Tonight on episode two of Oxygen’s “The Disappearance of Maura Murray”, a major question is addressed that has been hotly debated among those following the case for years: Was Maura Murray pregnant? Despite the host’s opinions that this can now likely be written off as a nursing assignment, I STRONGLY disagree. And the police seem to feel the same. This needs to be discussed and looked at more in depth (going beyond what was on TV) so lets begin by summarizing what happened on the show with what the police actually found, as it is quite different.
The Disappearance of Maura Murray Episode 2 begins with hosts Maggie and Art interviewing James Renner (author of a bestselling Maura Murray book), and he drops a bombshell. When asked why he believes Maura left, Renner says “…I think Maura found out she was pregnant”. When Maggie questions why he believes Maura Murray was pregnant, Renner backs up his statement- not only does he think Maura was pregnant, but the police think Maura was pregnant as well. (Remember that). Searches were found on her computer relating to the effects of alcohol during pregnancy, among others.
To explore this further, Art and Maggie speak to Erin O’Neil, a former UMass nursing student who was in Maura’s program. She seemed skeptical that Maura was pregnant, and attributed it to class work. “We had a maternity assignment..so our instructor had advised us to look up clinical terms and then email them to each other”, O’Neil said. A copy of Maura’s final homework assignment she had emailed flashed across screen.
On the surface, this seems to make sense. But why was there even speculation to begin with that Maura Murray was pregnant? Where did this come from? The answer? Directly from the police investigating Maura’s disappeance.
When Maura went missing, her computer was analyzed by a forensics team. James Renner was able to speak with the lead investigator (since retired), Lieutenant Scarinza. In a post on Renner’s website (a must read for sleuths interested in the ‘was Maura Murray pregnant’ debate), he reveled Scarinza’s account that just prior to Maura searching for accommodations online and leaving UMass that day, she was looking up the effects of alcohol on an unborn fetus. James specifically writes: “There were several searches about pregnancy conducted from Maura’s computer that strongly suggested to investigators that Maura was either pregnant or thought she could be. The searches did not relate to any possible homework.This is why I do not believe these searches had anything to do with her school work, and could be totally unrelated. Yes, Maura was a nursing student, but she completed her final homework assignment just after 3am that morning. These VERY specific searches were done much later in the day.”
I don’t believe Maura possibly being pregnant should have been written off as quickly as it was in Episode 2 of The Disappearance of Maura Murray, and found it very odd that it was implied it must be related to a homework assignment that was already sent in before these specific searches were made. During the episode, part of Maura’s final, emailed homework assignment was shown (timestamped at 3:32:38 am), the topic being “Maternity Clinical Definitions”. A definition of the medication “Duramorph” was shown, with details of the medication and routes of administration listed out.
Also keep in mind that the forensics investigators who went through her computer were well aware Maura was a nursing student. For the lead investigator of Maura Murray’s case to make a statement that, based on her recent internet activity, they believe she was pregnant or suspected she was pregnant, leads me to theorize that (as James Renner said) the search terms were likely unrelated to her homework and oddly specific. Also, it doesn’t make sense to me that they could be part of an assignment that involved emailing other students nursing clinical terms, because searches like “what are the effects of alcohol on an unborn fetus” really doesn’t seem like a ‘clinical term’ at all. I am not a nurse, so I enlisted a family member’s help who is an RN. I asked her what her interpretation of a ‘clinical term’ was:
“To put in in laymen’s terms, there’s basically a ‘language’ nurses use, specifically on things like charts, communicating patient care to the team and such. There’s so much memorization in nursing school. I can definitely see a professor telling students in the group to email each other nursing terminology to help practice and memorize. There’s a lot to grasp. Our ongoing assignment was to make flashcards and practice them with each other. “The effects of alcohol on pregnancy” isn’t what I would think of as a clinical term. [Clinical terms] would be more like ‘The definition of SSRI’ or other medications, or ‘The abbreviation of Tx [Treatment]’.”
While we do not know if Maura Murray was pregnant, I don’t believe we have enough information to rule out she wasn’t, either, and find the show’s explanation to be unsatisfactory and a bit disappointing. Here we have a lead investigator, someone who knows more information about the case than the public, saying the team has reason to believe Maura may have been pregnant, and thus it seemed odd to me that is was disregarded in the manner it was. If there is one thing we DO know about Maura it’s that she was an extremely private person. Her own family has stated she didn’t even fully tell them what was going on, so if she was pregnant, how likely would it be that she would tell a fellow nursing student (who she wasn’t even particularly close with) such incredibly personal information?
Even after years of looking into Maura’s case and reading pretty much everything ever written on it and all public evidence and records, I do not have a theory on what happened to her. I do however, think it’s important not to jump to conclusions one way or the other, or be so quick or rule out (or on the flip side, rule in) information without solid proof one way or another. Maura Murray possibly being pregnant is one point I feel needs to remain listed as ‘possible’ until it can be ruled out. I’ve always wondered if her boyfriend Billy may hold the answer to this, and if he does, would he tell?
Be sure to visit James Renner’s Maura Murray blog for more information and updates on the case at MauraMurray.Blogspot.com.