Thursday, October 13, 2016

Chance Encounter Provides Possible Explanation for Maura Murray's Disappearance

As an old-school shoe-leather reporter, there's nothing I love more than a good bar story. This one has all the hallmarks of a legit run-in with someone from Maura's inner circle - and they provide an explanation that took me years to bring myself to.

There's also enough identifying info here, that I'm confident a websleuth with a little time can track this down.

Here it is:

I went to college at Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass, class of **. In
the fall of 2004 (it was football season), I was in a bar called
Moynihans on Main Street, close to the campus of Clark University. It
was a Saturday afternoon because college football was on TV. The bar
was half empty, and I started up a conversation with this guy who told
me he was a grad student at Clark. He told me he had recently
graduated UMASS.


An Army football game highlight or score came on the TV, and I stopped
the conversation to watch. The guy asks me why and I explain its
because my dad graduated West Point and we always went to games when I
was a kid, and I still rooted for the team. He then started talking to
me about the missing girl who had gone to West Point and then to
UMASS. I hadn't heard about it at the time and he explained to me what
I now know is the MM case. He told me that it was an open secret among
people who knew her personally at UMASS that she ran off on her own to
get away from an abusive relationship. He said that he knew people
that knew her and that had been in on the whole thing, and that people
freaked out once the police and newspapers and media had picked up on
the story. I remember thinking at the time that it was an interesting
story, but that she'd eventually be found out. When I got back to my
dorm later that day, I looked it up online and read a newspaper
article or two, but then totally forgot about the whole thing until I
started reading your blog and the wikipedia on MM.


I know my story doesn't prove anything, but it's interesting that
someone so far back who was personally familiar with MM's circles at
UMASS had been speculating about her running away on her own volition.

Old Link Provides Lots of Info on UMass Teammates


Here's a link to an old program from the time Maura Murray was running with the UMass Amherst track team. Lots of familiar names. Some new.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Someone Is Actively Trying to Shut Down This Site

There are only two reasons why this blog would disappear. 1. If Maura is discovered to be alive and well. 2. If the person/persons trying to shut it down finally succeed.

I've been debating about whether or not to share this publicly because I don't want to give attention to this kind of thing. But recently the attacks on this site and anything connected to True Crime Addict have increased dramatically.

It started with notifications from Blogger that someone was trying to reset my password through a similar email. Shortly after that, and just before the release of my book, there were two DDos attacks on my personal website, jamesrenner.com They succeeded in shutting down the site for a couple days. I have since hired a private security firm that monitors the site and handles additional attacks quickly.

Then came the "official" looking emails that contained links to Google docs related to information in Maura Murray's disappearance but when clicked would download keywood-logging software. Luckily these were flagged by Google before I clicked into it.

Then came the most disturbing attack. Someone created an email to make it appear that my publisher was contacting me and asking me to review a document. They used her name, my name, and everything looked official. I should have been suspicious as normally the publisher doesn't contact me directly - I work with her assistant, mostly. So I clicked on it. It asked for my password and without thinking, entered it. What followed was a difficult day of resetting every single password I had and scrubbing the sites.

Following this, someone successfully posted porn on the site. Security took that down, too.

Beyond the attacks, there has been a very organized disinformation campaign on Reddit that focuses mostly on two narratives: 1. That Maura simply wandered off into the woods to die and there's no mystery. 2. Bill Rausch's actions after the disappearance don't amount to anything.

When I've been able to track the emails, it tends to lead back to rerouting services in the Netherlands.

The question is, where are these attacks coming from?

Do I think they're coming from the Murrays (Julie Murray worked for Booz Allen, the same CIA contractor that Snowden worked for). No, I don't. I don't think Julie would waste her time on something like this.

Do I think it's coming from Bill Rausch, who has a history working for the elite propaganda and misinformation office of the U.S. military? No. I don't see him doing anything so brazen.

Someone who knew them? A coworker? Alden Olson? Some troll with nothing better to do?

In the end, I doubt it really matters. I doubt it would change anything to know their identity.

For what it's worth, the Cold Case Unit has some of the original emails. That's about all I can do.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

New Episode of True Crime Garage Features The Serial Killer's Apprentice

 Fans of true crime podcasts may find the new episode of True Crime Garage particularly interesting. It's the story of Robert Buell, a serial killer from Ohio was put to death in 2002 - but who may not have acted alone.

Buell was the subject of the title story from my collection of true crime tales: The Serial Killer's Apprentice. I'm in the garage with Nic and The Captain to talk about it.

You can subscribe on itunes here.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Records Show Bill Rausch Was Part of an Elite Military Propaganda Unit

The truth about the Information Operations Task Force came to light in 2005 when journalists discovered that American soldiers were writing propaganda in support of the unjustified war in Iraq and funneling it through private groups which then helped to place the articles in foreign newspapers.

As the Los Angeles Times put it:
As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.
On his RallyPoint page, Rausch is listed as working for the IOTF in 2006.

Prior to this Rausch was stationed at Fort Trotten as part of the 301st battalion, part of the 151st Theater Information Operations Group, which was tasked with "synchronizing related capabilities comprised of five core functions: electronic warfare, military deception, psychological operations, operational security, and computer network operations."

Psychological operations is known as PSYOPS in the field. PSYOPS create spin, "to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp adversarial human and automated decision making while protecting our own." In the past they have attempted to infiltrate American media as well, most notably getting caught at CNN and NPR.

You can read more about this sort of thing in this article from Christopher Hitchens at Slate.