Friday, February 26, 2016

Sneak Peek: A Page of Art from True Crime Addict


This is part of a two-page map near the back of the book, showcasing some of the locations I visited while searching for Maura Murray. Click to embiggen.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Bill/Kate/Maura

One eagle-eyed reader noticed something in the phone records that has yet to be reported: On the day of Maura's disappearance, Bill was trying all day to speak to Maura. But they never connected. There was only one time when Maura called Bill from her cell phone that day. And it happened at the same time Bill was calling Kate Markopoulos. The call went to voice mail and Maura never called him back after that.

Coincidence?

Or was Maura standing beside Kate when the call came in?


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

More thoughts on Kate Markopoulos and Sara Alfieri

In light of the new info regarding phone calls the day of Maura's disappearance, I revisited my early interviews with Kate Markopoulos.

Kate told me that she first learned that Maura was missing when Fred called her. "I thought he was joking at first," she said. The earliest this could have happened is around 6 p.m. the day after Maura vanished, according to Fred's phone records.

But as Billy's phone records show, Bill knew Maura was not in her dorm room - and was unreachable - about 36 hours before this. In fact, he called Kate to find out where she was. Billy didn't get through to Kate until about 6:30 on Tuesday -- around the same time Kate must have spoken to Fred.

In our first interview, Kate said: "I don't think Maura fell off the face of the Earth. Maybe she was trying to do that but then something else happened."

Still, it's hard to buy that Kate didn't notice Maura was gone until late Tuesday. And she blatantly lies about other things in this interview: she claims Hoss and Maura were not close, as far as she knew, she claims everything was kosher with Bill and Maura's relationship, etc. So I just can't tell what is earnest and what is clever.

Kate also talked about how the cops were mad at her for not remembering anyone at the party (which she said was in Sara's dorm, while other people have said it was off-campus). The cops were really mad with her about that. Which tells me something else... it tells me Sara was likely not talking either. The police had no idea who was at that party other than Sara and Kate.

Maura Murray Mystery Reaches Critical Mass


10,000 views yesterday. The success of Making a Murderer has brought many new readers to this site, introducing them to the confounding mystery of what happened to Maura Murray. What led her to the White Mountains? And what happened to her when she got there?

If you crave more info on the case, there are a couple places I'd recommend visiting:

Aurelia is Blogging provides a great pop-culture view of the case from a welcome female perspective. That's her meme up top.

This subReddit devoted to the case.

And, of course Lance & Tim's podcast.

Dig in!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Update on the Montreal Sighting





Some good news and bad news on the possible sighting of Maura Murray in Montreal.

According to an employee at Chez Suzette, a Montreal Police Detective came to the restaurant to view the video tape. Unfortunately, the tape had been erased by that time by their video system.

However, the detective was able to view several pictures taken of the video from an iPhone (see above, and click to embiggen). And the man who was with this woman paid with a Visa card, so they have that info, too.

How Our Obsession With True Crime Leads to a New Existentialism


I wrote a piece on the popularity of true crime stories - like Making a Murderer and Serial - and how it's pushing pop culture toward an existential crisis.

Check it out here.


Monday, February 15, 2016

Kate Markopoulos is the Key to This Mystery


Sometimes we don't see the forest for the trees...

I got to thinking about the phone calls Billy Rausch and Maura Murray were making the day that Maura disappeared.

Billy is trying to get Maura on the phone. He's calling her cell and her dorm trying to find her. Around 1 p.m., he starts calling Kate Markopoulos. The length of calls indicate he never got through but left a message.

Here's the thing. Kate never calls him back. And, Kate never calls Maura, either.

If she got the message -- Billy calling, asking where his girlfriend is, why didn't she immediately call Maura to let her know? And if Kate didn't get the message, where is she?

The day after the disappearance, Billy continues to call Kate's number, leaving messages until 6:28 p.m. when he speaks to someone on her line for 6 minutes. Either that's a very long message or they finally connected.

Later, after searching for Maura in the White Mountains, Billy again tries to call Kate Markopoulos over and over, getting no answer. Finally, he gets through to Sara Alfieri and after that there are no more calls to Kate.

To date, Kate is the most frustrating part of this mystery, the one with no answers. According to a private investigator, the Murray family grew frustrated with her lack of cooperation early on, we know the police were angry with her when she couldn't provide more information to them, and she gave only vague answers to me after I spent months trying to get her to return calls.

Members of her track team said she sort of disappeared for a couple weeks around the time of Maura's disappearance.

But, these calls... To me, the call logs speak volumes.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

**UPDATED** Did Maura Murray Celebrate 12 Years on the Run in Montreal?

In any missing persons case, you will have occasional sightings. Everyone has a look-alike or two out there. But the odd thing about sightings of Maura Murray is that they are mostly concentrated in Quebec. She's allegedly been seen in Sherbrooke and Quebec City. And last week - on the anniversary of her disappearance - she may have been seen having a late lunch in Montreal.

It began with this email:

I am a flight attendant currently on business in Montreal. During lunch yesterday with a coworker at a lovely little place called Suzette's, I spotted a woman who looked unbelievably like Maura. I used to read your blog from time to time, enough to know that I am fairly certain this woman was Maura. The resemblance was so uncanny I was distracted the rest of the day. I could not stop staring at this woman and looking back, I wish I had struck up some sort of conversation with her.

In follow-up emails, the flight attendant said the woman she saw was slight of build, soft-spoken, speaking in English with a handsome young man who accompanied her to the restaurant. Significant, again, because this is a French-speaking region of Quebec. This happened at Chez Suzette around 2 p.m. 

I contacted Chez Suzette and asked if they happened to have video. They did.



This is a still picture taken by a cell phone of the woman in the video. The quality is not so good because of the glare from the screen. The video is better, the man at Chez Suzette said. He, too, believes it really could be Maura. "But she looks older than the pictures, of course," he said.

I sent this info to the Cold Case Unit a couple days ago. Hopefully they act on it quickly because the man I spoke to at the the restaurant says the video gets overwritten by their system and he has no idea how long it will keep.

**UPDATE**
Apparently, the police now have the video. Please do not harass the nice people at Chez Suzette. 


Friday, February 12, 2016

Everything About This Case is Weird


A couple interesting tidbits came through via email the last few days. There's been another significant sighting, which I'll talk about after I give the police a couple days to track it down.

For the moment, here's a screen grab that reader Zak took from Google Maps. He was searching the area of Maura's accident and found a red truck parked on the side of the road by the river. One witness from that night remembered seeing a red truck with Mass plates turn around at the Swiftwater Stage Shop.

I mean, most likely it's nothing. But... weird, right?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Publishers Weekly Likes True Crime Addict!

True Crime Addict comes out May 24 but you can preorder today.  Trade journals have begun releasing early reviews and PW is first. Here's a snippet:
While this is clearly the definitive write-up on Murray’s story to date, Renner’s personal involvement in the case—and his self-destructive, relentless dedication to confronting the darkness at the heart of it—is the more noteworthy component of the narrative. 

Read the full review here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

***UPDATED*** The Strange Tale of Lori G


If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may remember all the excitement that happened a couple years ago when I discovered a strange link between Maura Murray and a woman named "Lori G." I have a little more info, now. First, a little refresher:

A friend of mine is a private investigator in Cleveland and he runs background on individuals for me, on occasion. He did a background check on Maura Murray years ago and something odd popped up. There's at least two other social security numbers linked to Maura. According to my P.I., when he's come across this before, it usually means that this person is using another person's identity. He believes it is likely Maura was using these two other social security numbers either before, or after, her disappearance.

One of these numbers belongs to Lori G.

Lori G is the same age as Maura. She lives in the general area of Hanson/Whitman, where the Murrays are from. She keeps her address and number unlisted. I was so convinced that Lori G was Maura a couple years ago that I had a police officer do a wellness check. He said it wasn't her.

This week, while in Boston, I dropped in on Lori G's ex-husband. He was fascinated with the story. But the woman he was married to was absolutely not Maura. He's never met Maura Murray and he's fairly certain Lori G has never met her, either. However...

At some point in time, Maura either intentionally (or accidentally?) used Lori G's SS number. I asked the ex-husband how Maura might have come across it. Very easily, he said. She had a habit of not keeping tabs on her personal info, especially when using computers. And when he divorced Lori G, their house in East Bridgewater was abandoned for some time. And while it was sitting abandoned, Lori G's personal paperwork was lying all over the floor.

He strongly believes Lori G's identity could easily have been stolen by someone coming into the house, or by someone dipping into her purse or looking over her shoulder in public.

Is it a coincidence? For me, it would be too much to believe it's all coincidental when you consider that Maura was already in trouble for stealing another woman's identity - and credit card number - when she disappeared.

***UPDATE***
After some further research, it appears that Lori G was born on the same day as Maura - and perhaps at the same hospital. Her SS # is two digits off from Maura's. It's possible this was an accident and at some point Maura's # was mixed up with Lori G's. However, to add extra confusion, there is a third woman who used Lori G's SS # as well, a 60 yr old woman with the last name Richardson.

Part of me wants to write this off as a mistake but the P.I. has only really seen this in people who have stolen identities. It's weird, like everything else in this case.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Gathering in Haverhill on 12 Year Anniversary


Today, John Smith spoke to a gathering of 20 people inside the Mountain Lakes Lodge, not far from where Maura disappeared 12 years ago. John is a talker and for about two hours he spoke about his thoughts on the case, which center on a conspiracy involving law enforcement, specifically ex-chief Williams.

There was no member of the Murray family present, but Fred visited the area on Sunday and spoke to Smith for a bit. Through Smith, he released a new statement, which again calls for the FBI's involvement (even though they are involved, already) and lays out a point-by-point case pointing the finger at Williams and the Haverhill police.

Also present were Tim and Lance with the podcast and "KF." I imagine the gang will have audio for you for their next podcast.

I'm out here, too, for a bit. I came up through Boston on my way and knocked on a couple doors. There's a little bit of new info. Nothing major. I will update this week.

After 12 years, the biggest unanswered question in this case, in my opinion, is what Sara Alfieri told Fred that she promised never to tell anyone else. Past is prologue and a better understanding of Maura's actions and behaviors leading to her disappearance might lead to new angles of investigation that could point us to the truth.

I will never understand the way the Murray family has reacted to this case. The information they keep secret. How Fred wouldn't meet with police detectives for two years. Why they kept the sighting at Butson's secret. I dunno.

12


Monday, February 8, 2016

New episode of Maura Murray podcast is up!

Hey gang. Check out Lance and Tim's new episode of the 'Missing Maura Murray' podcast.

This week, they go over a very detailed timeline of the days leading up to - and just after - Maura's disappearance. It's a good refresher.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Someone Just Solved Alden Olson's Puzzle


Just about 4 years ago, a Walmart greeter from Hadley began posting cryptic videos related to the anniversary of Maura's disappearance.

What followed was a couple months of hysteria as people wondered if this was Maura's killer taunting authorities or just a rabid Internet troll. It was covered by newspapers in the U.K. Eventually, the Murray family released a statement saying they believed he was nothing but a psycho with a police record for stalking and threatening to kill members of his own family. Olson went on to threaten me and my family, but Mass prosecutors never held him accountable for his actions.

In one of the videos he posted before he was identified, Olson showed the hand-drawn picture above, left. For years, people have wondered what it meant. If it was a map, what did it lead to? Well, yesterday, a reader from Alaska finally figured it out.

The numbers and directions from the drawing match up really well with a brochure from Bretton Woods, the skiing resort that was referenced in another video by Olson. Check out the numbered circles.

I believe this is a definitive solution and clearly Olson was trying to suggest Maura's body was somewhere on the ski resort. It's unclear if the grounds were ever properly searched.

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Scene of the Accident


Here's a really decent map of all locations related to Vasi's hit-and-run, which gives you an idea of where Maura was in relation to the accident and how far Vasi traveled.

Thanks to John McGrath!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Did Maura Murray Hit Petrit Vasi?

The new information on Vasi's hit-and-run is confounding like everything else in this mystery. But, to me, it supports my opinion that Maura could not have been responsible for the accident and that her car was not involved. Here's the breakdown as I see it:

Circumstantial Evidence Supporting Maura's Involvement:

- The old messageboard post where someone "close" to Maura said she hit Vasi and then fled to avoid prosecution, and the "confirmation" from a supposed member of the family.

- Maura's breakdown at work around the time of Vasi's accident.

- The damage to Maura's Saturn is consistent to the type of damage a car might sustain in the event of hitting a body.

- There was an extra headlight taillight bulb in Maura's car when it was found in Haverhill.

- It gives Maura motive to flee.


Circumstantial Evidence Suggesting Maura Was Not Involved:

- The paint chips found on Vasi do not seem to match Maura's car

- If her car was damaged before her trip to New Hampshire she took a BIG risk leaving when it was still light out. Would she really drive with a blown airbag, cracked windshield, and dented car all the way to NH without someone getting suspicious? 

- The accident in Haverhill was not staged. No way. 

- There was no broken glass on Maura's car. If we're talking about a busted headlight, it would have been plastic shards and not bits of glass.

- Maura had other motive to flee and had talked about starting a new life before (in conversation with Hoss Baghdadi).

** If you have any information about the person responsible for Petrit Vasi's hit and run accident, please contact Amherst Police, Vasi himself, or this blog. **

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

**UPDATED** What We Learned From The Police Reports on Vasi's Hit and Run


Now that we've had time to digest the detail of the police reports, here are some highlights we've found:

1. It was definitely a hit-and-run

Early newspaper accounts of Vasi's accident were unclear whether he was actually struck by a vehicle or if he fell from a moving vehicle or was mugged. The investigator's notes references broken glass and paint chips, all but confirming that he was indeed struck by a passing vehicle. It's possible he was dragged for a significant distance.

2. The woman who reported the accident was not Maura.

The "reporting woman" was identified as being 20 years old. Maura was almost 22 at the time of her disappearance. This woman found Vasi lying in the street and stopped her car so nobody else could hit him. Her vehicle showed no signs of damage.

3. The glass might prove it wasn't Maura's car that struck Vasi (or maybe it doesn't) Probably does.

As "KF" noted earlier today, the fact that glass was found on Vasi's clothes suggests it probably wasn't Maura's car that struck him. Other than the spider crack on Maura's windshield, there was no broken glass associated with the Saturn. Unless... unless she replaced a headlight. And goddamn it as I'm writing this, are there not spare headlights listed as being found in her car? How common is it to always carry around spare headlights?

*UPDATE*
As one reader pointed out, if it was a shattered headlight, it would be plastic shards they found on Vasi, not glass. Also, it doesn't look like the paint chips match. They were red, white, and metallic silver.

4. No skid marks

Who ever hit Vasi didn't slow down -- unless he was moved from the scene of the accident.

5. Vasi was left alone and intoxicated by his friends.

Prior to the accident, after a night of drinking at Monkey Bar, Barselloti's, and Delano's, Vasi's friends propped him up on a railing outside Bart's Ice Cream and left him there around midnight. Nice guys. It was damn cold and snowy that evening, too. Remember, classes were canceled the next morning, Friday.

6. None of Vasi's friends are directly linked to Maura, so far as we know.

His friends are identified in the reports, if you look closely. None of them are names known to me as Maura's friends or teammates.

7. The Amherst police had an opportunity to help Vasi and didn't take it.

At one point in the evening, 5-6 policemen found Vasi very inebriated sitting in front of the ice cream shop. They did not take him for public drunkeness or make sure he had a safe way home. If you ask me, this is why it took so long to get these damned reports. This case is ripe for a civil suit.

**UPDATE**
I have seen an unredacted copy of the forensics report. The paint chips found on Vasi's clothes had "red, white, and metallic silver layers."


** If you have any information about the person responsible for Petrit Vasi's hit and run accident, please contact Amherst Police, Vasi himself, or this blog. **

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

*BREAKING* Amherst Releases All Records!


We did it!

Earlier today, I received an email from the Records department at the Amherst Police Department. They decided to release the complete file on Petrit Vasi's hit and run, which has long been rumored to be connected to Maura's disappearance.

In order to release the records, they needed payment in person. I had to get a courier service to deliver. And...

Here is the report, complete with investigators' notes.

I've read through once, already. Like everything else, it only raises more questions.

Vasi was definitely hit by a car. There is evidence of that. There are statements from his friends in there too.

There is no mention of Maura Murray. Now, I don't believe Maura was directly involved. But the fact that she's not mentioned at all is very suspicious. I'd bet the Amherst police have been contacted before about the possibility that Maura -- or someone who was driving her car -- hit Vasi. To be working the case and not know about that is absurd. If that was an angle they investigated, it should be in there, but it's not. Make of that what you will.

So... thoughts?


** If you have any information about the person responsible for Petrit Vasi's hit and run accident, please contact Amherst Police, Vasi himself, or this blog. **