Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Morrow County withholds information related to suicide that occurred at Rausch residence.


Troubling news from Morrow County, Ohio.

According to neighbors, in April, 2007, Heather Rausch (Billy's adult sister) committed suicide in the Rausch's Marengo residence. A terrible tragedy for a family already suffering loss-- Maura was close to the extended Rausch family and even stayed in the home during the Christmas holiday before she disappeared.

In an attempt to verify details about this tragedy, though, I've received some very odd pushback from local authorities. During a visit to the Morrow County Sheriff's office last week, I was given a report by police in which the scene was described. In the report, the officer mentions that a note had been tucked into her waistband. When I requested further information, including statements and details about the note's contents, I was told the case was still open and the office could not release any information because detectives were still investigating it for possible criminal charges.

This is the first time, as a journalist, that I've ever heard of an "open" suicide investigation.

Before you begin spinning conspiracy theories, my hunch is that I was told the case was "open" so that they would not have to provide the records. I am going through other channels to see if the case is actually being worked on. However, I spoke to Morrow County prosecutor Charles Howland (no fan of the First Amendment) today and was told in no uncertain terms not to expect the records anytime soon.

42 comments:

  1. Rauch, Heather (1999)
    A Web of Community: A Case Study of Students’ Perception of Community at
    Wittenberg University.
    Rey, Eric (2007)
    American Collegiate Fraternal Organizations: Perceptions of Influence on
    Student
    Behavior
    (scroll near bottom)
    http://www4.wittenberg.edu/academics/soci/1990-2009.pdf

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    1. Could you explain the significance of this post? The name isn't even spelled correctly--unless it's an entirely different Heather "Rauch." James thanked you for the information, so it must have some importance--what would that be?

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  2. James - The prevailing sentiment is that you shouldn't have brought Heather's suicide to the attention of posters on this blog and other forums about Maura Murray. I feel differently. It is factual information, Sharon Rausch has been public in her assertions about Maura, and you are on a fact finding mission.
    This may or may not relate to Maura, as we are told she was closely enmeshed with the Rausch family.
    I appreciate your efforts to do what others have been unable to do, and that is to unabashedly present the findings of your investigative research without being threatened in any way by the web of influence that surrounds this mystery.
    Keep it going, dude.

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    1. Could you explain how you know what the "prevailing sentiment" is with regard to JR's decision to mention Heather Rausch's suicide on the blog? Of four replies he's posted so far, only one suggests vaguely that it might not have been a good idea or relevant to MM's disappearance. Two others give no opinion whatever on the matter and yours supports his decision. What "other forums" are you referring to? Just curious how you arrived at that position.

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  3. Hmm I guess it would be interesting to know if Heather and Maura spent much time together that last Christmas. And especially if they made any plans to meet...? But otherwise I kinda think its unrelated.

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  4. Hey James,

    I wanted to post my feelings on this post as well as my thoughts on this case. Sorry for the long post. If you only read a portion of this post, please skip to number 4. First off, thank you for researching this information. This case has stuck with me for a long time and I hope to find answers.

    1. Regarding your current post, I feel it's unrelated.

    2. In defense of the father, I can understand him not wanting to talk to you (nothing personal, I promise). I think in his mind you are out to make a quick buck off his daughter. I know you say it isn't true and I believe you when you say you don't make much at all. But you have to realize, I'm sure he has run into many people who aren't like you, who are trying to make money off of Maura. I can see how it's really hard to trust people.

    3. I also understand him not wanting his daughters past brought to light. I understand it's important to this case as it may give her reason to start over elsewhere or commit suicide. But when you lose someone, you want to cherish the positive memories. Did he say something to her to make her want to leave. Possible. If he did, I'm sure he's racked with guilt. (NOTE: Please don't think I'm taking sides. Just trying to think of it from his point of view.

    4. Lastly, I'm curious if you checked out two things as I don't think I've seen anything posted. They were posted on another forum. But might be worth checking out if you haven't already

    a. Toward the end of 2004, a man allegedly gave Maura's father an old, rusty knife with a stain on it and said it belonged to his brother, who had a criminal past and who lived less than a mile from where Maura's car was. Maura's father sent the knife to the police but they did not want to test it.

    b.In 2006, another search occurred, in which cadaver dogs "went bonkers" in the closet of an A-frame house a few miles from where Maura's car was. A carpet sample was supposedly given to both state police and to the retired investigators. The state police weren't interested in accepting the carpet into their possession and the other carpet sample is said to be in the possession of an investigator who "no longer has business relations" with the retired investigators.

    Thanks again for investigating this case. I look forward to reading your posts and response.

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  5. 4:
    a: I doubt there's anything to it but I'm looking into it.
    b. Again, doubt it has anything to do with anything, but am looking into it.

    I believe the explanation for Maura's disappearance is a pretty straight-forward story. Brothers turning over knives and search dogs finding blood in abandoned houses are fictional devices of bad writers.

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    1. James- How could you say that Maura's disappearance is pretty straight-forward? In my opinion, there is nothing straight forward about this case. Every time I read a new post of yours I change my mind of what I think happened. Have I missed something? Have you come across "the answer"?

      I think you are doing a fantastic job, and I support you 100%, but I think you are overreaching with that statement.

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    2. Don't remember the source but I could swear I read somewhere that the blood on the A-frame carpet was checked and was menstrual blood (or some other benign source).

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  6. James, have you been able to communicate with the people who made the Disappeared episode on ID with possible extra footage, outtakes, things said off the record, etc. since most of the people on that episode are not communicating with you? Maybe I'm jumping the gun and you have some tricks up your sleeve that you haven't revealed dealing with those folks.

    The fact that several people won't communicate with you and they painted Maura in such a good light on tv is just outrageous to me. So what if she stole some credit card numbers? People mess up and they pay the time and get over it. Just because she is a "criminal" (to some people) does not mean that she should get away with it, or be able to waste the tax payer's money looking for her for years on end.

    If my daughter disappeared, I would shout it from the rooftops to ANYONE that wanted to talk about it. Even if she did something bad, I'd want to know why she left and get an explanation! I wouldn't care if someone made a billion off of the story, as long as I had my daughter back. (If they actually read your other book on Amy, they would know that your heart is in this and you are not in it to purely turn a profit).

    Perhaps the family already does know why she left. But why waste everyone else's time and just close the case already. I've been the route of maybe they resigned themselves to the fact that she is dead for whatever reason and just don't want to talk about it anymore. But who doesn't want to know where their daughter's body is? I keep thinking back to folks like Tim Miller who fought for years to find his daughter's body. Why give up when someone is offering to help?

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    1. Hey, has Tim Miller offered or helped with this case? I'd also be interested if Peter Hyatt could do Statement Analysis on Freds interviews?

      http://seamusoriley.blogspot.com/

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    2. aud - Only if and when Mr. Murray cooperates with authorities, and demonstrates some appreciation for the efforts of NH Law Enforcement to find his daughter would I imagine he is worthy of more charitable assistance, such as by Tim Miller.

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  7. I think the sad fact is that noone knew much about Maura's life and it's taken detective work to find out facts like the pizza incident. Also with time and distance (and not such an emotional tie) James can ask the tough questions. However, I think there are a lot of so called writers and investigators out there and I'm sure Fred has been spammed by a lot of them. Or let's face it maybe he knows less than James does now?

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  8. @ just thought. What tax payers money? The cops have spent almost no time on this? James isn't being paid by tax payers money. He's paying for this himself!! It's interesting how many people comments along the lines of if my daughter disappeared I'd do this or that. No one has any idea what they do when bad things happen. As far as I can see Fred is still out there - he did an interview last month with Boston news. It was small but I guess thy have other things to cover and it looks as though he did enough shouting at the beginning. As for this suicide of Billy's sister this is just sad and unfortunately a lot of American families have to face such loss. I don't think it has anything to do with maura but explains that the Rausches have a closer person to grieve and a sons's girlfriend gone missing kind of pales by comparison. Not to make Fred's grief any less obviously but all this is relative. I think the answer has to be among those people at or near the crash site. Somebody knows and they're not telling.

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    1. I know that James is paying with his own money for this investigation. Anyone can speculate about another person's behavior, but I know that most people would go to the police station for an interview (with or without a lawyer)immediately after their daughter was missing... Not wait over a year! I believe that is a fact that can be verified, but please correct me if I am wrong. I seem to recall that mention on this blog several times.

      To say that the cops have "spend almost no time on this" is ridiculous. Why would they designate this case for a special cold case unit if they didn't want to spend any time on it? There are thousands of documents that James has gathered by requesting them from government agencies. Fred's court petition for information and court appearances were paid for in tax payer dollars at least partially...i.e. the judge, prosecutor, other court employees. I'm not taking sides here. Maybe Fred really does know less than the police do, but to say that the police have spent almost no time on this is a complete exaggeration.

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    2. according to LE, they have spent an estimated 6000 hours on this case, and it's 75% likely to solved or have criminal charges pressed. That's a real wide open statement, but the LE has busted their hide on this with limited manpower.

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  9. No one is saying Fred harmed Maura, but his actions toward her COULD have led to her being in the place where harm did occur. You have to look at every angle, no matter if it's considered a longshot or not. Besides, Fred knew LE was looking at him, so he lawyered up. And Maura's sister is being shady also, not explaining the details of the infamous phone call that caused Maura to break down. Also, per the LE, why was Fred's initial reaction when he found out about Maura's car being abandoned was that she committed suicide? He said,"she went off to die like an old squa" or something like that. He knew something was up, and clammed up. But I'm sure LE and James know more than us. If I were James I wouldn't put all I know on here, or else no one would buy the book.

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    1. I don't think that anyone ever verified that "The Call" that had Maura so upset was actually from her sister. We know that for whatever reason, Maura was lying about a lot of things. She could have lied about who she was talking to on the phone when she got so upset. Maybe it's just my personality, but I would never get so upset that I would have to leave work over my sister, unless she was dead or in a coma. I do remember many times when I was that upset when I broke up with a boyfriend though. So perhaps Maura was talking to her boyfriend at work and broke up with him, but lied to not get in trouble for neglecting her duties by talking to her boyfriend during work time.

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    2. There actually was a second call that night, after she finished talking to her sister. Shortly after midnight, and right before the supervisor found her in tears, there was a 7 minute call.

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    3. this is true. I believe the whole reason Maura took off was the dynamics with Billy and Fred. I can't shake the feeling Fred may have really said some hurtful stuff toward Maura after the first wreck. Im sure he didn't pat her on the head and give her a dollar.

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    4. Exactly! Anon @3:31! She talked to her sister, nothing was really wrong, then she talked to either Billy, her father or another boyfriend. She got upset and then was crying and had to go home from work. Her sister is not lying or concealing any details about their conversation. It just happened before all the drama occurred. At least that's how I'm seeing it.

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    5. Isnt it likely that her sister may have called her back? If they'd had a row earlier she may have felt guilty and called her back to apologize? Or maybe it was Fred telling her it was OK and not to be upset? Not sure of their family dynamics but if I rowed with my sister I would call my mom to tell her about it. Or maybe Fred did bawl her out who doesn't get angry? And maybe he said something regrettable? But that still doesn't solve what happened next. After the car crash. It's just so confounding. It makes no sense. James have you got any further with talking to people who in and around the site? Who may have actually seen her?

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  10. Yes there may be much more to this but we all think Fred is being weird however maybe he's just a weird guy? Some people are weird and I don't mean he's a creep or pervert maybe he's just a grumpy old guy? The more I read this the more ot strikes me that everyone close to Maura has essentially backed away from this and I have to wonder whether it's because they found out she wasn't who she pretended to be. She definitely wasn't the sweet daughter in law in waiting that Sharon R naively seemed to think she was, she wasn't the marrying type and her friend knew nothing of her shady stealing. I would be quite angry if I ha spent years grieving worrying searching for someone who then turned out to have deceived me all along. I would really feel cheated for want of a better word and wouldn't want to be on TV saying she was so nice. It's sad but Fred might be the only one who hasn't seen her for what she was and that's making him blind to something that happened or to some clue to where she went. Maybe. It's just an idea but parents can be totally blind to their childrens shortcoming even if it means going totally offtrack. Or maybe he found out she was a bad one and can't face the world knowing? Whatever she was, I think she met with some really bad person or people and no one deserves that. I hope you nail them Mr Renner because I think they are still out there.

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  11. This is going to sound crazy but I spent today reading this whole blog and I gotta think that the cops know who did this but can't tell. Is it even possible that a) she saw something that meant she had to be put in a witness protection program or b) the person who hurt her is a protected person?

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    1. Those are possibilities that really haven't been mentioned before. Good ideas!

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  12. I've been closely following this case for a while now, and although I initially sensed that Maura was abducted, I'm now thinking more and more that she disappeared of her own free will (whether acting alone or with the help of someone else). Here's why:

    (1) she left UMass without telling anyone where she was going, which indicates that something unusual was going on;
    (2) her secretive departure suggests that she wasn't as openly communicative with her friends and family as one might think, and that she may have had a relationship with a separate unknown circle of friends;
    (3) she packed up her dorm room and left a printed-out e-mail from Billy Rausch in plain view;
    (4) she brought her valuables with her when she left;
    (5) she had strained family relationships (such as with her mother), and she had just wrecked her father's new car, possibly while under the influence of alcohol -- and quite possibly leading to a major altercation with her father;
    (6) she may have been linked to a hit-and-run accident with UMass student Petrit Vasi, who was comatose for quite some time (though this is highly speculative);
    (7) she had been expelled from West Point and may have been facing expulsion from UMass;
    (8) she had committed credit card fraud, which could have been a point of entry into identity theft (if she wanted to run away and establish a new identity);
    (9) the fact that she was supposed to call Fred Murray at 8:00 pm on February 9 -- thirty minutes after her accident in Haverhill, NH -- may indicate that she had no intention of calling him and taking care of business, because she was up in the mountains with no cell phone reception;
    (10) her relationship with Billy was in serious trouble, which was even more significant because his family was her surrogate family;
    (11) she may have been pregnant (which is speculative), and that may have created a personal crisis exacerbated by Irish Catholic values, a failing relationship with Billy, and possibly sexual liaisons with other men; etc., etc.

    The point is, Maura had PLENTY of reasons to run away. Please understand that I'm not trying to vilify Maura or her loved ones... But there simply isn't much to suggest foul play. That being said, New Hampshire law enforcement knows far more than we do, and they're apparently treating this as a homicide investigation.

    -TJ

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  13. TJ, You're assuming she didn't tell anybody where she was going. I think it's very likely she shared her plans.

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    1. That's the first time I've heard this; it was my understanding that not a single person had any idea of her intentions. What had led you to believe that she shared her plans?

      -TJ

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    2. didn't she spend New Years in the area she disapperaed in? Maybe she met a guy there and kept in contact. Her dorm room probably had a phone so Billy didn't know or the phone records are being shown in their entirety. Only thing with that theory is that a few people should have come foward to say one of their loved ones knew Maura. Maybe they have and we don't know. This case has very limited information.

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  14. Mr. Renner,

    I kind of have to agree with T.J. on that one. It is hard to believe she shared her plans with anyone. Take for instance the Dane Cook tickets again. Since her father works in Connecticut it makes one wonder if she really had any plans of going to that show. I think for as much as we the readers assume things you also assume certain aspects of the case. You seem to assume her father is lying which has some merit.

    I think the old car plays prominently in her disappearance. When Mr. Murray said they had one all picked out and were going to go up there the following weekend I kept wondering a few things. First, how did he manage to get off the used car dealers lot? When I bought a used car one time I told the guy I wanted to wait a day because I wanted to get a friend to inspect the engine before I bought it. They were persistent as could be on getting the sale that day. And I bought that day. I think the reason they are persistent is because in their minds they think you are not coming back. Second, when I went with a girl to get a used car that is all she talked about, whether we were test driving, etc. was how much she looked forward to getting a different car. I know sometimes my questions seem like they are not important, but I was wondering so much and I have to ask because you interviewed her friend Kate:

    What was the car Maura had picked out?

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    1. I believe James said in another thread that Maura did not mention getting a new car to her friend when they went out to dinner with her dad before she disappeared. I don't think she had a particular one in mind. I think your questions are extremely important. However, the whole car thing is another "what if" scenario. From what we have heard, money was tight on the family. Maura may have been happy to have any reasonably priced used car and might not have been too picky on the brand/model. However, it is weird that she wouldn't have said that she wanted a 2-door or 4-door, or not a certain color or brand for various reasons.

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    2. That she did not mentioned she was getting a new is one reason that I believe Mr Murray was there for different reasons.

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    3. Yeah. I agree. What if she has told him she was going somewhere and he was there to say goodbye or talk her out of it? Could she have done something irreversible and or criminal that she couldn't face? Or to be fair, did she think she had done something? Did someone accuse her of something?

      James, are there any weird crimes or incidents around the time she left in the UMass area? I assume she didn't travel away from campus in the weeks running up to the event?

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    4. What other reasons could Mr Murray have been there for?

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  15. I doubt Mr. Rennet is assuming. He has done more digging than anyone. Let's trust in his word. All the rest of us just know what we've read or seen on the web. James has talked to all the main players in the case on and off the record.

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  16. any word about the open bank account that was found? The person said it was quite possibly the same Maura Murray. Have you found out anything?

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  17. James I have a question unrelated to this posting but not sure where best to ask but was M's room cleaned in between her leaving and when the cops went in? Just wondering whether the cleaning person moved her stuff to make it look piled up or cleaned up stuff off her floor? I understand that UMass cleans rooms during the week. If it was cleaned then maybe they moved something really relevant? Or even emptied her trash can with maps etc in??

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  18. All signs suggest a "walkaway".

    All the pressure and tough times combined with a second accident.

    So if people run to mexico in otheer parts of the country. Might they flee to Canada in the North?

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  19. Yes. I also am curious about the bank connection. mm would certainly need a car so this seems like something worth looking into.

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  20. I am just curious, was maura ever on drugs? i read that vermont is a huge area for drugs. i am not implying anything but i have not seen this on any posts. also have police checked out that guy who has posted the videos? this case is so perplexing and just has me dumb founded how someone can just disappear. i don't think she started another life somewhere and i don't think her father knew anything. i would think if he knew something he would not be active in the search for her.

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  21. Thank you for being so circumspect about Heather Rausch's suicide note. That said, are you any further forward on understanding why the case is being held "open" against the possibility of criminal charges? Perhaps that's now moot, but it's still quite odd.

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