Wednesday, August 23, 2017

What You Need to Know to Catch Up On the Maura Murray Mystery

Thanks to the Oxygen series, a new wave of people are learning about the strange disappearance of Maura Murray. Beyond the basics anyone can find on the wiki pages, what else do you need to know?

I spent several years trying to find out what happened to Maura for my book, True Crime Addict, and here are some pieces of the puzzle I uncovered along the way:

- At the time of her disappearance, Maura was on probation for credit card fraud, having been caught stealing credit card numbers to order pizza in the dorms at UMass.

- There is no significance to the strange message Bill Rausch got on his cell phone - which he said was Maura whimpering. Police tracked down and interviewed the person who made that call. It was a Red Cross worker trying to reach him.

- Maura and Bill were not engaged at the time of her disappearance. Billy had cheated on her. And Maura was having an affair with a UMass track coach named Hossein Baghdadi.

- Hossein Baghdadi was also linked to the UMass Outing Club cabin, which may have been Maura's destination the night she vanished.

- Bill Rausch lost his job in D.C. after a woman claimed he sexually assaulted her in the office of the president of Ray Group International, in 2011. He says he was in Fort Sill at the time of the disappearance and offered to have two people contact me to verify his alibi. They never returned calls.

- There were two women who were with Maura at UMass prior to her disappearance - Kate Markopoulos and Sara Alfieri. Both have refused repeatedly to speak to journalists and have been uncooperative with police, especially about events at a party two days before Maura vanished, which allegedly occurred at Sara's dorm.

- Fred refused to be interviewed by state-police homicide detectives for 2 years and when he did, he brought 2 lawyers with him.

- Fred has told Maura's friends to not talk to the author of the book on her disappearance.

- A search warrant suggests someone called Maura's phone from New Hampshire the day she disappeared.

- On the 8th anniversary of Maura's disappearance, a mentally disturbed man released a series of videos on YouTube taunting authorities and suggesting he has inside info about what happened to the young woman.

- A man named Petrit Vasi was struck by a vehicle at UMass the night Maura had a breakdown at work. People have suggested she may have been driving the car. The official reports from the accident suggest she was not.

- A woman (commonly referred to as "Witness A") claims she saw a Haverhill police vehicle acting suspiciously the night of Maura's disappearance. This is used as the basis of a popular police conspiracy angle. I believe the vehicle she saw was simply a police car that responded to the scene

- Bill Rausch's phone records raise more questions than answers.

- There have been several sightings over the years, mostly concentrated in Quebec.

- A bank tellers claims to have found a "Maura Murray" with same date of birth with an active car loan in New Hampshire.

- There's a popular podcast, Missing Maura Murray, a Facebook page, and an official subReddit as well.

- My files on the Maura Murray case can be viewed by the public at Kent State University.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Bill Rausch Was Accused of Pushing a Woman in a D.C. Metro Station

I'm just now reading about the arrest of Eric Bellquist, who police believe pushed a woman toward a bus while jogging on a London bridge. It's a curious case and by all accounts unprovoked. But it's by no means an isolated incident. Why do some men do this?

This article from The Independent talks about the odd assaults and includes a similar incident that happened to the author, who says the man who pushed her was full of rage.

As I first reported in 2016, Bill Rausch was accused of a similar assault in DC. Rausch was Maura Murray's boyfriend at the time of her disappearance (and has a pretty solid alibi for the day she disappeared - evidence suggests he was at Fort Sill, half a country away).

Rausch left his office job at Ray Group International in D.C. after women in the office came forward with claims that he assaulted a female coworker in the President's office after a night of drinking.

Prior to that, the alleged victim claimed that Rausch pushed her down the stairs in a Metro station. When confronted at the office, he said it wasn't him. But during the night of the second assault, according to her, he brought up the incident and said it was him at the Metro station.

Like much of this confounding case, I don't know what to make of this behavior.