May 14, 2013
I have been watching Topix for substantive nuggets amid the vitriol regarding my posts. Someone on Topix pointed out a foolish mistake I made in "Did Maura Run East" analysis. Franconia Airport has no commercial service. Unless Maura knew somebody in the glider association that it is home to, who then ... glided her to Toronto, this airport is irrelevant.
My apologies to you all for not having researched this better in advance. The central point of the analysis stands but that extension falls.
Incidentally, citigirl also pointed out that Bradley Hill Road to 116 to 112 is hillier than 112 to the same point. I checked this out. Indeed the alternate route rises at 5.6% for 2.3 miles, dips suddenly then rises suddenly as it crosses a creek, then goes down hill about 5.6% back to 112. This is a great observation by citigirl who clearly has one of the best commands of this case factually of anyone out there, but in the end it does not change the analysis.
This for three reasons.  I used a really slow running rate in the first place, one benchmarked (with the help of an expert on running) on road running, thus including hills.  A fit runner (unlike most of us) gains as much or more speed on a downhill as she loses on an uphill.  Even if overall it affected her speed to some degree, four of the six scenarios involve the direct route on 112 and even if you add 30 seconds a mile to an unthinkably slow 9:30 per mile that only adds 2:30 to her total time.
Thus the larger point of the table stands even if the assumption fails on hills. But the assumption, being slow in the first place and with Maura being a runner, does not fail.
I really hope citigirl might become willing to lend her expertise to my methods. She knows a lot more about this case than I do.
May 13, 2013
Rick Forcier reported an evasive-seeming person in a hoodie running on Route 112, four to five miles east of the Saturn accident scene, between 8:00 and 8:30 pm on February 9. Rick likely is not a suspect. Police searched the trailer he was living in after he sold it and nothing happened thereafter.
The relevance of Rick's report is often dismissed. For one thing, he did not offer it right away. Moreover, he has a morbid sense of humor, it has been alleged by some that his story changed across multiple interviews, and many have reasoned that the time frame was too tight for the person he saw to have been Maura.
Looking closely, however, the time frame was not too tight. In fact, the timeline of events is precisely consistent with Rick's statement.
To see this, first consider the following premises:
- Corroborating it with my former cross-country coach (the legendary Bruce Lehane at Boston University, who has coached 100s and 100s of male and female runners in his distinguished career) I came up with an assumption about how fast Maura might have been able to run that night. As a benchmark, on a slower, aerobic training off-day, without especial strain, an average to good female collegiate distance runner covers 6-9 miles at a pace around 7:40 per mile, at what's known as a "conversational pace." Exerting a little more effort, they'd move at seven minutes per mile, but without much strain. Eight minutes a mile would be slow and nine minutes a mile would be very slow, to the point where a female collegiate runner in a training scenario likely would not bother to run at that point. So lets assume Maura moved at nine minutes per mile that night, given that she was in blue jeans and less than ideal conditions. With the urgency that almost certainly accompanied her departure, this is reasonable. I can corroborate this with my personal experience. When I was a competitive runner, I once found myself running along a road at night in the dead of winter in hiking boots and jeans. I was able to maintain a pace about half a minute slower than a "conversational" normal training pace. Thus, there is a good chance Maura was moving faster than nine minutes per mile that night, but she probably was not moving slower than that.
- As a New England runner, Maura would have been familiar with running on snow covered roadways at night in the winter. This is the plight of student distance runners. The team typically gathers after 3:30 pm, after classes. After a meeting, stretching and a few warm up strides, the distance runners embark for a 45 to 90 minute jog when already it is almost dark, with it often being dark and a busy traffic hour by the time they return.
- Maura could have taken two routes away from the accident scene to get to the stretch of road where Rick saw the evasive-seeming runner in the hoodie. In addition to Route 112, she also could have taken Bradley Hill Road to Route 116, back to Route 112. This alternate route would have put her first on 112 near the middle of Rick's "four to five mile range," 4.6 miles east on Route 112 from the scene. Nonetheless, it involves only 1/2 mile more distance (i.e., via it, she would have had to jog 5.1 miles). This because Bradley Hill Road and a portion of Route 116 are much straighter than Route 112. Please refer to the first two images with this post, a map and a legend.
- The earliest Maura could have departed the scene was about 8:34 pm. This was five minutes after Faith Westman's call, thus giving her enough time to have talked with Bruce Atwood (which could have occurred as early as 7:25 pm), get out of the car, gather her thoughts and self, walk a short distance, then begin running. See the timeline posted to Renner's blog on Saturday the 11th.
- The latest Maura could have departed the scene was 8:46 pm, or seconds before Officer Smith arrived. See the timeline posted to Renner's blog on Saturday the 11th.
Now, please refer to third image, provided with this post, Table A. It shows that under each of the eight possible scenarios stemming from the above reasoning, Maura had enough time to jog to any point of Rick's "four to five miles east" range estimated by Rick, by as early as 8:10 pm and no later than 8:32 pm.
But what about the scent dogs tracking her 100 yards east then losing the trail? That fact certainly tends to suggest Maura did not run east and was not the person Rick saw.
I am no expert on this topic. But I know that if you watch a slow motion film of a good runner, their feet are touching the ground a surprisingly low percentage of the time. Thus, I wonder: if she bolted at that point - perhaps seeing a police car approaching - was her scent dispersed more so than it had been in the first 100 yards, possibly increasing its further dispersal over the next two days, before the dogs were brought to the scene? Moreover, perhaps she was carrying something bearing a scent specifically similar to those new gloves (like a new hat), which she stuffed into her back pack at that point, or cast aside, which was then later carried by some wind into a creek or somehow otherwise lost onto the record of evidence.
Ultimately - as more than one person asserting knowledge of scent tracking dogs has said - it is difficult to conclude anything given that two days had passed. The possibilities here require some further research, if anyone is an expert or knows one.
For now, we can say there are at least two bodies of evidence that indicate that Rick indeed could have seen Maura running on 112. Think of that possibility! She might already have been five miles away (a) before the Saturn was towed, (b) when Officer Smith had been looking around nearby the scene for the driver for at most 36 minutes, and (c) 57 minutes before he left the scene.
This possibility brings another into plainer view: that Maura found prior unreserved lodging that night. To wit, by the time Rick saw her - if that was her - she was fewer than seven miles away from the Pinestead Farm Lodge on Route 116 (to the north) and within ten miles of the Wilderness Inn Bed & Breakfast in Woodstock (and many other lodgings near it), down Route 112. Please refer to the 2nd map picture provided and the picture of the legend. She easily could have gotten to these places in the next two hours - by 10:30 pm - alternately running and walking. And she had somewhere between $240 and (maybe) $4,240 on her person.
Just on the other side of I-93 from Woodstock is Lincoln, NH and a Greyhound Bus Station, with service to - among other cities - Montreal and Toronto. Just 3 miles north of the Pinestead Farm Lodge on Route 116 is the Franconia Airport. If Maura reached the nearest accommodations east, in Franconia or Woodstock, one has to wonder what she did the next morning.
I don't argue that it actually went down this way. Who can know at this point what happened? My purpose is to flesh out the facts and analyze what is possible or prohibited. Thus yet again, we have yet another possibility among the wide vector of them, each with their own supporting facts and contra-indications.