Wednesday, February 7, 2018

On the 14th Anniversary

Friday marks the 14th anniversary of Maura Murray's disappearance and she still remains unfound. At 7 p.m., on the Missing Maura Murray Facebook page, Julie Murray will talk a little bit about Maura and the case and share some memories of her sister. Tune in if you can.

So, after all this time, where are we?

Well, this case is a mess, and it needn't be. But at the moment, there's this conspiratorial mood that has settled in around the case - people suspect the police were involved, people suspect the A-frame house has something to do with it, people suspect a random dirtbag picked her up. Some, including her own family, believe Maura's sister Kathleen or her husband had someone to do with it. Having met Tim, I don’t think either one of them had anything to do with it.

This case, when it's done, is going to be elegantly simple.

The only explanation that makes sense with the evidence we have is that Maura was not traveling alone that night. She was traveling with a tandem driver.

Her friends from UMass have never been forthcoming with police.

Remember - Maura bought more booze than one person needed; she was inquiring about places that had multiple bedrooms; she turned down a ride; she disappeared in less than a blink of the eye; she gave up calling condos and motels without reserving a room (because her traveling companion did it before she did). She didn't tell anyone where she was going (c'mon). Anyone who doesn't buy the tandem driver theory has to explain all of that away.

I also believe the Butson's sightings, where Maura was seen buying more booze with two young women before the accident. The Oxygen series, and others, have suggested this can't be, because the police didn't see her on the videotape. But they never bothered to do enough research to discover that the only video cameras in Butson's at that time were pointed only at the bank kiosk, not the registers.

There's a lot of stuff like that that has been spun to others' agendas. When you read those things, please consider what a simpler explanation might be.

What we know now is that Maura's boyfriend, Bill Rausch, has been accused by a number of women of sex assault, physical assault, and harassment. And after he arrived in New Hampshire to join the search for Maura Murray, he kept making dozens of calls every day, until the weekend after the disappearance. Then, he went completely silent for 5 days. None of that sits well with me.

If Maura was traveling in tandem, nobody's alibis for the night of the disappearance matter anymore - because she likely made it to a cabin or wherever she was heading.

I want to believe Maura is out there, alive, and happy. I hope she is. But the likely answer is that she is no longer alive. And I believe that if she is dead, she was murdered by someone she knew.

Don't look to rogue cops or weird stains in abandoned houses or fortuitous kidnappers. Look closer to Maura.


Friday, January 26, 2018

Guest Post: A Closer Look at Maura's Cell Phone Records

A search last month of Maura Murray's final cell phone calls revealed two separate calls to the home of a woman who investigated child abuse claims in the Weymouth area. The woman still lives there, and though she doesn't remember Maura, she believes the only reason she would have called their home is related to one of her investigations. She sometimes gave her personal number to children. She was no longer a social worker in 2004, but was actively investigating cases in the neighborhood when Maura was a teenager.

In light of this I wanted to take a fresh look at the rest of Maura's calls in the weeks leading to her disappearance. I asked a frequent reader - one of the "Irregulars" - to research and backtrack every number. She prefers to go by Mara S. Walker. Here are her findings:


mBreakdown:  Maura’s Cell Phone Records:

First and foremost, thank you to James, as well as such an incredibly loyal following for allowing me to step in and guest blog. Helping to solve this case and provide answers for the Murray family has always been my goal, and using my talents in research and a background in forensics makes me fortunate to be able to hopefully contribute to finding Maura and bringing her home.

Lucky for me, I was able to obtain the phone numbers, through legal means, of each close family member and confidante relevant to the case/in Maura’s life. Going through the pages, able to eliminate the contact info of those closest to her, I was able to list numbers and check each individually for any usable trace information. I will not spend time here listing each individual call, but rather the anomalies I found while background checking the flagged calls that stood out.  Please note; if particular calls are not mentioned, it is because they are correctly identified as far as I could confirm, and, thus, require no further discussion on my end.

Call #11 is tied to a name in Plymouth Ma - Alexander *****.  It is a Verizon dedicated New England number, and this is good news as this carrier tends to keep cell records for many many years, (which I know from personal experience).  Said individual listed on multiple sites, apparently has a record with local police based in Manomet, MA (which is in the area of Plymouth) for somewhat odd behavior. Now, if this person has been in possession of this number since the time frame of Maura’s disappearance, it would be interesting to find out why this individual was called by her and what he remembers regarding any communication with her.

Call #82 is based in Holyoke, Ma which is in the western part of the state above Chicopee just below Amherst MA, where UMASS is located. A search on FB confirmed there was a person listed from Holyoke matching the name noted on the bill, Ryan *****. He appears, if I am looking at the correct person, to be of similar age to Maura, and by his profile picture, also enjoys outdoor recreation such as skiing which is relevant when you think about how many ski resorts were in the area where Maura crashed, as well as around where she was allegedly headed, by her family and the police.

Those were the two major red flag items for me, as the others all appear to be relatively “normal” both for her calling patterns as well as when you think about who was in her life at that time that we are aware of. Example, there is #142, which is a Ft. Sill number and makes sense when you know Bill, her boyfriend worked for them. Also, toward the end of her bill it appears there are a few calls on the day she disappeared that have numbers outgoing to UMASS student voice mails. I would then assume she was calling the friend who’s scrubs she ended up dropping off before leaving.

I can not tell anyone what to derive from these records, or from my information, all I hope to do by pointing out these odd interactions is maybe jogging someones memory regarding relationships even of the casual nature in her life, that may lead to opening more doors toward an answer, and closing more behind us always moving forward.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Bill Rausch Loses Job, Got Your Six May Shutter Following Sex Assault Allegations

This just in:

Bill Rausch - Maura Murray's boyfriend at the time of her disappearance - has lost his job as Exec Director of Got Your Six, following allegations of sex assault and harassment in D.C. going back to his time with Ray Group International and IAVA.

They have allowed him to announce his exit on the Friday before a holiday, which all but assures limited media fallout. In a message Bill sent at 10:30 this morning, he makes no mention of the sexual assault allegations but says, only, "this will be my last month..." as part of Got Your Six.

Staff members Lauren Augustine, Cathleen Pearl, and Mark Szymanski were contacted over the last month. No one has officially commented on the matter.

Rausch's email to colleagues spins his departure as a restructuring. But an email I received from a donor suggests it is in fact related to the allegations of sex assault that has plagued him since two women told their stories on this blog in November.






Saturday, December 23, 2017

Erinn Larkin Interviews Fred Murray


This is a new interview with Fred Murray, by blogger Erinn Larkin. Anyone interested in the case should listen to it.

** A Personal Note **

This is a difficult link for me to post to. Erinn Larkin has contacted me for years. She was on the track team at UMass with Kate Markopoulos and she has taken an interest in the case for some time. We've been at odds off and on for some time, and most of her blog and her podcasts are based on throwing shade at my research. I got to meet her personally at CrimeCon. We shared a couple drinks at the bar around the corner and spent most of the time talking about our hero, Bernie Sanders, who she worked for in the last election. We left on good terms but that quickly degraded (don't ask me why, I couldn't say for sure) to the point I had to ask her to stop contacting me.

A couple weeks ago Erinn let me know she had spoken to Fred, and the nature of their conversation. Her interview does some really great things, and some not so great things. She says I am the single source of unsavory allegations against Fred. She and Fred know this is not true. Allegations began many years ago on the family forum before it was shut down. During the course of my research for the book, I had to ask the question because of this. They both know one of my two family sources. And they both know nothing was alleged in the book and I've never said anything to the effect in interviews. My opinion on what may or may not have happened doesn't matter. I did my job as a journalist. Maggie did, too. And I can tell you, neither one of us liked that part of the job.

Further, I believe Fred lies or at least massages the truth in his statements. I think astute readers will pick up on this, especially his version of when and how he spoke to investigators.

All this said, Erinn really did a good job. She got Fred talking directly, unedited, something we've never had. And Fred spills some secrets, finally - especially about the nature of the party at Sara Alfieri's dorm. After nearly 14 years, some basic answers are coming to light. We wouldn't have that without Erinn.

I asked my wife for her advice on this situation (a habit I'm trying to get into before making any important decision). I wanted to file suit for libel/slander. I had a good case, especially after some off-the-cuff remarks Erinn made on Facebook. But Julie asked what I hoped to get out of that. Some kind of vindication? That seems pretty unimportant. And self-serving.

The obsessive part of the community around this case has fractured into different sects, like a religion, and the "Renner-hating" crowd views everything I write through a bizarro lens, discounting every new tidbit because of its author. I don't want to do the same thing with Erinn's contribution. I mean, I want to. I really really want to. But I'm trying to be better.

So I'm sharing this interview that disparages me because it also reveals some very important information about the case and I think sharing it might get us closer to a resolution. Erinn got some good info here and it's not being heard (at the time of this post, it has just over three hundred clicks). I know by posting this, it will be heard.

In my book, True Crime Addict, I begin by taking a psychiatric test that basically tells me I scored the way a sociopath would. It was like a cloud over the rest of my adventures. Some of my readers picked up on something I failed to catch, because I was so close to it. They realized there was another explanation for the way the test came out - that I'm on the autism spectrum, like my son. What would have been called Asperger's at one point. They were right. At 39, I'm finally realizing why my brain works like it does. It's why I'm obsessive about things. Why I can be abrasive when asking simple questions. Why loud noises are like pins in my ears and why I liked piling quilts on top of me as a kid.

Maybe it was something I said, or the way I said it, that poisoned some of the relationships I had during the course of looking into Maura's disappearance. Probably it was.

I guess my point is, as a reader, it's up to you to filter out all the petty, personal animosity that makes so much noise around this case - and focus on the facts. There are some new facts here. And for that, Erinn did okay.


Friday, December 22, 2017

Fred Murray Says Sara Alfieri Hid Identity of Maura's Hookup

In a statement released yesterday, Fred Murray revealed more information about the party that Maura Murray attended the weekend before she disappeared, which was held in the dorm room of Sara Alfieri.

He says he was told by Kate Markopoulos that there were three men at the party that night - Sara's cousin and two friends. When they spoke, Sara told him she was asleep for most of the party, which he does not believe. She would not give him names. He would like to know the identity of these three men, to ask them what they might know about his daughter's actions that weekend.

We learned just last week that Maura hooked up with one of these men. Additionally, it has been rumored for years that Maura left with a friend's cousin.

I would love to speak to one of these men, on background (I won't quote you), about the events of that night. Feel free to email: jameswrenner@gmail.com


Sunday, December 17, 2017

To the Anonymous Source

I received your message via Globaleaks.

Firstly, I'd like to apologize for blowing you off years ago. That's not something I would do now.

I wouldn't ask you to tell me where she is, but if you can offer proof that you spoke to her after 2004 (photos, screen caps of conversations, etc.) I would delete this blog. You would also be entitled to the reward, if that matters. If not, I can donate to a charity of your choosing.

You have to realize, with no proof, this seems like a prank. But there was enough genuine sentiment in your email that I want to give you the benefit of doubt.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Maura Called Home of Child Abuse Worker Before Disappearance

This case is just nuts.

As you can see, I'm diving back into the case for a bit since the women came forward about Bill Rausch. Currently, I'm going back through the Maura's cell phone records from the days before her disappearance. On January 24, Maura made two separate calls to the home of a woman who worked for the Department of Human Services Children & Families, investigating and working on child abuse cases in Weymouth, Massachusetts. Her number was unlisted but she sometimes gave it out to clients. In 2004 she was retired but she was working up until the late-1990s, and would have been an employee of DCF when Maura and her siblings (or even friends & relatives) were children.

She does not recall speaking to Maura directly.

I also found it interesting that she has never spoken to police, though her number is one of the last numbers Maura called on her phone before she disappeared. She was never contacted by the Rauschs or Murrays, either.

* For those suggesting this had something to do with Maura's nursing classes, this was an unlisted home number. And the woman had nothing to do with UMass.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

**UPDATED** What Happened at the Party

Here's the new information that was contained in the original post.

- Maura "hooked up" with a man at the party she attended two nights before she disappeared.
- The police have ruled this man out.
- Bill found out about it.
- This story comes from Maura's friends from Hanson who were told directly by a woman at the party.

My original post included the names of some of the people at the party, who have lied to me over the years about the details of that night. I have removed their names because it feels to me that to leave them up is to serve as a form of shaming and I guess I've lost my stomach for that.

I'm disappointed. I'm mad that I was lied to. No reporter likes that. But... everybody lies. So it goes.

Do they owe us an explanation? Nah. And they were scared kids in 2004. But if everyone had been open and honest at the beginning I really think we'd have a resolution by now.

I said before there's no happy ending in this case. And I think we're real close to an ending. I'm going to try to do a little better on the way there. Peace.



Monday, December 4, 2017

Citizen Detectives Planned Sting Operation on Kathleen Murray

A friend of Kathleen Murray's has reportedly given a statement to New Hampshire's Cold Case Unit that Kathleen - in a drunken state - stated that Tim Carpenter's alibi for the night Maura Murray disappeared is false.

The person who gave this statement was part of a Facebook group that has been discussing a scenario in which Tim Carpenter was responsible for what happened to Maura Murray.

Where did this story come from exactly? According to evidence emailed to me earlier today, it comes from several women on Facebook who claim to be friends with Kathleen - "Noelle," her daughter, Sara, and a woman named "Melissa". Noelle was the moderator for a Maura Murray subreddit (she has trolled several people who have commented on the case). Melissa used to have a crime podcast and "befriended" Kathleen over Facebook.


While Noelle spun the narrative, Melissa seems to have kept to what she had heard directly.

Noelle has told people that this information was given to Julie Murray who instructed Melissa to go to the police.

I have a lot of problems with this theory, not the least of which is how the logistics of the theory don't make any sense. I've met Tim Carpenter and the things he told me have checked out so far. But that doesn't mean he shouldn't be vetted like anyone else who knew Maura. 

The danger of rumors like this is how fast they can be viewed as fact when people want a resolution. I think of the Lisa Pruett case and how a bunch of kids hijacked an investigation that nearly put an innocent man in prison. Here's a narrative started by an Internet troll as an idea that has now apparently progressed to police statements and calls for Art Roderick to assist the cold case unit on this lead.

We know the police took Kathleen's DNA to compare it to evidence found in Maura's abandoned car earlier this year. Now it seems we know why. It's important to remember that when crazy stories like this appear, they still have to do their due diligence to rule it out.

If you have any information about this case please contact the Cold Case Unit.

**UPDATE**
I took this post down yesterday at the request of several people, including Melissa. I'm putting it back up because I am concerned about what is planned with this info. They asked me to take it down because they were planning a sting operation on Kathleen outside the scope of official law enforcement.

As it was relayed to me by two different people involved in it, the plan was to send Melissa and Sara up to Vermont -both wearing a wire - to get Kathleen drunk and ask her about Tim. Why? Because the Cold Case Unit reportedly won't look further at Tim without probable cause to do so. A confession by Kathleen ostensibly would be that probable cause.

However, after sleeping on it and thinking about it, I am very concerned for the safety of the women involved in this illicit sting as well as Kathleen, herself. First of all, Kathleen once blew a .352 when she was driving drunk. That's brain-damage level of intoxication. These women could not possibly hope to drink her under the table. Added to that is the group Kathleen runs with up in Vermont, who are dangerous and unsavory people. Finally, what good is a confession if the subject is impaired? What defense attorney wouldn't love this case.

This is all kinds of bad. And there's a dozen scenarios that could have played out in Vermont that could have legitimately hurt people. People could have died.

I don't want to disappoint my friends for putting this post back up. And I honestly feel bad for making these Internet sleuths look bad. They're not bad people. I've certainly crossed the line a couple times with my approach to this case (and consider myself a recovering true crime addict). They mean well. But... what a clustercuss.

This is not the answer to the Maura Murray case. But I do believe it's finally moving in the right direction, as they consider scenarios in which Maura was not traveling alone, and possibly died at the hands of someone she knew.

Monday, November 27, 2017

**UPDATED** More Missing Pages

In light of the recent allegations about Bill Rausch, I've taken another close look at all the evidence and records I've gathered over the years. A couple weeks ago, we noticed that a page was missing from the phone records that the Rauschs handed over to the Murrays. Specifically, Page 9, which would have been the page where Maura's roaming calls would have been catalogued - if she made roaming calls in New Hampshire before or after her disappearance.

Reader (and friend) "Becky" had a good idea. She said another way to tell if Maura had made any roaming calls would be to look at the final page of the phone bill, which would include a grand total of all roaming minutes. All you needed to do then would be to subtract the minutes Bill used and if there was more left over, you'd know Maura had roaming charges, too.

So I went back to the reports. And that page is missing, too.

The records supplied to the Murray family - and to John Smith and Lance & Tim - are missing Page 9 and also the last page, Page 25, the page that would have tallied and summarized all charges.

Others have suggested these pages were misplaced or left out by mistake. Art Roderick claimed the police surely would have thought to subpoena the original records in 2004.

But early articles suggest the police didn't believe Maura's disappearance was even a crime worthy of subpoenas. In fact, the police stopped searching for Maura by Thursday, three days after she vanished, and didn't go looking again for some time.

We can't assume the police got the original records or thought to do so. Not when we know so much was missed early on. My hunch is that the records they have were given to them by the Rausch family.

As we can see by Bill Rausch's roaming charges, if Maura did make calls in the White Mountains the day of her disappearance - or in the days after - those calls would be found in these missing pages. Is it a coincidence those exact pages are missing? If so, that's some real bad luck.

**UPDATE**
Page 25 has been found. It does not show accumulated charges. It does show more roaming calls made by Bill Rausch (mostly checking his voicemail) in the Concord area on Thursday and Sunday.