The Caledonian-Record

March 19, 2009

Brianna Maitland Not Forgotten - Police: She May Be Victim Of Foul Play

By Gary E. Lindsley

Kellie Maitland still has keepsakes of her daughter, Brianna that bring joy and happiness to her … along with sadness. One of the keepsakes is a poem written by Brianna when she was a child. It reads, "Mom sees love in Brianna and I see love in Mom."

"We still miss her," Maitland said. She and her husband, Bruce have not given up hoping their daughter will be found.

"We just stick together and try to get through each day."

Brianna was 17 and living in Sheldon when she disappeared March 19, 2004.

Her 1985 Oldsmobile was found by state police early the morning of March 20 with its rear end embedded into an abandoned barn on Route 118 in Montgomery.

The vehicle was about a mile from the Black Lantern where Brianna was a dishwasher.

She clocked out of work at 11:20 and headed to her friend's house in Sheldon where she was living. She had even left her friend a note saying what time she would be home from work. She never made it.

It was not until a few days later, when Brianna's friends contacted the Maitlands, they became aware something was wrong. Her friends asked the Maitlands if Brianna had moved back home. It was the first Bruce and Kellie heard she was missing.

The Maitlands contacted state police in St. Albans to file a missing person's report. State police did not draw any connection between Brianna and the car until nearly a week after the accident.

Kellie said her daughter was doing really well before she disappeared. She had recently passed her GED with flying colors, and worked at KJ's Diner in St. Albans as well as at the Black Lantern.

When Brianna's Oldsmobile was found, the keys were not inside. And her two paychecks were on the front seat untouched.

Also, her ATM card, medication, makeup, clothes and contact lenses were still at her friend's house.

"The [police] who initially handled our case are gone," Kellie said Tuesday night. "The new people have assured us it is an active case."

State police do still consider Brianna's disappearance as an active missing person investigation.

Acting Capt. Glenn Hall of the Vermont State Police Special Investigation Unit took over Brianna's case in the fall of 2006. He said at least 100 tips or leads have been received since then.

"We are still receiving active leads or tips [each month]," Hall said. Some of the tips, he said, include information investigators have received in the past.

One of the most well known tips received was that Brianna was seen at a casino in Atlantic City, N.J., a couple of years ago. Hall said he has no reason to believe the woman was actually Brianna.

"We could not substantiate it," he said.

"Obviously, when you get national media attention, you get sightings from across the country. We have had them in numerous states."

Alleged sightings have occurred in Las Vegas, Texas and California, Hall said.

"We are always hopeful we will get information leading us in the right direction," he said. "We continue to do interviews, including people [we have interviewed] in the past. We have an abundance of information. The case file is very big.

"We have some things we are following so far, but we cannot talk about it," Hall said.

Investigators do not believe Brianna left of her own free will. They believe there is a strong indication Brianna was a victim of foul play.

"Is [her disappearance] connected to drugs? It's a possibility, but we have not substantiated it," he said. "We are going to keep working this thing."

Hall is working the case with Detective Sgt. Matt Birmingham. They have other detectives available as well. And the FBI also is available for assistance, but Hall said no agents are currently assigned to the case.

About four years ago, the Maitlands moved to the St. Lawrence, N.Y., area.

Kellie said she and Bruce are still hopeful Brianna will be found.

"People have been found [since Brianna disappeared]," she said. "At least you hear people are getting justice and [the criminals] are not hurting anyone anymore.

"In the case of Brianna and Maura [Murray], I hope they can be resolved," Kellie said. "Neither of the cases have been moving."

Murray, a University of Massachusetts-Amherst student, was 21 years old when she disappeared after a one-car minor accident on Route 112 in Haverhill, N.H., March 9, 2004. She still has not been found.

"I hope Fred can get her back," Kellie said. Fred is Fred Murray, Maura's father.

"I worry about other people's kids."

What really bothers her are girls and young women who want to be independent and go out alone.

"It gets me going," Kellie said. "I don't want it to happen to anybody else. I hope we get a resolution."

In addition to the poem written by Brianna, Kellie cannot bear to part with other keepsakes, such as her daughter's ice skates.

"I cannot give them up," she said.

One thing that is comforting to Kellie is that she now has someone that reminds her of Brianna, a grandson, who is creative and full of energy … just like Brianna.

"Her spirit is alive in anyone who is creative," Kellie said. "We still miss her a lot."

Brianna will be remembered tonight in a special candlelight vigil from 7 to 8 at a small park in Enosburg Falls.

Brianna is 5-feet, 4-inches tall, weighs 105 pounds, has hazel eyes and medium length brown hair. She also has a faint scar in her left eye brow.

People with information about her should call Hall at 802-524-5993.

Courtesy photo - In this March 2004 photo, a 1985 Oldsmobile driven by Brianna Maitland rests partially inside an abandoned barn on Route 118 in Montgomery.

Maitland has not been seen since.