All posts by reneelroberson

True Crime Wednesday: The Disappearance of Maura Murray

When I first decided to start up my blog again I knew I wanted to designate one day to true crime posts. (Hey—I had to find some way of justifying my addiction to the unsolved/unresolved missing persons and cold cases, right?) For today’s post I had originally planned to talk about Kyle Fleischmann, a young man who disappeared in Charlotte, N.C. in 2007, but after I saw a new program scheduled to run on the Oxygen channel this weekend titled “The Disappearance of Maura Murray,” I changed my plans.

For those not familiar with the case, on the night of Feb. 9, 2004, Maura Murray e-mailed her college professors at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and employers and told them she needed to take a week off due to a death in her family. (This was later determined to be a lie). She researched renting a condominium in the mountains of New Hampshire. She left campus, withdrew most of the money in her bank account from an ATM, purchased alcohol at a liquor store, including a box of wine, and drove to Haverhill, New Hampshire, a few hours away. She crashed her car on a country road there around 7 p.m.

A school bus driver stopped to ask her if she needed help on his way home but she said, no, she had already called AAA for help. He drove to his home just a few houses away and placed a call to police. He doubted her story because the area had no cell service whatsoever.  By the time police arrived around 15 minutes later, there was no sign of Maura. Some of her possessions were found in the car, along with an empty bottle that appeared to have residual wine in it and the smashed up box of wine she had purchased at the liquor store. Her debit and credit cards and cell phone were missing. Maura was never seen again.

Disappearance of Maura Murray Sneak Peek 101: A Timeline of Events

I’ve listed to a few episodes of the Missing Maura Murray podcast , produced by Tim Pilleri and Lance Reenstierna, where they discuss different theories out there about Maura’s disappearance as well as a detailed timeline of the events leading up to the night she went missing. James Renner is another journalist who has a blog devoted to this case, My Search for Maura Murray, as well as a nonfiction book titled True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray.

I think people are fascinated with Maura’s case because on the surface, she looked like she had everything going for her. She was young, beautiful, athletic, intelligent, studying for a promising career in nursing. But Maura’s story goes much deeper than that. Scratch the surface a bit and secrets would be revealed, one by one. So many secrets and transgressions that when added up, could result in a person wanting to run away, disappear, or take their own life rather than be exposed.

Some of those secrets (from what I’ve been able to glean from news articles, podcasts, and television broadcasts of the case) are that Maura had been asked to leave West Point Academy, which she originally attended after graduating from high school, for an honor code violation. She transferred to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to study nursing. While there, she got into trouble for using the credit card of someone who lived in her dorm to order food from a local restaurant. The day before she disappeared, she crashed her father’s brand-new car near campus around 3:30 a.m., causing a lot of damage. The next day, she put most of her belongings in boxes in her dorm room, e-mailed professors and her employer for the time off, researched condos in the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont, and drove away. Then she crashed her car again around 7 p.m. that night. How could this girl not be scared that her world was caving in?

Some people theorize that a local resident snatched Maura as she stood outside of her car wondering how she was going to get out her second car accident in two days. Me? Personally I believe she panicked because she was probably going to get a D.U.I., and that, along with the rest of her troubles, was too much for her to handle. She probably grabbed what she needed and took off into the woods before police could arrive. She could have gotten disoriented in the woods and succumbed to the elements. I don’t really believe any of the theories that she faked her own disappearance and is living in Canada somewhere. It seems a little too far fetched to me. But, who knows? I could be wrong.

Do you have any theories about what could have happened to Maura Murray? Have you watched “The Disappearance of Maura Murray” or followed any of the blogs? Do you think the case will be cracked anytime soon?

 

 

Book Review: The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

Digging in with my afternoon cup of coffee! #elinhilderbrand #theidenticals #summerreading

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“The most underrated force at work in the universe is that of coincidence. And yet who among us hasn’t been at its mercy?” – The Identicals

Elin Hilderbrand is one of my favorite authors, and every summer I look forward to meeting a new set of characters in her latest novel. In my favorite book, The Blue Bistro, it was Adrienne, Thatcher, the mysterious chef Fiona, and the whole colorful front and back of the house staff at the restaurant. In The Castaways it was Tess and Greg, Addison and Delilah, Addison and Phoebe and Andrea and Jeffrey, a group of couples who had all grown too close for their own good—I almost couldn’t keep up with all their secrets! In A Summer Affair it was the illicit romance between Claire and Lock as they worked together on a summer gala, even though both were married and had a lot to lose if their secret was discovered. The list goes on and on. This year, I couldn’t hold myself back when I heard about The Identicals, a tale of two identical twins who were raised on the separate islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

In fact, both Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard each serve as narrators in different parts of the book. Nantucket says things like, “Famous residents: Prefer not be named,” while Martha’s Vineyard adds, “Famous residents: Meg Ryan, Lady Gaga, Carly Simon, James Taylor, John Belushi,” etc. The book is also told from the points of view of twins Tabitha (raised on Nantucket with her mom after her parents’ divorce when she was a teenager), Harper (who traveled to Martha’s Vineyard with the twins’ dad) and Ainsley, who is Tabitha’s 16-year-old daughter and quite the handful.

Both women are 39 and have lives that couldn’t be more different. Tabitha never married but had two children with her ex-boyfriend Wyatt, Ainsley and an infant son who only lived a few months. She also followed in her mother’s business trying to keep a clothing line (think Lilly Pulitzer variety) afloat, while Harper never really settled on a career and got into one scrape after another, including a drug trafficking charge. When the book begins the two women are united when their father Billy dies, and the reader learns the women haven’t spent any time together since the death of Tabitha’s son—a death for which she blames Harper for some mysterious reason. When their mother Eleanor falls and breaks her hip, there is no one to stay and watch over Ainsley, who has become quite a rebellious and indulgent teenager, on Nantucket. Harper ends up traveling to Nantucket to help out against Tabitha’s wishes while Tabitha first helps her mother in Boston, and then makes her way to Martha’s Vineyard.

I enjoyed reading about the dynamic between the two sisters, especially their complicated love lives. The character of Ainsley had the most growth throughout the novel, which was a nice surprise. I did grow a little frustrated at the hints of what happened the night Tabitha’s son died, because at the end blaming Harper was a little more than misplaced. It also reminded me a little of the storyline in Summerland that involved Ava and Jordan’s infant son who also died.

As usual, Hilderbrand’s love of food comes into play (Harper is a great cook and the meals she prepares are decadent) and it was a change of pace to read about Martha’s Vineyard this time along with Nantucket. It made me add one more place to my travel bucket list! I also purchased the book from Barnes and Noble and it featured bonus content at the end that gave a little backstory to the Tabitha and Harper’s parents, Eleanor and Billy.

Have you read any Elin Hilderbrand books? Which was your favorite? If you haven’t, what is your favorite author famous for writing “beach reads?”