Wednesday, October 14, 2015

She Just Disappeared

There's something about the disappearance of a person that is so haunting. How does a human being just vanish...here one minute, gone the next?



I'm fascinated by a now-ended TV series on Investigation Discovery called Disappeared. The series told the stories of the many, many, many people who have just vanished without a trace over the past few decades.



Out of hundreds of episodes, one haunted me. It was the story of a 21-year-old college girl named Maura Murray.



Maura got in her car one day and started driving toward the White Mountains. She wrecked her car in a snowbank at this spot on Route 112 in Woodsville, New Hampshire:



She was last seen standing by her wrecked black Saturn. A bus driver stopped to ask if she needed him to call the police. She asked him not to call the police and said she'd already called AAA. (No cell phone service is available in the area, so that couldn't have happened.) The bus driver got home a few minutes later and called the police. When the police arrived at the scene three minutes later, they found a locked, empty car and no sign of Maura.



The story has stuck with me for several years. Occasionally, I'll check to see if they've found her yet and find nothing. But my most recent check found that there's now an entire podcast dedicated to solving Maura's disappearance:



Turns out, that Disappeared episode haunted quite a few people. Since it aired in early 2010, the Internet has been buzzing about the case. Amateur sleuths everywhere are working hard to solve the case...probably harder than the detectives being paid to to do it. Maura wasn't perfect. In fact, she got into a little trouble before disappearing. This is a shot of her taken by the police after she illegally used someone's credit card to buy food:



There have been stories that her body was buried beneath a local guy's house. There have been questions about whether she started a new life somewhere. There have been all kinds of rumors, innuendo, and facts...all of which are brought out and dissected on the podcast. What will really be amazing is if the Internet can actually solve this case, once and for all.

Did Maura run from the scene and start a new life?



Or did someone harm her?


What do you think?

72 comments:

  1. Stephanie, all these disappearances are very disturbing. Especially to their love ones, not knowing whether they are dead or alive or suffering somewhere and not able to contact them.

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    1. I agree...her family is no longer interested in helping the people who are trying to find her (at least not the Internet/podcast amateur sleuths). That seems odd to me...but someone said that after a certain point, family members often have to move on. They can't obsess about it anymore.

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  2. Can't I blame aliens? No? In all likelihood she ran. If she lied about the call to triple a then she probably wanted out.

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    1. I think an "alien theory" podcast is coming up. They're exploring all angles and that's one of them! She bought an amount of liquor that indicated she might have been meeting someone. Kahlua, vodka, Bailey's, and wine. She might have been intending to drink herself to death, but only vodka would work for that, I would think? The kahlua bottle was missing from the car. I'm not so sure someone would use kahlua to kill herself! Anyway...another man who came up missing years ago in a similar manner was found recently. His bones, anyway. It sounds like he'd gone to the mountains and jumped off...he'd walked away from his car after locking it with all his belongings inside. So it's possible she just went off into the woods next to where her car was found--although they searched right after and never found her.

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  3. A mystery that gives a writer lots of fodder but also has to be terrible for her family. It does sound as if she planned it, but you never know.

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    1. Even with the limited amount of information I've posted, that seems to be the consensus so far...I wonder if maybe that means that's what happened. Fresh eyes often provide the best perspective on something like this. There are a lot of other strange small things that I didn't include here because it would have been a LONG blog post...she was drinking and driving (cup of wine found in the car), she'd wrecked her dad's car a few days before, her dad was a major control freak, there was a rag stuffed into her tailpipe... It just goes on and on. That's what makes the podcast so interesting. The longer you listen, the more these little things come out...and most weren't mentioned on that Disappeared episode (which her father controlled).

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  4. These kinds of stories always give me the chills. It's a reminder of just how big and vast the world is and how small we really are in it.

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    1. That is true! They were talking about people who have disappeared and moved to another state, working and living under the SAME NAME, and nobody figured it out. Apparently unless the FBI is involved, local police don't have the ability to pull records and see that you're still working under your social security number...added to the fact that after a certain time passes, very few people keep looking. Unsolved Mysteries helped solve quite a few cases because so many people were watching at once. Now all we have is the power of the Internet to keep people looking.

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  5. I can't imagine how hard it would be to live not knowing where your child was or what had happened to them no matter how old they were. I actually wrote a story about something like this, a girl who disappeared. And I always wonder about people who disappear if they did just walk away and start a new life somewhere.

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    1. One thing I forgot to mention--people said no footprint tracks were found in the snow, so the theory is if she escaped, someone drove up and picked her up. The guy who is writing a book about the case thinks she was meeting someone and he/she swung by and got her...which would explain why the car was locked and her backpack was gone. (I still haven't figured out how they knew she had a backpack but they bring it up often!)

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  6. Omg. Stories like this give me the shivers. It only takes an instant for someone to be taken. I worked a serial killer case years ago, and the guy was picking up girls at truck stops and killing them. One was a young mother. So horrible (ps that guy is serving life now). Anyhoo, this makes me think of The Lovely Bones. That book always haunted me!

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    1. Ted Bundy was thought to have killed as many as 300 women...but they have no idea who most of those women would have been. Makes you wonder how many "disappeared" women are victims of serial killers and nobody will ever know for sure. There is another case of a woman who mysteriously disappeared in that area around that time named Brianna Maitland...her case is just as odd. But the podcast guys insist the two are not connected and refuse to even talk about the Maitland case because apparently it just leads people down the wrong path when trying to solve Maura's case.

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    2. I researched the Brianna Maitland case a little & the cases are SO similar. The one difference is Brianna was involved with some real lowlife drug dealers that had been coming to town & they seem to believe those guys were in on it. They don't give up alot of evidence for that theory, but with what I read it looks like they may be right. Still, the similarities in the two cases are eerie. Check out the Disappeared on Brianna, I found it on Youtube. The similarities will give you chills.

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  7. yes, sometimes it is very tempting to disappear and start a new life like that

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    1. Apparently you can. I had no idea! I mentioned it above, but there have been cases where people moved and started a new life under the SAME NAME and they just were assumed to be missing for years. After some time, people stop looking and even if you're filing taxes under your social security number, nobody really cares.

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  8. I'm fascinated by stories like this. Sadly, we'll probably never know, but I suspect something happened to her.

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    1. Apparently there was some mysterious information last week that was about to be revealed by the guy who is writing a book about the case. He was asked at the last minute not to share it (I assume by law enforcement). It supposedly explained why she left and was headed in that direction. Because that same guy keeps talking about the fact that he thinks she was meeting someone, I have a feeling it has to do with that.

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  9. Oh dear, I hadn't heard about this and now it will haunt me as well.I hope you follow it and let us know an outcome, if and when that occurs.

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    1. I will! I have a feeling it will probably make national news--especially if these podcast guys are able to get the Internet going to crack the case. You can also follow it here:

      http://mauramurray.blogspot.com/

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  10. I'm of the opinion she turned invisible because of a terrible science experiment and is still trying to communicate with her loved ones without terrifying them. (Okay, stepping out of writerly mode...) Chances are she stopped to help a hitch hiker and ended up in trouble.

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    1. She crashed into a snow bank and it's suspected she was drinking...that actually is why they think she didn't want the police involved. The first caller to the police mentioned that she saw a guy smoking a cigarette in the passenger seat, but that has never been substantiated. When the bus driver stopped to ask if he could call the police, he said he saw only her, so if there was a second guy, not sure where he went. (And the airbags deployed, so who smokes a cigarette with airbags deployed in front of you?!)

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  11. It seems it was a deliberate disappearance, I think.

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    1. I think so...but supposedly no footprints in the snow going into the forest, so it sounds like there had to have been a second car that whizzed by and picked her up. Probably somebody she knew... There were some cell phone calls to an unknown number from her phone before she disappeared, I believe.

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  12. I'd like to think it was deliberate and she wanted out, but it's more likely that something befell her. Unfortunately.

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    1. I'm torn...every time you think it must be one thing or another, you hear something that makes you rethink that! That's what is so frustrating about this particular case. Could be a killer, but how did he get her so fast? Just a few minutes. Could be she wanted out, but how did she get away unless a second person picked her up? And if that person did pick her up--who is he/she and did that person kill her or just help her go off to a new life?

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  13. This one sounds like she may have started a new life. It would be great if her disappearance could be solved by the internet. That would give more hope to those families who have missing loved ones.

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    1. I think the best possible ending to this story is that she moved elsewhere and is just living under a different name. Or maybe her own name--although this case has been pretty high profile over the years, so probably a different name. I don't know how the paperwork works out on that, though--if you work, you have to have a social security #.

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  14. I think I would like this series... I really wonder what happened to her... I hope it is figured out. Especially in todays age with social media, I think it is harder to hide and start over but who knows...

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    1. I think so, too! Although, oddly, people have. They just move to another state and even keep using the same name. The first time someone Googled "Maura Murray," though, they'd see all the information. Maybe she's going by her middle initial? As someone said on the podcast, if you want to disappear, just gain a bunch of weight and change your hair color. Even if you're using the same name, chances are, nobody's ever going to catch it. I had no idea until recently!

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  15. Foul play is my guess. Most cannot disconnect from life completely. Not with that many people looking for her. Something awful happened to her and we'll probably never know what.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. They have found a couple of people who moved away...one was a guy who had joined a weird church who had convinced him to tithe all his money. He moved to another state one day and never contacted his family again. Someone recently found him and he said he doesn't want to speak to the media or his family--he just wants to be left alone. Odd!

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  16. Missing is such a dreadful thing. Her family and friends heart's must have ached. Must still ache. And will probably never know. A cruel thing - whether she did it herself or someone else took that step.

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    1. The lack of closure has to be the most difficult part. I just looked up a girl who was on Disappeared who vanished in Myrtle Beach--in September they thought they'd found her remains. I can't find anything saying whether they confirmed it or not. Most of the time, when these people are find, they were murdered, sadly. The McStay family was another one that really hit me hard--they found the remains of all four of them in the desert last year. :-(

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  17. Stories like this always amaze me, and I start coming up with my own weird scenarios of what may have happened, as well. Like you, hope this can be solved. Great post! Hugs...ro

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    1. I think that's what feeds this Internet obsession with her. Everyone has theories. As a writer, it fascinates me, but it's also very sad. I hope the story is just that she moved away. She had been involved in some questionable stuff before she vanished...including wrecking her dad's car. And apparently there was a hit and run on campus near where she worked that lined up with a time when she was really upset...the guy was in a coma for a while and when he came out of it, he couldn't remember what had happened but speculation is that Maura may have hit someone and decided to run before the police could catch her. (The morning she disappeared, the hit and run made the school paper.)

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  18. These stories of people who just disappear are really disturbing, especially the ones involving women, children, and teens. How many murderers do we have in this country?

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    1. I read somewhere that your risk of being kidnapped are at their highest between a certain age. It was mid-teens to your mid-20s, I think? I thought, "Odd...once you're in your late 20s, kidnappers don't want you?" But then I realized young girls are probably seen as more vulnerable and less likely to know what to do in a situation like that.

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  19. What a mystery. I feel really sorry for the families in cases like this, they don't have any closure and can't really grieve for their loved one because they're still waiting to find out what happened. I do hope this mystery can be solved for all concerned.

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    1. I agree. The family has been criticized by not helping the public find her, but I think the "closure" they eventually have to get is just to move on as best they can. This means not participating in a public obsession with their family members' deaths. They refuse to even be interviewed for a book being written about her disappearance.

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  20. Oh my. Now my brain is fuzzing. I watched something similar on Criminal Minds last night. What a mystery.

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    1. I don't remember that one! If you find out which episode it was, let me know. They're all on Netflix...I'd love to go back and watch it. I know often those shows are based on real-life incidents, but I'm sure it was just similar by coincidence...there are, sadly, so many stories like Maura's. Brianna Maitland's story is pretty riveting, as well. Her car was found abandoned not far from where Maura's was found, although it seems the two have been ruled out as related.

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  21. It would be interesting to know, of the disappearances that are eventually solved, what percentage is chosen and what percentage is foul play.

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    1. I think if you take those that are solved within a couple of days, it's "chosen." The longer time goes on, though, the more the odds go up that the person is dead, sadly. I think cases where someone disappears and never speaks to family again are rare except in those cases where that person gets mixed up with drugs, prostitution, etc. All too often, though, it seems that the person's remains are eventually found.

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  22. It does sound like maybe she disappeared on purpose. She could have a whole new life and identity now.

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    1. She could...or just be living under the same name somewhere else. Information is so spread out now...the vast majority of the population still have no idea about this story, so it's not like she'd be discovered. She could introduce herself as "Maura Murray" to 90 percent of the population, looking exactly as she looks in those pictures, and they'd never know there was someone missing by that name.

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  23. That is so scary. It is weird, though, that she didn't want the police called.

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    1. Well...one likely reason for that is that they found some wine in a cup in the car, so she probably was driving under the influence...which could have been a reason for her to run, especially if she feared police would be coming along at any minute... But where did she run to? That's the real question!

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  24. Sounds like a good premise for a book! I can see why this story has fascinated you for years. I am curious about it now too. I am not sure what happened. Interesting that she didn't want the police notified. I am wondering if she disappeared on purpose or an opportunity presented itself and she took it. I have all kinds of ideas swirling around in my head now. :)

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    1. It would make a great book! I don't write that sort of thing, but those of you who do, should totally go for it! I may not write it but I definitely read it.

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  25. Interesting case! I can see why it's hooked so many. Makes you wonder for sure. I could totally see someone just deciding to walk away and start fresh.

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    1. Especially with a controlling father and repeat car crashes...

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  26. This is the sort of thing that makes me wonder how difficult it would be to just disappear like that. I've had story ideas where that happened to the main characters, but that was always via magic, so I have no idea how it would work in real life. Always interesting when someone just plain goes away, though.

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    1. Sometimes it does make me wonder...so many people who have mysteriously disappeared. Maybe there's an answer that defies our own world. Probably not...probably just a lot of crazy maniac murderers out there. But it still makes you wonder!

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  27. This is very interesting and I wonder if there was already someone nearby when the bus driver stopped. I have a feeling she disappeared on purpose but not alone. She has fake ID's etc... and living somewhere else. This show does sound interesting for sure! Have any been solved??

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    1. A few have, actually. The show wasn't all cases where people had disappeared with no resolution. In some cases, the show ended with the person being found. There was a teenager who disappeared on the beach in the 80s that they finally linked to remains they found back then of a girl who had been killed by a serial killer. DNA had finally given them the ability to make a match. Many more were solved after the show aired (like the McStay family and John Glasgow). Unfortunately, in the vast majority of cases, the person was found to be dead.

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  28. Fascinating post, Stephanie! Not sure if you have heard about the latest news about Adolf Hitler, but they are saying now that there is absolutely no evidence that he shot himself, no body or anything. In fact they did find some remains but it turned out to be a woman's. They are now feeling that he disappeared and created a new identity for himself.

    I have a mystery (a real life one) in my own family. An aunt of mine (my mother's sister) died in 1973 and I went to the funeral but was unable to attend the burial at the cemetery. I was just 16 when she died. Anyway, the family have told me in which cemetery she was buried, but nobody has a plot number of anything. I called the cemetery on two separate occasions in the past 10 years and even the cemetery says that her body was never buried there! And this is a cemetery that has excellent records and the majority of my ancestors are buried there. Very strange. I called several cemeteries and nobody has her name in their list of burials, and I even gave them her entire name, both maiden and married.

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    1. Wow. That's crazy about Hitler! It was easy to fool the public back then. The media/public wasn't exactly on top of things like they are now. Nobody thought to question the news they saw. Do you think your aunt didn't die, after all? It could also be an issue with the cemetery. Cemeteries have been known over the years to do some unscrupulous things. Do you have a membership at Ancestry.com? I believe that gives you access to public records.

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    2. Hi Stephanie, it doesn't surprise me about Hitler, because he knew his life was in danger due to all the harm he caused and how many people were killed under his authority. It was either he commit suicide or disappear and change his identity. As far as my aunt goes, she definitely did die. Her body was discovered in her apartment by a neighbour who was a good friend to her. The lady then called my mother, who lived just a few buildings and 3 minutes away from her sister. As well, I did see her body in the casket, it was open at the funeral home and it was definitely her! I do not have a membership with Ancestry.com because I just don't have the funds. The funeral home had no records of where my aunt's remains were sent after leaving the funeral home, because they said that they only keep records for 10 years. I even know where her husband (my late uncle) is buried, as I have seen the grave and it is the same cemetery where many of my ancestors are buried. My aunt had one son, who, if he is still alive now would be 71, as he was born in 1944. I can't even locate him and I have tried for decades! Last I knew he lived in Ontario but we are going back to the 1970's so it is possible he could have relocated. He may be deceased by now but if he is I cannot even find any records of his death, either. It is just a very frustrating experience, but I am not giving up and I keep asking. Since both my parents have been deceased since 1984, (one within one year of the other), and I am an only child, and most of my relatives are dead now and I have no idea where my cousins are, it is difficult. I did manage to contact one cousin whom I have been e-mailing back and forth and she has given me some information on my grandmother on my mother's side but that is about it.

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  29. Chilling and a mystery. What could have happened?

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  30. It's crazy to think of all the possibilities of what could have happened. And it's even more frightening to know that many people go missing every day in the US. I always loved watching Unsolved Mysteries.

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  31. oh, these stories seriously fascinate me. I got all caught up in a dateline the other night with all these crazy stories (though thankfully all the stories were resolved and linked) if she had a criminal past I'm inclined to think something's fishy...hmm.

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  32. To build on your question, while I can't speak directly to the disappearances you mentioned, it's actually fairly easy to "disappear". Like...really easy. A lot easier than a lot of people give it credit for. It can be as easy as grabbing a bunch of cash, driving three hours in a given direction, hopping out and buying a cab or train ticket with that cash. So long as you don't have a phone on you, you're just gone like that *snap*

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  33. So many possibilities, aren't there? Fascinating and haunting.

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  34. I love these kind of mysteries and I do hope they get to the bottom of it! Thanks for sharing, I must know go do more reading!

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  35. I always wonder about these sort of things. I always hope they found a better life somewhere as someone else. But then I see the missing ads for kids in the papers where they age progress them. Those really bum me out :/

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  36. Well, whatever she was planning either she revised it or someone revised it for her. Too many odd clues there and probably more that aren't public knowledge. I always liked watching shows like 48 Hours when they featured cold cases and disappearances.

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  37. I believe I've actually heard of this before. It's always kind of fascinated me, especially since this is a topic I cover in my YA series.
    Mind you, it's just a sub-plot, so the story is not heavy with it.

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  38. Much as I love these types of stories I do feel for the family members who remain in perpetual wonder. As I read this post I was reminded of a book I read many years ago called "Stranger than Science" (I think!). It was a collection of unexplained events such as that of a man on his way to leave for work one morning, who turned to wave at his wife and child--and vanished! Right before their eyes! In his place was a perfect circle, burned into the grass.

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  39. Freaky, freaky, freaky......

    Tomorrow's Friday...................................

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  40. Oh wow, this gives me chills! I used to love to watch Unsolved Mysteries years ago and this sounds exactly like a story that would have been on there. It does make you feel for her family who will always wonder. Now you have me curious...what DID happen to Maura Murray????

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  41. I do watch investigative shows like the one you mention (not this particular one, though) and it's always difficult imagining what'd happened to them. The one I watched was Vanished with Beth Holloway. And when it comes to children, it's always, always heartbreaking.

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  42. I find these disappearances disturbing and sad. I remember watching crime shows as a kid, but haven't watched anything new lately.

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