Every newspaper article in the days following Maura’s crash indicated that the crash occurred just after 7:00 PM. For this reason, one of the clues I find particularly interesting (outlined in detail by John Smith in Podcast # 14), is that on the night of February 9th, at least two witnesses report hearing a call on their police scanner referencing a motor vehicle accident that occurred around 7:00 PM. They heard that a female driver that had lost control and slid off the road into a ditch on Swiftwater Road in Haverhill, which is about 5 miles from the Weathered Barn Corner. The witnesses note this call was subsequently cancelled and that police, Fire, and EMS were called back to the station. They also recall hearing that the that “the driver left in personal vehicle.”
As a quick side note, the phrase “driver left in personal vehicle” has been widely interpreted to mean that the female involved was able to drive away in their personal vehicle. But the phrase "driver left in personal vehicle” could also mean that the driver had remained in the personal vehicle.
Anyway, this incident is no where to be found in the Haverhill police log that was provided by the Grafton County Sheriff’s Office on November 4, 2004. But there were several calls missing between the hours of 6:02 PM and 8:07 PM (see notes below). I reviewed the other town police logs from that evening to see if I could find anything resembling the call witnesses described hearing. Call #4754 – a motor vehicle crash in Groton, NH – stood out to me for several reasons.
The first thing that stood out was the timing. The log states that call #4754 came in at 7:49 PM. Yet no one was dispatched to this call until 8:54 PM -- a 64 minute time gap. To be clear, this 64 minute gap is not the amount of time it took for the officer to arrive at the scene. Rather, it refers to the time it took for the dispatcher to tone out the police after the call came into station -- a process that on average, takes about 5 minutes.
It is particularly unusual given that the level of priority assigned to the incident. Prioritization is assessed on a scale of one to three, with one being the most critical and three being the least. Most (over half) of incidents are assigned a "3." This incident was assigned a “2,” meaning that it was more critical than the vast majority incidents police could have been attending to.
Besides the timing of this call, there are other odd things about this call. The full narrative states:
"65b off with veh on its side leaking fluids no pi need fd and wrecker"
"65 adv subj requesting be chcked by ambulance"
"h2 for wrecker bailey hill. called bailey hill"
First, the narrative says "no pi," (meaning "no persons injured") yet the subject seems to have requested an ambulance. It also indicates that the vehicle was leaking fluids and therefore, the fire department would be needed at the scene. Despite these requests, neither Fire nor EMS, were evidently ever dispatched to the scene.
Another oddity is that it states that H2 (Cecil Smith of Haverhill) calls for a wrecker (tow truck). However, during the entire time of this incident, from the time it was called in at 7:49 PM, to the time officers cleared the scene at 9:04 PM, Smith was supposedly still investigating Maura's crash. How could he have been in two places at once? There are only three logical explanations: 1) H2 was not at the scene in Groton during that time period; 2) H2 was not at Maura’s scene during that time period; and 3) this incident did not occur at the time stated on the log.
Given the unusual time it seems to have taken to dispatch police, I lean toward thinking call #4754 did not occur at the time the log states it did. If that is true, then could call #4754 actually be one of the three missing calls between 6:05 PM and 8:07 PM? Could it be the call that witnesses reported hearing around 7:00 PM on February 9?
If so, it might explain why Fire and EMS were apparently never dispatched to the scene. And what about the indication that there was “no pi” yet the subject was requesting an ambulance? Does this imply there was a disagreement between the driver and the officer regarding the seriousness of the driver’s injuries? There is a statement in the log of Maura's accident that asks “any luck locating the party or has she arrived at Cottage” (referring to the Cottage Hospital). As an outsider, this statement sounds like it is lacking context. I admit, I could be misguided in this thinking. But if call #4754 actually occurred at 7:00 and Maura was involved, then it would seem plausible that she and the officer could have agreed on allowing her to drive herself to the hospital, which would explain why Fire and EMS were cancelled and why the reference to the Cottage Hospital appears in the Haverhill police log.
Besides that, it does not seem to make a lot of sense for H2 to be in Groton, NH, which is over an hour’s drive from Haverhill. But if call #4754 actually occurred around 7:00 PM, and on Swiftwater Road in the town of Haverhill, then you would expect him to have been on scene. It could also explain why one of the three versions of the police log for Feb. 9 has two hours conspicuously missing. It just so happens to be the time just before Maura’s supposedly crash at the WBC.
Lastly, on the topic of Cecil Smith and unusual time – according to the Haverhill police log, Smith (H2) clears Maura's scene at 9:26 PM, after being dispatched to a medical emergency near the intersection of Lime Kiln Road. and Rt. 25. The log reports that he arrived at the next call 9 minutes later at 9:35 PM.
The issue here is that according to Google Maps, to drive from the WBC to the intersection of Lime Kiln Road and Rt. 25 should taken about 20 minutes. Even if Smith was speeding, it’s difficult to see how he could have made it in less than half that time. Logically it would seem that this implies one of two things: 1) either he left Maura’s scene earlier than 9:26 PM; or 2) he arrived at the next scene later than the recorded time of 9:35 PM. If the former is true, then perhaps it is reasonable to question whether the entire incident occurred earlier than is reported as well.
Of course this is all speculation, but call #4754 is worthy of more investigation in my opinion. A lot of things seem to fit if there was a first crash that occurred on Swiftwater Road in Haverhill around 7:00 PM. It could explain how and why a police SUV passes Witness A twice on Swiftwater Road before she sees it parked nose-to-nose with the Saturn near the WBC. The physics of the car having slid downward off the road and into a ditch would also explain how the hood and windshield got damaged (from pressure), while the left headlight remained intact. The downward lunging motion would also provide a better explanation for the liquid stains on the ceiling than the car hitting a tree or spinning out does. Lastly, this scenario would explain how officers knew Maura was the driver of the vehicle before speaking with anyone in her family, and despite the car having been registered to Fred.
1. The three of four calls that were missing from the GCSO logs were #4742, which came in at approximately 6:05 PM; #4747 at approximately 6:38 PM; and #4755 at approximately 8:00 PM.