Tonight on Episode 5 of Oxygen’s The Disappearance of Maura Murray, Maggie Freleng and Art Roderick did a series of tests to find out how accurate the scent dogs likely were during the initial search/rescue operations for Maura. While I wasn’t thrilled with the way the testing was handled (I think they should have tried to replicate the conditions more accurately. The search dogs did not attempt to pick up Maura’s scent until nearly two days after her accident, so Maggie should have done ‘the walk’ 36-48 hours prior and then brought out the scent tracking dogs to see if they were able to get the correct hit. Instead, she walked down the street, and shortly after brought in the ‘pups. Of course the dog will be able to pick up a scent that was just left!). Though I understand this was likely due to production time constraints. I did think it was helpful to see how the process is conducted.
Maggie and Art now strongly believe, based on the tracking dog’s reliable results and the handler’s input, that Maura Murray was picked up by a car at the last location the dog received the hit, or else the dog likely would have been able to continue tracking her. Maggie referred to this location as “right in front of [this] cabin”. But they left something interesting out: the cabin is DIRECTLY across the street from bus driver Butch Atwood’s house. And for me, this is hard to make sense of.
You see, on the evening Maura Murray crashed her car, according to all official reports, newspaper interviews, and even discussed on the show itself, Butch Atwood stopped to offer Maura Murray help. Help which we know she declined. From there, Butch continued to drive his bus to his house (about 100 yards east of the crash site), where he backed it into his driveway. In multiple interviews, he states that he waited in his bus until police arrived.
So if Maura Murray was picked up by a passing vehicle in front of the cabin, how did Butch Atwood not see this? If he was sitting in his bus, facing the street (which we know he was- multiple neighbors have confirmed this as well), I find it extremely perplexing that he would not have seen any passing cars stop right in front of his home and pick up Maura Murray. I would imagine this would take at least 30 seconds at the very least. The driver would likely see a young woman walking alone on a street, slow down, roll down the window to ask if she needed help, and a conversation would happen, resulting in Maura getting in the car and leaving the scene. But Butch Atwood never reported seeing this, and no other neighbors saw a car stop from their vantage point either. The police would have also passed by this scene, as this is the direction the officer came from to reach the crash site just up the road. HOW could NO ONE see this happening?!
Either this happened during a tiny period of time where everyone was looking away, or Maura did not get a ride from this location and the scent dog was not accurate after 48 hours. Or of course, the other possibility may be that Butch Atwood did see this, but did not report it- something ultra strange, considering just minutes later when police arrived and came to his bus, he said he had not seen anyone since he pulled up to the accident scene, and then began assisting with the Maura Murray search.
Does anyone else find this to be strange? Please feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think! Next Saturday is the finale and final episode of The Disappearance of Maura Murray. They have wood panel wall paint chips tested for DNA that came from an A-Frame house in the neighborhood. This is all due to the tireless work of podcasters Tim and Lance, and longtime investigator and driving force behind keeping Maura’s case in the light, John Smith (who I would have liked to see a lot more of on the series). They entered the house and obtained samples, and I’m assuming the network has agreed to pay for testing. That cannot be cheap. (Edit 10/31: The tests came back positive for human DNA, one of which was female. They did not however say if it was a match to Maura’s, just that it could not be used? I need to get clarification on this response, and why (chain of custody issues aside) there wasn’t a solid answer as to if it could be Maura’s DNA or not. When investigator Chuck West called Art back, the snippet from the convo that aired was short, and per usual, there seemed to be no solid response. Why didn’t Art ask if it could possibly be a potential match for Maura? Was it too degraded? Is this info police are not willing to give out to maintain the integrity of the investigation? Editing? I have about 100 questions! Is there anything the public can do to help the investigation such as raise money for a reward fund for tips? This is something I would really love to be able to donate to and help raise funds for. Organize search groups? There are so many people who are impacted by Maura’s story and want to help. What can we do that will have a positive impact?)Maura Murray & the A Frame house has long been talked about, and tomorrow we will be writing a blog post with everything we know about it, it’s history and who owned it. In the meantime, feel free to check out other recent postings about Maura Murray and the Oxygen show by clicking the link for the Maura Murray Blog section.