When Did Maura Leave Amherst?

By my logic, she left Amherst around 3:43 PM on February 9th.

Lt. Scarinza has repeatedly stated that the latest police believe Maura could have left Amherst was 4:30 PM, but what was the earliest she could have left? On Episode 27 of the Missing Maura Murray podcast, Tim and Lance (and their guest host Marley Davis), read answers to a handful of questions that the New Hampshire State Police were kind enough to provide. Several of their answers are pertinent to the timeline, and one in particular may shed light on what time she departed Amherst for New Hampshire.

The following answers are directly quoted from the New Hampshire State Police’s responses:

Question: According to the Boston Globe, Maura withdrew $280 at 3:40 PM. Can you confirm?

Answer: “Maura did withdraw $280, but it was earlier than 3:40 PM.”

Question: Which ATM did she use and which liquor store did she visit?

Answer: “Maura left the liquor store at 3:43 PM. We are unable to comment on which store she visited.”

Question: What time was Maura seen leaving UMass?

Answer: “No witness reported seeing Maura at the time she left UMass.”

The State Police would not answer the question as to what time Maura emailed professors, however the UMass Daily Collegian reported that she emailed at least one faculty member at 1:24 PM. Assuming that is true, that means that by 3:43 PM, Maura had emailed her professors, retrieved her car from the Lot 12 Parking Lot at UMass, visited the ATM to withdraw $280, and purchased alcohol from the liquor store. It seems reasonable to suggest then that she may have departed Amherst after leaving the liquor store at 3:43 PM.

I find it unlikely Maura would have returned to campus after stopping at the ATM and the liquor store for the simple reason that her assigned parking lot (Lot 12) was approximately a mile from the Southwest Residential Area. During the weekdays, between 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM, parking anywhere other than your assigned lot was nearly impossible, especially in Southwest. Although you can see from the picture that there are several metered spots in Southwest (highlighted in the fuchsia/pink below), finding an open spot was at best, a challenge, and at worst, an exercise in futility.

Unless there was some compelling reason to return to campus, I find it far more likely she would have opted to leave town after completing her errands in town, and in my opinion, it makes the most logical sense that she left Amherst and headed north after leaving the liquor store at 3:43 PM.

The travel time from Amherst to the Weathered Barn Corner is 2 hours and 26 minutes. If she made no stops, leaving around 3:43 PM, would put her at the WBC between 6:10 PM and 6:15 PM. Of course given that her gas tank was mostly full when the car was towed, she almost certainly stopped for gas along the way. So if we add 10 minutes there, that puts her arriving at the WBC between 6:20 PM and 6:25 PM. Faith Westman didn't call to report the accident until 7:27 PM, which means there is as much as an entire hour of time unaccounted for. Even if she left at the latest time police say was possible, which was 4:30 PM, and after tacking on a ten minute stop to re-fuel, that still puts her at the WBC at about 7:05-7:10 PM, about 20 minutes earlier than we would expect.

Where was she for up to an hour?

Interestingly, the only dispatch call that returned no data with no explanation in the 24 hours of dispatch logs we have occurred at 6:05 PM that evening (call #4742). Let’s again assume she left Amherst around 3:43 PM. That means she would have arrived in the center of Woodsville (approximately a 2 hour and 16 minute drive) between about 6:00 PM and 6:05 PM that evening. (Perhaps this is when she may have pulled off of the highway in search of fuel?)

Could missing call #4742 at 6:05 PM be related to her disappearance in any way? Could that be when the damage to the Saturn occurred? It seems possible to me, especially considering that the State Police have testified to the fact that they are withholding some number of dispatch records as potential evidence in a criminal investigation. But perhaps the more important question is: what could account for the apparent gap in time of up to an hour before she arrived at the WBC?

Along with the alcohol that was recovered (or not recovered) from the Saturn, this is one of the topics Ethan and I are going to discuss in the next episode of the podcast, which I’ll be putting out in the next few days. (It sounds dumb not to call it a ‘podcast’ now that it is available to download on iTunes.)