Friday, March 25, 2016

**UPDATE** SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! Did Maura Write the GeoCities Post?


Years ago, someone posted this mysterious message on a GeoCities message board devoted to the case:

Maura Murray is NOT a Missing Person
Maura Murray has the right as every independent adult does to leave with her new boyfriend and start a new life. Maura is living a content and satisfying life in the Province of Quebec.
Maura's father Fred Murray never quite forgave her for being asked to leave West Point. It was his personal bragging point that he had two daughters at West Point. Maura’s dismissal damaged Fred’s ego and he never completely forgave her.
Maura’s being asked to leave West Point and all the ensuing criticism by her father was the beginning of a certain line of thought for Maura, culminating in her leaving on Feb 9, 2004 to start a new life unencumbered by the constant criticism of her father. Maura’s relationship with William Rausch was near its end. According to Maura’s sister Kathleen, they were having ‘serious problems.’ Maura had met someone new, who unlike William Rausch, had no West Point connections and therefore was not a constant reminder to her of her failure at West Point.
On the night of February 5, 2004, Maura took a break from her job at the security desk at a UMass dormitory to go and briefly get coffee and some food.
Sometime between 12 MN and 1 AM Maura driving her Saturn struck and critically injured the UMass student Petrit Vasi leaving him for dead.
Around 1 AM - 1:20 AM Feb 6 Maura had a complete emotional breakdown brought on by this hit and run accident. Maura’s breakdown was witnessed by a student who reported this to Maura's supervisor, who then came and saw that Maura needed physical help to get back to her dormitory. The supervisor then physically helped Maura back to her dorm and recommended counseling.
Between 2 and 3 AM on the morning of Sunday Feb 8, Maura had a second motor vehicle accident wrecking her father's new car.
Fred Murray’s new car was towed around 3 AM to his Hadley motel room. Maura arrived at Fred's motel at the same time as a passenger in the tow truck. Fred was not happy with Maura to put it mildly. What happened in this motel room we’ll never know. The next day Maura left for good.

Maura needed to disguise the evidence of the Petrit Vasi hit and run by staging another accident for the purpose of covering up the damage to her car from the Vasi hit and run. She and her new boyfriend travelled in tandem to Route 112 in NH (He was already in Southern NH). The accident was staged, she left her Saturn, walked down the road to where her boyfriend was waiting for her in his car. She disappeared, her only wish is that she be left alone to live her life in peace. She is happy and contented and just wants to be left alone.

I'm in New York right now, recording the audiobook, and I came across this section of the story, again. But for the first time, I noticed something. This passage: "The supervisor then physically helped Maura back to her dorm and recommended counseling."

Why is that important? Because until I interviewed her, Maura's supervisor, Karen Mayotte had NEVER been interviewed. Not by police. Not by reporters. That was a very specific, personal detail. The only people who could have known about that were Karen and Maura, and whoever Maura told personally (though I find it hard to believe Maura would have shared the info).

It's possible, I suppose, that this detail appears in the report Karen wrote and handed in to UMass police, in which case the detectives knew this detail (though they never got the story straight from her). And perhaps the police leaked this info in an early news report -- BUT I can find no record of this detail in an article prior to the posting.

Now consider one more detail. The notation for Midnight. "12 MN." That's dictation they teach in nursing school, so that midnight is never mixed up with noon on a patient's charts.

One more thing: When this was posted to GeoCities, the Maura Murray case had not become the huge Internet mystery it is, today. If Maura is alive and sitting at home, Googling herself, might she have reached out to the small community at the time to kind of tell them off? Maybe.

Can anyone find the exact day of the original post? Can we find any reference to the "counseling for Maura" idea before this post?

I have goosebumps.

In March, 2006, Karen Mayotte posted the following on an old message board:

Please do not assume that I did not help Maura, because reading the recent post was upsetting. I love Maura, and I did everything in my power to help her. I held her as she was crying, I walked her back to her room, I gave her my cell phone so I could bring her to Dunkin Donuts in the morning. Previous to that I had begged to bring her to a campus counselor, or just out to Dunkins that night when she got out of shift. She told me that she was okay, and that she would be going home to a roommate (which I never realized beforehand that she had a single room).

So, the info, while not widely dispersed, was out there. Still... I think the medical notation is interesting. If it wasn't Maura, was it someone she studied with at UMass?

Thanks to "Oatmeal Man" for the tip.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The State of the Case

Two months to go before True Crime Addict is released! The traffic to this blog is picking up every day, and there are a lot of new readers. I feel the need at this time to address a couple concerns that keep popping up.

1. My thoughts on Fred
At this time, I do not believe Fred had anything to do with Maura's disappearance that night. I don't think he knows where she is. I suspect, however, he knows why she went to New Hampshire. And he certainly has information from the last few days Maura was in UMass that I believe could be helpful.

2. Rathburn
Yes, I know about the guy who claims he saw some funny stuff at a lake near Warren, NH not long after Maura went missing - red liquid in a barrel, a red truck, a strange man...  No, I don't believe it has anything to do with this case. He may have seen what he believes he saw, but it was misinterpreted. I won't be discussing it further on this blog.

I know it's frustrating to wait so long to see your comments posted. Unfortunately, I have to approve every comment for publication. You don't have to agree with me to get your comment approved but you do have to be civil. There has been a significant increase in trolling and threats lately, too. I will not approve any comment that identifies an uncharged suspect or any comment that is threatening, vulgar, or plain mean.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

An Invitation to Fred Murray

There's a bit of histrionics that keeps getting repeated as we get closer and closer to the release of the book. It goes a little something like this: "Fred didn't want to be interviewed by Renner because of the things he said about his daughter on the blog."

It's catchy. Simple. And totally untrue.

Long before I created this blog, I reached out to Fred. I called him at home. I sent messages through the website admin that runs the family's site. Before I spoke to anyone, I wanted him to know that I was writing a book on the case.

But Fred made it clear to me in late 2010 that he didn't want a book written about his daughter. He didn't want to talk.

That was the first of many red flags for me. I thought about not writing a book. But the question - why the father of a missing woman wouldn't want to talk about the case - was a compelling mystery. I spoke to several people who interviewed Fred in the weeks after Maura went missing. They suggested the reason he didn't want to talk to me is because he wouldn't be able to control the questions I asked. In earlier interviews he made it clear to reporters that he wouldn't talk about the events leading up to Maura's disappearance. He set ground-rules for interviews. He knew he couldn't do that with me.

So, years later, they've created a false narrative to explain that. But it's not true.

I would, of course, still like to talk to Fred. In fact, I have always given him the opportunity to clear up misconceptions and to help us understand the truth about what happened that day. This blog has been viewed nearly 5 million times and averages about 10,000 views every day. That's a lot of people who want to help find this man's daughter.

So, Fred. Let's talk.

Here are the questions I will ask you:

1. Why did you visit so many ATMs to withdraw $4,000 in cash the weekend before Maura disappeared and what happened to all of that money?

2. How and why did Maura arrive in your motel room at 3 a.m. Sunday morning, the day before she disappeared? You told the cops you woke up to find her in bed. But private investigators were told you were called to get her out of the lobby where she'd passed out.

3. Why did you tell friends of Maura's not to talk to me before the blog was created?

4. What did Sara Alfieri tell you that she promised not to tell anyone else?

5. Why did you refuse to sit for a formal interview with homicide detectives with the state police for two years? When you finally met with them why did you feel the need to bring two lawyers?

Hard questions? Yes they are. But to understand where Maura went, we need a better picture of where she came from. Our goal is the same: to find Maura Murray.

Unless she doesn't want to be found.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

What Do You Believe?

What is easier to believe?

1. That an intelligent man - whose house is about to be foreclosed on - visited 8 different ATMs to withdraw $4,000 in cash (that's 200 twenty-dollar bills, by the way) instead of writing a check or getting it all at once from a teller.


2. Someone who wasn't Fred, who had access to the account, withdrew that money because they couldn't write the check or visit a teller (because they weren't Fred).

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Drama on Reddit Leads to Censoring of Several Crime Podcasts

If you're into cold cases, you really should subscribe to the UnresolvedMysteries subreddit. You'll learn about new cases every day. It's also where you'll hear about the latest episodes of crime podcasts. Or used to. Something weird happened yesterday.

It started with this thread from the moderators, in which they implied all links to podcasts and blogs would be henceforth be relegated to a separate subreddit that nobody follows.

It didn't take long for their readership to say, "Uh... what?" The majority of commenters didn't support the change and when it began to sway toward other ideas, the post was "unstickied" and buried.

This is all very insider-baseball, I know.

But if you like Unresolved and you enjoy hearing about these podcasts, message the mods and let them know what you think.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Fred Changes Story About the $4,000, Again.

A quick recap: Just before Maura disappeared, someone visited 8 different ATMs in Massachusetts and withdrew $4,000 from her father Fred's bank account. Fred has gone on record, in a police report, claiming it was him.

And remember back in November, when the Murray family spokesperson said that, after Maura disappeared, the money was put back into an account that Maura could access?

Well, during last night's live discussion, that story changed again. John Wolfman Smith says that Fred recently told him only $500 went back into that shared account after Maura disappeared.

What happened to the remaining $3,500?

No version of this story makes sense. And it keeps changing.

The thing about the truth? It doesn't change. The truth is easy to remember because it happened. It's harder to remember lies.

Monday, March 7, 2016

**UPDATED** Live Discussion Tonight

Forget the Presidential debates, tonight's big debate is about the Maura Murray case and it's LIVE!

I'll be on with Lance & Tim, along with John "The Wolfman" Smith and Clint "The Crusher" Harting.

Here's a recording of the live show!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Time to Catch Up on the Podcast!

Two new episodes of the Missing Maura Murray podcast came out this week.

You can watch them on YouTube or follow this link to download on iTunes.

Also, I will be a part of the live interview show happening tomorrow (Monday) night at about 8:30 EST.  Follow Lance & Tim's Twitter feed for details on how to join the conversation tomorrow!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Join Me in Boston, June 15!

True Crime Addict will be published May 24 and I will be coming to Massachusetts in June for a book release and signings.

The OFFICIAL book release will be Wednesday, June 15 at Trident Booksellers in Boston at 7 p.m. I'll be reading from the book and answering questions. Come out and pick up a signed first edition!

The following evening - June 16 - I will be signing books at the Barnes & Noble in Hadley, near the UMass campus, at 7 p.m.

Stay up to date on all signings on my Goodreads page.

See you soon!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Library Journal Gives True Crime Addict a Starred Review!

Starred reviews are rare awards for upcoming books. Happy to report today that Library Journal just gave True Crime Addict a starred review. You can read it here.

Their verdict?

An entrancing, brilliant next step for fans of the podcast Serial, Netflix's Making a Murderer, and other true crime cases.