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."


30 comments:

  1. In light of this new information, wondering if the phone call Maura received that night at her security job from her sister was Julie or Kathryn talking about Julie being mad or upset with Maura. When she said "My sister"

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  2. I think that if Maura were still alive, Renner would have found her by now.

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  3. I think Renner is really only just getting started. Plus it's clear if anyone could pull this off, as Megan states in her interview, Maura could. Thank you Megan for speaking out. I never understood how people could just sweep Maura's whole "getting thrown out of West Point" under the rug--like no big deal, etc. "It just wasn't right for her"--yada yada. Getting out of West Point is harder than getting in---the stress of that situation alone could make any sane person want to disappear. I am sure it was hard for her to face Billy and Sharon--especially with Sharon being so active in West Point "Plebe Support" as evidenced by certain of her online postings to the Plebes from that time frame.

    Fast forward...all is quiet until she gets popped using her classmate's stolen credit card to buy pizza---literally, caught in a "Sting" used by the police to catch her red handed---then she wrecks two cars in one week which isn't such a big deal to me because I actually did this myself once in January, 2011. Geico loves me. BUT neither of my wrecks involved booze, etc. I put myself in her shoes---facing such an avalanche of legal proceedings compounded by a lack of family support and even potential victimization/abuse by certain of her own family members---I see why Fred Murray himself initially suspected she ran--then changed his story to "Some DirtBag Did It" only after he realized she really isn't coming back.

    Is it that painful for Fred Sr. to be honest as to the true state of Maura's life circumstances in the time before her disappearance? I think that is all that some of us want from Fred Sr. Just some blunt honesty. Viewing the facts in the most favorable light toward Maura, it is clear that she had some serious issues...bulimia, alcohol and criminal tendencies--clearly not all was roses in the Murray household.

    Discussing these issues, respectfully, honestly and openly, can only clear the air surrounding this clusterDuck. Anyone who sees the legal circumstances surrounding her mysterious vanishing would be foolish to not wonder if she staged her disappearance and whether this whole thing could be a hoax. It wouldn't be the first time and it certainly won't be the last. As tax payers, I think everyone should be concerned enough to seek the truth.

    Regardless, I hope Renner figures it out soon. There are so many other cases in need of him.

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  4. It sounds as though Maura was trying to rationalize her behavior. She "only" stole $5 worth of makeup? What did she think would happen? I think she ran away because she'd gotten into things that were too big for her to cry her way out. As for finding her, I think that could have been her at the Curves gym. She's running again, because she knows James is getting close.

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  5. I wonder if there are others at west point willing to speak. Or even friends from home or Amherst that would speak anonymously. I've been saying for awhile that it's time to speak up. whatever little her friends may know, they should speak up. I applaud this girl for being brave enough to say what she knew.

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  6. Very good interview - we've heard from a lot of peripheral people in this case, but this seems like the first one in a while that sheds some relevant light on an aspect of Maura's life that we haven't heard much about yet. It's important to remember that Maura went through military training - big difference between her and an average college girl travelling by herself (although I am not 100% sure she was by herself). Maura had skills.

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  7. "Is it that painful for Fred Sr. to be honest as to the true state of Maura's life circumstances in the time before her disappearance?"

    Maybe he's not sure what happened to her--runaway or foul play--and he doesn't want the police to assume she's a runaway and then not put any effort in their continuing investigation.

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  8. That's fine for him to say he doesn't know-but that is no excuse to flat out lie. Fred should quit trying to control the investigation and just be honest.

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  9. My issue with Fred is that I do not think he knows his daughter as well as he thinks he does. He is trying very hard to control the flow of information based upon his assumption that "the past does not matter." He is trying to convince us that Maura was the victim of a random crime. Now, that is, of course a possibility, but it is not the only possibility. By lying and concealing events in Maura's life that led to her road trip that day, he is hindering efforts to find her. I know he does not see it that way - he thinks that he knows Maura well enough to know which pieces of information are material to finding her and which aren't.

    To me this is Fred's fatal flaw and it is turning this case into a tragedy. I think he had a total breakdown in communication with law enforcement over this and it really hurt the case. He might just have the key piece of information we need to find Maura, but he decided it is not "relevant" and it might harm Maura's reputation, so he will not share it. It is just such a tragedy.

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  10. I dont think with her being an Adult a simple phone call to NH cold case unit saying i am alive and respect my wishes not to be found. i dont think the authorities are under any obligations to reveal her wareabouts only that she is alive and NH can close case . I think their is statutes and limitations on misdemeanor crimes that have passed. I think a 200 dollar legal zoom.attorney could end all this in 1 skype video chat. There is no percentages in pursuing charges against her for wasted resources and misdemeanor charges where statutes of limitations have passed. It would be in her best interested just to come forward rather than keep feeding a online crime drama. if shes alive its time forceveryone to move on with amnesty.

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    1. If Maura had borrowed money for student loans she would face very serious fraud charges if she were found - no statute of limitations if she has been in hiding. Good luck solving that type of issue with a $200 skype chat. There's no benefit to her to come forward - the likelihood that her whereabouts would remain confidential is negligible.

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    2. She'd have to pay it back. I dropped out after taking loans and I am paying them back. That was a mid semester past the withdrawal period as well. I think that any "crimes" she's committed if there is no warrant out for her arrest she could deal with via a good lawyer. She could probably write a book, make enough money and resume life as maura murray if she wanted.

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    3. Um....defaulting on a debt is not "fraud." Seriously, where do people get their information from?

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    4. So um yeah staging your own disappearance in such a way that gives the impression you might be dead would most certainly bring federal fraud charges if you owe money to the government or federally chartered lending institutions. Why on earth would the government not pursue those charges - I can assure you they do so very vigorously. It's not about the money owed is about deterrence. Restitution is a completely sperate matter. On top of that if Maura waited until her student loan disbursement check arrived (the timing's just about right) that ads another layer of premeditation and intent that would further exacerbate her criminal liability. Try ripping off Uncle Sam some time and a see how well that goes for you- fraud and default are two different things.

      http://m.livescience.com/22473-faking-death-crime-law.html

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    5. Dropping out of school after you get your loan disbursement is not fraud. You owe that money now and have to pay it back. You no longer have the benefit of deferring payments until graduation. If you do not pay the loans back, then the lender will sue you and get a judgement against you. Again, being in default is not the same thing as fraud. There is no evidence that Maura faked her own death. She would not be found guilty of faking her death to avoid debts. She would owe the lender money. She would owe on principal, interest, late fees, penalties, and legal fees. I can also entirely see Fred Murray making the payments for Maura this whole time. Finally, I have no idea what Maura's finances where like. She may not have had hardly any student loans. She may have not borrowed at all while in West Point and maybe borrowed nothing or a very small amount at UMass. If she had 10k in student loans, then I would be shocked in Fred Murray did not simply pay them back.

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  11. If she was 'insanely smart' how come she kept getting caught stealing? She obviously had a lot of problems, bulimia and stealing. Even if she did run away and start a new life some where, you don't just stop those habits and she would have gotten caught again stealing. I just don't know if I can believe that she is still alive.

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  12. She was CAUGHT stealing twice. While those two instances could have been the only two times she stole something, that seems unlikely. People who steal seem to do it impulsively and often. The fact that she was actually caught twice makes me think that she falls more into the impulsive category than the "steal that lawn ornament" teenage prank type of thief. We have no idea how many times she stole, so being caught twice could be the world's worst luck or the world's best luck.

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  13. If I'm not mistaken maura had a scholarship to west point? Honestly I have student loans thata re unpaid and nothing has ever been done to me so it's highly likely that if she's ignored her payments, in the event she has student loans, even if she were found all you have to do is set up payments or file for default/forbearance. Allt he loans do is accumulate interest and higher interest rates and your expected to make interest payments on it. However, if she assumed a new identity/SSN she would no longer be responsible because they fall under her old information. If Maura's so bright it's highly probable that she used school/work computers to research identity changes and new lives and fled the country or assumed a new identity. It seems to me someone who stole 5$ worth of makeup has an impulse control problem/kleptomania. I can understand how a person can hit such hard times they steal food/medicine but makeup is not a necessity it's a want and if your stealing cheap drugstore makeup, then your obviously dealing with some sort of attention/ impulse control problem. Everything leads towards Maura being a depressed individual, not necessarily suicidal but depressed and under severe stress, there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking help for these issues. However, for her father/mother it could be an issue. Maybe this is why she ran and sought a new life. I'm curious to know if anyone else has disappeared around the same time as her, even from another state, they could be together. If she ran with someone then I highly doubt the other persons friends and family would remain this tight lipped after 10 years knowing how important the MM case is. I'm guessing if she left intentionally she did it alone under a fake identity or she left with someone else who either has no family or who is also missing from somewhere and assumed dead. Just my thoughts from following this and watching a lot of crime shows.

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    1. West Point attendees do not pay tuition, room, or board. They only pay for their uniforms, so a scholarship and/or student loans would not have been at issue.

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    2. We have no idea how many times she actually stole merchandise or used someone's credit card illegally. Could have been hundreds of times. If that were the case she must have been very good at doing it without getting caught, to be caught only twice. It would also put her into a much higher category than a teen prankster. If she learned from her mistakes, she may have been able to continue without getting caught again.

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  14. Also, if I'm not mistaken the statue of limitations is null and void if the person is found alive. It ant remember but it could also depend on the type of crime and the states they were committed in.

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    1. Maura did not fake her own death, and as far as I know, has not been legally declared dead.

      As far as we know, beyond the credit card thing (which is very, very minor), Maura did not engage in any fraudulent activities. Based upon what we know, if Maura showed up alive today, I honestly cannot think of anything she would face criminal charges for (10 years later).

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    2. She'd likely face drunk driving charges in New Hampshire. She has caused that community a boatload of money and a million headaches and indignities. The north country legal system has a reputation for being very vndictive towards "Massholes" who go up there and rock the boat. Whether or not they have the necessary evidence to convict her (I believe they do have plenty of circumstantial evidence to convince a local state court jury - although a good lawyer could probably get her off) they just might put her through every hassle they could just to get back at the entire Murray clan for so the trouble and indignities. It would be legit since NH statute of limitation is stopped while you're out of state.

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    3. Rose White : Please do not confuse"faking her own death" with "running away to start a new life". She may have staged her disappearance in an effort to run away to start a new life but I don't think anyone thinks she attempted to fake her own death. There is no evidence of a crime being committed in Maura's disappearance and certainly no evidence of a death.

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  15. I've mentioned this before, but because I'm thinking in this way I'll say it again. Maura and I are the same age, just 2 days apart. When I think about the case, I try to remember what I was doing at the time when events relevant to the case unfolded. I never thought much about west point, because other than both of us dropping out of the more prestigious school and going to a local school, it didn't seem important.

    However, there has been alot of speculation as to why she stole make up, why she left west point etc. Well, my experience with the US military was taking a test at 17, scoring very well for careers in the airforce and then being hounded by an airforce recruiter. I would have considered their offer, but the Kosovo conflict was in full swing, and I was in no mood to bomb anyone. How does this go back to Maura?

    Well, she would have started west point in 2000. If she was still there after 9/11 it would have been pretty scary to think you may have to go to afghanistan and then Iraq in 2002. Flat out, I'd get kicked out if it meant avoiding those. Maybe she wanted out. Even with all of her other supposed problems, if she had been good enough to get into west point in the first place, something big would have had to happen to change all of that despite intense military training. we all focus on things that happened in amherst, or her family, but she got into west point with those family issues. west point isn't like, the best state school or something, it is truly elite. The real issues probably started there.

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    1. Great post Melios and you make a great point that her troubles may have started at westpoint.
      However,I have a slightly different take on it. Maura was most likely suffering issues prior to West point, but with the added stress to excell and be like her sister Julie her issues began to rear their ugly head and she internalized her thoughts and feelings and eating issues etc started to arise. In the interview with Mauras friend from West point, she even said that Maura did not love herself.

      I believe although Maura did suceed to a high level early on by getting into West Point and Running Well in track that she really was unhappy inside because she never felt she was good enough.Maura was in a place that she didn't want to be (West Point). maura was there to feed Freds ego.

      I can just imagine how Fred reacted to Maura getting the boot at West Point. Maura may have initiated getting booted out but I tend to think not because the same behavior followed to U Mass.

      U Mass then brought her world down with Billy Cheating and her drinking was probably escalating to try an surpress the pain. Running at school also came to a halt and that was probably another disapointment for Fred.

      Then comes the CC fraud and Toyota Crash and her world must have been all screwed up. Fred says he was not upset about the crash but I have a tough time believing that.

      Maura had to get away and when she crashed the Saturn there was no coming back to School cause she was about to now be kicked out of U mass and couldn't face Fred with yet another dissapointment.

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    2. Maybe the stress of knowing her bf was planning to propose caused her a mental breakdown. It's possible she didn't want to get married or engaged and the stress was too much for her, or maybe she had feelings for someone else and felt pressured I to accepting the upcoming proposal. I know engagement and marriage causes stress on its own but at that age and with so much going on and such high expectations of her from her family, maybe that threw her over the edge and she felt like running was her only option?

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  16. Nice to see someone Maura knew coming forward to help.

    Although she does not say it, some may infer that Megan's statement supports Helena's "lipstick only" thesis about why Maura was asked to leave West Point. I want to reiterate some information I developed that indicates otherwise.

    COACH LAFRENIERE

    I talked Maura's UMASS coach, Julie LaFreniere, face to face, for 30 minutes. LaFreniere spoke with Maura's West Point coach and learned that conduct problems related to alcohol led to Maura being asked to leave. A significant incident involved an off-campus party in a hotel. The booze and hotel were paid for by a parent of one of the attendees.

    The obvious question was whether Fred had been the parent. But I did not ask that. I sensed that she did not want to go deeper into the topic of the party. With a good friend of mine, my former coach, being a friend of hers, I moved on.

    FORMER CADET #2

    A former cadet, who knew Maura and Billy at West Point, contacted me. I call her #2, to distinguish from another cadet I talked to beforehand, discussed below, whose credibility is not as solid.

    Cadet #2 said that, due to drinking related problems, Maura was put into a probationary status. This status involved various forms of assistance to the cadet an was an example of how "west point invests in cadets even one's that have some trouble." She also said it involved having an upperclassman as a mentor, and that Maura's mentor was Billy.

    As to the lipstick theft, this cadet felt that it probably would not have gotten Maura thrown out, unless there was an extended deception or evasion related to it, or unless there were other disciplinary problems. She used the phrase "looking at the whole cadet" to describe how West Point evaluates whether to ask someone to leave.

    FORMER CADET #1

    Another person who contacted me in response to my post on Renner's blog about my talk with LaFreniere. She claimed be a specific person who is a somewhat well known Army officer and former West Point athlete. She did not know Maura. I refer to her as cadet #1, because I talked to her before cadet #2. I was unable to verify that she was who she claimed to be and she seemed to dodge simple ways I asked her to help me do so. Nonetheless, I concluded that she knew a lot about cadet life and West Point protocol. She also knew a lot about Maura's case. Despite her unwillingness to help me confirm her identity, I felt she was genuinely interested in helping.

    This source strongly questioned LaFreniere's information. This based on her feeling that a West Point coach/officer probably would not have divulged what LaFreniere repeated to me. She offered no theory about why Maura left West Point, but aggressively countered conclusions that Maura's departure was related to alcohol. She made valid points, but she also seemed biased.

    Most pertinent to this discussion, like former cadet #2, this source felt that it probably took multiple infractions for Maura to get thrown out and that the "lipstick swipe only" thesis is likely not accurate. She too said that West Point "invests" in wayward cadets, tries hard to help them get back on track, and evaluates whether to throw one out on a "whole cadet basis."

    Before closing, I should say that in my estimation, the sum thrust of my work on Maura's departure from West Point is best summarized this way: (1) IF she was asked to leave, then the lipstick swipe, by itself, probably does not fully account for why, (2) there is good reason to believe that drinking related issues were involved, BUT (3) even if so, the body of information I accumulated does not definitively preclude the possibility that she simply decided to transfer out, perhaps in part due to some of the problems she was having there but without formally being thrown out.

    ~ John Green

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  17. if this has been addressed I apologize..i'm still catching up on reading. could the 4k that her dad withdrew have been used to get a new id/ssn from someone?

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