April 21, 2004
Father Of Missing Sheldon Girl Worried About Others' Safety
By Gary E. Lindsley
Bruce Maitland is worried about the safety of teenage girls and young women in Vermont and New Hampshire - worried they may face the possibility of being kidnapped and transported elsewhere for illicit purposes.
Maitland's daughter, 17-year-old Brianna, disappeared after she left work at the Black Lantern in Montgomery the night of March 19.
"My own theory," Maitland said Tuesday night, "is there may be a market for these girls in the New York City area. I have some inclination of it."
He also believes there may be a connection between the disappearances of his daughter and that of Maura Murray, a 21-year-old University of Massachusetts at Amherst nursing student from Hanson, Mass.
Murray disappeared the night of Feb. 9 after she was involved in a one-car accident on Route 112 in Haverhill, N.H.
Brianna disappeared after she left work as a dishwasher at the Black Lantern. Her car was found during the early morning hours of March 20 with its rear end ensconced in a portion of an abandoned building, about a mile from the Black Lantern.
"I do believe there is some form of link," Maitland said.
He also said Vermont State Police investigators haven't ruled out a connection, although VSP and New Hampshire State Police investigators have officially told the media they don't believe there is any connection.
Maitland said state police are investigating the possibility teenage girls and young women are being taken for illegal purposes, such as prostitution in the New York City area.
He said there was a case of underage girls being used for such purposes recently in the Hampstead area.
"We know these guys are coming up from New York City," Maitland said. "It's very scary! The connection may not be with a random person. They could be part of a cell."
"In that case," he added, referring to both Brianna and Murray being alive, "there could be a glimmer of hope."
Maitland said he has spoken to detectives in the New York City area about his daughter. He also has visited police precincts there, including the Bronx. And pictures of his daughter have been distributed in the New York City area.
"They gave me some great confidence," he said. "They felt very strongly they would be able to find her if she is on the streets."
Maitland said someone in Burlington had been taking girls from the area to New York City for prostitution in the past.
"So, the market does exist," he said. "It certainly is a reason for the entire community to be upset and to be very careful about their daughters."
Maitland also spoke about a letter he and his wife, Kellie, had sent to Gov. Jim Douglas regarding their belief not enough was being done to find Brianna.
He faxed the letter to Douglas' office Friday.
"Yesterday we got a response," he said.
The Maitlands spent about two hours talking with VSP Tuesday.
"We were unhappy because we hadn't seen any results," he said.
The Maitlands also felt like they were being shut out by investigators. They weren't receiving any information about what was being done to find their daughter. Nor were they receiving any information on what had been learned.
After speaking with state police, Maitland said he believes investigators are desperately searching for evidence and clues that will lead them to Brianna.
"We got a real lesson in procedures," he said. "Certain mistakes were made. They wouldn't directly admit that."
However, he said certain other measures were taken to move the investigation forward which he and Kellie did not know about.
Although the Maitlands feel better coming out of Tuesday's meeting, they still aren't happy.
"I am not satisfied with the results," he said. "I want my daughter back."
The Maitlands will meet once a week with VSP to discuss the latest developments in the case.
Jason Gibbs, Douglas' press secretary, said the governor understands the family's concerns.
"He has been assured we are doing everything we can to bring this young woman home safely," Gibbs said. "The family has been briefed on what information can be shared and what can't be."
While wanting to keep the family informed, he said investigators don't want to provide information which will compromise the investigation.
People with information about Maitland should call Vermont State Police at 802-524-5993.
Anyone with information about Murray should contact New Hampshire State Police at 603-271-3636.