June 10, 2004
Parents Of Missing Vermont Teen Heartened By Dubie Meeting
By Gary E. Lindsley
The parents of a missing 17-year-old Sheldon woman are feeling a bit more optimistic they will be receiving help from law enforcement authorities after meeting with Vermont Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, Wednesday.
Kellie and Bruce Maitland of Franklin met with Dubie and Public Safety Commissioner Kerry Sleeper at the Williston state police barracks to talk about their daughter Brianna, who has been missing since she clocked out of work at the Black Lantern Inn in Montgomery 11:20 p.m. March 19.
Kellie said she left the two-hour meeting with guarded optimism.
Dubie and Sleeper told the Maitlands they will ensure Brianna's disappearance will gain exposure with the national media, according to Bruce Maitland.
Both Maitlands, after Tuesday's press conference in which state police said at one point Brianna had been a runaway and had become involved in the world of illegal drugs, were surprised by the tenor of their meeting with Dubie and Sleeper - especially Dubie.
"They are starting to give an honest appraisal of what the case really is," Bruce said. "It's either drug-related or she has been killed. They have dropped the runaway (listing)."
Although he is glad authorities will drop the runaway characterization and start treating the case as being criminal, he cannot miss the reality of what that means.
"It's kind of disheartening," Bruce said, "because every night we pray she is a runaway."
If she was a runaway, the Maitlands believe they would have a better chance of finding their daughter unharmed.
Wednesday was a change for Bruce after having heard what authorities said about his daughter, and Maura Murray on Tuesday. Murray is the 22-year-old University of Massachusetts at Amherst nursing student who hasn't been seen since she disappeared after having a minor one-car accident on Route 112 in Haverhill, N.H., the night of Feb. 9.
Tuesday, state police from New Hampshire and Vermont said there wasn't any connection between the disappearances of Brianna and Maura.
They also said they weren't going to waste any more time on any more worthless leads.
"I think it's almost character assassination of the victims," Bruce had said on Tuesday. "They said Maura wanted to disappear. Brianna, they said she chose an unhealthy life choice."
He said Wednesday's meeting with Dubie and Sleeper was a complete turnaround, just the opposite, from Tuesday's press conference.
"The lieutenant governor was super," Bruce said. "We went into the meeting that it was a setup. But, the lieutenant governor really wants to do what's in his power to help us out."
The Maitlands were assured by Dubie the case was of a very high priority.
"When the lieutenant governor called us a couple of days ago, I hoped he was sincere," he said.