A new look at one of the North Country's Coldest Cases
Very well made. Outstanding job, Joan.
Great work. It's not easy to capture the subtleties of an age progression from 20 to 30, but it's done well here : )
Thanks guys. If anyone has ideas for changes, I'm open.
Again, kudos to you for doing this and for doing it so well. One idea might be to take a candid pic of Maura and see what you can do with that. She had a camera friendly look, by which I mean that professionally finished photos of her are quite nice, in a model kind of way. She has a more "earthy," if you will, though equally pretty, look in some other pictures. It might be interesting - if you have the time and inclination to do it - to see where one of those other pictures takes your great skill.~ John Green
Great job Joan. For MrsForeman and others who recall my comment, that drooping effect in the cheeks is what my contact, the age progression artist, said could happen to maura during her twenties if she put on weight. Basing her thoughts partly on Kathleen's weight gain, she described it - and showed examples - of a more pronounced effect, but we don't know whether Maura gained weight or how much. In any case, real point .... great work Joan.~ John Green
I agree with others that this is a great job. Just bear in mind that MM's appearance could change with age or maybe not so much. It could change with childbirth or maybe not. Stress? Genetics? All of these things weigh in considerably. I say all of this from personal experience. I also have two sisters and it's crazy how we have aged and developed compared to each other--it's NOT what you would have expected. I say this to say, keep an open mind! And I know most readers here will. Personally, I like this progression of MM....but I think a little weight should be taken off....especially around the neck.
Assuming the goal is to create an image that follows the highest likelihood, but carries with it the inherent understanding that it is simply a 'best' prediction given what is known, I would personally say that adding a bit of weight was probably the best choice. I completely agree with you about the relatively extreme variances that can occur from one person's aging to another's, I think that life in hiding would likely not have provided Maura with the best circumstances for keeping in shape, at least not consistently. When you add to that the natural weight gain that tends to accompany aging, it seems like a good prediction. Just my opinion : )I must say that this picture is as good as many professional age progressions that I've seen. As a lover of Photoshop, I'm fascinated by the ways the software is changing aspects of the forensics world and criminal investigation. I can only imagine how these progression pics will be created in maybe five or ten years, perhaps with 3D models that use algorithms to apply very realistic aging, maybe even using family member's appearances to help predict the how a missing individual might have aged (or even the person's actual genetics, assuming they were available to investigators).
I agree with the face/neck looking a little too full. Even with weight gain, as you age, your face tends to lose fullness (hence celebrities getting cheek implants, fat added to the face to look younger.) I have a round chipmunk face shape similar to maura's. I am also the same height as her and when i was 18/19, around the same weight. At that same time, I was made fun of to be called a chipmunk bc of my round, full cheeks - and always struggled with having a round jaw line. I'm 27 now and have a much more angular face despite putting on about 25 pounds.... So long story short, I think even with natural weight gain with age, her face still might not be quite so round/full. Other than that this looks great to me! lips thin with age and nose gets bigger - though 10 years probably doesn't make a huge difference, she definitely would still be recognizable. The only thing I could think of that might make a difference, weird i know - is the shape she plucks her eyebrows. It seems minor, but they can make your face look a lot different. Also, her hair could be much much longer and worn differently. straightened vs not straightened.... colored...etc. just another thing to keep in mind
"Even with weight gain, as you age, your face tends to lose fullness (hence celebrities getting cheek implants, fat added to the face to look younger.)" I think it really depends on the person (plus, is the weight muscle or fat?). My face is round and has only continued to get rounder as I've gotten older. I agree with the artist (below): having photos of older female relatives would provide an excellent clue as to predicting the way an age projection could go.I think it's a nice job, looks incredibly believable.
It would help to have a photo of MM's mom, however the one on FB is a side view and there isn't much detail. I, too, was thinking that with the stress of hiding, weight gain would be unlikely but - it has been almost a decade and possibly she eventually relaxed enough to enjoy life. Also, there isn't much out there that shows age progression using weight loss. So for my limited skills, the added weight serves in part to make her look older. Hopefully we can get more detail on the recent sighting.
Hello. First time posting and I have some thoughts and questions. Wasn't sure where to post it. I'm still not sure what to think on this case. I go back and forth. Can you guys help me sort out some thoughts/questions that support/dispute all 3 theories (run away, suicide, foul play)?1. Is it correct there was 2 feet of snow at the time? Seems to me that it would have been very difficult to veer off plowed roads. I live in Chicago and we got dumped with 2 feet a few winters ago. You couldn't get too far off the paths/roads...especially if you were intoxicated. Which makes me think she couldn't have gotten too deep into the woods, hence they would have found her body by now if it was suicide.2. Were there any bars in the area? Could she have possible stopped in to warm up. Country bars are quite different than college bars. If she was intoxicated with impaired judgment she could have been very vulnerable. Being intoxicated, as we know can lead to risky behavior.3. There are those who say she couldn't have been picked up due to the 5 minute window. I feel this is irrelevant because she could have just walked off. She could have been picked up 5 even 12 hours later. Although one could bring up the dog scent argument. 4. The fact that she packed up, tells us that she was leaving UMASS - suicide, runway....she was leaving one way or the other. OR was she suppose to graduate that spring? Maybe she was planning on leaving the dorms and living off compass for some reason - something that had to do with the "phone call" that put her in such a state? 5. Was anything missing from her dorm - keep sakes, things important to her? If so, that would lean more towards run away.6. I still think the type of booze that she bought doesn't seem like something you'd kill yourself with. Wonder if she bought any type of medication to mix with to overdose.7. This question is for Renner (you rock). I know that Fred had been seeking more info on what LE had obtained. Do you believe they may actually have any major type of info that could help us at this point? Or do you think they know pretty much what we know? Do you think they are holding anything important back?Sorry I know these questions are all over the place. Thank you, I may have more thoughts soon....can't get this case out of my brain!
Hi Michael, I'll give you my 2 cents to some of these questions, one by one, below.~ John Green
#1 - From weather reports, witness accounts (which sometimes contradict one another) and pictures around the time of the accident (some at the scene and others nearby), my belief is that it had been down around 25 degrees (F) very early in the day, but the temperature had been climbing to about 37 at the time of the accident. There was no precipitation that day. There was accumulated snow on the ground, but it had not snowed in the last several days. The paved roads were plowed and probably not icy. From a CNN picture taken a few days after the accident, it looks like the shoulder where the car came to rest, partially in the road, facing west, was slushy, possibly related to the relatively warmer than usual temperatures around that time and the fact that the areas along the shoulder would have had a lot road salt. Also, to my surprise, the snow banks on the side where the Saturn came to rest did not seem to be that high.
#2 - In terms of bars, I don't know what may have been in the general vicinity at the time, but I am going to hazard a guess that a bar is not what drew her off the highway, at least not as far as she traveled. From the I-91 Wells River Exit, onto 305 it is about 3 miles to get into the Woodsville section in North Haverhill. There are not really night life bars there that would appeal to most college kids, but there is a bowling alley/bar and a couple restaurant bars along the main street. To get to the accident scene is another 7 miles, most of which is along a road line by woods and dotted here and there with residences. One possibility, in my view, is that when she crashed, she was lost and returning from some interim destination. Lisbon (on 305, east of Woodsville) comes to mind. A young guy in Woodsville that I talked to told me that folks in Woodsville who want to go have some fun and do some drinking will go to Lisbon because, although it is not a huge town, there are some bars there and a resort atmosphere in the commerce with more people.
#3 - Great point. A guy name TylerinPittsburgh wrote something informative about that point somewhere once. Moreover, I think the idea that abduction is too unlikely given a narrow time window in a remote place is a statistical assertion that is not statistically valid. That argument essentially goes: well it is too unlikely for her and a serial killer to have converged in that remote place in that short window of time. To take an extreme and obvious case to make the relevant point, that is like saying that a jet that took off in NY, destined for London, that never landed in London or anywhere could not have crashed into the Atlantic because a vanishingly small percentage of jets crash into the Atlantic. The issue with both that jet and Maura is that they both became a part of different statistical populations (jets and women that disappeared). That condition or status changes the probabilities involved. I don't know what the probability of abduction for women who disappear in remote areas is, but it is not so small that it should be discounted. And when you consider a wander off scenario, of course, as you said, all bets are off.
#4 - In terms of the packed up dorm room, I understand jonalisa's point below and she may well be correct. But my own view, I wonder whether a student in the dorms at UMASS would pack up EVERYTHING into boxes and take pictures down for winter break. I only took clothes and stuff I needed home with me. But I don't now what the situation was then at UMASS, so jonalisa could be right about that. In any case, my view is that the packed up belongings reflects that she planned to either (1) move out of the dorms, or (2) leave school. As the the first possibility, consider what it would be like in college to have used someone else's credit card on your hall and gotten caught. She may have faced whispers, averted looks or even pranks like angry notes, or who knows what. For a girl apparently raised to work very hard to live up to a halo devised by her father, as many children are raised, that could have been intolerable. One former teammate of hers, along those lines, once speculated to me (with not specific knowledge to this effect) that Maura may have been scared of something in her dorm. That makes me think of the rumor (which came to us via the guy in Saco, ME, whose credibility - for other reasons related to the red truck - I am not sure I believe in. One final note on the packed up belongings. As far as I can tell, there is nothing beyond an assumed scenario, based in part on Fred's statement to support the suggested police recounting to reporters that she packed up her belongings on Sunday or Monday. I can imagine and have elsewhere related scenarios that agree with known facts and do well to explain some puzzling ones, where the dorm room was packed up before that ... or after.
#5 - I have not read too much about this over the years. Note: either the guy from Saco or Kathleen's ex husband (I forget which) told Renner he went with Fred to get Maura's stuff at the dorm after she vanished. He said it looked like Maura had packed everything up in groups for each member of her family, or something like that. Somebody related this to a relative of Maura's (possibly Helena or her grandmother) and she said "I hope not." I might have some of that wrong, but that anecdote is somewhere here on Renner's blog.
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#6 - I agree with this. The wine box in particular. On the other hand, perhaps she was planning a "leaving Las Vegas" scenario? I don't know. A suicide trip always seemed unlikely to me because most suicides, particularly among young people, are cries for help - or as some professional's say - reflect unbearable needs to express pain. So they want to be found, before or after, and are more likely to take their life in a way that is consciously or unconsciously designed to make a statement to someone. If suicidal thoughts or tendencies were involved in the five strange days leading up to her disappearance, I feel that that accident would have interrupted rather than itself been the plan.
By the way, re stuff about the weather on the day of the accident: the temperature I am sure of, but my recollection of some of those other facts may have gotten misty and I did not go back to look in the mess of files I have on my computer about it. My recollection is that it had not snowed for a few days, but that could be wrong. Would appreciate anyone's additions, clarifications or corrections if I got anything wrong.
John it was Kathleen's ex who said that he got Maura's boxes- as per Fred;s instruction- at the back of his truck and it was thrown away after a while.
#4: I don't think we know for certain whether she packed up her things or whether she had just not unpacked her things from the break. IIRC, I think Christmas break had only ended about 10 days prior.
Do we know for certain she was assigned the same room both before and after break?Also, was it routine for her to have her on room and no roommate? (Just curious).
Good question. You would hope the police would have thought about that as I believe their recounting to reporters is the source of that info. I have not read where anyone has addressed that question. As for the situation of living alone, it think she was like the RA on the floor, perhaps? Not sure about that.
That might make sense... If she was an RA maybe that's why she had her own room.
Sorry to be ignorant-but what is RA?
#2 I'm not thinking the bar drew her off the road, but maybe she stubbled upon it jogging from the scene.. I'm sure it would be inviting place to stop if she was cold and already "half in the bag". When I was young I preferred young/dance bars however, in a situation like this I could have found myself stepping in a dive bar for a drink and to warm up. I guess that's what I'm getting at.Interesting about the boxes in "groups". I'd like to know more about that.Also still curious about how deep the snow at that point. If it was deep she either wouldn't have been able to walk it in or there would have been some deep impression if she did trudge through it.Thank you for your replies.
Consider Old Peters Road, Michael. It would have been driven on by residents and I doubt - in the environment at the scene and with the not-illogical assumption that she'd bolted from a DUI crash - that they would have looked hard at the slushy or compacted snow on OPR near the roadway. (If you can find the CNN screen cap from a few days later, it shows what I mean). Back on OPR, there are trails that connect over to Mountain Lakes Lodge. I am not saying that is what happened, but in a scenario where someone vanished in a matter of minutes, there is no sign of a struggle and no indications were found that she wandered off into the woods, not on a path or way, as indicated by footprints in accumulated snow, it seems like EVERYONE thinks east. But OPR is a possibility just as is her jumping in another car at the scene. Two issues throwing analysis east are that (1) she was driving that direction, and (2) the dog track. On that latter, I have a very good source, familiar with the investigation and professionally familiar with cadaver and rescue search dogs in that area. That dog search in his words, 48 hours later, in the winter on a wide flat surface, was "one step up from useless."~ John Green
Michael,I live in the exact same area. You need to understand that were are literally talk about being out in the sticks. There are nothing around here for miles. No bars, not even grocery shops less alone night bars. This area IS really remote. Mountain Lakes Lodge is a possibility. The temperature was O.K. relatively speaking -in the 30's but after a while you can get very uncomfortable and from what I hear Maura was not dressed properly for winter hiking or winter running. I agree with: OPR is a likely connection where Maura would go to that night if she didn't want to be seen, which she didn't due to the booze in the car and the fact that she was on probation.
I alwayget stuck on a few things that cause me to lean toward runaway: Fred not being interviewed for 2 years. That's a mighty long time when your child has gone missing. Fred supposedly saying (I read this online) he wanted the Saturn to be junked after it was towed. Silence from Sara A., Kate M., Fred, Julie, and Katherline. No details of the Sunday before Maura's disappearance. What did she do all day? Any witnesses at all? Telling her lover she would like to runaway. Fred's behavior, according to Tim Carpenter, during the search in NH. Fred's body language in interviews; not to mention the dog and pony show he put on for Montel Williams. But one thing that has stuck with me is James did interview Kurt Murray. Wonder shy he opened up but the others won't?
Sorry about my poor grammar; I'm rushing to type on lunch break!
Is there any info on that interview with Kurt?
Not sure, but James posted about it on the blog..
Fred's behavior in particular is quite disturbing and indicative - at least - of something undisclosed, which some of his statements - including the one to UMASS police - also point to. Could I ask you to point to a source about Fred wanting the car to be junked. I have not read about that yet.~ John Green
I think it's off an older Topix thread, so it's probably just a rumor. I'll dig around to see if I can find who posted it.
appreciate that ... some topix rumors have born fruit
So I wake up in the middle of the night last night and switch on the tube. To my shocking surprise it is the DATELINE story on Maura in a syndicated rerun. Mr. Greene, since you seem to be in the question answering kick. Could you kindly refresh us on exactly what else was found in her car besides the wine. By all accounts on the show she had made sudden plans to leave town without anyone knowing. She made a fake email. She made some sort of plans that we just don't know the extent of them. Now I confess, at first I was sure this was an abduction. I was sure that Maura was most likely the victim of a crime.But that one major fact that everyone agrees on keeps coming back to suggest that because she did in fact want to suddenly disappear without anyone knowing that she is out there alive and does not want to be found.The show made it seem like she packed ALL her stuff up the morning of the disappearance from her dorm as if she was moving out. Much to everyones surprise. So was all the stuff found in the car?For me personally, I have also asked myself could a "all American" girl who got straight A's from the Military Academy could have been tapped for a secret job?The answer for me is ABSOLUTELY. So basically, Im stuck on three possibilities: Disappearance as the result of a criminal act. A staged disappearance similar to Judith Bellows- a walk away. OR disappearance as the result of "sensitive" circumstances. IE: Intelligence jobs, Witness protection.
You know .... I don't actually have a definitive list in my head or at my finger tips. I feel like both Sam L and TylerinPittsburgh have looked at this. I know there was the Franzi box and some of it spilled. And I know there were printed out directions. But I don't have a validated list. I am not sure I have seen one either, although I easily could have missed it and, like I said, I thin Tyler and Sam got into that topic at one point. Also, there was a post at some point by Renner saying "all the booze was accounted for." And another one asking what a certain unusual metal object or tool was, which I think James saw in her car at Troop F.~ John Green
@ktsa, I agree she planned to disappear, for what reasons I’m not so sure, my speculation is suicide. If not suicide she was running away from life’s pressures or a possible accident she might have been involved in. The theory that she was involved in the car accident where Petrit Vasi was nearly killed is quite compelling. I wonder if the police have analyzed the timeline of events to see if there might have been some truth to it? I also would like to know what the converstion with her sister was about the night before she disappeared that caused her to break down and be escorted back to her room. Whatever the topic of the call is the reason she left in my opinion.
Trench,If we simply can't prove she was meeting anyone. If you argue that she was going on her own... not to meet anyone. That the phone records and emails just don't indicate she WAS communicating with anyone we don't know about than you can certainly suggest she may have been going to commit suicide. That she bought that wine and whatever event the night before that had her so upset had sent her over the edge.But there were no prints in the snow to indicate she walked anywhere and the dogs indicated she walked along the road and then got in another's car. So if everyone is so sure she hitched a ride. Why not try to rattle the brains of people with a billboards and ask "Have you picked this woman up?" I think billboards are a great idea. Maybe it will generate some leads and if none of them pan out... the time lapsed pic is great.I
1. I wasn't aware that she had created a fake email?2. IIRC, we don't know exactly when her dorm was packed - or if it actually had just not been unpacked from the Christmas break.3. I think it unlikely that she was recruited for some high clearance role since my understanding is that she was guilty of credit card fraud - both at West Point and UMass.4. Wow, great point about the air bag module possibly indicating a prior accident, which could also point to the V.P. hit and run, or the theory that the accident was staged to cover up prior damage.5. Does anyone know if Maura had any prior accidents other than the one right before her disappearance? I wonder if she was a poor driver or if this was a sudden onset of driving issues?
Between the two, disappearing (for good and on purpose) or just getting away, I still feel like MM was only planning to get away for a little while and most likely it involved another person. Whether her plans drastically changed after that or something awful happened......I'm still trying to figure out with the rest of you guys.
What I'm really trying to say is, STOP right in your tracks.....do you know exactly what it would take to completely go off the grid or to disappear? Most of us don't! Not alone anyway. Not without research that should be able to be tracked this day and age. I feel like I know a decent amount and that didn't just magically drift upon me. MM didn't just walk off the face of this planet on purpose or without help!! And pretty much everything we do now is traceable.
I agree. Leaving her current life for good would have taken major long-term planning and going back through what we know of her actions prior, I just don't see evidence of that.
There's no evidence of an abduction, suicide, or wandering into the woods either. So, explore all avenues; keep all options open. If James doesn't explore the possibility of her starting a new life, then the whole Maura Murray saga continues to be what it has been for years: message board theories and gossip, never going anywhere. All the speculation and theories you've suggested have been asserted a million times on a million threads on a million boards. Let's explore to see if she's alive or give it a rest.
See my other comment below. We have some examples of people who went missing and were later found alive. They all just took off and started a new life. It struck me that none of them seemed to have planned it out all that well. In fact, most of them were like Maura: they were having personal problems that they felt they could not solve. Heck, look at Brenda Heist. She just took off with some people on the spur of the moment. Those people were transient and had almost no money or resources. Brenda Heist was living in Florida pretty openly. She made new friends and had a live-in boyfriend for a while. It is much, much easier to disappear and start a new life than people think. None of the people who did it were cunning geniuses or anything. They were all just stressed-out, depressed people who wanted a fresh start.
Do we know if Maura had any life insurance and, if so, who the beneficiary was?I believe that after a certain period of time, a personal is assumed deceased and a policy
Big Daddy;Good question I wondered about that too, However int he absence of the evidence of death (lack of body) I don't think any ins. co would pay up.But is just a guess on my part
I still believe that there is a pretty good possibility that MM met her fate with whoever she was meeting that night. It's not a huge stretch that women die at the hand of a lover. And further more, she was apparently sneaking off to meet this person. So, I have to assume it was not a widely accepted relationship--therein it would likely be even further strained. Also, if she met her end by the person she was supposed to meet that night, well.....NO wonder that person hasn't come forward. Even if it was an accident, they would likely be too afraid to come forward.
People do just walk away: http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/01/us/pennsylvania-woman-reappears/
Thank you, yes they do. Easily. And many are surprised to find out anyone searched for them. http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-people-who-went-missing-for-years-and-turned-up-alive.php
True, but MM had family and friends that she knew would have wanted to know if she were ok. But hopefully, she will turn up alive....
That list of people who disappeared is amazing. Not one of them was really hiding all that well!I do not think Maura would have had to have planned that well to have disappeared. If anything, that list show us that MOST people who disappear and start a new life do so relatively spontaneously. Also it seems that all the people on that least were not rich and did not have access to a lot of resources before they took off. Oh yeah, and for all the women on that list who disappeared, their families INSISTED that they would never just "leave their children." Conclusion: it is easy to disappear and start a new life. You do not need a lot of money or a lot of intelligence. You can hide easily in plain sight. Family and friends very often are wrong about how a person can just take off and leave their family behind without ever contacting them again.Oh yeah, one last thing: unlike in most missing persons' cases, I have not ONCE see any friend or family member of Maura go on about how Maura "would never just take off without calling." I find that a bit odd as it seems like something we always hear when someone disappears.
John,In reference to the metal tool/object found in the car, seemingly it was an airbag control module.I can imagine a couple scenarios explaining why that was loose in the car, but they are all pretty weird. The module is a confusing detail, and one that I had forgotten about.If the airbag deployed in the accident, you'd basically have to assume that such a module was in place at the time of the accident, so the presence of another one in the car may suggest a prior accident.Is it possible that the module was haphazardly replaced in the days or weeks leading up to the accident (I.e. by Maura herself or by a friend? And going one step further, is it possible that whoever replaced it did so incorrectly, in a way that caused the airbag to spontaneously deploy?I really don't know much about cars, but maybe the airbag deployment was not a result of the accident, but rather the direct cause of it.That in itself doesn't seem that relevant either way (maybe it would explain some inconsistencies at the crash site, beats me though), but yeah just the presence of that sensor loose in the car is bizarre.
Yeah, that's right, that is what that thing got IDed as. I had forgotten. Thanks for the update and analysis of its significance. Still, I don't know - and don't recall having ever seen - a definitive and undisputed list of the contents of the car after she vanished. It might be that one exists, but I remember only discussion of the matter, not a definitive list.
Jhonez,that is a very interesting thought and it deserves more attention. I have never thought the significance of the control module in the car at the time. And improperly replaced airbag could certainly have deployed and cause the accident itself. Still begs the question to be answered: where did Maura go? The presence of the alcohol in the car and previous issues with law certainly explain that she didn't want the police to be called, also her actions clearly could be explained that she had plans and her own reasons. But traveling in tandem with another car or "staging the accident" in the spot of the accident never made any sense to me.
Let me correct myself in the light of new info: since the Butson's sighting, traveling in tandem make sense now.