Wednesday, June 9, 2004
Parent Accuses Police Of Character Assassination
Vermont, N.H. Officers Deny Link Between Missing Women
By Gary E. Lindsley
Law enforcement authorities from Vermont and New Hampshire, after a daylong meeting with the FBI Tuesday, say there is no connection between the disappearances of a 17-year-old Vermont woman and 22-year-old University of Massachusetts nursing student.
Vermont State Police and New Hampshire State Police met with Burlington, Vt. FBI agent D.J. Corbet in St. Albans.
In a press release issued after the meeting, state police from Vermont and New Hampshire emphatically said there is no connection between the disappearances of Brianna Maitland of Sheldon, Vt., and Maura Murray of Hanson, Mass.
Capt. Bruce W. Lang, chief of Vermont's Bureau of Criminal Investigation, said there is no serial killer on the loose as has been speculated in the media.
In fact, they said Maitland had made several bad life choices before she disappeared, and at one point, had been a runaway.
Investigators also said Murray had nearly cleaned out her bank account, packed up her belongings in her dorm room at UMass Amherst, and made off for destinations unknown.
"How can you say there is not a connection?" asked Bruce Maitland, Brianna's father. "They don't have any evidence saying they aren't connected. It's a flat-out lie.
"I think it's almost character assassination of the victims. They said Maura wanted to disappear. Brianna, they said she chose an unhealthy life choice."
He believes state police in both states have spent less time on the two cases than trying to shut up the parents and others. "I am disheartened," Maitland said.
Talking to some of the investigators after the meeting and a press conference, he said he had the distinct impression the investigations are done.
"They said they were tired of wasting their time on leads (which lead to nowhere)," Maitland said. "They want to say it's the girls' own fault."
Brianna has not been seen since she clocked out of work at the Black Lantern Inn in Montgomery at 11:20 p.m. March 19.
Her car was found early the next morning partially ensconced in an abandoned building about a mile from the inn.
Murray has not been seen since she disappeared after being involved in a minor one-car accident on Route 112 in Haverhill, N.H., the night of Feb. 9.
According to Lt. Thomas M. Nelson, Vermont BCI commander for Troop A North, Brianna had previously been reported as missing by her father in 2003.
In the joint press release, Nelson also said a VSP investigation had revealed Brianna had made unhealthy lifestyle choices in her life prior to her disappearance.
"Specifically, she had become involved in the world of illegal drugs in the area where she lived," he said. "Her association with people involved in this activity is an area of focus for the investigators." She was living with a friend in Sheldon at the time of her disappearance.
New Hampshire State Police Troop F Commander Lt. John Scarinza described Maura as having had a difficult long-distance relationship with her boyfriend, Billy Rausch, who is stationed at Fort Sill in Oklahoma.
Scarinza also said the day before she disappeared, she had had an accident with her father's brand-new car in Hadley, Mass. The accident, he said, caused $10,000 worth of damage to Fred Murray's car.
The next day she packed up all her belongings in her dorm room and headed off to a destination unknown. Later that day, she had a second car accident on Route 112 in Haverhill, N.H., and disappeared before police arrived.
"She withdrew most of her money from her personal bank account," Scarinza said in the press release. "She sent e-mails to her supervisor at work as well as a college professor saying she would be absent from work and school for a week due to a death in the family."
"There was no death in the family," he continued. "She did not tell her family, her friends or her classmates that she was planning to leave for the week. Investigators believe that Maura was headed for an unknown destination and may have accepted a ride in order to continue to that location."
Maura's father, in reaction to Scarinza's statements, said, "As far as Scarinza's amateur psychology goes, it does not matter why Maura left. Something happened.
"They do not want the FBI (fully involved) because it would be like calling the police on itself. They botched the case from the start."
Murray said Troop F first treated his daughter as a missing runaway. Then, they said she had frozen to death.
Their next theory, according to Murray, was Maura had committed suicide. "Again, if it was suicide, they would have to look for her," he said.
If it was a suicide, then the state police would not have to look for a bad guy, Murray said. "If there is a bad guy, then the state police have not been able to do the job and catch the bad guy," he said.
Regarding his daughter's relationship with Rausch, Murray said it was a strong, loving, very, very good relationship.
"The accident with my car? It was not a big deal," he said. "My insurance covered it. They are saying anything to avoid searching for a bad guy. It's just a smokescreen.
"They have to get the job done. They should be made to accept (the FBI's help). If you blame the victims, it doesn't matter. Something still happened to these girls. Someone harmed them. It's a crime."