Saturday, April 13, 2013

Mass Track League Administrator Thinks Maura Ran Away

Recently I spoke to a couple people who knew Maura as a phenomenal high school runner from Hanson, Mass. The first was reporter Joe Reardon, who wrote for the Boston Herald.

"She was a doll," he said. "She didn't have natural speed. What she had was endurance. She'd set the pace and run the faster girls into the ground. When I first heard about the details of her disappearance I thought she may have wandered into the woods, that her body would be found in the Spring. But then... Her father was a real piece of work. He was always screaming at her at meets."

Joe got me in contact with a man who helped run a track league Maura was once a part of. This man didn't want his name used because he's fearful of retaliation by Fred Murray.

"The father's a psycho," he says. "Never saw him smile. He was a drill sergeant. I think sports should be fun. But it seemed he never enjoyed his kids' success. He didn't make life easy for her. When she disappeared, my first thought was that she staged it to get away. I think she planned to have someone meet her, help her get away."

47 comments:

  1. James, Are you still planning on going to Toronto to check out the curves connection?

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  2. Fearful of retaliation by a 70-year old part time hospital worker? No, he's not "fearful of retaliation" he's a "coward" who doesn't have the courage to put his name behind his opinion - there's a difference. People like that should be taken with a grain of salt.

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    1. Possibly Fred could not prevail in face-to-face fisticuffs, but there are many ways to retaliate--some of them very ugly and destructive--that do not involve physical violence, and ways to retaliate that do involve violence but don't require tremendous strength. Are there people afraid of Fred? I don't know, but I wouldn't rule it out.

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    2. There's a difference between being afraid to face someone you spoke frankly about and being afraid of actual retaliation. This guy's afraid of running into Fred and being told "Go F*** Yourself."

      There are enough fascinating elements to this case without imagining Fred Murray as the "Weymouth Whitey Bugler."

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  3. Considering Maura was pretty good at keeping secrets and considering all the trouble she was in and her weird family, I can see her making a clean getaway.

    The funny thing is when you give someone who has never heard of the case a brief summary their first reaction is usually "she ran away." Done. Period. To them it's obvious.

    Once you get immersed with the details and all the strange NH characters and conspiracy theories you kind of forget about that. But there's really no proof that she didn't run away and every indication that she did.

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  4. The track administrator and I are of the same opinion. I think it is a runaway because of the Franzia wine. I just do not think she could finish that much Franzia wine in such a short period of time. If it is a 5 liter box, that would mean she would have to fill up her Coke bottle nearly 10 times. If you discuss it in terms of time, she would have had to stop by the side of the road to refill approximately once every 18 minutes.

    Something that I think confuses a lot of people is that they believe Maura is an experienced drinker. She is not in my opinion. The fact that her and her friends liked to mix vodka with the wine suggests to me they were looking for a quicker buzz. Drinkers usually follow a routine so if police did a lab test on the Coke bottle and found vodka mixed with Franzia wine residue, that would make sense. However if they only find Franzia wine that would be a little strange. Experienced drinkers know their limits. They know when to stop because they know they are drunk even when they do not feel drunk because they understand it takes time for the alcohol to enter the bloodstream. And because it sounds like police only found one spot in the snow when there should be two, I wonder if she drank anything at all.

    The wine only proves that this case starts out as a runaway. It could have ended as murder or a frozen body in the wilderness. No one is saying that is not the case.

    That was a very clever plan though. I almost believed it.

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    1. I may have missed something (and will be happy to be enlightened if that's the case), but I don't remember LE's ever releasing any information about how much wine was left in the Franzia box. In fact, I've wondered and wondered whether they ever measured it.

      Also, kids who take off--usually teenagers--are "runaways," most often acting on impulse. Adults who take off, many of whom have planned their departures very carefully, and with resources not generally available to kids, are called "walkaways." This may not be important, but I'm frequently struck by the tendency of many posters to mischaracterize Maura as a "young girl," or a "young lady," when she was, in fact, a young woman. An adult. It's insulting and demeaning to infantilize females. We don't call 21-year old males "young boys," or "young gentlemen," for the good reason that it would suggest they were 9-year old children. Maura may have been emotionally immature, but she wasn't a child, "running away from home." And she certainly isn't one now--at age 30.

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    2. I recently re-read Mr. Renner's blog poat back in January 2012 about Lt. Scarzina and it said the wine box broke open and splashed all over the car. So my comment is wrong. Maura did not drink all that Franzia wine because the box broke apart even though I read the bags are supposed to be sturdy. I still have my theory about using the Kahlua bottle to put a crack in the windshield though.

      You could talk about so many questions associated with this case. Why take the Kahlua bottle with her, but not take the Coke bottle? I ask way too many questions. I think sometimes when you cannot explain something you want to believe the person involved is as smart as you think they are.

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  6. James, have you been able to talk to any friends that Laurie Murray had? Just wondering if you've had any insight from them about anything. Was she ever present at these track meets? --AV

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  7. James, I fervently hope you get a reply from "Julie T," and I hope she's the person I think she is. I can't imagine how much courage it must have taken for her to get in touch with you...amazing.

    It's especially amazing in light of what is confirmed in the last part of your post: people have been keeping mum because they fear Fred's retaliation. And until now, the women seem to have been more afraid to talk than anyone. This suggests two things to me: 1) Fred scares people. Fred scares women. 2) The concealed knowledge may involve Fred to some degree--even if it's only about the way he treated Maura.

    If Maura was running away from her father (or anyone else, for that matter), I am wondering why she could not have gone home to stay with her mother. Assuming she would not have been in danger at her mom's house, too, I think it is more likely that Maura was running from a mess she herself created--criminal or high-stakes civil trouble, possibly with the risk of further trouble from her dad.

    If Maura did run away for any reason, something makes me think she would have made contact with her mom at least once before she (Laurie) died. I wonder if anyone has checked out Laurie's last plane trips or phone calls.

    Last point...I was reading an old post here and came upon the fact that Fred met his future wife when she was 15 and he was in college. THAT is weird. There are tons of attractive college-age girls in college; if you want a 15-year-old, you pretty much have to be looking for one. I'll leave it at that.

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    1. On the 15 year old point: It looks weird, but keep in mind he could have been as young as 17.5 starting college and she could have been 15-almost-16. So we could be looking at a 1.5 to 2 year age difference. And this is also back in 1960.

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    2. SAH, I have thought the same exact thing about your last paragraph. Very, very strange.

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    3. That's not much of an age difference, but when you think about it, there's a huge difference in maturity and levels of independence. Also, bear in mind that there probably weren't nearly as many women in college in 1960 as there are today, and of those women I think it'd be safe to say they were probably quite smart and were no shrinking flowers. Just speaking in generalities, of course.

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  8. Interesting post, James. I can't say that I'm too surprised. I recall reading in an article on Maura that her father use to make her even run on Christmas day. I suppose this is the same very reason why you can't get any of her friends to talk, fearful of Fred.

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  9. Another great find James. Good work.

    As a former collegiate distance runner myself (at Boston University), I'd like to comment about how good Maura was. Recently, I dug around for Maura's meet results.

    At 14 yo in 1997 she ran 5,000 meters in a cross country race at Van Courtlandt Park in NYC in a time of 19:11. She finished 51st in a race that involved mostly women in their junior and senior years, among the best high school cross country runners in the northeast. her time was impressive, as can be seen relative to a handy benchmark if the IC4A collegiate championships, a highly prestigious collegiate meet. As it turns out, the 2012 IC4A collegiate cross country championships were also held at Van Courtland Park. If Maura had run 19:11 in that meet, she would have placed 47th out of 101 competitors. You have to qualify for this meet, so these 101 competitors were the best in the eastern U.S. Also that year she was 5th in the Massachusetts state championships in cross country, which is equivalent to being first team all state. This all fairly points toward her being a "phenomenal" runner, at least locally ... when she was 14.

    But later, what times and distinctions I have found indicate that she was not as good. For instance, in the last race I can find that she ran in at UMASS (which the UMASS site suggests was her best time that year), she posted a time of 19:19 over 5000 meters, DURING A TRACK MEET. The distinction between times over a cross country course (particularly a difficult one like Van Courtland Park) and on a track is HUGE. Again, looking toward the most recent IC4A is a benchmark. She would have come in last, behind the other 27 runners, by almost 90 seconds, being lapped by every other competitor and finishing further behind #27 than #27 did #1. Moreover, I can't find her name among ANY prominent high school meets during her junior or senior years. It simply appears that her competitiveness as a runner waned between the ages of 15 and 19. I could be wrong - as I said, the results online are surprisingly scarce - but I think I found enough evidence to say that she was - in any case - a good but not great collegiate runner.

    I personally knew a number of women in HS and college whose running careers lost momentum when they got to be 17 or 18 years old. In those case, it seemed to me that one of two things happened, or both. First, some women at 14 years old have matured quickly muscularly but not sexually. The shifts in body mass and structure that come with sexual maturity can be substantial and natural, but the girl in question is no longer blessed with the perfect distance runners body. A second factor - as you have alluded to - is that many female runners seem attracted to the sport at a young age because of its rigidness and discipline, often experiencing it as a way to gain approval from a parent ... for a while. As they get older and get to college, sometimes they spin out of that zone, sometimes in rebellion against their families, like many kids do in general. Like I said, personal friends of mine who I knew well in my own running career experienced this. Among runners, both factors are kind of stereotypical. In fact, there was a famous case of a very good runner who inexplicably ran off the track during a race in North Carolina, ran to a nearby bridge and tried to kill herself. It was later revealed that she felt ENORMOUS external pressures to compete at a high level and these contributed to her suddenly veering into a self-destructive episode. Moreover, I knew very well a very good runner who developed a serious eating disorder as she continued ravaging her body with rigorous training, leading to serious consequences. This in a struggle against mild weight gains that were natural and healthy for her, combined with too much approval and self-image coming out of being the hard working, always successful student-athlete.

    ~ John Green

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  10. Oh .. a couple interesting coincidences came up while I was digging around for Maura's times.


    In that race at Van Courtland Park - where at 14 yo she performed so well - another 14 year old we came to know of finished 35 places behind Maura: Kate.

    And VERY coincidentally, over the last 5 years, Kate has been very active on the road racing circuit in the Albany/Eastern NY area. She often finishes a few minutes ahead of a girl three years her junior, from Albany, coincidentally named Maura Murray.

    ~ John Green

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    1. Named Maura Murray??? Really, what are the odds of that? Do you think Maura could be passing herself off as being younger than she is? Can anyone find a picture or background info online of the Albany Maura?

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    2. Wow- a very interesting find! I know it would take a lot of guts to still use your same full name if you staged a disappearance, especially a female that may be married by now. However, it's happened before many times... I would think the an easy solution would be for Maura to get married and change her last name. Marriage records could be tracked though if you knew where to look.

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    3. To anon at 4:05 am - I kid you not. At first, I was trying to find more information about this person. But after a while, I became convinced that it was somebody who grew up in the Albany area, because there are announcements about her making honor roll at her high school, among other things. Still, I am curious about it. If I find out more, I will let you know. As for the odds, there were about 50 Maura Murrays on those people finder sites, which might mean there are actually twice as many nationwide. But I think the odds would still be VERY low that Kate runs in a bunch of races with one of them. Hmmm, didn't that medium who the Saco, ME connection visited say "Kate knows everything." : )

      ~ John Green

      To anon at 10:18 - I think I too have heard about a disappeared woman using her same name. I think it happened with a girl from NH who ran away to Florida. Interestingly, the "Maura Murray" in Toronto who works at curves and who was the subject of that "ring of truth" email that James posted maybe a year ago also would not have changed her name if that is her.

      ~ John Green

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  11. "When she disappeared, my first thought was that she staged it to get away. I think she planned to have someone meet her, help her get away."

    Amen. What I've been saying for a long time.

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  12. Interesting discovery. I still see a lot of features of the case that look like accidents and desperation, so if she staged it to get away, it was really a work of genius. I look forward to the book.

    Chris

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  13. There is one other thing that I thought was interesting concerning Maura Murray's case. Maura had AAA. The fact that she dumped out some liquid by her car suggests she was alert and moving around after the accident. If she had crashed her car in an area of the forest where there was cell phone coverage, within a half hour after the accident her father might have called or she might have called AAA or someone else regarding what just happened. People would question why she did not call anyone in an area with cell phone coverage. In order to give a runaway plan verisimilitude, she has to crash in an area without cell phone coverage.
    Or it was just bad luck.

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    1. I do not understand why people believe that if Maura was planning to run away she would have had to come up with such an elaborate plan such as to crash her car in a lonely road with no cell coverage etc...? If her plan was to run away she would have simply disappeared with no drama.

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    2. I live in a rural area. It is "supposed" to have cell phone coverage, but there is a "dead zone" over my property where we only get cell coverage intermittently. It also depends on the company who holds the service as to whether the cell phone will work. Verizon works but Virgin Mobile doesn't most of the time.

      Also, you are assuming Maura had AAA. I don't know if that is a proven fact in the case. If I crashed on the side of the road and people were stopping to help, I might tell them anything to get them to go away if I thought I was going to get a DUI.

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    3. I think a lot of parents could be classified as "a psycho" when it comes to watching their child play on the sports field. Some people turn into bundles of rage when it comes to sports.

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    4. Membership in AAA would be easy to confirm or deny, no?

      How did cell coverage compare in 2004 to now?

      Wrong topic (I think,) anon @ 10:24.

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    5. My bad, I was thinking you were replying to the reply and not to the original topic, and I was thinking I was on the "anyone know this guy" photo...got my wires crossed.

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    6. Anons above: I'm fairly certain it was stated during the Disappeared program (can't remember if it was her father or Mrs Rausch who said it) that Maura had AAA. I'm also sure someone will correct me if I am wrong. Ha ha.

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    7. @Snapdragon: That still doesn't make it true that Maura really did have AAA. Mrs. Rausch said something to the effect that Maura was a "perfect all-American girl." I would not consider someone who steals credit card numbers to be like that. But that is just picking apart minutiae which is not really relevant to the bigger picture anyway.

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    8. I believe the AAA card was found in the Saturn.

      B

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  14. There is one other aspect of the Maura Murray case that supports the idea that she did not runaway. How did she get away from the accident scene so quick if she was not picked up or took a ride? How could she not leave a footprint trail in the snow?

    The one thing I think about when I think of Stowe, Vermont is skiing. Were skies in the truck of the car? That would lend verisimilitude to a runaway plan. Then again we do not even know if Maura knew how to ski.

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  15. We all know she ran away. That is not in question. The question is, was she planning on a short get away or to leave permanently? As much as I think she is dead I would LOVE to believe she is alive. So I was thinking...If she assumed a new identity, whose did she assume, cuz she's not using her own, right? So thinking back to her dorm, we know she was collecting her fellow dorm mates' info and using their credit card #s, so could she have possibly found one of their social security #s? Have any of her dorm mates had their identities stolen? Maybe instead of searching for Maura and her social, if we searched for the name and SS# of, say the girl whose credit card # she stole, we would find Maura. Just thinking out loud because I'm not a PI and have no way to do this. But if their was a small # of girls in her dorm, it might be possible to check to see if any of them had their ID stolen and see if a search on any of them lead to Maura. Becky

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    1. Well you have to consider that CC numbers were stolen at her dorm, but who knows if they were stolen at other locations on campus that we don't know about? That might be a lead to follow, but might not get you that far because she could have stolen credit card numbers from anywhere in the world at that point in time...

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    2. True, but my credit card # has been stolen a couple of times. Once it was used by someone in Georgia to buy cruise tickets and another time it was used for small potatoes stuff like Mcdonalds' around New Orleans and the southern states. I simply disputed the charges to my credit card & they wiped them off my record and that was that. But what if I had lived in Maura's dorm back around the time she disappeared and then this happened? Then my stolen credit card charges and the locations might be interesting because it could have been Maura. So I'm just saying, it is a big world and if we say there is no way to check everywhere so we do nothing, it gets us nowhere but if we could just check on this small scale: the closest most likely identities to be stolen (her dorm-mates) then it is more doable and might pan out. In fact we already know she had stolen a credit card from there so it is very possible she could have had a stolen credit card or CC# written down in her wallet when she disappeared... Although I don't believe it is likely she is alive, it is kind of hedging your bets to assume she's dead and look for a body. In other words, if the outcome you want is Maura alive and living a new life somewhere, then your best bet is to assume this is the case and try to follow the most obvious way this could have occurred from the already known facts (vs. speculation about a 3rd party she was meeting for support, etc.) The known facts support her gathering her dorm mates personal info for her own use. So this clue could lead us to an alive Maura if she is truly out there. Becky

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    3. I hope NH LE is competent enough to have tried things like what you suggest, Becky. I have no idea how hard they're working on finding Maura these days. They really should have accepted help from the FBI. No disrespect meant to NH LE, but none of these NH missing persons cases ever seem to get solved.

      (Even the ones with lots of leads/POI's, like Brianna Maitland's, don't get solved. So something tells me they aren't going to find Maura Murray. Ergo, no one's going to find Maura Murray. I hope I'm wrong.)

      One obvious thing the cops/FBI could do would be go to Canadian border patrol and see who crossed into Canada at Sherbrooke (or nearby) around February 9, 2004. Those types of things are on record, at least for awhile. I expect they have zillions of surveillance cameras at the border crossings, too. Maura would have had to use a real ID to get through.

      A rhetorical question to NH LE: Did you do that? Are you doing anything??

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  16. I think there is more to the story leading up to her taking off. We don't know what happened at the dorm party. We don't know what happened at the hotel room with Fred. We don't know why Fred was even in town. We also don't know what Maura looked like the day of her accident in New Hampshire. The ATM photos are still sealed. So for anyone to assume we know why she took off is insane. This case is so mysterious because of her actions before the New Hampshire incident.

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    1. Herm, I was thinking of the ATM photos the other day. Why are they still sealed? It's been a long time! I don't know about you, but when I was in college there were always almost the same people at every party. So the stories about not knowing who was there are a case of someone hiding the truth. Also, how many individuals have independently said that they was actually a dorm party at all? Wasn't the situation that Maura told Fred she wanted to go back to the dorm to go to a party? Maybe she said she wanted to go to a party so she didn't have to spend any more time with him that evening. Maybe she went back to her room to pack her stuff up or something else and a party never existed?

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  17. Just saw this episode on ID channel. Very sad story. Ive been a police officer for 15+ years now and there is almost zero chance that Maura is alive. No way could she have run away at 21 years old and have the ability to stay undetected all this time. She had no money. And you mean to tell me she never would have contacted any friend or family member in all these years? And no one has been able to track her down via her personal information, ie, name, ss# etc?? Its almost impossible. I believe, sadly, that she was killed within the first few days. Seems like there are plenty of places up there to dump a body and have it never found ...very sad case...may God be with her....mike

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    1. I think that is what we are trying to get to - perhaps she HAS contacted some of her family or friends and that is why they are stonewalling James. The likelihood that she is alive is slim, but not non-existent. You said that she had no money, but I disagree. It has been said that she worked at an art gallery part-time (not mentioned in the tv episode). Also, I had more cash in my bank account when I was in college than I do now. Why? Student loan refund checks and personal scholarships. There is a possibility that she had several thousand dollars to spend for food and books that she ran away with. I know I could have easily done that when I was in school. It was near the beginning of the semester when you usually get your disbursement, plus she had who knows how many credit card numbers to use here and there to get by. Also, if she had a friend or relative help her run away, she would never need any money anyway. A study of her bank records would be so telling.

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    2. On Disappeared they said she drained one of her accounts to buy the alcohol..That's how I perceived it anyway.

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    3. You bring up a very good point. Wouldn't she be in deep trouble now if she is alive somewhere and is not paying off her school loans?

      John Avellar

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    4. Not too serious. Lots of people can't pay their bills. They would take you to court, garnish your wages and charge you a collections fee which can be up to close to 25% on top of the original loan.

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  18. I just saw the episode on ID Channel, too. Very sad, indeed. I see there are theories that she may have run away, but I saw pictures of her car after the crash. The windshield on driver's side is cracked - what if she had a severe head injury (internal) from the impact? She could have simply wandered into the woods and died; her remains could be in those woods, and maybe not even very far from where the accident occurred...very sad, indeed.

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  19. This is the second time that I've seen this episode on Disappeared. This one really strikes a chord with me-maybe because I am a runner. I'm curious about the alcohol. I can't shake the feeling that both of her accidents were alcohol related. That was a darn lot of alcohol for a lone person to buy. The episode did not mention how much of the alcohol that she bought was found (other than wine in the backseat). I guess it is irrelevant because it seems like she met with foul play after the accident. Still, it strikes me that she may not have been as well adjusted as portrayed. I hope they find out what happened to Maura.

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  20. The poor girl was stealing credit card numbers to get food. Why?

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  21. Maura Murray's case is a puzzle. Mr. Renner certainly picked an interesting case. I cannot think of another case full of such bad coincidences. She has two accidents in 3 days, has AAA but crashes her car in an area with no cell phone coverage, and disappears less than ten minutes after the witness speaks to her.

    I think I have come to the conclusion that she was planning on going to some sort of ski destination, decided to have a little of her Franzia wine in the Coke bottle, and then had the misfortune of having that accident in New Hampshire. Her fight or flight response kicked in with the police on their way and she dumped her Coke bottle and either walked into the forest where she froze to death or took a ride with the wrong person.

    This is a case of verisimilitude. No one theory seems to be truer than any other. You can say Maura Murray ran away like the track administrator, but all anyone who disagrees has to ask is, Can you prove that? I have come to the conclusion that whether it is Mr. Renner, Maura's friends or family, the police, or myself the only correct response has to be, No I cannot.

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