Sunday, December 29, 2013

Maura Was Thinking of Disappearing for Months

Here's something I think we forget when reviewing the facts of this case: Maura was talking about disappearing for months before she vanished. During her affair with her track coach, she sometimes talked about running away and starting a new life somewhere.

Also worth noting, she never once mentioned having a father, the whole time the two were involved.

44 comments:

  1. James, in your dealings with NHLE, did you ever inquire about the ATM footage and why it's not been released?

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  2. Can we please stop referring to this as an "affair?" Maura was not a married woman.

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    1. I think I come down between you and Bill on this Rose. On the one hand, "affair" is to strong for something a 21 year old had, given a boyfriend at a distance. But in terms of her outward presentation of Billy, it was an affair, at least as I understand the word.

      ~ John Green

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    2. It just makes her relationships sound tawdry. She was a 20 or 21 year old young woman who was perfectly entitled to date guys in college. I find the word "affair" has a negative connotation and makes it sound like Maura was doing something wrong by having a relationship with a man who was not Billy. She was not engaged and she was not married. Additionally, she and Billy were apparently broken up at the time. I just have never heard of a college girl dating a guy called an "affair" some many times until I got to this blog! Apparently going out with a guy and not telling the whole world about it is an "affair." Some of us just like our privacy and we prefer keeping sexual and intimate relationships low key and private. Some of us are adults too and do not feel the need to announce a new boyfriend every time we hold hands with a guy. If Maura dated this guy for ONE summer, then 2 - 3 months seems like a very reasonable amount of time to keep a new relationship "secret." It did not work out in the end and Maura went back to Billy, but calling it an "affair" makes it sound sort of conniving or sinful.

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    3. Rose, I agree that that is the connotation. I can see Bill using the word, however, simply because the alternatives are longer terms and it is just easier to write it that way. My sense, in the context, is that he was not intending the tawdry connotations.

      ~ John Green

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    4. It is actually Renner who uses the word a lot. I wish he would reconsider it is all. I do not think anyone is "intending" it to be negative, but it still comes across that way.

      I guess to me on of the things I dislike about it, is that using the word "affair" when referring to Maura's life makes it seem like she was more grown up or mature than she really was. I mean, she was 20 when this happened, which to me means it was more like a kid dating a little, not a grown woman a serious and committed relationship who was running around on her devoted partner. She was a kid in college in a long distance relationship and she did what pretty much every other person in that situation has done. No one who ever did that in college called it an AFFAIR.

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    5. You say it well. It is a healthy and fair-minded perspective to take.

      ~ John Green

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  3. Affair is a proper term for the relationship. I am always surprised when people criticize before they check their facts. Online dictionaries are so easy.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/affair

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  4. This is a great point. Given these musings and her secretive preparations, the most obvious conclusion is that she ran away. I wonder if she crashed her dad's car as a "trial run" on how to stage an accident.

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  5. James -- according to your post, the track coach said "he had [a conversation] with Maura when they were alone one day. 'She talked about running away. She said, "I wish I could disappear."'" Did he mention other details which didn't make the post?

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    1. Maybe she was just making a silly comment considering she is a track runner? Or maybe it was a hidden message ?

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  6. It would be nice for James to reconnect with Hoss.

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  7. I think that Maura is absolutely alive, and if she's not alive today it is nothing related to the night she disappeared. I also think that there's not just a few people that know her whereabouts, but dozens from family, friends, even LE. I also think that James is dangerously close to finding her to the point of discomfort from those who are trying to keep her hidden. I would also gather that where she was a month ago, isn't necessarily where she is now. If we all want to wish Maura Murray a Happy New Year, I think we could do so right here. I know I would be reading this blog daily if I wanted to keep myself in my new identity. I wouldn't break my silence, even if it were to just say 'hey all, it's me, I'm alive and doing well'. Would any of us truly want to leave it as that? And if we ever did get that message, would we believe it? I'm sure we would want some validation and proof, and than we would certainly want a lot more answers. I don't think any of us would truly settle with an 'ok, Maura, have a nice life from here'. There really is no point of return for her. If she came back right now, after the balloons and 'welcome home' cake, she'd be answering questions from now to eternity. I think she is completely disengaged from the life that was once Maura Murray and happily living as Jane Doe. And all these theories that she would still be running in marathons or up and down the street...hogwash. Is she still in shape? probably, but there's no saying because she ran competitive track to get in to school, that she would still have that burning desire for it. I know people who were 'all state' at high sports, with full rides to college that you couldn't pay them to play that same sport.....I really think that the closest we've had to the truth in the case, was that letter that states she is in Toronto. I really believe that letter came from a source that is in touch with her.

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  8. I'd like to add a little caution here.

    When I was more heavily involved in all this, I talked with two people who knew Maura and were associated with the UMASS track team. They each provided some reason to be careful in considering Hossein's statement.

    Both Maura's coach at UMASS - Julie LaFreniere, who I was introduced to by my former coach at the NCAA East Regional Meet in May - and another woman, a former teammate at UMASS (who reached out to me, whose identify I validated, who I met in person and whose name I agreed to not reveal) were skeptical about Hossein's story.

    Coach LaFreniere initially was visibly bothered to hear of Hossein's statement, because a relationship between a coach and athlete would have been strictly prohibited. After thinking it over a bit, she also indicated that she felt it would be difficult for such a relationship to have taken place without being detected, using the term "rumor mill."

    The former teammate stated things more directly, saying she was doubtful about Hossein's statement because in that "rumor mill," the news certainly would have gotten around.

    I don't allege that these skeptical opinions amount to a proof of any theory about Hossein, nor do I hold such a theory. But I do question James stating this point that Maura was planning to disappear as a matter of established fact, based on Hossein's account alone (apparently). (James, if you have other evidence of this, it would be nice if you provided it.)

    There is no definitive evidence to Hossein out as someone who may have knowledge of where Maura was going or what happened to her. I don't mean to cast aspersions on Hossein, but with the playing field of established facts so brown with lack of growth, the questions and ambiguities so overflowing and muddying, taking this one, somewhat strangely offered opinion of Hossein's as fact is not prudent.

    Moreover, with the guy from Saco, ME alleging that a rumor persisted that Maura was raped at some point prior to her disappearance (and that he and Fred "were never able to get the story out of Kate," or words to that effect), it is not inconceivable that we should look at Hossein's statement differently in light of contradictory views of two people who knew Maura on the track team at UMASS, and in light of the fact that it seems almost certain that she was highly troubled in the days leading up to her disappearance.

    AGAIN, for emphasis, I am not casting aspersions of Hossein. I have no reason to. Instead, I am arguing against delimiting as given fact his uncorroborated and at least suggestively contradicted statement.

    ~ John Green

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    1. I could easily see this relationship being kept so secret to the point of no one knowing about it. I am under the impression that Maura was not the kind of woman who felt the need to "yak" with her girlfriends about every detail of her life.

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    2. How in the hell can an affair be established as fact? It's an affair. That means it's done in secret without the knowledge of others. Besides, why would he insert himself into an investigation? There's no gain here; no money to be made or TV movie deals to benefit from. Maybe, just maybe, someone connected to this case is being honest? Could be. Everything doesn't need to be analyzed to the point of exhaustion. Teachers, coaches, etc on college campuses routinely have affairs with students. I had an Anatomy & Physiology professor who had one with a close friend of mine. No one knew and know one found out except a few of us.

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    3. If Coach LaFreniere felt strongly that the affair did not happen because of silence within the "rumor mill" then why would she be "visibly bothered" to hear Hossein made the statement? The fact that she was bothered tends to lend some credence to Hossein's allegation. There would be no reason for the coach to be bothered unless it was possible that it happened.

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    4. Don't see the contradiction Bill. Those are not mutually excluding reaction. But in any case, read closer. She was first visibly bothered, then swished it around and expressed skepticism.

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    5. Hans, not sure what you are upset about. But the practice of taking one person's statement as a given fact is unproductive in an investigation. There are two people who doubted this statement. Nothing corroborates. I urged caution in calling this a given fact under those circumstances. Not sure why this has sent you beserk.

      ~ John Green

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    6. Rose, you make a good point. I am not claiming it did not happen. Again, just saying that if you have one statement and two people close to the situation who think it is a doubtful proposition, accepting that uncorroborated statement as a given fact is not prudent in my view.

      ~ John Green

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    7. I certainly do not take it as a given fact, though unfortunately in this case, we have so few solid facts to work with, that I think it okay to analyze what this guy has to say. Honestly though I do not really see how much it helps us. Even if Maura had never said such a thing to him, I would still consider the fact that she ran off to start a new life a very real possibility.

      What I find most interesting is what has NOT been said. No one has ever said, "Maura would never just take off and not contact her friends and family. That is not like her at all." I think no statement like this from anyone close to her speaks volumes.

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    8. John, I still see a contradiction. If she was certain it didn't or couldn't have happened her initial reaction would have been an instant "absolute hogwash, Mr. Green", or something to that effect. Visibly alarmed, to me, means that she had no idea if it did or didn't happen and she had a moment of panic. You may have thought that her introspection afterwards was about her mulling through your question for an answer but it could have been her trying to figure out what implications it would have on her, as a coach. Trying to prove that something didn't happen, based on not hearing about it through the "rumor mill" is a very lame bit of reasoning. Sounds more like wishful thinking and hoping you will be satisfied with that answer and not delve into it any further.

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    9. I see your point Bill, and I appreciate the discussion. But I don't think that amounts to a contradiction. Instead, it is a possible interpretation of her actions by someone who was not there. My impression, being there, and not really having an interest one way or another, was what I said. That does not mean I am correct, but that was my impression. In any case, another person - a teammate - had the same reaction in considering Hossein's statement.

      Again, I said it was a caution. It is that. It would be nice, for instance, if someone could corroborate that relationship. We can't accept Hossein's statement as a given fact. That was my point. I think it would be imprudent for an investigator accepts a former lover's statement as a given fact when contrary indications exist, without even trying to validate the statement.

      Like I said though, I appreciate your perspective and the discussion. I would like to suggest that perhaps my point is better seen through the window in which I tried to introduce it: we can't ordain this given fact, given that we have no idea what happened to Maura, why she was upset, who among her acquaintances may know or not know something more and undisclosed about her disappearance and given that they had a romantic relationship at one time, particularly given that two people who knew Maura were skeptical. Even though, as you point out, that skepticism does not prove anything, I feel it is fair to say that it urges some caution in regarding Hossein's statement as a given fact.

      ~ John Green

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    10. Hi Rose.

      I am reading comments in reverse, so I get to yours after Bill's. I see your point that such caution does not necessarily advance the cause, but I do think it helps in one way. Building on my response to Bill, above, it does guard against the possibility of run away theories. Sometimes, I think, people forget to question the source of what becomes established facts in their mind, creating biases. Human nature, perhaps.

      Another way in which I think it is a useful thing to keep in mind is this. Some reasonable theories posit that Maura was running away from something. There are dozens of ideas about what that something was, but many theories have her running from something. In the context of those theories, some - including Renner, who my caution primarily was addressed to - have wondered whether some of Maura's friends, including the young lady who hosted the alleged party on Saturday night (whose name I cannot remember right now) are not being forthcoming about their knowledge of Maura's doings. I think it is reasonable to wonder - in the context of two skeptical opinions from people who knew Maura - whether Hossein knew more than what he has said. Part of the reason my initial post may not have been clear is that I have no reason to cast any aspersions on Hossein. But given the viable theories of the case that Maura was running away from something and the indications that some around her may have known more than they have revealed, I think his insertion of himself in the case in a way the promotes a particular class of theories (that she intentionally disappeared), should be viewed cautiously and not as given fact, particularly in light of skeptical statements by two people who knew Maura. I think such caution advances us more than not having it, which risks inaccurately narrowing our views of new evidence that may arise.

      ~ John Green

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  9. Why in the world would someone falsely claim to have a relationship with a girl who has mysteriously disappeared off the face of the earth?

    Hoss' specific statement about her disappearance in general should be looked at with caution due to the simple fact that he may have misinterpreted after the fact an innocuous conversation (just as just about anyone would do... "Whoa she just vanished?! She talked about that one time!)

    But maybe I'm reading these comments wrong, but it seems that it's being suggested that the "affair" may have never happened in the first place. I'm as close to 100% as can be that what he is claiming is true.

    Falsely inserting yourself into a case like this, especially in a sexual sense, would be the most fundamentally stupid act I ever heard in my life. And beyond that, Hoss is one of a scant few people who comes off as absolutely earnest about events related to this case.

    The significance of Maura's statements to Hoss should be taken with a grain of salt, for sure, but his commentary that the relationship occurred, and that some kind of statement related to disappearance happened in the course of it (however vague it may have been), really should not be in question.

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    1. There are other possibilities to consider. But you seem pretty convinced of the significance of Hoss's statement despite contrary indications and no corroboration. I respect your feeling that he may be truthful, but I suggest you think more critically about if.

      If the statement of every person who inserted themselves into a case to say "oh, we were together, but I don't know anything about her disappearance, except that she told me she wanted to disappear" were taken at face value as the truth, even given contrary indications and no corroboration, many many cases would not get solved.

      ~ John Green

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    2. I might be offended by that if I wasn't extremely secure in my "critical thinking" capabilities. It's all good though. There are a couple different issues in play here, and I may not have clearly separated them in my above post.

      One is the simple fact of whether or not there was a relationship between Hoss and Maura. As I said before, I cannot fathom any reason whatsoever that Hoss would make that up, given the circumstances. Maybe there are legit reasons out there that I cannot conceive of. But either way, the likelihood of someone exposing themself to the possible repercussions of making a stone cold false statement about something like that seem to me vastly lower than the likelihood of a clandestine relationship's ability to avoid the "rumor mill". I simply do not see it, and at this point we'll have to just agree to disagree on that one.

      On the second point--questioning the inherent value in Hoss' statements and how much he actually knows--I largely agree with you. My "gut feeling" is that he is being more or less truthful to the best of his recollection, and that any "falsehoods" are more a matter of his recollection than an attempt at deliberate deception, but I'm far from being married to that feeling. And as you suggested above, if he is not being truthful, I too am inclined to think that he knows MORE than he is telling, not less.

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    3. Also, see the following post:

      http://mauramurray.blogspot.com/2011/09/team-captain-butted-heads-with-hoss.html

      There's a statement in there from a teammate (though it's unclear whether it was made directly to Renner or what the context was) that track team members were actively trying to hook Maura up with Hoss. Not iron clad 3rd party corroboration of the relationship, but better than nothing.

      Sorry, I would have posted this earlier but I just now came across it.

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    4. Thanks for that Jhoney. I did not remember this. Shams' recall of teammates trying to set up Maura with Hoss indeed supports those who inclined to take Hoss's statement as iron clad fact.

      Note also that the former team captain Therrien, said "she remembers Hoss being at some of these parties but never knew they were dating." (Note, I am quoting Renner's post here, not Therrien herself, who Renner did not quote, instead summarizing her opinion.) So that is a third person close to the situation who did not know.

      Moreover, Shams did not say they were dating. If they had dated, it seems that Shams might have said, "we encouraged Maura to data Hoss and she did," or "yeah, they were dating and we were happy about it," followed then by her comments "lets just say we did not like Billy."

      But instead, she says they were trying to set up Maura with Hoss because he had big crush on her. They were trying to. So, while I see your point and this is an excellent one to have brought into this discussion, I still feel that we cannot accept Hoss's statement as a given.

      A young man clearly interested in her inserted himself into the case with an uncorroborated statement that fits one particular theorized scenario. Three people on the track team were completely unaware of him, as he claimed, dating her. One person on the track team remembers teammates trying to set up Maura with Hoss, but specifically does not say that they dated.

      What I see as established pretty well in this scanario is that Hoss was attracted Maura. But the only evidence that he "dated" her is his self-inserted statement to that effect. Does that mean (and do I think) that Hoss is lying. ABSOLUTELY NOT. But should we simply accept his statement as fact? I personally don't think so, for three reasons:

      (1) We know there were troubles in Maura's life at that time

      (2) we have one other person - equally credible as Hoss (Graves, I believe his name is, the guy from Saco, ME who was responsible for the hit on Maura's SSN) who says that there were rumors that Maura had been raped but that they could not get the story out of Kate;

      (3) Renner's impression in talking to Maura's friends, including the young lady who hosted the party on Saturday night is that they are not being forthcoming with what they know; and

      (4) It is not uncommon for people to insert themselves in a case for reasons' other than telling the absolute truth, including wanting to be associated with the case (like the guy who falsely confessed to killing JonBenet Ramsey) or because they feel some exposure and are trying to direct investigative efforts elsewhere.

      Is it more likely that Hoss was simply trying to help? I think so.

      But is his statement a guiding fact that should not be subjected skepticism and that has not risk of misdirecting thinking about the situation. I think not.

      Again, there is reason to be skeptical of it. As I said at the outset, my real disagreement is with Renner stating as fact that Maura was thinking of disappearing for months.

      ~ John Green

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    5. Apologies Jhonez, for misspelling your name.

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    6. Also Jhonez, my apologies for the offense taken in my comment "thinking critically." I can see how that came across. It was not how I meant it, but the words I chose were not the right ones. I apologize for that and I too am very confident in your critical thinking abilities. I was trying to say "take a different, more critical perspective," toward Hoss's statement. While (as I said above) I agree with that Hoss probably was just trying to help, there is enough at hand here to not simply take that statement as a given fact, justifying Renner stating it as such in his post. There is significant reason to say, "well, one source says this." To say that she was planning for months to run away is a VERY BIG component of the narrative about Maura's story. We have only Hoss' account, the presmise of which is contradicted by three other accounts, not confirmed by any, with one that is suggestive (conceivably) or either confirmation or refutation of his statement that he dated her. In the wide vectors of unkonwn, I simply think Renner's phrasing unintentionally amounts to slight misinformation.

      ~ John Green

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    7. Much debate about the legitimacy of the relationship, I reread Renners post and 2 things jumped out at me this time around.

      1. Maura was no longer on the track team at the time of the alleged relationship, which in my mind reduces the validity of the opinions of the coaches and other members of the track team on this subject; and

      2, Hoss only says that Maura told him her desire to run away when they were alone once. He did not say "one morning while we were in bed right after sex she said...", he just said they were alone. Regardless of their relationship status, she could have made the statement about running away. Disproving the relationship does not disprove the statement.

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    8. John, I worked on my college newspaper in the 1970s, and as a member of the editorial board, I worked on a story about professors who were having affairs with students. This was the one and only story that was killed by the overseeing professor in the four years that I was there. We had outright proof, and we didn't identify any professor or student by name or department. Colleges and universities will do anything to cover up professor/student affairs. Yes, I went on to be a reporter after that.

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  10. http://mauramurray.blogspot.com/2011/09/credit-fraud-and-lying-witnesses-what.html

    This has nothing to do with this thread, but I was just rereading some older posts and came back to this one. It is one of the more thought provoking of James' posts on this excellent blog.

    Reading this again today, I started to wonder if Healy was suggesting that everything points to Forcier, although that impression could be arising from the happenstance order in which Renner chose to summarize Healy's thoughts. Consider: (1) Healy calls Butch as "shithead" and says he changed his story twice, (2) Healy suggests that Rick was acting suspiciously when they talked with him, (3) Healy theorizes that Butch saw who took Maura and is afraid of that person, and (4) we know that Butch would have known Rick to some degree as they lived very close to one another.

    ~ John Green

    ~ John Green

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  11. Maybe she is working as a Burlesque dancer in Vegas? :) That's incognito for sure :0

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  12. Does anyone know if James or anyone else has spoken to or tried to contact Maura's brother Kurtis Noble Murray? I ask because I just read the song that he wrote about Maura and it seems clear that he feels she ran away.. Just curious what made him feel that she had run off and started a new life. Perhaps he might have some information to share.

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    1. Tracy, I saw that too! He makes it very clear in his song he thinks she :) left on her own. The unfortunate truth very may well be she was planning to leave, but ran into some trouble before she made it to her destination. While anything is possible I suppose, and we all want her to be alive and well, the truth is she may be long gone and we may never find her or get any answers. My heart breaks for her family.

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  13. So, what happens if Renner finds her? She has every right to live in "secret" should she choose to..Would he come on the blog, say " I found her, but she doesn't want to do an interview" or would it be televised with her as a talking black shadow, like a mob rat. If she's found, alive and well, do the blogs and forums go away? What comes of all this? Do fraud charges begin? Has there been any life insurance pay outs or anything illegal done? Do we chase her like the elusive Bigfoot, back into hiding into the remote West Andies? (please, no smart ass comments if there are no West Andies. I am wretched with Geography)

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  14. there's no footage of the lady at the gas station mouthing "help me"???

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    1. I have often wondered about that too! Perhaps it was just someone trying to insert themselves into the investigation. Or. LE followed the lead and just isn't releasing the info.

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  15. I'm just going to leave this here...

    http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/06/michelle_mcmullen_walked_away.html

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  16. Has anyone checked "Hoss's" alibi. He makes a good suspect, IMO.

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