Monday, December 15, 2014

What The Family's Response to This Sighting Means **UPDATED**

The sighting of Maura Murray (with friends) by the cashier at Butson's is a wild new development, but consider what it says about the way Fred Murray (and the people who run Maura's official websites) conducts the search for his daughter.

This was info Fred had early on. He tried to get the video from the supermarket himself. And this sighting was never shared publicly.

This was info Helena Dwyer-Murray had for a long time. And she never shared it on the Facebook page or official website.

Instead of asking for more people to come forward, they have tried to discredit this cashier by saying the sighting occurred the day after Maura disappeared. This is not true.

The father of a missing woman kept this important tip, which may (at the very least), provide new leads in the cold case, from the public.

And they continue to keep secret the "real story" Maura's friend Sara Alfieri told them about Maura's last weekend.

There is some ulterior motive here.

*** UPDATED ***

Helena has just admitted the sighting occurred the day Maura disappeared:

"I stand corrected. Back in February, I received a message from someone telling me about the other two women in the store and it mentioned (though I somehow missed it) that it had happened on Feb 9. The only reason I can think that I totally forgot and misread this email is that I was in the middle of some rather extreme family issues.
There were two points in the descriptions of the other two that would make me dismiss either Kate or Sara or for that matter Maura's sisters. Based on my answer to that message, I also believe that I thought both Fred and the police had looked into it." 

But she's lying again about the descriptions. We call this a "misinformation campaign" in the newsroom, folks.

Also, should this info be important to the conclusion of any criminal case, what the family has done here is considered "withholding," a felony in most states.

123 comments:

  1. I read this, and my first thought that comes to mind is ...what?!

    My second thought: February of this year was the 10-year anniversary of Maura's disappearance - wouldn't a message like this, besides being attention-getting in the first place, be *particularly salient* at that time, when the case is receiving renewed publicity? And that perhaps someone may come forward with something important as a result?

    Extreme family issues happen. They do. We get wrapped up in it, busy, distracted. But isn't a missing family member an extreme issue?

    Two points in the descriptions of the other two - okay, what were the differences?

    More importantly "I believe I thought both Fred and the police had looked into it" ...? That's a bit cavalier.

    Ugh. I'm sure we could all analyze this statement to pieces but it just sounds like sloppy damage control.

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  2. It is all so bizarre. I hope it results in a solid lead at least. Otherwise it will be just one more confusing detail in the Maura mystery.

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  3. Well, this is a major development, and even if this acknowledgment of this information does seem to downplay the value of the info, it does not really make it any less valuable. The fact that anyone in the family is willing to recant on this means something and I would love to be a fly on the wall in conversations going on between family members that may have known about this (fred) and family members that may not have known (siblings).

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    1. How does acknowledging this information downplay its value?

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    2. I mean that She was trying to downplay the value of the info, but just the fact that she would try to downplay it makes it even more valuable because it begs the question WHY? You'd expect a family to take something like this and be interested and excited and instead, their representative is trying to talk circles around what she knew and when.

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    3. Oh, sorry, I misunderstood what you wrote. My bad.

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  4. I'm really glad this got addressed! Would love to know the description of one of the girls that is such a big"tip off" that you gave to LE, but I totally understand that you can't share that.

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  5. I think Helena needs to quit while she is ahead. The more she speak, the worse it sounds.
    With this news, just looking at the different options that could have happened:
    They (Sara,Kate) realized Maura is not behind them and turn around to pick-her up or was following and picked her up. Than what happened to her on their getaway and not saying anything for days? Second option; they went on ahead thinking Maura would turn-up and the local "Dirt Bag" picked-her up, thinking she could get a ride to a place where she could call them. That's even worse, why did they not inquire about her. So what did they do just go back to the dorm and forget about it and not say anything. Third option, they were not planning on going any further with her and went back. That makes you wonder than why would they be that far from the campus dorm in the first place. There is something that they do not want revealed.

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    1. I see your point that Helena should give while she is ahead. But here's hoping she does not, as the truth more likely arises as she slips up.

      ~ John Green

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  6. I'm sorry but I don't think any of that happened I think thi s info of her being with two other people coming to light after 10 years is bull this cashier said she told a " random " cop please this was a full forced investigation with the FBI involved you don't think they interviewed this cashier at the time? Maura was trying to get away from her life and problems I think she was pregnant and I think Fred came up to give her money for an abortion..... I think she was just trying to get away from her life for a bit.... She was drunk at the time of the accident and ran away she either died in the elements ( I don't think they searched well enough for her she was a runner and probably went a lot further than they searched or she was picked up by some creeper

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    2. It hasn't come to light after ten years. It came to light at the time of the disappearance. Helen Dwyer Murray has confirmed that already.

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  7. For the record, I think there are many reasons to doubt the cashier's story. And in reading the reasons that we should believe her, I'm not sure any of that info she's provided couldn't have been gleaned from this website and others. The descriptions of Maura's friends are public. The kinds of drinks the girls liked are public. The time of Maura's disappearance is public. So, until the cashier's story is corroborated by the supervisor, consider me a skeptic.

    Having said that, if the cashier is telling the truth, and it's also true that Fred has known this info from the beginning, I can think of a very good reason he's behaved the way he has for the last 10 years: He wants to find Maura before anybody else does. I mean, what else can it be? If he's had this information for 10 years, he's essentially roadblocked every single person who's looked into this case, including the police. He's scammed the producers of Disappeared. He's scammed several other shows and news organizations who've cover Maura's case. He's gone as far as to cover up the fact that two of Maura's friends were with her the night she disppeared.

    What it tells me is Maura has something on Fred. And that's why she ran away. She didn't want to go to the police due to loyalty or something, but she didn't want to have her dad in her life anymore either. So, she kind of split the difference--she disappeared AND has kept her mouth shut.

    But, the disappearance put Fred in a peculiar position. On one hand, he has to be the grieving father--so, he begins to "look" for her. But on the other hand, he doesn't want her to be found because of what Maura say. So, he splits the difference as well: He tries to find her but makes sure nobody else can.

    It very well could be the story the one friend told Fred went something like: "Maura is still alive and we know what you did to her. So, don't harass us or we'll tell the police what you did." Thus, Fred has no choice but to keep the friends out of it. It's also the reason Fred has badmouthed the cops--making it even less likely that they want to pursue Maura's case.

    I don't know . . . it's all SO convoluted. And it's the very reason I will continue to doubt the the cashier's story until it's corroborated by others.

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    1. That's the theory that's been percolating in my head. Buuuuuuuuut, why didn't they go to the police with the truth once they knew she was safely out of his control? Is he that big of a local thug that he could mess of their lives? Is the info they have on him that dangerous?

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    2. This is the best comment I have read on this blog. Spot on.

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  8. The cashier came forward early on in the case before descriptions were out there of mauras friends

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    1. jwb, I wouldn't exactly call telling a supervisor "coming forward". If it had been me, I would've told my supervisor. And then followed up with him/her in a few days. If I felt nothing had been done I would've gone to the police directly. But this cashier didn't do that. She says now the supervisor told a cop--but no cop has ever testified to that effect.

      Furthermore, if I know I saw a missing person in a store. And I told my supervisor. And, say, a month down the road I'm reading stories about the disappearance and my sighting of Maura in my store isn't mentioned, I'm going to wonder what the heck is going on. But in the cashier's case it seems like she simply went on with her life . . . until now.

      Until the supervisor backs up the cashier's story, we don't know exactly what the cashier said and/or saw . . . if anything. What I'm saying is it's very possible--as has happened in so many other cases--the cashier is totally making it all up now. And the reason she sounds so believable now is because she's had ten years to piece together a story. Until the supervisor says, "Yep, ten years ago, the cashier did come to me about 3 girls in the store. And yes, she described them and it sounded to me like one of them could be Maura Murray, and I passed it along to cop," this is ALL conjecture.

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  9. Some here are saying that the family dismissed the sighting because they were told it was a day after the accident. Um, hello???? That makes no effing sense. That makes no effing sense even in Murray land, a land absolutely teaming with nonsense. Wouldn't a sighting of her one day AFTER the accident be even more important and meaningful to them than a sighting before she was officially missing? Surely I am not the only person who sees why it is absolutely absurd that they would dismiss something like this because they somehow thought that the sighting was AFTER the crash.

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    1. Yeah, under normal circumstances (key 3 words) this seems like exactly the type of lead the family of a missing person would want to explore as thoroughly as possible. It seems like the family is always ready to shoot down any number of leads or theories, yet they have generally been pretty recalcitrant--or, as we have seen recently, deceptive--when it comes to offering information about Maura. It is impossible to guess at what exactly this means, but it surely is not helpful in terms of getting the case solved. I say that totally aware of my prior posts, which tend to show some skepticism concerning the involvement of family or friends.

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    2. Arguing that the day after doesn't matter seems to imply they know it was impossible for her to be there the day after...just let that sink in a bit....

      Fred would need to change his mantra to "what happened before AND AFTER New Hampshire doesn't matter.

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    3. Families of missing persons who genuinely have no idea would happened to them follow up on ANY lead, and this is actually a very good lead. I have been following this blog right from the start and it was always so baffling to me that the Murrays shut Renner out immediately. I mean, they did not even ONCE talk to him. They just shut him out. I now know why: they know what happened to Maura. There is absolutely no other explanation (other than the entire family being mentally ill). They know what happened to her.

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  10. but what about the supposed video that everyone is talking about? wouldn't that shut everything down for once and for all?

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    1. If Kate left campus a few days after Mauras disapearance and headed back to NY. If she had a transponder EZ pass, she might of used it on the Mass Turnpike. She could be easily cleared or just willing to volunteer to clear herself with a credit card statement transaction putting her in NY at home days afterwards. I mean 10 years later what could possibly be her motive to not be forthcoming. I find it odd Sara too wouldnt be more cooperative. A decade later they are adults now. What secret or promise could be so deep to keep scrutiny in their lives?

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    2. "What secret or promise could be so deep to keep scrutiny in their lives?"

      I don't get it, either.

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  12. Just to possibly open up a new avenue to look into that I never see discussed here. I always wondered if Maura could have been on any dating sites. I believe Match.com was starting to get popular back then. According to Wikipedia, Maura had mapquest directions in the car, so I've always wondered about the possibility that she was getting away to meet someone she met online, and didn't want to travel alone (hence the 2 other girlfriends). Perhaps an invite to a party out there. Though I think any party with a large group, would be asking too many people to keep silent of her whereabouts, However it could have been a meet up with a small group, her friends being amongst them. I believe Maura to be alive, always have, I think meeting some psycho on the side of route 112 in the rare chance a pretty girl's car crashes and gets stuck is really rare odds. I do believe she traveled in tandom, was picked up shortly after the accident, and though she probably had intentions of returning home, the accident curtailed those directions and turned her into a runaway.

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  13. Personally I don't really see how the family's reaction has much to do with this lead. The lead is worth pursuing on its own. Getting into p*ssing matches with the family or others involved in the case only serves to ultimately distract from finding out what happened to Maura.

    This blog is frustrating in that on one hand it has been by far the most informative source of information and breaks about this case, while on the other hand the personal attacks and "baiting" have become increasingly cringe-worthy and often inappropriate (the group harassment of the "lookalike" who didn't look anything like Maura being a particular low point).

    Even this latest development at first seems so promising - yet within two days it devolves into publicly calling people "liars" etc. Is this really the best way to solve the case? I guess the answer to that will only be known if and when the case is ever solved, but I'd be genuinely surprised if the answer ultimately comes from these types of ornery tactics.

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    1. Also, it should be noted that withholding information from the "public" is a felony in exactly zero states. What a bunch of hogwash. As for sharing info with authorities, none of us has any idea who's shared what with whom (that is unless Renner's seen the entire case files which I'm pretty certain he hasn't). Let's threaten people with "felonies" though, because why not?

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    3. Where did you go to law school? The post never said that withholding information from the public is a felony. However, withholding information from the police is called obstruction and can be a felony. Are you purposely misquoting the post? Also, your previous comments are ridiculous. The family's reaction has a lot to do with this lead. Don't understand how you can't see that. And if someone is lying then it is perfectly appropriate to call them a liar. And nobody threatened anyone.

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    4. What information do you have indicating that anyone has withheld anything from the police? Absent such information, throwing around the idea that anyone the family has committed a "felony" is pointless.

      Also, the original post indicated that the supervisor REPORTED the incident to the police. There is no affirmative duty on ANYBODY's part to report second hand information of this type to the police WHEN IT HAS ALREADY BEEN REPORTED. No, the Murray's don't need to "make sure" the police got the tip right or "double check" that they've followed up on it - utter nonsense.

      My original point still stands. Baiting the family (and readers) into these types of arguments is counterproductive to actually solving the case.

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    5. No, sorry Jack, but your original post fails. You didn't even address anything I said including the fact that you purposely misquoted the post. Also, how is it counterproductive? Where a bunch of people in the comment section of a blog throwing ideas around. What about that hinders finding Maura? No one is even really looking for her anymore. And, besides making ridiculous comments on this blog, what are you doing about it?

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    6. Nicholas, you mad bro?

      The point is that in my opinion (long time reader/ commenter) many posts here are unnecessarily inflammatory in an attempt to either a) provoke some kind of reaction from the family or b) drum up readership. I'm not the first person to make this observation and I won't be the last. Some people lap it up and don't care. We're each entitled to our opinion.

      I find your comments unpersuasive, yet you call mine "ridiculous." The difference in tone speak volumes about the approaches we take - so let's agree to disagree, shall we?

      How are unnecessarily inflammatory characterizations and posts counterproductive, in my opinion? Well, ultimately I believe the family would have been of great help in solving the crime. The author seems to have for the most part burned those potential bridges so there isn't much hope left of getting their cooperation. That's an approach - one that might get more "hits" and make for a better (at least quicker) book then slowly building trust with the family and finessing those relationships, but one that I don't think ultimately yields as good a chance of solving the mystery. Again, my opinion, but whether you agree or disagree I think it's somewhat dishonest to call it "ridiculous."

      I'm also certainly well within the bounds of common sense and logic to opine that a statement such as "what the family has done here is considered 'withholding,' a felony in most states" is a type of threat or at the very least a relatively dishonest attempt to "stir the pot" when the post NEVER MENTIONS withholding anything from authorities, only from "the public"/facebook, etc. I can empathize that a writer such as Renner with so much good work invested in a project might find it "criminal" to deprive him of such critical info, but I can assure you that's not the law of the land.

      I didn't "misquote" or even "mis-characterize" the post - please read it again. Giving/Not giving information to the authorities is NEVER MENTIONED in the above post. You're too busy trying to rake me over the coals to notice! The post mentions only the following:

      a) "this sighting was never shared publicly" (by Fred)
      b) "she (Helena) never shared it on the Facebook page or official website"
      c) "The father of a missing woman (Fred) kept this important tip, which may (at the very least), provide new leads in the cold case, from the public."
      d) "they continue to keep secret the "real story" Maura's friend Sara Alfieri told them about Maura's last weekend"
      e) she (Helena) lying again about the descriptions.

      The post concludes: "Also, should this info be important to the conclusion of any criminal case, WHAT THE FAMILY HAS DONE HERE is considered "withholding," a felony in most states."

      I repeat, there is no statement or suggestion in the post that anything regarding this tip was kept form the police - only from the "public"/facebook etc. That is not a felony or any other sort of crime in any state. If you want to argue that you are "reading between the lines" more power to you - I'm just going with what's actually on the page, but as mentioned in my earlier post: even if the allegation were that they'd "withheld" information from the police, that too is ridiculous because the person who gave them the tip stated the police had already been informed.

      I like this blog a lot (including the comments) but I don't like jumping on these villagers-with-pitchforks "mob mentality" bandwagons when the facts don't warrant. It's lazy and unchallenging. I'd rather keep an open mind and explore from every angle. If that means being reviled by the Kranchers of the world, then so be it. I think I can live with that.

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    7. Jack Spencer, I agree with everything you wrote. The though of them being charged with a felony is ridiculous. And I hate posting here because of people like Nicholas Krancher. It's like if I type my opinion, and it's not popular, people go out of their way to be rude, and a know it all.

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    8. Thanks Becki for speaking up - much appreciated. I feel the same way and haven't posted in many months because of it, but the case is just too interesting to keep quiet I guess :) Here's to a civil discourse!

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    9. Yeah being charged with a felony for with holding information is a stretch. But if ID proves positive or credible , it would mean there are 2 known people LAST SEEN with a presumed dead missing person. I dont think we need a lifetime movie to figure out thats kind of a big deal. I think its enough to warrant a few direct questions.

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  14. The family's reaction raises questions. Questions that others once thought absurd and now shine a new light on Maura's disappearance. It is every bit as relevant as the cashiers information, possibly even more so.

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  15. I can't believe I will say this, my theory is evolving. Maybe she didn't run off drunk in the woods and die? With this latest revelation my theory has evolved. Here we go: Fred is sexually, emotionally, or physically abusing Maura for years. She is fed up with it and decides to run away. She tells her friends who go with her to party one last time. Friends return, Maura continues on. Fred doesn't want the store sighting known or discussed as that will lead the police to question her friends who know Fred has been abusing her. They are threatened by Fred or paid off $4000 or both. Just a theory.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Interesting reasoning. Like you, I am increasingly wondering about the possibility that some sex related issues, including related to abuse issues, had something to do with the trip north.

      I, however, feel that Fred knew about the trip north. In fact, I think the original trip was meant to involve him and that the Corrolla crash happened when Maura was headed to his hotel to depart for NH. There is a lot of reasoning behind this - including what I feel is a stone cold, provable lie in Fred's statement to UMASS police that he picked up Kate on Saturday night in a "student lot." But my larger point is that my reasoning/speculation leads me to believe that Fred knew about/was involved in whatever took Maura, and now it seems Kate and Sara also, to NH.

      ~ John Green

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  16. Yow! Decide to give my favorite vice and look at what happens! Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.

    Jabroni - I have floated the idea of FM giving her $ for an abortion before but never got any traction. I've also floated the idea of tracking CC numbers and triangulating cell phones of persons of interest.

    I like this, but there is something in the back of my mind saying that this could be a controlled release of info until the book is published. If the case breaks open after the book is in print and none of this stuff is in it the book will be damaged.
    If this info ends up in the book then maybe this is info that has been known and saved for this time.

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  18. Wow! Mind-blowing new development. Will be watching for further updates, for sure.

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  19. Does anyone know how far or where the Butson's/Shaws is from the crash site?

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    1. About 6 miles if I recall correctly.

      ~ John Green

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    2. It is also worth noting that the Woodsville Butson's/Shaws is located right off Rt. 302, the road which Maura would have been on had she crossed into NH in Wells River, VT after traveling up 91 North. One of the most discussed topics on this board are the various potential routes Maura took to the scene of the accident. If she was at the Woodsville Butson's/Shaws at 5:45pm to 6:00pm on the night of the accident, then it would seem likely that she traveled to Woodsville through the route discussed above and was most likely travelling East on Rt. 112 (towards Lincoln, NH) at the time of the accident. That's the simplest route from Amherst to the accident scene.

      My understanding is that the accident occurred sometime shortly after 7:00 PM. The scene is only a short distance from Butson's/Shaws. Thus, assuming Maura was at the Woodsville Butson's/Shaws, it appears that the cashier is slightly mistaken with her recollection of the time of day or Maura and her companions were up to something in the vicinity of Woodsville for roughly 45 minutes to an hour before they got back on Rt. 302 and headed north to the scene of the accident. James' post from 12/12/14 mentions that "[the Cashier] says Woodsville residents saw Maura and friends visit the McDonalds across the street."

      Did McDonald's have security cameras in 2004? Did the police ever ask to see footage from those cameras? If they didn't, then the police in Northern NH are truly incompetent. Even if they did not know about this lead until now, every restaurant, gas station, bank, or other establishment in Woodsville with a security camera should have been asked to provide footage from the night of the accident.

      The timing seems to make a lot of sense. I doubt, however, that 10 years after the fact any credit/debit card receipts will be available. It is also highly likely Maura paid for herself, or perhaps the entire group, with cash. One of the few things about the case which is not disputed is her withdrawal of $280.00 from an ATM on the day of the accident.

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    3. IF there is any evidence remaining of the visit to Butsons it would be in the database of a credit card processor, credit card company, or cell phone triangulation data. No business would save video footage or credit card receipts for that long. Five years is the recommended term for storing receipts for audit purposes. As a former small business owner I can tell you footage would probably be gone within weeks unless they were diligent and kept VHS tapes for some odd reason. If you want to know for sure the best chance is cell phone meta-data, if they have it from that time period, and credit card transactions for the ladies of interest. Unless some starts spilling the beans this is they only way. I don't think they would be using cash only and leaving cell phones at home. If there were any toll roads and "EZ" pass records, perhaps those.

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    4. Joe,

      We don't know how long she was in the supermarket nor do we know if they stopped for gas while in town.

      RC: Maura had cash Remember she withdrew $200 plus

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    5. jwb- Good point. I am making a guess based on Renner's 12/12/14 post--specifically, the quote from the Cashier therein-- and estimated travel times from various online mapping tools (Yahoo Maps, MapQuest) that they stopped at the supermarket briefly after crossing into NH and left at around 5:45 PM to 6:00 PM.

      Rcooper--Agree with you on how any footage is likely long gone. Businesses have routine data destruction practices and the chances of any security film from the bank (or McDonald's, or anyplace else in Woodsville) being around are pretty low. The first 12/14 post indicates that the supermarket didn't have cameras.

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  21. Actually I google/Map, it looks like its about 5 miles away.

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  22. Above everything else, why was this specific news kept quiet. It would seem helpful enough 10 years ago; would have brought more public attention, which Fred wants.
    There is something to this specific news that calls attention to Maura in a bad light. There seem no apparent reason to not release this information 10 years ago. If the LE did not want it released, than this cashier would not have come forward.

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    1. Hey Aris1 Cre.

      Your thoughts are interesting. Mine go to a similar, but slightly different place. It is further confirmation that Fred was at UMASS over the weekend of before for some reason that had something to do with the trip north. I say this because - clearly - in the aftermath, he must have knew that they were there and did not want the fact that Kate and Sara with her to come out. He told them to keep quiet and did not talk publicly about this video, which any parent would have done with his daughter missing. There was something about that trip that he did not want to come out. If that is true, it seems very likely his presence at UMASS in the prior few days had something to do with the trip. I know for a fact that he lied about "picking up Kate in a student lot" (there is an old post here with my reasoning). One wonders about the $4,000 and the Corolla accident in light of this new evidence.

      ~ John Green

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  23. This could also now explain when the rag got into the tailpipe. Almost everyone agrees she couldn't have had it in there all the way up 91 and the only other explanation is that she put it there after the accident.

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    1. That's an interesting point. Perhaps it got stuffed in there while her car was parked in the Shaws/Butson's parking lot. Would the car have run the 5-6 miles to the crash site if the exhaust was fully obstructed? I'm doubtful, but maybe the rag didn't block it off completely. Always entertaining to speculate a little . . .

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    2. Fred said that he told Maura to put the rag in the tailpipe! As quoted from a recent Boston Magazine article...
      "As a temporary fix, Fred says he suggested she put a rag inside the tailpipe to hide the smoke."
      http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/article/2014/01/28/maura-murray/

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    3. And maybe that's exactly what Fred did. I just don't take anything he has to say without a few grains of salt. People do all sorts of bizarre things to jury-rig cars (eggs in the radiator, "miracle" additives to deal with engine problems, etc.). On the other hand, it just seems so obvious that putting a blockage in an exhaust will make a car run worse. Who knows . . .

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    4. Joe,

      A car built after about 1980 could run indefinitely with an obstructed tail pipe. It might exhibit some performance problems, and - after a long period of driving - be difficult to start again, but the old belief that the car would necessarily backfire or stall is not true. I researched this at length back when I was writing here and talked with several experts. The exhaust systems and mufflers now have ancillary valves to allow the exhaust to escape even if the tail pipe is obstructed.

      The interesting thing to me about the rag in the tail pipe is the bizarre tail about how it was found. The tow driver found it and said that it was "stuffed up there pretty far," or something like that; in other words, it was not hanging down to signal a car in tow, which was done years ago. My question became this: when and how did he find it? When do you look up a tail pipe as a tow driver called to tow away a car by the police. It would have been impossible to see at night while towing and probably by day, by his own description of the matter. So, did he look for it, for some reason? And if so, why? The car was evidence, impounded by the police. He has no business looking inside it or up the tail pipe or anything else. Did he accidentally see it as he was hoisting it on to the flatbed (I believe it was a flatbed that took away the Saturn that night). If so, how? I consulted with two very successful and respectful people who have been around cars their entire lives, only well known local businesses and been involved in dozens to hundreds of tows personally throughout their careers. They both said almost exactly the same thing when I told them story of the Maura's tow driver (cannot remember his name, Savoie?) finding the rag in the tail pipe under the circumstances as he described them: "fishy."

      ~ John Green

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    5. John-- Interesting stuff. The rag is one of the strangest parts of the case. After looking at replacement mufflers for 1996 Saturns in the RockAuto online parts catalog, I note that all of the 1996 models use a muffler with a short downspout (the very end of the muffler where one would stuff a rag). On a 1996 Saturn, the muffler is the last piece of the exhaust; there is no long pipe (tailpipe) from the muffler to the perimeter of the vehicle like one finds on larger RWD or 4WD vehicle like a pickup or SUV.

      Practically speaking, I think it would be hard to stuff a rag in a muffler like the one on Maura's car and not have at least a small part of it start to work its way out the downspout within a very short period of time due to the pressure of the exhaust, vibrations from driving, etc. If, however, no part of the rag was the slightest bit visible, it seems like the tow truck driver must have been checking out the car a little bit at some point.

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    6. Hey Joe.

      Interesting. Thanks for sharing. Awesome that you checked out the actual parts involved. For me, what you have added gives me even more pause about Savoie. He said it was "stuffed up there pretty far." So, either it was and the question is "how did he find it?" or it was not, because it physically could not have been - given the facts that you have introduced - in which case I have to wonder what really is the story with the rag? And why did he give it to Fred not the police? Very strange.

      ~ John Green

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    7. John-- Thanks, John. In addition to looking at RockAuto, I also searched "1996 Saturn Exhaust Diagram" on Yahoo. The first image confirms that the muffler is the last part of the system. Performing minor auto repairs on my vehicles is a hobby of mine, and the general setup on Maura's car is pretty typical.

      Per RockAuto, one of two mufflers would've fit the car, Walker Part No. 18479, or Walker Part Number 21348. Regardless, both have short downspouts.

      Given the short length of the downspout, I suppose part of the rag could've been "stuffed up there [e.g., inside the actual body of the muffler] pretty far" while the remainder was hanging out the downspout.

      The tow truck driver's decision to give the rag to Fred instead of the police is definitely odd. Tow truck drivers often work closely with local law enforcement. So, unlike the cashier, I find it strange that he would have been reluctant to speak with the police.

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  24. It would definitely help to know more about whatever contact the supervisor had with the police or anyone else involved in the investigation. I find it odd that nothing happened with this lead at the time of Maura's disappearance (at least nothing which has since been publicized or the subject of rumors).

    Sometimes, though, evidence gets minimized or ignored. Cops are just like all of us--they make mistakes. It could be the officer who the supervisor talked to (see 12/12/14 post) did not follow up on the lead based on a misunderstanding. It could be that, for reasons unknown, the supervisor never actually talked to the cops at all.

    As far as the Cashier not reporting the lead to the cops directly, and instead going to her supervisor, I won't read too much into that. Some people who have had negative experiences with the police will do darn near anything to avoid talking to them.

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  25. Also,I'm wondering from James's previous post that the cashier was checking out and bagging-up their purchases with her supervisor, Has there been any information that the supervisor remembers...or been interviewed?

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  26. The more I think about this, if in fact the sighting is legit it calls a number of things into question that at this point I can't make much sense of. I'm just thinking out loud here, there's no overarching point, but...

    -If they already had a ton of booze, why put all 3 of themselves together, and potentially on camera, to get a little bit more that same night?

    -Along the same lines, if Maura had nearly a full tank of gas when she crashed (so seemingly filled up somewhere nearby along the way), why not just get that booze wherever she filled up? (Maybe there was gas at the grocery store though, I dunno).

    -Same principle, why stop at McDonalds right there? I mean, it's not like they were masterminds, but if in fact there was some kind of "escape plan", making themselves so visible in multiple locations in the same area seems so profoundly stupid that with a couple drinks in me I could be convinced it was intentional.

    -If they had two cars, and Maura's was in terrible shape, you'd think she was planning to get rid of it somewhere because otherwise why take two cars to begin with? So... seemingly Maura had a limited amount of money, why gas up the car full?

    -If Maura's plan was to vanish, but her friends were involved in the transportation, what in the world would be the point of taking her car anywhere to begin with? She could have just as easily "disappeared" from Amherst... i.e., her friends leave incognito for the weekend (with Maura), drop her off wherever, and come back without her. Maura's gone, they say "sorry, we were out of town, we haven't seen her, what do you want from us?"

    -It sounds like Kate was noticeably absent for a minute immediately following that weekend. It's kind of weird to me that this wasn't explored further from the beginning (i.e. far before Renner got involved), but also I feel like that specific timeframe in which she was gone has to be significant. Do we know exactly how long it was?


    Just posing some age-old questions in the context of new developments. Thoughts?

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    1. Jhonez, great points/questions about the car. Never thought of the full context of gas in this context, but it seems to point toward an unplanned/non-staged crash. Why bring the car in the first place? This is another good question. Whenever I think about this (and also the crash in Mass.), that's when I always want to bring Vasi back into my theory. For me all of the car shenanigans make so much more sense in the context of trying to ditch her car because it was involved in the hit and run.

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    2. Being involved in the Vasi accident would be a very good reason to bring along/ditch the Saturn.

      Prior to this sighting, the Vasi thing seemed pretty tenuous to me and I never put much stock in it, but you're right, in this scenario it would make much more sense. Great call.

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    3. if the car had almost a full tank of gas, then she probably filled it up at some point along her travels. If that's the case, then I don't think the accident was staged, probably more of a wrench thrown into the plans. Why fill up a car with gas that you intend on ditching, or never using again, if anyone is still along on any suicide theory. It's not a smart way to spend some of her last $280. I always believe that Maura was traveling in tandom, and believe that she was leaving for good. It's probably a plan that I believe has her family's backing and full support. I don't want to write the family off of any wrong doings here, but they may just be guilty of nothing more than a few lies to cover up her whereabouts, Fred included. If Maura was really creating a checkered life for herself, the Vasi accident, drugs, credit card fraud, pregnancies, whatever. Fred and company may very well just have helped her start anew somewhere. You see parents of offspring who create some heinous crimes, crying in court and begging for the child's innocence and forgiveness. Right or wrong, I think most parents out there wouldn't hand their children over to the police. So if this was just a well executed escape for whatever reason(s), the family's quirky ways could be understandable, before any body could up and point fingers at them, and that's said without freeing them of any evil doing, should that be the case as well. I just think that she got out of dodge and succeeded at it to this day.

      Something else I always wondered. They say the FBI looked into this case. If they actually found her, and her wish was to be left alone. Could the FBI know exactly where she is, and just respect her legal right to stay incognito?

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    4. Jhonez-- Good insights. I've spend most of my life in Northern NH/VT and can confirm that the Woodsville Butson's/Shaws has never had gas pumps. At the time of Maura's disappearance, there was a Jiffy Mart and Cumberland Farms in Woodsville; both a short distance ( a 1/4 mile or less) from Shaws. The Cumberland Farms has since moved to right across from Shaws. Also, P&H Truck in Wells River, VT is located at the exit of I-91 which one would take to go through Wells River and into Woodsville. There was also a convenience store in Wells River which I believe was open at the time of Maura's disappearance (I can't say for sure). It has since closed.

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    5. Bad sentence . . . Also, P&H Truck in Wells River, VT is located at the exit off I-91 which one would take to get on Rt. 302 in order go through Wells River and into Woodsville.

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  27. It is not known how much gas was in the car, at least not publicly. I asked this question last February and got no answer on here and helenas mm page. No one could answer for sure but people started speculating about what the amount of gas in the car could imply and from that people started to take it as cannon that their was a full tank. That information is not known.

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    1. Thanks for the clarification - definitely important to separate "fact" from conjecture (however widely repeated).

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    2. There has been nothing confirmed about the level of fuel in the car, it was said that one of the responding officers said it was "nearly full". What does that mean? She could have left Amherst with a full tank and with that car's tank size and expected MPG, it would still be half full or better, even with a poorly running vehicle. She could have filled up 80 miles away(NH/Mass. line) and still be left with 3/4 of a tank when she got to Haverhill. Filled up 50 miles away (Concord, roughly), leaves her with 7/8 of a tank. Without details, how full the tank is gives us nothing.

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  28. Melios
    It has been said that the tank was near full so speculation was she got gas near by

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  30. RED RAG TEST CHALLENGE! ---- kidding. I have researched this ad nauseam and I think one red rag up the tail pipe would be blown out immediately.
    Watched numerous YouTube videos of plugged/pranked tailpipes and even potatoes get blown right out. Myth Busters also say things get blown right out. Read way too many car blogs about this. Unless her tailpipe was impacted with debris or chock full or tightly packed rags, I don't think this would do anything.

    This seems like an unintentional red herring. For the rag to stay in I am leaning towards the car being off before it was inserted.

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    1. The rag was WHITE. Just so you have it straight. No need for confusion on this.

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    2. How dare you sir. kidding. If there was an edit function on here I could correct it, but no.

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  31. First time posting here. Wanted to talk about Maura's Saturn. We've have all heard that it was "smoking something fierce" and it was "unreliable" and Fred says he came to Amherst to buy her a new car. Hear me out: The Saturn was a 2000. She went missing in 04. Its a four year old car at the time she went missing. Also, the inspection sticker was put on in October 03. So, the inspection sticker is only 4 months old. There was nothing wrong with that car. Other than possibly some front end damage from a previous accident. I'd really like to know if a head hit the inside of that winshield or the outside of it.

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    1. My Saturn sounded like a lawn mower only a few years after I bought it. I can believe that she was having problems with the car. After owning my Saturn for 4 years, I was afraid to drive it long distances and made my husband drive it! We traded it in shortly after he started driving it because he hated it so much.

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    2. Maybe I'm wrong but I believe the Saturn was a '96, not a 2000. The end result is probably not a huge difference, but have I always been mistaken on that?

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    3. Jhonez, thank you for the correction. The Saturn is a '96 according to the accident report located in the documents section of this blog.

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    4. While the Saturn was a 1996, the observation about the inspection sticker is a great one Frank. Do you have a link to a pic of the inspection sticker? I could not find that pic.

      If it had been inspected only 4 months before, it is a good point that it was less likely to have been smoking from the exhaust. But not impossible. If, for instance, the head gasket blows, there could be excessive exhaust smoke thereafter. A head gasket is not something that is looked at in an inspection. But, still, I think your observation is relevant and makes it less likely that the car was not road worthy (in addition to the fact that it had just made a 140 mile trip at highway speeds).

      ~ John Green

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  32. Frank, the Saturn is a horrible car. This might be kind of boring and long but here is my Saturn story. I bought a 2006 Saturn,brand new, and that thing was nothing but trouble. The ignition broke 3 times, the power steering went out completely, which was kind of scary, A/C went out 4 times, but the most dangerous thing that made me sell my Saturn was it had a "safe mode". What that means is if your driving the car, and the computer senses something wrong, you would hear three chimes, and the car wouldn't accelerate past 15-20 MPH, no matter how hard your pushed the pedal. This would happen at the worse times, like when I pulled across a busy 4 lane highway to get in the turning lane. It would scare the crap out of people riding with me. This was due to a chip under the acceleration pedal. I had that fixed 3 times as well. I sold my Saturn for $2500 in 2013. Also I told my friend everything that was wrong with it. The day after my friend bought it, the turn signals quit working. Also the key would fall out of the ignition, on the floor, and the car would still run. The last thing that happened was the key fob would work anymore,even the GM dealership couldn't program it. My friend resold the Saturn 2 days after buying it. I paid around 16K after financing,and sold it for $2500. I took a huge loss on that car. I also live in TN, where Saturn was made, and to this day, I don't see anyone driving a Saturn, and driver all over Tn weekly. Sorry for my long story, but just wanted to give imput on how the Saturn isn't a great car.

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    1. Meant to type- I don't see anyone driving a Saturn, and I drive all over Tn weekly.

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    2. Another typo, I meant to type- the key fob wouldn't work anymore

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    3. I used to drive one also and a good friend of mine did to. Your right... nothing but problems. So glad they dont make Shiturns anymore. Thanks for your time :)

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  33. The fact the Dad was in Amherst weekend prior to disappearance always was odd to me. And the fact that tradgedy Struck Petrit Vasi weekend prior to disappearance was also odd. I think the store clerks sighting is really credible. Thoose details: It was the end of her shift she was anxious to get home. ( You tend to remember that moment in time. Three attractive young ladies similar to your own age. ( last customer of the day). You probablly strike up some chit chat. She cards them for alcohol. Here is where i speculate more than what is being told. They probablly did have different state issued ID card. But Im willing to bet they all had UMASS college ID cards to back up their state issued ID cards all in sync with one another. They might even of had UMASS track apparell on. ( You would remember that as a clerk ) . Then the clerk even remembers them going to the MacDonalds across the street ! Three ladies driving in Tandem drinkin on a road trip would most certainly need PIT STOPS a lot. If you take the time the clerks sighting shift ended , add a PIT STOP at MacDonalds , man you come really close to the crash afterward time near Wethered Barn. Then in my mind I cant really clear Kate's wareabouts days after Maura went missing. Then I have to wonder why Sara is un cooperative 10 years later as an adult. Jeff Stelzin should put Kate and Sara in a line up and see if the Clerk IDs them. If the ID is possitive. That would mean they were the last person seen with a presumed dead missing person. What more do you need to get them talking? We might never know what happened to Maura. But I think we will find out what she was doing on that snowy road that night. NH cold case has a chance to shine here. Unless they already know...............

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    1. JJ where did you get the McDonalds info? I have not been keeping up with previous posts?
      Thanks

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    2. Renner explains it in his 12/12/14 post

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    3. Can anyone confirm any of the suspected girls smoked ciggarettes? Being Track athletes i would assume they did not. But another finer detail of the clerks sighting is the purchase of "SMOKES" .

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    4. Hello.

      Maura had not been a track athlete for quite a few months at the time of her disappearance, and was a pretty slow one during her senior year in HS and first two years in college. She really had moved away from the sport. In my experience as a track athlete in college, some smoked casually at parties every now and again (we were kids after all) and the kids who quit sometimes wound up going to opposite extremes (in terms of eating, drinking, social habits, sleeping habits, smoking, etc.)

      Also, was Sara on the team? I did not think she was. I could be wrong.

      ~ John Green

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    5. Im really looking for something more conclusive like NO none of them.ever smoked or, so and so smoked all the time; anyone can tell you ; she was a known smoker of ( insert brand here.)

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    6. jj--I dont think at this point there's anything concretely known about whether or not any of them smoked. I read somewhere that Maura was extremely anti-smoking, but that doesnt mean anything for a number of reasons, but most simply because people change their tune on stuff like that all the time. Ive never heard anything one way or another about Kate or Sara.

      Green--I know it's not really helpful, but I've always been under the impression that Sara was not on the team. But, like you, I'm not 100% on that.

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    7. Jhonez ... I found this reference to and excerpt from an article on webslueths, which states that Maura and Sara met while working together at the art gallery. http://www.websleuths.com/forums/showthread.php?238122-NH-Maura-Murray-21-Haverhill-9-Feb-2004-11/page13

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  34. A few thoughts...
    The Vasi hit and run makes sense if this info is reliable. There's no use in Maura driving a jalopie into the mountains if she had her buds tagging along. The car was being taken up there to be ditched. Evidence created by a person being struck is wiped away by a collision into a snow bank. Remember, the lady at the house heard the Saturn accelerate before crashing.
    Fred coming up to visit just happened to occur directly after the Vasi incident and just before the trip to NH. Strange coincidence indeed.
    Complete silence from her friends. A decade is a long time to be quiet.
    There has to be somebody out there, somewhere, who has either dated Sara, Kate, or a key player in this fiasco that has insider info. People talk; people confide.
    I think James has a lot of info he strategically releases; the book is due soon and would require editing if this were a new lead.
    Fred needs to do a no holds barred interview. On camera.

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    1. The alcohol would of played a part in the the crash if it was deliberate. If I was going to deliberately crash a car I would have some thing to drink for a little "Dutch courage". Also to help with the pain if there was an injury.
      The rag in the tailpipe I think is still one of the most important questions/puzzles of this case to be answered.

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    2. Good point. A little liquid courage would calm the nerves.
      The rag is a mystery that--to me--Fred can explain. He mentioned it to her a few weeks earlier, and all of the sudden it happened. Strange.

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    3. Just a thought, but could Fred have shoved it in there himself so that she couldn't use the car??

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  35. Interesting connection:
    The witnesses of the accident spared over the driver of the Saturn smoking; the wife thought it was a cellular light; the hubby, a cig.
    The cashier said they bought smokes.
    How far way was the Saturn from the witnesses? Try to take that exact distance, sit in a car, and turn on a cell phone and see if it illuminates to the point someone with some distance can see it. I know you can see a cig...but a cell phone..not sure. Especially an older one from 2004.

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  36. So now it seems we are back to the beginning again....with all the same old worn out questions. The new suckers are here and will drown the forum with all the same questions. Wow.

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    1. Not hardly. I commented here way back when James put this blog up.
      I have friends in the Hanson area who discuss this often, and before any blog about appeared.
      I'm not exactly sure what you bring to the table, or why you feel being a sarcastic prick is helpful, but to each his own.
      Maybe the truth of this case requires going back to the beginning.
      Besides, this is a public forum. You need to deal with others having an opinion. I know the universe revolves around your thoughts and feelings, but ease up, bro.

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    2. We have to keep asking the same questions until they are answered. What? You want us to come up with new questions to cure your boredom?
      Bugger off Mr. Will Iam Idiot.

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    3. Hey Detective, I have at least asked a question below that I have not heard discussed before. I would be interested in your comments, as I know you do know a lot about the case. But could I kindly ask you to refrain from making judgmental or unhelpful comments?

      ~ John Green

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  37. I am sorry.......Please feel free to proceed.

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    1. I know many people who only smoke when they drink. They do not regularly buy cigarettes.

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    2. "Did any of them smoke cigarettes? if 1 out 3 did the store clerks sighting is credible". Am I missing something about smoking? Because can you imagine how many young women Maura's age smoke? And how many female you smokers the employee has rang up?

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  41. I didn't catch this until now, but it's interesting that in Helena's message above she mentions the "other two" women (on two different occasions no less).

    If, as she seems to be implying, this sighting had nothing to do with Maura, then there would be no "other two"--it would just be three random women.

    It sounds almost like an accidental acknowledgement that she believes one of the three WAS in fact Maura. She said the descriptions of the other two didn't match, but what reason is that to reject the sighting? I mean, the goal is not exactly to positively ID Sara and Kate, it's to locate Maura.

    One of the three women seen at Butsons seems to have been singled out by Helena as different from "the other two", and I can see no possible explanation for that besides a belief that that one woman was in fact Maura.

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    1. Excellent post. I hope Helena keeps talking.

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  42. +1 to Jhonez. Interesting when you read it like that. It seems a little more suspicious.
    If it was nothing you would assume her response to be that none of these girls were MM or her friends and you're all wrong, but she seems to focus on the identities of two as cohorts of MM leaving the third to be inferred as MM, on purpose or not.

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  43. Hello everyone. Happy holidays.

    I find myself wondering about something and hoping someone has either information or insight that might enlightenment. It is admittedly a fine point involving some fine distinctions, but it is where my mind has gone.

    The issue is this: specifically, how close was Maura to Kate and Sara, each? I know from talking with team members and Maura's coach that she and Kate were very close when they were running together. I suppose that continued to be the case even after Maura left the team, which is at least suggested by the fact that Kate organized the balloon release for Maura at the end of the spring season. On the other hand, their lives were already going in different directions by the time Maura disappeared. Her coach told me a story about when the two were often hanging out together and both on the team. Passing by them on campus, the coach made a chiding but actually supportive remark (if you have been on a team in college, you will know what I mean) to Kate and Maura: "there go my two best underachievers." From what the coach told me they both fell apart and Maura was practically in tears over the comment. The coach also noted that thereafter Maura continued to radically underachieve before finally quitting the team. But Kate's career as a runner took off not long thereafter to the point that Kate actually competed at the NCAA regional qualifying meet her senior year, roughly indicating that she was one of the top 80 or so athletes at her event (the steeplechase) in the country. In that light, it seems at least possible that Kate and Maura were not as close at the time of Maura's disappearance as they had been during their first years at UMASS (Kate as freshman and Maura a transfer).

    Beyond this, I have never heard any evidence of specifically how close Sara and Maura were. There is a lot of talk suggesting that they were very close, but I am interested in what we collectively know about that and how we know.

    I have become interested in this topic because we have heard about the varieties of troubles in Maura's life (regarding sex, credit card fraud, driving drunk, and whatever upset her on Thursday night, etc.). Were Kate and Sara friends who were on the inside periphery of that trouble, or just friends? Were they the kind of friends who went to the pool parties also, or sort of knew that Maura was going that way and as they were maturing were starting to move away from her (lets not forget we are talking about kids in their early 20s here). For me, this makes a big difference in terms of the significance of them - according to this store clerk - having been a part of Maura's fateful trip north, particularly given my theories that (a) the corolla accident aborted the first trip north, (b) Fred knew what the trip north was about, and (c) Fred - it is a stone cold fact - lied when he said he picked Kate in a student lot (I am happy to explain that to anyone wants to hear it ... email me a john888green@gmail.com.
    If they were up there as confidants to the trouble in Maura's life, that is one thing, but if they were simply going to have fun and not fully aware of the things going on in the background of Maura's life, that is quite another thing. This in terms of assessing the significance and purpose of the trip itself to me, which - in my view - was probably more than a fun jaunt: as I said, I am convinced that the first attempt to go north was aborted by the corolla crash and that Fred stone cold lied when he said to the UMASS police that he picked up Kate in a student parking lot.

    In any case, is there other evidence or insight that anyone has on specifically how close Maura was to Kate and Sara each at the time of her disappearance? I'd like to hear anyone's thoughts, even yours detective, as I concede that you know a lot a lot about this case.

    ~ John Green

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  44. I hope this young lady is found alive. The two friend's will have her whereabouts in their phone records. If not in her Dad's. I couldn't ever be mad enough to never speak to them again could you?

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  45. The FBI needs to check the phone records of the 2 friends and the Dad may solve that case. If she is alive.

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