Finishing up a new draft of the book, a thought occurred to me that might explain some of the clues in this case.
Is it possible Fred came to Amherst that weekend to move Maura back home?
It would explain a few things: the packed boxes, for one. And the party at Sara Alfieri's. Was it a farewell party. Is that why they won't tell anybody else who was there?
Was the plan to take Maura home to Hanson on Sunday?
But when Maura wrecked her dad's car on the way to his motel, plans changed. They couldn't leave. His car was in a shop. And she needed to pick up accident reports. It made more sense at that time for her to stay another day or two, long enough for Fred to come back and get his car.
It also explains the email to professors. She was done with school but she needed another day or two in the dorms.
What do you think?