) Atwood has no involvement whatsoever other than speaking to Maura and having his wife call 911 to report the accident.

    5) The contractor Forcier most likely did see Maura on 112 near 116. Other than that his involvement has been ruled out.

    6) The NH Trooper (I can't believe I am responding to this) has no involvement whatsoever. His actions that evening are 100% normal for Troopers operating in that area, all the drama by Fred Murray about NHSP is based on ignorance of police procedure.

    7) The cell call the boyfriend got was not from Maura. I will leave it at that and just say it is hard to trust what he reported to have heard re: wimpering.

    8) Ok so with those issues put to bed a thousand times over, the real questions I have are:

    Why did Maura put the rag in the tailpipe? That is very odd indeed.

    What in the heck was going on in this girls head prior to the accident? What was her personal life like? The answer to what happened to maura lies right there, inside Maura's head. I concur with the author of this blog, that is where I would look to find out what happened.

    Lastly, when will Maura's father start to tell the truth about his daughter?

    Just my hunble opinion. Thanks for the blog, pretty interesting

    1. Agree with this 100%. She packed her belongings from her dorm room and took the art off the walls prior to leaving, so I also think that something in her head was troubling her concious maybe. Few Q's that have me playing scenario after scenario in my head...
      - Why was that rag from her emergency road kit stuffed in the tailpipe of her saturn?
      -Was the windshield of her car shattered on the inside or outside?(that'll help determine if it was her head that could've possibly cracked it on impact or if something could maybe of been thrown at the car while she might not of been paying close attention to the road causing her to panic and veer.(sounds far fetched but who in the hell knows with all these crazy stories now a day, and this isnt exactly a 'normal' case.
      -wondering what you mean about her father telling the truth about her?... what is that hinting at or is believed to of happen? Everyone said that they maintained a close relationship since maura was a youngin.
      -wheres her mom been in this entire investigation and what was their relationship? She couldnt make it because of her fractured ankle but I know if that was my kid missing, and I knew how crucial time was, Id be there asap with or without a good limbs.
      -Ive only seen a few interviews showing the boyfriend at the time, I know he has nothing to do with this accident but one wonders if maybe they werent as happy as people had thought. He didnt seem overly emotional, makes me wonder if it was rocky in the last months leading to her disappearance and if she may of taken on someone else on the side.

  12. I met BA when i was about 13 years old 1 year after her dissaperance, with my grandfather who had known BA for quite some time That was the first time i heard of this dissaperance and by the way BA talked about the incident there was no way he was a suspect. and to the anonymous person who asked his height i believe he was about 5' 8" tall give or take

  13. " Ask anyone up that way about Butch being involved and they will laugh at you. You see, Butch was a fat man. Morbidly obese. Maura could have easily have run from him."

    Seems a little dismissive of the fact she could've walked 100 feet to get on his bus and anything could've happened on the bus. He sat out on his bus to do paperwork after he backed it down his driveway? Seems odd to me. The wife calling 911 seems odd also. Leaving a tiny woman stranded in the pitch black, freezing cold without waiting on her seems odd. People must have been really strange to behave like that...

  14. "Ask anyone up that way about Butch being involved and they will laugh at you. You see, Butch was a fat man. Morbidly obese. Maura could have easily run from him."

    Good thing you aren't an actual law inforcement investigator. I wonder if they too, assessed that judgement on their way to a 6 year old cold case. "Oh don't worry about him - no one in the community thinks he would do that. He's too fat."
    John Wayne Gacy was also quite many murders did he commit.
    Not to mention, if Murray was already disoriented and dazed from a head-wound plus alcohol - a strong fist would easily knock her out (unless she already was).

    And it doesn't matter if his wife and another family member was in the home. BTK easily managed to keep his multi-faceted lifestyle under wraps from his entire family - and he lived in the suburbs, not a heavily wooded, isolated area.
    Atwood's story is extremely suspicious.

    Anything is possible.

    1. Butch did not have to coax her. She went willingly as he was going to help her. He took her to a hunting lodge in the woods. No one knew about her being there, not even his wife.

    2. where is that information being released from because they said she was never seen by anyone after Butch left to call police and now your saying she was in his hunting lodge with him?
      Heres 2 theories to chew on: What if Maura was in the wreck hit her head off the windshield where the glass spidered out and was knocked unconscious immediately. OR what if she had consumed a lot of alcohol that evening and fell asleep or passed out while behind the wheel. BA or any other person in the area couldve easily got her in a vehicle or house if she wasnt able to fight back. NOONE saw her, BA said he did and that she didnt appear intoxicated, and that he talked to her...who knows how true any of his statements are. Locals know that area a hell of a lot better than she did.

    3. and the other theory....
      Everyone agrees that Maura had some questionable things happen in the days leading to her disappearance that were very out of character for her. Could she possibly of been using the calling cards given to her, to contact another man in her life that she had been seeing? That way her boyfriend wouldnt of been able to track the numbers she was calling because he had purchased that cell for her. She couldve fallen into an "affair"(for lack of better term)she didnt tell her family and friends about and is why they were in the dark and didnt know about any of the weird things she had been searching via the internet or any of her traveling plans. What if she got pregnant by the other party, was faced with that, her dads car she had just crashed, school, having to explain all of the situation to family, friends and her bf. As horrible as it sounds what if she got the mass amount of alcohol to lets say "try to solve the situation herself" and go up to the mountains to meet the guy and figure out what to do and ended up just running away with him. Or maybe that person had intentions to solve a problem like that themselves.... noone will ever know with all the ludacris scenarios everyone could come up with given enough time to ponder on it. So very heartbreaking.

    4. As a police officer, the problem with the Atwood theory is assuming that a man with no major (not sure if he's ever had a misdemeanor crime or anything, but he definitely never had violent charges or committed assaults) would happen upon a girl within 100 yds of his house and suddenly become a killer. It's just implausible. Also living in the area he would know that neighbors could and from the accounts that night, do look out their windows a lot. Any reasonably sane person would have taken into account how easily it would have been for him to get caught. Especially if he was driving around in the bus after hours, his neighbors would have thought that odd.

  15. BA was closer to 6'.. or at least he was in his prime.
    in regards to BA & obesity. EVEN if she were on the bus, and he was able to get her on the bus (due to impairment), he would of still had to dispose of her body. THAT alone probably would of given the man a heart attack, it wasn't too long after he had a triple cardiac bypass and not to mention a sever diabetic.
    BA's Mother's house was not very big, and they had stuff shoved into every corner.. even in the garages. It would of been very difficult to dismantle a body without someone noticing.. or even hide one..

    Comparing JWG was no where near the same obesity that BA was.. From what I see JWG was about 5'9 220.. and he was in his 30's when he committed his murders..

    BA was 6' closer to 400 and and I believe 57 when Maura disappeared..

    1. Again, as a police officer, we need to stop focusing on weight. That has no bearing. She was small enough that killing her or carrying her would not have been an issue for someone his size (He was definitely obese, but not like 600lbs obese). The real problem is assuming he suddenly becomes a killer that late into his life? So close to his house? Not buying it. Also not buying he was some crazy serial killer who had evaded arrest forever. Even the smartest serial killers had usually become suspects of one of their murders at some point or had been arrested on other crimes before being caught. Bundy was a suspect once or twice, Gacy arrested, etc

  16. BA was the last person to c Maura and his story changed 3 times! & it was completely different, not just little mistakes that the media could make.
    While I don't think he is the perp I think he knows more than he told. Why else would his story change??
    This always made me think, & still does, that someone in the le community could b responsible for her dossapearance. There is some super sketchy characters in le up there, & some super sketchy people that they associate with.
    Anyone who denies this is either covering for them or in complete denial.
    I've lived in that area for 12 years so this isnt someone who's not local saying this.
    Combine this w the reports of an "official-looking vehicle" on scene before the local cop was. Something is not right about his picture.

    I seriously question anyone's motives when they r trying to make everyone feel bad about how BA, le & rf weretreatwd on the forums.

    Rf had his trailer towed away & the cops pulled it over and searched it???!!!
    Clearly they thought he was a poi, think about this. Not only did they want to search his trailer, they wanted to so bad that they paid enuf attention to it to know when it was being towed and were able to pull it over en route!
    That speaks volumes IMO

  17. TO:::: Unknown April 14, 2012 1:09 PM

    Where did that come from? Can it be proven that there IS a cabin that was owned or rented from BA?? Although I don't believe this, Renner, have you looked into it simply to rule it out? Seems like an odd comment at random.

    What were the three completely different stories Jenkins??? I have only heard one consistent one from the little I have read and seen on TV (just began my research due to interest)?

  18. I so disagree with blowing off RF as a suspect to go after more vague aspects of the case such as Londonderry pings and unknown tandem companions. I think RF needs to be looked at more closely for the following reasons:
    1. he lives near the scene and was probably there or nearby at the time.
    2. he refused to allow his trailer to be searched, even tho it was right where the scent trail ended
    3. he interjected himself into the investigation by making an odd claim of seeing MM months after the fact
    4. his ex said he did it and came up with a plausible scenario

  19. Unless Butch's vehicle and property were properly searched by LE, there is absolutely no reason to rule him out as a POI.

    And thats what I want to know. By what means was Butch ruled out?

  20. Disgusting that police where to dumb to search Butch's house, bus, property and the trailer park, house, property! What a bunch of dummies! The father is right they should have searched these men up and down! Very suspicious to say the least! Everyone seems nice normal until their found with a dead body in their basement! Look at scott peterson everyone loved and defended him they were the perfect couple! Now Lacey is dead so their goes that theory! Nice guy has nothing to do with it check the fucking house you dumb fucking cops where's your brains! I'm pissed chase down every car going down that winding road that night do your fucking job you lazy bums!

  21. These hunting guys have guns (especially bus drivers and trailer owners). they hunt for sport, and that is why they live in the woods. They also have cabins or have access to cabins in the woods via friends and relatives. They go to cabins to hunt and for parties. Both guys had guns (pistols and shotguns) to threaten her duct tape. Anybody (regardless of weight or height) could take a helpless young girl who just wrecked her car!!! One of those two guys killed her/molested her....but since the FBI were not called due to lazy/dumb local police.....nobody will ever find her remains!!!!

  22. Men, men, men. You all have missed it. all wrong and it was right there for the taking, all simple but so disguised no one got it. with my theory i have some questions i hope you guys will be able to have truthful, documented, proof. When Butch and Maura came across eachother Butch felt sorry for maura after she explained here plight, "i need help". she too refuge in the bus, hid over night and driven to safety the next day by butch, who failed polygraphs because of his heart med's. perfect alibi. Nothing sinister in his mind, just helpful in her escape. so find out this and it may prove my theory correct. 1. was the bus searched that night by police? probably no. butch goes home, calls 911, returns to his bus for paperwork and works out with maura the escape plan. 2. was the bus in butchs yard when the search dogs searched? My guess, nope. it's the PERFECT ESCAPE. SO PERHAPS MUARA IS ALIVE, AND with BA dead, the cops have nowhere to go other than his wife if shes alive and she probably knew nothing. so the question is now, where is she lving? Canada like renner says? I say start putting these pieces together and the puzzle will fit. ltr

  23. My theory: Maura might have discovered she was pregnant (or not) -- regardless, Billy was ever a player; there was the credit-card thing; and then the 1st wreck. She'd given up West Point to be closer to Billy, who perhaps was not now mending his ways as she had expected he would. Everything seems to be spiraling out of control. Maura has a mini-breakdown at work and decides to take off to a somewhat distant but well-beloved previous vacation spot to have some (or several) drinks and think things through. Perhaps she has already been drinking as she drives and goes off the road, damaging a second of her father's cars in a very short time. Being very close to her Dad, she flips out, not wanting to have to tell him that she's done it again. Perhaps if it becomes a matter of police record that she was drinking and had an auto accident, she'll get kicked out of nursing school? (Just guessing here, again.) Maura instinctively knows the bus driver's immediately going to call the cops. She takes off down the road, panicked and not in full possession of her faculties. As she's running, she hears police sirens approaching, so she darts off into the woods ... and, bless her sweet young heart, just keeps running away from the road until she can't run anymore. Again, obviously all just conjecture on my part. RIP, dear Maura. You sure deserved a whole lot better.

  24. P.S. I wish to God she WAS alive and well in Canada, but I just don't think so.