Monday, January 26, 2015

Was the $4,000 for tuition?

Still thinking about the $4,000 in cash Fred Murray brought with him to UMass Amherst the weekend before Maura went missing. He said it was to go toward a new car but there are several problems with this explanation. 1. Nobody else remembers them saying they were looking for a car. 2. Why not write a check? Perhaps the real explanation has been staring us in the face for 11 years. Was it a tuition payment?

Back in 2004, tuition at UMass Amhert (with room and board) was just shy of $14,000. Students could pay in installments and it was much easier for the student to pay, rather than the parent.

If Fred gave Maura the $4,000 to deliver to UMass Bursars on Monday, but she ran off with it instead, it would go a long way to explain why Fred was reluctant to talk about the events leading up to her disappearance, and he would have to come up with a story for the cash that didn't put it in her hands. Why get her in trouble for theft when she was still missing?

42 comments:

  1. Hi James.

    I think the tuition theory to explain the $4,000 is worth exploring, but I personally it.

    For one thing, as between car lots and university registrars, the former are way more of a cash business. I don't recall from my own time in college, but I doubt you can even pay tuition with cash. Even in 2003, however, it could be paid with a relatively inexpensive wire transfer.

    More importantly, I offer a similar response to the one you did about my lot 22 argument: you agreed with it (it is clear that almost certainly Fred did not pick up Kate in "student lot" as he told UMASS police," but you could not understand why he would lie about it. Likewise, why make up a story about buying a car instead of just saying that he came up that weekend to get unpaid tuition paid off?

    More broadly, the entire UMASS statement itself continues to resonate a discordant note to my brain. This even given the slight uncertainties inherent in an investigator transcribing his words probably in summary, then Fred signing the resulting statement, which is how his statement to UMASS police was taken. Whatever the money was for, his statement about it is a forced and unnecessary detail. "We were car shopping" or "I was paying her tuition" are more direct and easy statements that are consistent with Fred's overall demeanor. Adding that he had "four thousand on his person," is irrelevant and forced, just as the "picked up Kate in a student lot" is. I think I have proven that it is very - even prohibitively - unlikely that Fred picked up Kate in a student lot, so WTF ... why did he say it? Likewise, whatever the money was for, WTF ... why did he even bring it up? These are both obviously forced, irrelevant details, as it sounds to me. The thesis that they point to something being hidden from view willfully by Fred and others regarding the five strange days in Amherst remains one of the most seemingly fertile avenues for analysis about this case.

    Of course, I could have this all wrong and factors unlikely but real and unknown to me could explain it all. If so, I apologize to the Murrays. But still, even in that case I don't understand why they don't just send Renner an email saying "yo dude, STFU ... the $4k was etc. etc. and tell John Green to STFU, Fred picked up Kate in lot 22 because etc. etc." I say this because I have pretty good evidence that one member of the Murray family reads this blog regularly (i.e., during the for months I had my blog, that member of the Murray family read it every day, which I was able to see from the dynamics of a certain IP address moving among locations that I know this person uniquely frequents.) So why not just debunk the obviously reached but false theses, if in fact they are false?

    In the end, in fact, it is the failure to respond to Renner about these entirely reasonable questions, which - more than anything - make me wonder, makes me wonder, makes me wonder about the five strange days in Amherst.

    ~ John Green

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    1. I agree with you that Fred's statement of having "four thousand dollars on my person" sounds forced. That stood out to me from the beginning. Who talks like that? Very odd statement, like he's trying to add credence to the car-shopping story.

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    2. Perhaps Maura's credit card thefts or some other kind of fiduciary problem caused the school to require that Maura or her family pay in cash.

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    3. The word that comes to mind for me is "sensitive". Fred is sensitive about the money. There was no reason for him to mention it but he does anyway. Very soon after Maura goes missing the $4000 cash is a highly sensitive subject to him.

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    4. Maybe Maura got I to financial trouble with the wrong people and needed that $4K to get her out of it.....

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    5. Mr. Green -- is it possible he was "sensitive" about the $4k like one of the other replies says and the money came from ATMs because Maura was withdrawing? He was covering her before it could be questioned?

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  2. Is it possible she had used her actual tuition money for something else and he came up to bail her out? Maybe the school called the house or the parents opened her mail from the school?

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  3. Is it possible she had used her actual tuition money for something else and he came up to bail her out? Maybe the school called the house or the parents opened her mail from the school?

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  5. Is it possible that he brought the money with the intention of helping her escape?

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  6. It seems very plausible, but the same issues would apply to both a newer car and tuition.

    Would there be tax implications for tuition that would make it better to pay with a check.

    ---- It just sticks in my craw, going from ATM to ATM getting cash from his account to assemble a final amount of $4K. It seems like an act of desperation perhaps. I have known a couple people that were extremely absent minded and would do something like this, but FM does not seem like a person to suffer fools or foolish behavior, and this seems like it would be way out of his comfort zone unless a dire need arose.

    Please excuse my abuse of the comma, It's my favorite punctuation, and allows me to ramble,

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    1. Hey rcoopr.

      So, what is the source of the ATM to ATM thing? I have heard it mentioned a few times by number of people. I just don't recall how we know that that is what he did. Do you know its origin by any chase? Anyone? For the record, not disputing your comment, the reasoning of which I agree with.

      ~ John Green

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    2. John,

      http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/article/2014/01/28/maura-murray/

      This article is where I get the info from. If you read on the first page near the bottom it relates that FM claims to have visited eight ATMs to get the money.

      Obviously everything is up in the air with the usual suspects, but eight seems like so many. I can't think of a logical reason unless FM or MM needed that CASH NOW!!!

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    3. Thanks for this rcoopr. I agree with your perspective.

      John

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  7. While the four thousand dollars may have been for tuition, I doubt that Fred left it with Maura.

    Maura's stop at an ATM suggests that she did not have cash to buy liquor.

    If Maura did run off with the cash, Fred could have come up with a reason, other than theft, for Maura to have it. And if Maura did have the $4,000.00 cash, then it would have been in Fred's interest to report it. It gives his "local dirt bag" a clear motive to harm Maura (robbery). It also tends to negate suicide as an explanation for Maura's disappearance -- if she had intended to commit suicide, why would she take the cash with her?

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    1. Sam,

      Your second sentence assumes that Maura had no purpose for the $4k. If she did, there is no contradiction with her taking the money out of the ATM. In fact, if Fred gave her $4k under circumstances that appear as mysterious as these, most likely there was a reason. This undercuts your statement.

      The $4k would not have given a dirtbag motive. How would said dirtbag have known she had it? A motive is the reason for someone committing crime. Are you suggesting that there was "a dirtbag" who knew she had $4k and thus hd some motive to harm her? If not, why would it have been in Fred's interest to report it? Moreover, if it was in his interest to report it, why would he not have said, 'I gave the $4,000 to Maura.' That would serve much better the interests you suggest he had. Sorry, this just not make sense.

      ~ John Green

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    2. John, thanks for the comment. I will respond to your points.

      -- "Your second sentence assumes that Maura had no purpose for the $4k. If she did, there is no contradiction with her taking the money out of the ATM."

      I agree.

      For purpose of my original comment, I assumed that Fred has given Maura the cash to apply towards her tuition, and that Maura had stolen the cash (i.e., I assumed the truth of James' hypothetical). If Maura needed $4,000.00 for a specific purpose, then her withdrawal of additional cash from an ATM would make sense.

      What might that purpose be?

      -- "Are you suggesting that there was 'a dirtbag' who knew she had $4k and thus h[a]d some motive to harm her?"

      Assuming that Fred left the cash with Maura, the "dirtbag" would have to know about the cash to take the cash.

      -- "How would said dirtbag have known she had it?"

      Perhaps Maura went to a store (or a hotel or restaurant) and paid for goods (or for a hotel room or for food) in cash. In doing so, she could have inadvertently revealed, to the "dirtbag," that she had a large amount of cash on her.

      -- "Moreover, if it was in [Fred's] interest to report it, why would he not have said, 'I gave the $4,000 to Maura.'"

      I agree. That was my point. If Fred, in fact, gave Maura the cash, it is my position that he would have said, "I gave the $4,000 to Maura." He did not say that. That suggests,at least to me, that he did not give the cash to Maura.

      Thanks again for the comment. I look forward to your reply. -- Sam.

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    3. Hi Sam.

      Your last point was not evident to me in your original comment, but as stated in your reply, I agree with it. He did not say that he gave her the money but instead that he had $4,000 on his person. In that context, it is an unnecessary detail, strangely put forward. It - in conjunction with other little clues - makes me suspect that the $4,000 and its mention related to some purpose other than the reason offered (buying a car) and other than tuition.

      ~ John Green

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  8. Possible. But if she took the money and ran, wouldn't she have a remaining balance due for her tuition at UMASS? There has to be a record of that. Unless she told everyone she'd registered for classes that semester but really hadn't.

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    2. Tuition does not make sense. Whether the ATM withdrawals were from a bank account or credit card cash withdrawals, a check or the cards would have been sufficient to pay tuition. To go to the trouble of stopping at 8 different ATMs means he NEEDED cash. A car dealer or bursar would not require cash for a legitimate transaction.
      The fact that he arrived at UMASS Saturday afternoon and then appeared to spend the rest of his weekend rather liesurely suggest that the cash was needed Saturday afternoon or as soon as Fred could get it there. Otherwise he could have stopped at a bank and paid one check cashing fee rather than 8 ATM fees. Maybe Fred paid someone to get her out of the country? It would be nice to know if LE ever confirmed the withdrawals and whether Fred still had the cash after Maura disappeared.

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  9. Expanding on my earlier comment: it's always stood out to me that Maura was already supposedly doing nursing clinicals in her second semester at UMASS. Wasn't she an engineering major at West Point before she transferred to UMASS? How was she able to complete all the prerequisites for nursing clinicals in that one semester before she went missing? I'd imagine she wouldnt have had enough prerequisites in the nursing program by that time. Clinicals in your junior year are typical, but only if you started as a nursing major all along. Transferring in, she would have had to catch up on courses. Has anyone confirmed that she was registered for clinicals in the spring semester of 2004? All I've read is that her faculty advisor said she was in "good standing" (which could only be based on her Fall 2003 grades since Spring 2004 grades wouldn't be out until that semester ended), and that Maura supposedly returned a borrowed lab coat from a fellow student.

    Just some thoughts: Maybe she was never registered all along? Could support why her dorm was packed up, why she borrowed a lab coat (the program or hospital probably would have provided this), and took off with the $4k.

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  10. Maybe Fred decided that Maura had "screwed up one too many times" and brought the money to give to her to be able to live on her own, but that he was "done" with her and didn't want to see her any more. Maybe the disturbing call from her "sister" was someone telling her that Fred discovered her recent credit card fraud (and/or other problems), and Maura thought "oh my God, oh no, he found out" and knew that this would mean terrible consequences for her (e.g. Fred refusing to pay for her school any more).

    With this hypothesis, it makes Maura spending a lot of her last small amount of money on liquor seem like less of a hardship. If Maura knew that she had all this money, she wouldn't care about buying a bunch of booze in order to numb the pain.

    Maura brings the car accident forms to Fred, but he puts his foot down and hands Maura the money, at which point she storms off, with the forms thrown into her car.

    In this scenario, the fake party could have been a "what do I do now" conversation. Whatever Maura decides to do would further piss off Fred, so nobody discusses it because they don't want to "get their friend in trouble."

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  11. I always assumed Maura used his credit card to withdraw from ATMs until she reached the maximum - withdrawing $4k from ATMs is very strange , only heard of when using a stolen cars

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  12. There are lots of "records" in this case that we are simply not privy to.

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  13. I have worked in a college Bursars and accounting office for years. Getting cash payments is not unusual. Also, schools send out a 1098T form for tax filing purposes so a paper trail from a check payment is not necessary. Hope that info is helpful.

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  14. I think the money could have been a bribe to make some sort of new illegal activity or car accident go away. But perhaps the person they were trying to bribe turned it down or demanded more money so Maura panicked and took off to avoid the consequences.

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  15. I think one of the strangest things is why Fred even bothered to mention the money. That little fact would probably never have been known if he hadn't said anything. It's just ironic considering how he keeps such a tight lid on everything else

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    1. Yeah it's strange for sure.

      It seems to me that Fred had some reason to think that following Maura's disappearance, for one reason or another, the police were going to look into his bank records and find something worth investigating--he mentioned the money in an effort to get out in front of that.

      The context of his police statement is not 100% known (at least to me), but the way it's presented, and the awkward seemingly off-hand mention of the money therein, potentially supports that notion even further.

      I know that's not really helpful though, because I don't have the first clue what specifically about Fred's transactions would have a bearing on the case, either in his own mind or in the LE process. For all I know, he was making withdrawals for something secretive that had nothing whatsoever to do with the disappearance.

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    2. Good point about LE maybe looking at Fred's account. I read some time ago that he withdrew it from several ATMs over a couple days - if true, that's definitely odd. Why not just go into your bank and withdraw the full amount at once? I don't believe for one second that he and Maura went looking for a car, but nonetheless I would love to know if LE checked with the local dealerships to see if they had been there. Also would love to know if the money was ever accounted for - did Fred still have it when Maura disappeared?

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  16. I can't see my comment. So I was saying what about the guy petriet or whatever. Is he ok? What if his family has something to do with Mauras disappearance .. I mean she got a phone call and was upset.. No one could trace that number ? And if not maybe because it was private..idk weird and what if they followed her and put the rag in the tailpipe... Biggest mystery to me is what was she doing on 112 .. If she wanted to go to Lincoln she could have easily taken 93. And her phone was pinged to Londonderry right? 93 is right there 91 is not. Maybe she was meeting someone up there she met at school or online?

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    2. Maquests first option is to take RT 91 if she was going to Lincoln. Rt 91 goes right past Amherst. Also, as far as the ping goes, Mauras phone did not ping in Londonderry but a call from someone calling her number went off that cell tower. If mauras phone was off or out of service it never mad its way to her phone.

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  17. That guy did end up in icu.. And as far as Fred. I get diff vibes about what he knows

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  18. She may have found out that she was pregnant and used the money to run off and clandestinely get an abortion. My gut feeling is that she may have had a male "friend" or two who we don't know about. Perhaps there was a fight between her and the dad that weekend too.

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  19. Maybe she found out that she was pregnant and used the money to run off to a clinic to terminate the pregnancy. My own gut feeling is that she had a male :friend" that we don't know about.

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  20. Perhaps mm was in a bad situation with the wrong people. . Of whom were threatening her life. She confides this to Fred and others closest to her. Fred plans an escape plan for mm and provides her the quick cash of 4k to leave. The accident is planned to look staged as an abduction so the people looking for her that were threatening her stop looking and assume the worst. The family friends she confided in remain closed to this day regarding specifics because they are protecting her... still. Just a thought

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  21. not sure how much an abortion costs but seems like something you would want covered up if you wanted your daughter to be perceived in a certain light

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  22. Is it possible that Maura stole Fred's atm card?

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