Whitman & Hanson Express

July 3, 2007

Did Maura make the mysterious phone call?

Did Maura make the mysterious phone call?While a search was beginning in Woodsville N.H., Billy Rausch was walking through security in a Dallas airport. He had just shut off his phone when he received a voice message.

Sharon Rausch, Billy's mother, described the message: "It was very short -- consisted of a shivering, soft whimpering sound with labored breathing as if someone was very cold."

The number traced back to an AT&T calling card. Coincidentally, Sharon said she had bought two AT&T calling cards for Maura the previous Thanksgiving holiday. After an investigation, N. H. State Police traced the calling card to the American Red Cross.

Sharon had called the Red Cross sometime between Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning to request an emergency leave for Billy, but she doubts the mysterious call could have come from the Red Cross.

"I will say with a certainty that contrary to N.H. State Police info, the call could not be traced," Sharon later told a reporter for this series. Private investigators and local law enforcement in Ohio later tried to track the call, but without the card number and PIN, it was not traceable, Sharon said.

"It just doesn't make any sense that the call was from the Red Cross because if they had been trying to call Billy, they never called back." The "soft crying, sniffing and muffled sobs" didn't seem to make sense coming from the Red Cross, she said.

Billy had been having problems with his phone where callers were sometimes sent to voicemail without realizing it, which could explain why a message was left and no one spoke, Sharon said.

After police determined the call was from Red Cross officials they considered the case closed on the phone call.

During the search on Wednesday, a K-9 unit trailed Maura's scent 100 yards eastbound from where her car was found.