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NH - Maura Murray, 21, Haverhill, 9 Feb 2004 - #14

Discussion in '2000's Missing' started by bessie, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. bessie

    bessie Administrator Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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  2. Tricia

    Tricia Owner Websleuths.com Staff Member Administrator

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    Bumpity Bump
     
  3. sony12

    sony12 Active Member

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    I just watched the Lordanartz BrainScratch episode on this case and he said the area was dry around the time she dissapeared. So it doesn't seem like the area was covered in snow at the time she disappeared.
     
  4. Ibiz

    Ibiz Back to work again.

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    From what I read it wasn't all that cold. So she probably didn't sucome to the elements. The stranger danger theory is very unlikely as well.
     
  5. Skigirl

    Skigirl Verified expert in neuroscience

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    Totally disagree. Hypothermia doesn't require temperatures that are "that cold" for someone who's spending the night out of doors.
     
  6. JnRyan

    JnRyan Well-Known Member

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    From someone who has been through it and then seen a case in late April, in the daytime, when the temps were in the mid to high 50's, yes, it can happen in better conditions than Maura was in that night.
     
  7. Pettibon Junction

    Pettibon Junction Member

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    Just a friendly, threadly reminder that a woman on foot at night - particularly one as conventionally attractive as Maura - is especially vulnerable to the depredation of an opportunistic male and that New Hampshire has a shockingly high number of unsolved murders and disappearances fitting this very mold.
     
  8. Ibiz

    Ibiz Back to work again.

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    Here in MI, when it's 25 to 35 degrees with snow, I see young people jogging wearing nothing but shorts and tank tops. It's not unusual, I see them all the time.

    Let's not forget that someone saw someone matching her discription moving very quickly on the road just a few miles from the crash site. Also it was right around the time frame.
     
  9. MaggieSky

    MaggieSky Member

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    I do agree with this. I just find it hard to believe she would run in woods and die in the cold.

    I'm sorry if this has been discussed but could she have been carrying a weapon in that backpack?

    Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
     
  10. Moshimo

    Moshimo New Member

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    Was there any evidence of injury from her crash, especially head trauma?
     
  11. Skigirl

    Skigirl Verified expert in neuroscience

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    Windshield was smashed from inside the car.
     
  12. Ozoner

    Ozoner Well-Known Member

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    I disagree on both counts: the stranger-danger scenario is highly likely, and a death in the woods from hypothermia cannot be ruled out.
    I agree.

    I also live in Michigan. People here may jog for a few miles during the winter in the attire you described, but they don't try to spend the night in the woods dressed that way at those temperatures.
     
  13. sony12

    sony12 Active Member

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    Yes. Jogging outside for an hour or so (knowing you have a warm house to go back into shortly) is totally different than being out in the elements for an extended amount of time.

    Whatever the situation was there are strong indications that Maura wanted to disappear at least for a little while. Maybe she wasn't planning on it being permanent but if she wrecked her car at a time when she wanted to get away from people I could see a person her age doing something like hiding out in the woods for a night in order to not be found.
     
  14. sony12

    sony12 Active Member

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    How wide spread was the search area? There was an eyewitness that said they spotted someone walking swiftly along that same highway 4-5 miles east of the crash site an hour after she was last seen in her car (4-5 miles is about how far someone can go in an hour if they are walking very fast).

    If she was walking even later into the night hypothermia could have started kicking in and she would have started losing her mind a bit.
     
  15. skeptik

    skeptik New Member

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    I wrote a fairly long and detailed post in the last thread, forgive me for copy/pasting it here but it is still my position on whether or not Maura may have walked into the woods and succumbed to the elements, either intentionally as in a planned suicide, or unintentionally as she may have had a head injury or drank the rest of the alcohol she had purchased and either passed out or lost her way.

    Either way there are a couple points I will stress before pasting my earlier post.

    1) The search that was conducted, to include the first dog track, was over 36 hours after Maura went missing. That is a very long time to track a scent on a paved road.

    In my opinion that dog track was almost certainly NOT that of Maura Murray, it was most likely a false scent or possible a track of one of the first responders who had been in the car at the scene, either Cecil or one of the EMT's.

    To base an entire theory on that dog track is completely ridiculous, in my opinion. Dog tracks are not that reliable. Period. No matter what the fish and game guy says, or the dog trainers say, the simple FACT is that dog tracks are really hit or miss.

    Oh, and that also totally ignores the fact that the dog track STOPS DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF WHERE BUTCH WAS PARKED IN HIS SCHOOL BUS. How could Maura have walked up the road to that intersection and gotten into a car directly in front of where Butch was parked without either he or his wife seeing or hearing a car stop?

    The other issue regarding the search is entirely based on the assumption that Maura went into the woods close to the accidents site. It is entirely possible that she in fact put several miles between her and her car before Cecil even got there. The searches that were conducted were in the area close to the accident site, not 4 miles down the road.

    The last thing I need to stress is this presumption that if she went into the woods her body would have been found by now. That too is just not based on actual cases. Remember when we lost a Lear Jet crash site FOR 3 YEARS.in woods less dense and expansive than the area Maura had access to?

    My point is this. The dog track to the intersection in front of Butch's Bus is completely unreliable, and the search area was confined to the few miles around the crash site.

    Read more below if you are bored.





    I have some thoughts that may help regarding the possibility, in my mind high probability, that she did indeed go into the woods and is somewhere up in that vast wilderness.

    A couple points that are very important to remember, and I will offer some facts that support my next sentence. A scent dog, any scent dog, is a very useful tool only when the dog is able to track the scent you want tracked. HOWEVER in scenarios where the dog does not track the scent you want you can not then draw a conclusion that the scent was not present or that the dog tracked the correct scent.

    Unfortunately we are not able to question the dog about what scent did they track, we just know that they tracked a scent. A scent dog is a great example of a 'positive test' tool, meaning when they track the correct scent you can say they have a 100% success rate. However they are a terrible example of a 'negative test' tool in that because they didn't track a scent, or the scent you wanted them to track, you can not then infer that there was no scent there, or that they tracked the correct scent and that scent trail ended at the intersection. You can not ask the dog, "how certain are you that the scent you tracked down the road was absolutely that of Maura Murray?"

    How do you know it wasn't Cecil Smith? Or maybe one of the EMT guys? Or a deer? Or a squirrel? We don't know, and that is why a dog is not a reliable tool to prove a negative result.

    A few more points regarding the dog track.

    * If I recall the accident was around 8pm on February 9. The first dog track did not take place until 8AM on the 11th, so you are talking about 36 hours of time before the dog track was attempted. Also consider that the track was run ON a paved roadway where cars had been driving by for those 36 hours. The weather conditions were at or below freezing during this time frame. That is a long time and fairly poor conditions for a scent to be tracked. ***Remember this time and conditions for a point to be made later in this post***

    * Also consider that there does not appear to be any certainty that Maura wore the gloves that the dog obtained the scent from. If I recall Fred had said that the gloves were new and that he could not confirm that Maura had ever worn them. Also consider that the car had been moved and it's contents had been inventoried after the accident, so there is a possibility that the gloves may have been handled by someone other than and more recently than Maura.

    Now back to the dog track and subsequent search. In an ideal world we would like to be able to say that because the dog or dogs did not pick up a scent or pick up the correct scent then therefore Maura could not have walked from the scene and into the woods.

    It would be nice to draw that conclusion and it seems as if many (most?) people to include the TV show with Maggie and Art have done so. In fact at the end of one of the episodes Art and Maggie did just that, they said that because the little dog (and pony) demonstration they did gave these results, then therefore every other possible result must be the same and therefore Maura did not or could not have left the scene on her own and either walked down the roadway some distance or into the woods on her own.

    I believe this is a HUGE mistake and it eliminates what to me is the most obvious and most likely scenario, which is that Maura continued on the path and with the same pattern of behavior she had been demonstrating for at least the last several days if not longer.

    Let's talk about the search dog demonstration they did on the TV show. Although it was very neat and convincing to most people who have never actually been on a search and rescue and have never seen a dog actually track, it was conducted in ideal circumstances with scenarios that most dogs are trained to. The dog track from the accident site to the intersection was 36 hours after the accident, it appears as if the demo with Maggie was done within an hour or so, that is a big difference.

    Same thing with the cadaver dog demonstration, it looks good when demo'd however real world experience has shown that again, a dog is a great tool when they get a positive result, but when they don't get a hit it does not mean that you can infer there is no hit or track to be had. More on this later.

    Now I know that much weight is given to the 2 experts who provided the search dogs and conducted the demonstration, and I am sure that they are absolute professionals and have great confidence in the skills of their dogs, however seriously do you expect they would say otherwise? They make a living off of training and selling their dogs, it does not surprise me that they would voice confidence in their dogs abilities.

    Ok so let's talk reality for a minute. In the real world dogs sometimes track the right target and sometimes they don't. Now I have seen dogs do amazing things over the years, track a suspect through the woods and even through a river to get to the target, when they are on they are amazing. However I have also seen a dog run a track from an absolute known location, with an absolute known scent provider (ie: the person's hat or shirt) and run that track far from where the person actually is. It is really hit or miss, it's like sex panther cologne, 70% of the time it works every time.

    You want proof? Let's go with the absolute awful case of Patrik McCarthy just 8 months later. Patrik was an 11 year old boy who walked (or ran) away from condos in Lincoln NH and was found dead 4 days later a few miles away. As awful as this case is my point is that the boy went missing sometime late afternoon from a known location. There were several dog searches attempted from that known location using a known scent article. I am not familiar with the exact details of the dog tracks but suffice to say that even when attempted within several hours of when the boy went missing, no dog was able to successfully track him despite what may be considered very favorable circumstances. If the dog had been able to track it is very likely or almost certain that Patrik would be alive today. I was a part of this case from the very beginning and the extent of the search effort to find Patrik was absolutely overwhelming, yet despite that we didn't find him until almost 5 days later and it was too late.

    Also consider the case of Beth Upton, an 85 year old woman who walked away from her home in Waterville Valley on September 10 2010. Within hours a full scale search was launched to find her, though sadly she was not found until nearly 2 months later. Here is some info on this case.

    http://www.websleuths.com/forums/sho...ey-7-Sept-2010

    Again, the search for Beth began within hours of her going missing, there were multiple dog tracks attempted, and the conditions were much more favorable than was for Maura. Despite this, and also despite an absolute massive search conducted in a much smaller, more known area, they were unable to track or find Beth for almost 2 months. Again, there were search dogs used in this search, many dogs to include bloodhounds.

    There were also multiple searches conducted in the days and weeks after Beth went missing using the same search dogs and cadaver dogs, however unfortunately Mrs. Upton was not found alive, nor was her body found using a cadaver dog.

    Consider these 2 cases where search dogs were unable to track the missing person despite both having much better circumstances than was with Maura and the track was attempted much sooner than was with Maura, the difference between several hours in both cases and 36 hours with Maura.

    In neither case was the body found using a cadaver dog.

    In both cases the missing person was within a mile or 2 of where they went missing. Patrik was an 11 year frightened old boy and Beth was an elderly 85 year old woman, whereas Maura was a 21year old athlete, competitive runner, and accomplished hiker. It stands to reason that Maura was much more capable (and motivated) of putting distance between herself and the accident site than an 11 year old boy or an 85 year old woman.

    Now I can think of many other cases where a dog track did not accomplish a successful result, however I provide these 2 cases because they are well known, easy to research, and were both in the same general area as where Maura went missing. In the case of Patrik McCarthy I can recall seeing the same Troopers at both searches (Maura's) as they were 8 months apart and both in Grafton County, if I recall there were several K9 units in Troop F as well as at least one bloodhound on scene. With Beth Upton I was not in the area at that time however I am familiar with the search that was conducted, it was massive.

    So in summary, when people draw the conclusion that Maura could not be somewhere up in those mountains based on the dog tracks, or lack thereof, or the searches that were conducted, consider the cases I provided above. In both cases the dog was unable to track the missing person, in both cases the missing person was not found until days or months later despite being in fairly close proximity to where they went missing, and in both cases the searches that were conducted were much larger and more timely than was with Maura. Also in both cases there did not appear to be the same scenario where the person (Maura) who went missing had given significant indicators that they did not want to be found, at least not immediately, as was evidenced by her refusing help from the bus driver.

    Also consider the sheer size of the area that Maura could have accessed if she wanted to put as much distance between herself and the accident site. If you look at a map, the area South of the accident site is just huge, it is also dense and very hard to access. Many people who have never been a part of a large wilderness search routinely make the comment that “Maura couldn’t be in the woods, someone would have found her body by now….” I can see how this would make sense to people who have never been in such a large, dense forest area, however that is simply not reality.

    Consider that Beth Upton went missing in Waterville Valley, and area that is very confined being a valley, and she was not found (by accident) until almost 2 months after she went missing, despite the largest search I have ever seen, at least since Patrik McCarthy.

    Also consider that in 1996 a Leer Jet crashed in similar, but less expansive, forest and was not found for 3 years, despite there being a massive search for the crash site. Obviously a Leer Jet and it's crash site, is much larger than a human, also much less likely to decompose. And it took 3 years to find, again by accident. Source. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_N..._Learjet_crash

    So could a 21 year old distance runner, who was obviously suffering from some level of stress and emotional distress, who had just been involved in her second car accident in as many weeks, while drinking and having alcohol in the car, have gotten far enough from the crash site and into the woods to complete her “Squaw walk”? I think so.

    She has alcohol, sleeping pills, stress, distress, and a flight mentality at the time of the accident. What was Fred’s first comment to Cecil Smith? The squaw walk. That my fellow sleuths is most likely what happened, in my opinion of cours
    e
     
  16. The Farm

    The Farm Well-Known Member

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    Thank You for your input and I agree.
    Every year at this time I say this will be the year the hunters find her.
    People who do not live in New England or in a very rural wooded area just do not get it. Every fall when the leaves come down they completely cover and I mean cover in layers the ground.
    Yes it was winter and the leaves were done falling but that area has lots of nooks and crevices that you can even crawl into. She is hidden to some extent.
    I think Maura might have done just that and succumbed to the elements.
    I have gone back and forth with this case for years, thinking and examining all the scenarios.
    And I agree on your dog view. They are a very valuble tool in search and rescue but like almost anything are not 100%.
    How many times have we heard of bodies being found, usually by hunters or sometimes hikers, end of being missing people that have been missing for years. Then you hear but that area was searched over and over and over again. Yup and you missed it.
    It happens.
     
    Mrs.Dalloway likes this.
  17. PaulR

    PaulR Verified Software and Computer Tech

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    We put a lot of faith in hunters to find bodies (even as some I know have very strong feelings against them), but is hunting even allowed in that area, or hunting even feasible there? There's a lot of forested land, even public land, where hunting is forbidden, or there aren't many deer there, or whatever.
     
  18. Ozoner

    Ozoner Well-Known Member

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    Yes, bodies are often missed. Also, I agree that she may have walked a very long way before entering the woods. She may have walked 10 miles and then sought shelter or a place to go to relieve herself. If she was exhausted and lay down to rest...
     
  19. rocket

    rocket JLWOP Opponent

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    Need Cliff Notes
     
  20. skeptik

    skeptik New Member

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    Haha, I concur 100%. I tried to summarize but figured since I took the time to hammer out that junk I might as well get my money's worth and post it again.

    As a former criminal investigator I can tell you that no case is simple, no theory is fool proof, and what most people consider "reasonable assumptions" are usually not reasonable at all.

    The most important points are that the dog track can not be trusted and in fact is almost certainly a huge distraction in this case. It gives rise to the assumption that "Maura must have gotten into a car". Now if that were true, wouldn't Butch or his wife or the other houses around there have seen a car stop and wouldn't they have heard at least a short conversation before Maura got in?

    That right there is where that theory falls apart to me. Now does that mean that Maura may have not gotten into a car somewhere else down the road? I think it is a possibility, however I personally do not give it a high likely-hood.

    What is true is that Maura left the accident scene on her own power, on foot. She refused help from Butch and lied about having called AAA with the intent of persuading Butch to not call the police. She wanted to not be found, at least not then.

    She had a significant amount of alcohol with her and likely had been drinking prior to the accident.That alcohol was not in the car therefore she most likely took it with her in her backpack.

    She was having obvious stress in her life and her actions to this point were not that of a reasonable person. Based on her packing her things up back at school it appears that she may have had no intentions of going back there. The email on top of her boxes also indicates stress and an intent to send a message.

    Also she took a book with her that was basically a "How to die in the White Mountains" manual. It is not a manual of course but it is a very interesting book to take on an unplanned trip to the Mountains.

    Most importantly, No one saw or heard a car stop in the area and pick her up. The entire "Maura got into a car and something bad happened" is based entirely on the assumption that every other scenario was eliminated, and this is based on a dog track that occurred 36 hours after the accident using a scent article that Fred believed Maura had never worn.

    To date, there is not a single piece of evidence to indicate that she got into a car, or even that she went into a house, there is only speculation.

    I can also suggest that the majority opinion of LE in the area share this same opinion. Not everyone, but most think she is somewhere up in those woods. I just hope that someday she is found, or at least something like her backpack or bottle of alcohol to finally give the family, and especially Fred, peace.
     

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