While in Haverhill last week, I caught up with Mike Lavoie, the man who towed Maura's car from the scene of the accident the night she disappeared. His first reaction when I asked about Maura and that night was anger. "Can't you see I'm working? I'm busy. And I'm tired of talking about it."
Eventually, he calmed down, though and shared some details about that night 7 years ago.
"I was laying on the couch when I got the call. I got the truck, got out there pretty quick."
He noticed the rag and asked Fred Murray about it later. "He said he told her to put it there to keep it from smoking. The car was not running well."
It was an odd thing to say to anyone who knows cars. A rag in a tailpipe is a good way to stall a car.
Okay, here's my problem. I have a kid. I try putting myself in Fred's shoes to understand where he's coming from. Think about finding yourself in this situation. Your kid's gone. Missing. And there's this weird detail about a rag in a tailpipe. Even if he really did tell her something so incredibly wrong as "stuff a rag in the tailpipe if your exhaust is smoking"--and we're talking about a guy who understands nuclear medicine, here--would you try to explain that detail away if you didn't know for sure? If there was a possibility that some bad guy had stuffed the rag in there to stall her car? Why would you give a defense as to why the rag was there? Why was it important for police to know that he, Fred, had given Maura that rag in the first place? The whole thing is hinky.