Thursday, September 24, 2015

New 'Missing Maura Murray' Episode is the Best Yet

This week, Lance and Tim interview University of New Hampshire Professor of Forensic Psychology, Dr. Robert Eckstein.

Dr. Eckstein discusses psycopathy and gives perhaps a better diagnosis for Maura Murray.

Check it out.


63 comments:

  1. I really liked the podcast and I think it was great to have a Forensic psychologist on here. I think its a great idea to have his students look at the case.
    It reminded me of the college professor who had her students look into a case on whether the guy was wrongfully convicted. Her and her students helped free this man from prison and prove he was innocent.
    Having the students look into Mauras case could bring some new insight into it.

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  2. Excellent podcast episode. What if he is right after all the windshield had a huge spider crack on it from the inside, which tells me Maura hit her head. What if she did find refuge somewhere and kept drinking and then she fell asleep or passed out. With a concussion that could be deadly. Or she could have fallen into a crevice or something. Her remains could still be out there. Then reading Chris Peaks new article on Maura it is so baffling...but one thing is for sure someone knows. Heck she could have been found already and had the money on her. Causing the money to be taken and nothing ever said about her. So many scenerios.....is she being held captive? We all know it happens and in a heavily wooded area weirdos build camps and live off the land all the time as hermits.I truly hope that you are closer to solving this mystery James.

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    1. Lots of nuts in the woods. There is more evidence for her disappearance being done by her than someone else.

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    2. There are nuts everywhere, Crunchy Chip but I would say on average there is a far higher percentage of nuts in the towns and cities than in the woods

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    3. Anonymous. OMG. You are right! If both airbags deployed would it even be possible for her head to hit the windshield? Are we truly sure the crack was from the inside? Could the crack have been made from the outside then exacerbated from the inside to cover up that is was from the outside? Also if both airbags deployed does that mean that someone was sitting in the passenger seat? I know that ( in cars today) the passenger air bag does not deploy unless someone is sitting there. Was her car too old to have that feature?

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    4. Stop with the assumption that because there is a crack in the windshield, the only conclusion is that MM struck her head. The crack is consistent with airbag deployment, not of a bodily impact. If MM struck her head with enough force to damage the windshield there would likely be a laceration that would bleed heavily, yet there was no blood found on the scene. Furthermore it would have been nearly impossible for MM to strike her head on the windshield in that position due to the airbag deployment. This was a low speed crash.

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  3. Enjoying the podcasts guys, simplifying a complicated case isn't easy. Seems the more we dig for answers the deeper the mysteries get.

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  4. There is an interesting book about psychology and accidents, which indicates a study of aggressiveness and accident-prone personality. Because accidents, 3 that we know of in a week indicates a psychological aspect.

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  5. Dr. Robert Eckstein is more than likely right. After being held to such a high standard her life was in a free fall. Credit card fraud, stealing makeup, kicked out of West Point, possibly a hit and run, totaling her dad's car; she was in a dark place. She decided that she had to get away for a week and when she did...crashed her car. She took some sleeping pills, took the bottle of liquor, ran/walked into the woods, hid where they couldn't find her, and drank until she passed out and hypothermia set in.

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    1. I believe the sleeping pills were found inside the car. She didnt take them with her.Maura's family explained her having them by saying she used them for her knee injury.
      I would Like to know if there was any gone from the bottle and if so how many?

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    2. Or she was running and got stuck somehow but I agree Maura did this to herself.

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    3. So why wasn't MM's scent able to be tracked by the dogs? Why was the scent present on the roadway (where it should be at it's lowest level due to vehicular traffic) up to 500ft? There were no footprints found in the snow which would be present had MM ventured into the woods. I highly doubt MM thought to conceal her tracks if she was planning an immediate suicide. Tylenol PM was found in MM's vehicle, but there is no evidence that she had some on her person. No body has been found, no liquor bottles. None of her possessions, nothing. The area for several miles in all directions of the crash site has been thoroughly searched and nothing has been found. I could possibly subscribe to an accidental death due to exposure, but I do not believe that MM committed suicide given the details available in the case.

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    4. Good theory. But her body would of been found. That area has been combed over and over.

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    5. Disagree. I believe the maximum search radius was 3 miles. For a runner, even an out of practice one, that is too little.

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    6. @avk45 - For MM to have travelled such a distance would lend even more credence to an accidental death by exposure theory. Why cover a large distance if you are planning immediate suicide? That doesn't really correlate to the evidence.

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  6. Loved the podcast; finally someone else believes in the exact same theory as I do. Maura was most definitely not a psychopath, and her disappearance seems like the culmination of a steady stream of very bad luck and very poor choices. I have always believed that in this case, the most simplistic answer is the most believable. People can disappear or be "dumped" in a vast wilderness like the White Mountains and their bodies never recovered. In my opinion, it is far less likely that a young woman with extremely limited resources could purposely disappear for 11 years without a trace; how would she earn a sustainable income, pay bills, and function in society without being discovered. It just doesn't make sense. Thank you Lance, Tim, and Dr. Eckstein for a great interview. Looking fwd to next week!

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  7. It makes my day when I get bores in the afternoon and search in yt and see another added episode to that channel. Please keep them coming.

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  8. I don't remember the tandem driver theory being mentioned by him, I wonder what he thoughts were on that

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  9. Here is another frustrating thing for me and it sort of plays into the docs theory of run away. Rick Forcier said he saw a hooded female run up a dirt road on his way back from work. LE actually found his statement credible so why don't we know what road or area he was referring to? Why the big secret?

    James, wish you could get a Rick Forcier interview

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  10. Really liked the insights on her impulsiveness. She definitely had a pattern of making decisions which might've been fun or rewarding in the short term, but were destructive in the long term (jeopardizing a world-class education by stealing makeup, jeopardizing a very good education by stealing credit card info, etc.).

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  11. I don't really believe in the theory that she walked off into the woods and died. There was plenty of snow on the ground - this would have made a very easy trail to follow.

    Also, large decaying bodies smell VERY bad. During the spring thaw all that rotting flesh could be detected for quite some distance. The bones would still be there and animals typically scatter them about which means hunters and woods walkers would stumble upon them.

    Could it be she committed some kind of very serious crime, that the general public doesn't know about, and simply hiding out?

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    1. There was snow on the ground, but it was also dark and initially the cops thought she hadn't gone far; it is likely that the initial search was not done that carefully. Tracks could have been walked over and obliterated by the cops. She could easily have gone off the road to hide out and, drunk and disoriented and in the dark, slipped down an embankment and into the river. Even if she didn't go into the river, animals could have eaten most of the body before decay set in. Small pieces of bone are hard to identify for the average person, especially if they are mostly eaten, carried off into animal dens, broken and scattered over a large area, partially obscured by leaves, etc.

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  12. Great podcast! I would love to hear more about what he thinks about Fred, or even what has been reported about her friends' behavior.

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  13. I dont believe the accident was staged she had just filled up with gas. She wrecked out hard deploying the air bags. And was drinking risking an OUI to ditch a car with a full tank of gas just doesnt make sense. With houses and witnesses around.

    I dont think she was suicidal. She was a disapointment but had a lot of achievements most 21 year olds didnt have . Even dropping out of West Point not too many people even get to say that.

    Its clear she was picked up by someone and left the area. I dont think its odd she declined help from Butch Atwood who told her his house was right there if she was trying to avoid a DUI.

    Tandem driver fits but it also would mean it had to be one of her friends. I dont think she left for Canada that night with a new boyfriend , that would mean somebody else would also be off the grid for 12 years. And the accident which i dont think was staged would have greatly impacted that plan.

    I think being taken by an opportunistic person is down played and dismissed to easily. If her car indeed had a cylindar exhaust issue, the cold air and the heat would cause a smoke contrail. The rag in the tail pipe when she left Amherst could of blown out. When it blown out she could of been blasting up 91 N attracting attention to herself and car leaving a contrail in her rear view mirrior. She probablly got off at the first exit ( woodsville rt 112) needed to gas up anyway and put a new rag in the tail pipe. It would of been easy for someone to be friend her at the gas station ( after they had already been following her ) . Maybe someone or individuals more closer in her age. If she was heading to Bartlett she might of stayed on secondary road Route 112 not knowing or forgetting Bear Notch Road on the Kangamangous was closed in winter. If her vehicle was blasting a cylindar smoke contrail it takes opportunist astronomical odds and brings that theory more to a plausible scenario.

    Death by misadventure i tend to lean to the most. I would love to re create that night with weather conditions with a similar girl her age get her BAC up over the legal limit. Find a winter night with similar weather conditions and have her set out on foot in the direction where Rick Foricer saw who he believes was her moving swiftly. I would tell the recreate test subject to avoid headlights and hide from emergency vehicles. It would be interesting to see the girls actions and how far she could get attempting to evade every passerbye. Most probable she had a head injury had a high blood alcohol content and dove over a snow bank or possibly got hit by a car and that person panicked and took her body out of the area.

    Enjoying the Podcasts : I would love to have a Podcast with Hadley officer Mark Ruddock , I think Petrit Vassi would be a great Podcast. I think somebody credible who was boots on the ground would be a great Podcast. Who would you like ?

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    1. "or possibly got hit by a car and that person panicked and took her body out of the area."

      This is a possibility which gets overlooked a ton, but makes a whole lot of sense. It's not difficult to imagine, and is probably my "second place" theory.

      It goes, basically, just like you've described. Some man or woman was distracted and hit MM as she was running down the road. Alternatively, MM, possibly while intoxicated and/or still in a frightened state of mind following the crash, darted into the path of an approaching car.

      Regardless, the driver panicked, or simply decided that there was no way he or she was going to turn him or herself in, and tossed an unconscious MM in his or her car. MM did not survive, and the driver discarded the body somewhere miles away from the accident scene.

      MM was not a large person, and many people would not struggle to drag her body into a vehicle. Nor would it take all that long to do so . . . possible less than a couple minutes. In other words, I think that it's reasonable to believe someone could have hit MM and dragged her body into their car without being seen by another motorist. Nor is it a given that the vehicle which hit MM would incur enough, or any, visible damage sufficient to arouse suspicion. There are tons of pickups with brush bars and "beater" cars on the roads in Northern NH, especially in the winter.

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  14. With all due respect that podcast was a waste of time. I'd rather hear people who actually knew the girl or are involved in the case.

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    1. I was intrigued by his statements until he said that her mug shot showed fear. It most certainly did not. It showed disgust, anger, and annoyance. Even an untrained person can see that by googling images of those emotions on people's faces and then comparing them to the mig shot. Key is around the eyes and the tightly closed lips.

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    2. I agree the center of the face is where the emotions show. She doesn't look scared.

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  15. Wow, best podcast so far. If Dr. Eckstein comes back to the podcast I would love to know what the difference is between sociopaths that actually become serial killers and those (sociopath's) that function in society as politicians, ceo's ect...

    I grew up in a medical family, (Psychologist mainly) I grew up believing that sociopaths didn't kill, yet walked amongst "normal society" free from empathy and guilt, achieving great success because of those emotions they were born without.

    Phychopaths were the serial killers. They were the Sociopaths that were abused in childhood thus creating a monster.

    I heard Dr. Eckstein say that now there is only one diagnosis Now as sociopathic?

    Their has to be a clinical definition between the two....right?

    I cannot wait to hear his students ideas/theories about this cold case. Hearing thoughts about MM's disappearance from kids her own age ( at the time of her dissappearence )
    could be so insightful.

    Once again, great podcast. I appreciated that the hosts just let Dr. Eckstein speak to answer their questions fully instead of interrupting him.

    I wish I was one of his students:)

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    1. They use 'psychopath' universally now because the concept of 'sociopath' was coined at a time when social factors were the focus of studying such people. I always think of 'psychopath' as being prone to violence or being dangerous, but I suppose I'll just have to get over it. (There are probably qualifiers that professionals use to make the distinction.)

      Anyway, I too really enjoyed this podcast episode.

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    2. I agree that I've also heard many psychological experts still use sociopath and psychopath. remember Columbine? They diagnosed one of the killers as a sociopath (which us odd being you cannot really diagnose someone without talking to them).

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  16. As far as the crack in the windshield, let's not forget the laws of physics. Everything in the car with her was traveling at the same amount of speed, I.e. Coke bottle, book, non of which were wearing a seat belt we can safely assume:) maybe one of those objects made the crack and therefore the crack in the window is a moot point in terms of its bodily impact on Maura.

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  17. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/11893311/Missing-woman-found-30-years-after-man-confessed-to-her-murder.html

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  18. I have another rag in the tailpipe theory that makes a lot of sense. Tell me what you think.

    Maura needed to get away for a few days as she was majorly stressed about all going on in her life. When she got into the accident in Haverhill that was the last straw.Her plans of just chilling for a few days wasn't in the cards. Maura got the rag from the trunk and shoved it up the tailpipe to try and commit suicide, Maura went back into the car to start it up but it did not start because the was disabled from the air bag deployment. Butch Atwood then arrived at the scene ans saw Maura shivering because she was previously at the trunk etc.. Maura then decided that police would probably show up so she decided that she best leave the car.

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    1. Somewhat close to what I think happened. Also it has been said that Maura's driver's side passenger window was cracked open (I haven't been able to prove that, but more than one place states this) if true, may have been an attempt to let exhaust enter her car

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    2. Clint- Did you ask the supervisor ( Karen M) if there were video cameras
      taping the security posts at school? Can you find out if you don't already know?

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    3. Thats interesting and a question I'd like to know. Was Maura's passenger side window cracked open. If it was, could it be because someone was smoking in the car. Most smokers, if smoking in a vehicle, will crack the window down.

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    4. The person smoking in Mara's car has been debunked. There was only one person attached to the saturyn at the accident location as noted by five witnesses. Faith Westman has denied actually saying she saw a man smoking in Maura's car. It was most likely the 911 dispatcher who came to that conclusion based on Faith trying to talk in real time to the dispatcher and describe what she was seeing that night.

      JWB -- I am not sure on cameras and that would've been very good information to have to prove a lot of things that occurred that odd night. Maybe police have a copy of the camera if there was a camera in the dorm Maura worked in. Obviously, if they did have a copy, they would not release that to the public

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    5. Anon Dec. 10, 2011 indicated, " floor mat with a burn", strange, and not sure which floor mat?

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  19. I'm watching the Chronicle video from WCVB--it's interesting to see all of the sights we're hearing about in the podcast. They stated that before she went missing, Maura was searching for hotel reservations for two people, not one, when she made her phone calls? I never saw any explanation of how they knew that... Also, it comes up so often (even in this Chronicle broadcast, which included her sister) that she got a phone call from her sister that upset her. I'm assuming her sister has remained 100 percent silent on whether or not they ever had any sort of conversation that would have upset her, even in the early days following the accident?

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  20. I think James is right about her being a psychopath. If she is alive, she didn't even go to her mothers funeral, that says it all.

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    1. Maybe she visited the grave though or had flowers delivered. Does anybody know if the mother was buried?

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    2. She never committed violent crimes, therefore it's pretty impossible to claim she was a psychopath. Many people who have issues with self-esteem and control steal and have food issues as a means to create some sort of control for themselves.

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    3. My impression is that she was impulsive, dishonest, and a bit of a petty thief. That does not make her a hardened psychopathic criminal. Just my .02.

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  21. If maura was bullied by Fred & her mother allowed it that would explain why she didn't go to funeral.i don't think you can say she's a psychopath solely based on if she went to the funeral.

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    1. Well stated. There seems to be an unfortunate tendency to extrapolate specific conclusions regarding Maura's personality from various incidences in her life when none of us really know her as a person. No competent psychologist would make a firm diagnosis without spending a good deal of time with his or her patient. I don't think it's out of line to say that we can infer she was probably on the impulsive side, and had difficulty balancing risk against reward. She made some bad decisions, but that does not automatically make her a psychopath, sociopath, or whatever-path.

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    2. True, that alone doesn't suggest she's psychopathic. I think a lot of people like her mother feared him by the sounds of things. I think if she is in hiding, she will emerge once Fred has passed away, that's just my two cents worth.

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    3. I wonder if her mother had family that could have helped maura get away?a lot has been written about Fred & mauras sisters but the divorce could have lead to a family divide with the mothers family wanting to protect maura

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  22. I have a question. As someone who was on probation, according to the Massachusetts probation FAQ (at least under current rules), Maura should have reported to her probation officer if she was planning on leaving the state. Has anyone checked to see if she did so? I am guessing she did not, but it is just an idea.

    Also, if she indeed did NOT get permission as required, this could have provided additional motivation for her to run off into the woods to avoid the cops...and maybe even motivation to "disappear for awhile and allow people to think a crime had occurred, or even motivation to go through with a suicide (if she thought she would and up in jail for leaving the state without reporting).

    Thoughts?

    Reference Mass probation FAQ here: http://www.mass.gov/courts/court-info/probation/ocp-faq-gen.html#MayItraveloutofstatewhileonprobation

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    1. I don't think it has been confirmed that Maura was on probation.The charges would have been dropped if she stayed out of trouble but I don't remember anything about her actually being on probation and having to check in with a probation officer.

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    2. Yeah I read somewhere it was three months.

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    3. Usually only serious probations require notification for leaving the area. She may have had a probation that just simply stated something like "if you get in trouble again..." I've never heard of someone having to report their movements for a small theft.

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  23. In the book Without Conscience by Robert Hare, the Dr. who created the PCL-R that Dr. Éclat win talked about , tells the story of how he once asked a psychopath how they felt about killing and the response was something to the effect that they wouldn't do it because the thought of them getting messy with someone's blood was gross. Chilling. To the person above who wants to know why some are violent and some aren't, the answer is that it doesn't serve their purposes to be violent or it doe

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    1. @Chefsgirl I agree, killing to them is no different than brushing their teeth. Everything is an object, even people and depersonalization occurs.

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  24. I wish someone would do a transcript or summarize these podcasts. I often cannot listen or find that they drag on too long.

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  25. Maybe the death in the family was foreshadowing that she was on her way to get an abortion and that's why she needed the week off.

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  26. I can't understand, for the love of God, why you can't accept Fred's explanation that HE was the one who told her to stick a rug in the tail pipe so the car wouldn't make noise. Maybe it was stupid but why WHY would he lie !!!!!!! ???????

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    1. Well Fred doesn't seem to be forth coming, unless its to hide something, I think that's why its been a debate for so long, it seems most of the mysteries involving this case has stemmed from Fred.

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    2. Adriana, I agree. The tailpipe thing has never struck me as odd.

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  27. I do not think that Maura Murray is/was a psychopath and probably not a sociopath. I think she very clearly has Borderline Personality Disorder and the traits are pretty evident.

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    1. Yes. Only post so a bit lengthy. Surprised at sociopathy being so strongly suggested as singular potential diagnosis. I appreciate earlier posts cautioning against pathologizing and stigmatizing Maura with less constructive understanding and analysis of stressors, varying social/cultural contexts and interpersonal dynamics, life history, and traits even if well-intended. However, I agree with you that borderline traits are possibly evident.

      She has certainly faced various stressors within the context of high states of anxiety. Some of the actions and statements of her family and Billy's family strike me as those which may be interpreted as controlling and less validating, particularly if mental health or addiction challenges were present. I was curious as to why I was so interested in this case and come to see how I identify with some of her experiences and actions as well as certain consequences. Anxiety and depression plus alcohol can alter or impair one's judgment and impulse control.

      Mistakes and accidents abound and she did not reach out to the university supervisor figure who identified and empathized with Maura and her experiences. Luck played a role in some of the causes and conditions as well as people leading to various choices and outcomes. Also, as a pretty young white woman perceived as smart and harmless, she certainly dodged harsher legal and social sanctions. Surely, news of her sexual liaisons (orgies; coach), credit card fraud and other elements may have exacerbated her dis-ease in relating to other college peers. The pictures of her female cousins in the pornographic magazine at her father's house being foreclosed also prompts me to consider what sort of traumas or empathic failures might Maura have faced in combination with certain vulnerabilities. Maura was said to help her older sister with her homework at West Point while a classmate noted Maura's sister being exceptionally hard on Maura. Even within interviews, these people surrounding Maura seem stressful and controlling rather than calming or supportive. I also sense denial around challenges and acts, which is understandable.

      BPD traits are over represented in those within nursing and other helping professions. I would imagine running helped her process and feel better, but it too was yet another stressful aspect of life (affair with coach; multiple sexual relations with team and related external judgment; competition). Also interesting how it is predominantly men so strongly offering up this sociopathic diagnosis. Just saying...someone else did note a bit of the implicit and explicit "slut shaming" throughout comments, podcasts, etc., which again are often dominated by white, straight men who often do not discuss gendered dynamics of the case.

      Cyn

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    2. Whew. I have lived in big urban areas, attended larger competitive academic institutions, but I would not have been able to withstand dynamics surrounding Maura along with rigors of her coursework and training. Who knows how comforting or damning/judgmental her father may have been at a time of great vulnerability. At times of great stress and anxiety, I would get into accidents and thankfully stopped driving but I would also accidentally burn myself with iron or be accident prone when stressed out (whether drinking or not). Sometimes being a very attractive woman who is vulnerable and often tipsy may also attract attention that may be intertwined with sexualuzation or sexual exploitation. The mother was depressed/with hurt ankle and unable to leave her house (but for years?!) and Billy's mother is interviewed rather than her in many contexts. Her mother died of cancer but seemed nearly invisible while Fred was "acting" like a head search person when cameras were rolling but very much a puppeteer (silencing/threatening her friends not to speak, etc). But did Fred give her the $4000 to help Maura disappear? Lots of shades of grey...
      Cyn

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