This is Part Two of a series of articles discussing events that transpired leading up to Maura Murray’s disappearance. If you haven’t already, read Part One before continuing with this post.
The days before Maura Murray vanished were rough. They would be difficult for anyone to deal with, never mind a young college student in the midst of one on the most strenuous (and respected) nursing programs in the country, who likely may have been going through relationship problems simultaneously. (Seriously, if there is one t hing that is hard to believe, it is how the media has portrayed Maura and Billy’s relationship. Both families have made it seem like it was a fairy tale in the making. It clearly wasn’t. In fact, recently several former co-workers of Billy’s came forward to James Renner and said Billy, among other things, had told them he and Maura were about to break up when she went missing). In addition to being a full time student, Maura also worked part time with on-campus security. It was a desk job at Melville Hall (a freshman dorm), and her main responsibility was checking student IDs.
4 Days Before Maura’s Disappearance: “The Call”
On Thursday, February 5th 2004, Maura reported to her security post around 7:00pm. She was set to work until 1:45am. The security desk had a land-line phone, that (according to Maura’s work supervisor ‘Karen M.’) only allowed incoming calls from two lines: The main security office, or the police station. Outgoing calls were possible, but only to local numbers within the Amherst area (ie; student dorm phones, other places within the town). While at work, cell phone use was prohibited, however, we know Maura did not follow that rule. Based on her cell phone records, here are the calls she made while on duty:
7:17 pm: An Incoming Call (incoming #’s are not recorded on the bill)
8:40 pm: Maura checked her voicemail.
9:09 & 9:55 pm: Maura called her boyfriend Billy. Both calls were only one minute in length, so it is likely she didn’t actually speak to him, but rather left voicemails.
10:10 pm: Maura spoke to her sister, Kathleen Murray, for 28 minutes. This is widely reported to be “The” call we will discuss further in a moment.
12:07 am: Maura speaks to boyfriend Billy on the phone for 7 minutes. Her next phone call is not until 3:40am (off-work), when she calls Domino’s Pizza.
Now, here’s where things get strange: sometime in the late evening/early morning hours, Maura’s supervisor (Karen M., who’s job entailed monitoring multiple areas of the campus and being in a supportive role for her staff) was notified that Maura was in tears. Karen went to Maura’s building and reportedly found her behind the desk in an almost catatonic-like state. She witnessed her letting students in without checking IDs, and staring into space with her cell phone on the desk. Maura began to cry, and when Karen tried to find out what was wrong Maura would only say “My sister”. The decision was quickly made that Maura needed to be relieved of her duties. Karen told James Renner that Maura was in such a terrible state that she couldn’t even sign herself out…Karen had to do it for her. Karen urged Maura to let her walk her to the campus counseling center so she wouldn’t be alone, but Maura insisted she was ok and that her room mate would be able to help. Karen was so concerned about Maura that she walked her to her dorm room….a single room in Kennedy Hall. Maura, Karen later found out, did not have a room mate.
Something made Maura so upset that a reliable, West-Point trained young woman broke down in tears at her job. WHAT made Maura so upset? Upon first glance, it would appear obvious…she was on the phone with her sister earlier, and she said “My sister” when Karen tried to find out what was going on. So, something must have occurred on that 10:30 phone call. But, just like everything else in this case, things likely aren’t what they appear to be. When Maura went missing just days later, Karen immediately contacted police to file a report about what happened that night. Police spoke with her sister Kathleen, who appeared completely perplexed. She said there was absolutely nothing out of the ordinary on that phone call. In an interview with The Patriot Ledger Kathleen said she talked to her sister often, and that particular phone call was about “…regular stuff, ‘just-trying-to-get-through-
This leads me to wonder- could Maura have been upset over the phone call she had with Billy at 12:07, and simply told her supervisor it had something to do with her sister so she wouldn’t have to talk about relationship issues? Maura has been described as a shy, private person. Relationships can be deeply personal, and I know I wouldn’t feel comfortable discussing any issues I was having with anyone I work with (add in the fact she wasn’t even allowed to be talking on the phone at work to begin with, and may have been concerned of getting in trouble). It seems like it would be much easier just to brush it off as family problems so she wouldn’t have to go into detail. She also used a non-existent familial problem as an excuse for her school absence several days later when she emailed professors to say she would be out of class for the week due to a death in the family, a death that didn’t actually happen.
To even speculate if something about the phone call with Billy upset her, we first need to clairfy the timeline. The Maura Murray Wikipedia states “…around 10:30 p.m., while still on her shift, it was reported that Murray broke down in tears. When her supervisor arrived at her desk, Murray was “staring straight ahead into empty space. A nursing book lay open in front of her. I don’t know how to explain it. She was just completely zoned out. No reaction at all. The supervisor escorted Murray back to her dorm room around 1:20 am.”
Right off the bat, this timeline doesn’t make sense. It states Maura “broke down in tears” at 10:30pm. We know from the phone records she was on the phone with her sister until nearly 10:40. And in interviews with her supervisor Karen, it seems that after checking on Maura, she knew rather quickly that Maura was in no condition to work and allowed her to leave. There’s no way there was a 3 hour time period from when Maura first began crying and she was let off of work. This can definitely be confirmed as incorrect, because Karen did an interview with James Renner (“Clarification Made on Time of Maura’s Breakdown”). Here she seems to remember helping Maura pack up around 1:15am, or 30 minutes before Maura was originally scheduled to be let off work, so it couldn’t have been too much earlier that she originally arrived to check on Maura. With Maura speaking to Billy from 12:07-12:14am, it would make much more sense time-wise that it was THAT call that made her upset. Even if it wasn’t, one would assume that she would have talked to her boyfriend about what was going on if it really was the prior call with her sister that left her in this state, but there isn’t any information that has been made public confirming this, and all interviews with the family to date that reference “The Call” still offer no explanation. They seem just as in the dark as everyone else trying to piece it together.
One of the main Maura Murray “Conspiracy Theories” is that she was crying because she (or someone using her car) hit fellow Umass student, Petrit Vasi, who was crossing the street across campus when a car slammed into him, putting him in a coma. I don’t believe this is true, as once again the timeline doesn’t make sense. The hit and run occurred at the exact time Maura was on the phone with Billy, around 12:10am that night. There is also other evidence James Renner obtained via Freedom of Information Act about the accident. Paint chips from the car that hit Petrit were found on his clothes and in the road. There were also other bits of evidence from the car involved left roadside. The color of the paint chips do not match Maura’s car. Stay tuned for a post about this.
Tomorrow, we will continue the day-by-day series and look into an odd car accident that Maura got into while driving her father’s car the following day. It’s truly unbelievable how much bad luck and craziness occurred right before she went missing.