Monday, February 3, 2014
Revelations of West Point
"What something tragic happens, you don't really want to say anything bad about the person. But everyone has skeletons in the closet."
That's how Megan Sawyer began the conversation.
Megan was one of Maura's friends at West Point, a fellow runner, another young woman trying to hoof it through the military academy's tough regimen. She thinks it's time for people to know a little more about the troubles Maura was having there. Perhaps it can provide a few pieces to the puzzle and move us closer to some resolution.
Megan was standing beside Maura when Maura got busted for stealing makeup from the commissary at Fort Knox during a training trip. Later, Maura confided in her about the ordeal. "It was so stupid," she said. "I only took five dollars worth of stuff."
Maura was quiet, says Megan. "But you could tell there were some inner demons. She seemed sad." She was also "insanely smart." So smart, she says, Maura helped her older sister, Julie with homework.
The daily routine was harsh. Everyone had chores and duties. Most days, you woke up around 4:30 a.m. Clean bathrooms, take out the trash. Every day you had to read the newspaper and you could be quizzed on current events by older cadets. Outside of class (and conditioning for the track team) there was not much extra time.
The dorms, at the time, were co-ed. Two or three women would share a room, next to a room full of men. In such close quarters, Maura's bulimia was well-known. "She had issues with loving herself."
Some of that stress came from Julie, who, Megan says, was "unusually hard on her. Julie would harp on her about studying and running, and then Maura would get down on herself about it."
Some of these things Megan has told police and the Murrays, already. She says that Helena Murray, who runs the Facebook group, told her to keep quiet about it, "Don't say these negative things. Watch what you tell people."
Megan says Maura was not on the hook to reimburse West Point for the schooling she received before transferring to UMass. Cadets sign a contract during their Junior year but if they leave before that, they can do so without penalty.
During her time at West Point, Maura went through basic military training, including survival skills. She could operate a machine gun on top a tank.
Based on what she knows of Maura, Megan believes she had what it takes to start a new life.
"If she wanted to make up another life, she could do it," says Megan. "If she wanted to disappear, she could. She never wanted to look bad in front of people. After she crashed her father's car, and this trouble with the credit cards, I think she probably thought, if I just disappeared, they wouldn't think badly of me. I believe she's alive. It's just a feeling I've always had."