Sunday, November 17, 2013

How Can We Crowdsource the Investigation?

So this blog gets about 3,000 views on any given day. There are still many people interested in this case and helping to bring it to some kind of resolution. What's the best way we can work together?

Is there an aspect of this search for Maura that we could use this site to "crowdsource" the way we did when searching through pics of Canadian marathons?

22 comments:

  1. This isn't exactly on topic but may lead to other ideas. I have been closely following th MM case since it was profiled on Disappeared. I have been so impressed with how much more information regarding the case you have discovered and shared on this blog. I by chance DVR'd an episode of 20/20 on OWN last week & was surprised it was a re-play of a 2008 story on Maura. What struck me most was how much more of the backstory you have covered in this blog. Billy & his mother were a large part of the story & the picture of their relationship was very, very different than the one you have revealed. Several questions arose for me in watching the program including: Are there interviews/shows about finding Maura in which other family members besides her father appear? Have ANY of her close group of friends appeared independently in any interviews in recent years? Did Maura's mother ever appear in an interview? Has anyone ever interviewed the girl Billy was supposed to have had an affair with?
    It was so sad watching the show knowing what we now know about Maura's other issues. None of her sisters or close friends appeared. Those pleading for help besides her father were just her cheating boyfriend & his mom.

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    1. I imagine that for at least some of us, whether we are long-time followers of the case or new-comers, it’s becoming hard after all this time to get straight what we really know to be true about Maura and her situation. Without access to LE records, what we can confidently know to be fact might be very little indeed.

      In preparation for any type of crowd sourcing, it would be good if we were all working from the same set of facts and basic assumptions. Would it be useful to first generate a list of the proven “facts of the case” — taking special care to ask ourselves how much of Maura’s story (as we are telling it to ourselves today) is based on tangible evidence, and how much is based only on varying degrees of informed (or even wild) speculation or past theories? Like a very long game of telephone, there seems to be a lot of conventional wisdom about the case that we simply don’t know to be true (e.g., Maura was — or must have been — drunk during her last two car crashes; the Saturn was in bad working condition; etc.).

      In any event, can we somehow develop a list of the facts and conventional wisdom of the case, and categorize those elements as either 1) well-established (based on evidence, actual police reporting, multiple testimonies, documentation, etc.); 2) based on informed or reasonable speculation (e.g., Maura’s packing of her dorm room leads to a reasonable conclusion that she was about to make some sort of change in her circumstances, even if it was to move off campus); or 3) based only on hear-say (e.g., testimonials in the famous Disappeared episode provided by people like Fred and Billy’s mother, not to suggest that these testimonials are intentional obfuscations.)

      Otherwise, I share SAS’s frustration over apparent general facts of the case that present enormous red flags — especially what would seem to be the inexplicable silence of everyone in Maura’s life who would have been in a position to know what sorts of problem she had been dealing with, and why she might have driven north that day (aside from Fred’s initial utterance that she had possibly gone up there to take her own life — an extremely provocative notion in itself).

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  2. Myabe we can create a WIKI with all the information we have? People can add to it and we can get a better overview of the case.

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  3. Maybe if you could give us a list of what you need the most to develop the narrative of the disappearance and subsequent investigation, we could tackle an individual issue/event/question in small groups of 2 or 3.

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    1. I agree. I research for a living and it is easier for me to dig if I know what I am looking for.

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  4. In the vein of the Wiki idea...
    I would like to see a consolidated list of all the statements Fred has made since Maura's disappearance. Such a list would need to maintain distinctions between verbatim quotes (such as remarks found in newspaper interviews/TV shows) and paraphrasing (such as the language found in most of the police/detective transcripts of Fred's verbal statements.) I think such a list would be immensely useful and probably quite revealing.

    And now for some less feasible crowdsourcing ideas... (Who's game??)
    -Everyone who lives in the Northeastern United States, but especially in NH, VT, MA, and and ME...Please call your local "entertainment" companies to request a 31-year-old stripper, 5'7" tall, with an athletic physique and a lovely smile.
    (I'm not just being flippant here. Let's think about it--if Maura in fact ran away, as it seems increasingly likely that she did, what kind of job would she be working?)

    -Everyone with a plausible theory of the case: write it, publish it, and name names. If someone wants to sue you for libel, the burden of proof will then fall on *them* to show that your story is false. And if they don't sue, that'll say something too.

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    1. Agreed. I like the idea of a database/collection of statements for each family member or each key person in the case, including the dates of statements. I think it would be easier to see contradictions or understand mindset by viewing the collection of statements. Also this could be part of (or superimposed over) a timeline of events and actions. (Who did what and when and who said what when).

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  5. I would like to know where LE has and has not searched in order to conduct searches in four areas that are bugging me.

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  6. Has this case received much international publicity? Several clues have pointed to Canada. A Murray could hide in plain sight in Ireland. Has anyone circulated Maura's picture, age progression and fingerprints over the border and overseas? There is a Canadian Nurses Association http://www.cna-aiic.ca/en

    For some reason I picture her with dyed reddish blond hair and blue contacts, possibly working in a nursing type job. Even social media postings about this case could be fruitful. Maura's case (and face) need to be publicized to people who don't follow missing persons cases.

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    1. There's no way she's working as a nurse or in any other skilled job.

      Those jobs will background check and background check some more. Hell, she probably couldn't get such jobs under her real identity, let alone a fake one. Somehow I don't see Maura as the crafty, methodical Esther Reed type. I see her doing the kinds of jobs that can be paid in cash under the table--waitressing, doing adult work, or perhaps (as someone has suggested) being some sort of au pair or nanny. I certainly wouldn't hand my kids over to her, but perhaps there are people who would.

      Here's another crazy crowdsourcing idea: taking it upon ourselves to comb through all the low-budget and/or independently-produced porn from the area to see if we can spot Maura in anything. I think it's an entirely reasonable possibility that she has taken that kind of job at some point. IMO, far likelier than marathons.

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    2. I think she could be working as a home health care aide for an elderly/disabled person. The kind of position you see advertised on CraigsList. Or she's pushing wheelchairs at an airport. Many of the people who hire home aides don't do nearly enough background checking. I know a man who met an airport wheelchair handler and hired her to be his nurse!

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    1. I had a few ideas that may or may not be viable:
      1. Everyone who has been following the case or a regular reader of this blog could appeal to their local media outlets. Request they run a story on Maura's case. We could cover a lot of ground that way. Regardless of where you live, bringing as much attention to the case as possible could benefit the case. Even if we don't get tips related to Maura directly, maybe someone watching will come forward as a witness, old friend of Maura's or old classmate. It could also spark more interested readers/armchair sleuths.
      2. We could appeal to celebrities or notable alumni of West Point or UMASS - Amherst. I believe Richard Gere, Bill Pullman, and Natalie Cole are UMASS - Amherst Alumni. They have the unique position of reaching a lot of people and bringing a lot of attention to Maura's case.
      3. One other thought was to start a donations campaign for Maura's case. James puts a lot of personal money/effort into research and travel expenses. One great site is called "Go Fund Me" where any one can donate to the cause. It might not bring tips or answers, but could at least fund more research.

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  8. I think its so sad that there are so many hits on this blog & so many of us wanting to find maura when her family is so opposed to James & his search.its not even as if they have have just given up it cones across more like they don't want the truth to come out.quite sad really

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    1. I couldn't agree with you More Fiona. I had offered to (Citigirl) to plaster the area once again with posters to try and trigger someone to come forward. When I asked if she would be on board helping outwith getting posters to me she basically said that she has spent thousands of her own money and that I could just print them off on my own computer!! No thanks for offering your gas,time and effort to help find her family member. I just don't get myself.

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    2. Totally agree with the above.

      I no longer have any sympathy for Maura or (especially) her family, because by now it is so clear what is going on.

      They don't want her found because 1) they already know where she is, or at least that she's alive and well, and 2) if she were found, she or someone close to her would be in trouble for something big.

      A lot of the facts and details are nebulous in this case. But there is one fact that is brilliantly, blindingly clear. It stands out above everything else we know so strikingly that it almost screams, "Pay attention to me! Pay attention to me!". That fact is that Maura's family and friends won't talk. That fact tells us so, so much.

      So I'm not at all surprised by what Citigirl told JWB. Why keep trying and trying to "find" Maura if the last thing the family actually wants is for her to be found?

      I feel like pointing out that the family never accepted donations in the search for Maura--not even at the beginning. They did say that people could give "pledges" to become part of a reward if someone found her. This makes noooo sense. Look at the family of every other missing person. They all accepted donations, and in most cases, they used that money to search for their missing loved one. Think about it--wouldn't you?

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    3. I think crowdsourcing can be very effective and useful as long as LE is willing to work on evidence and leads presented.It appears from the outside looking in that may not be happening in this case and we are left to assume why.

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  9. i always imagine her working at some kind of AMC hut (not necessarily AMC, but something similar) where medical background is useful and you can also live in the mountains with the over hut workers, but away from main society most of the time. Maura loved the mountains, they likely don't require extensive background testing if any, she had sent an email visible on a guest book when she was younger asking about jobs at AMC (or such)huts

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    1. Gee wiz, I was all set to start watching porn and calling hookers and now I am stuck with searching airports and mountain huts. LOL

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  10. I firmly believe that Maura's family knows she is alive and well at this point. I would like to see when their publicity of the case dropped off, as that would probably be around the time that Maura let them know she was alive.

    Fred is very focused on the search for Maura only being around the area where she disappeared, and I think that is because he knows she will not be found there.

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  11. I guess it's interesting to me to see these comments and know so many of you believe she is alive. Hmmmm...

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  12. I seriously must question Maura's commitment to nursing and being a nurse in general. I noticed many people on this board operate under the assumption that Maura would be working the medical field if she were alive today.

    Wasn't Maura in her first semester of the nursing program at Umass? I always just assumed that after she was kicked out of West Point, that she had to find something to study that was "acceptable" to her father, who himself works in the medical field. She was not a nurse, only a beginning nursing student. And based upon her weekday getaway and email to profs, it does not seem that she was particularly dedicated to her field of study. No doubt Maura's grades were good; after all she was in the habit of being a good student, but I have yet to see any evidence that Maura was some super dedicated student with a calling to be a nurse. If anything it seems that Maura studying to be a nurse was a "back up" after her she failed to complete the program at West Point.

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