I am going to start sounding like a broken record, but it is a point worth reiterating: one need not ascribe to a wide ranging police “conspiracy” to be skeptical of the police’s story about the events of February 9th. In my opinion, there are still fundamental outstanding questions about Officer Cecil Smith's story. The show posits that Witness A passed the scene at 7:37 PM and Officer Smith arrived on scene at 7:46 PM. Even if we take Smith at his word that he was driving the SUV that evening, it still does not explain the timeline discrepancy. The simple fact is that the show’s own timeline does not logically add up. Given that the timeline is perhaps the most critical element in determining what happened to Maura, it does not seem like something that should be glossed over.
Another question that was prompted by Episode 4 pertains to Cecil Smith’s statements about what Butch Atwood supposedly said regarding Maura’s demeanor. In Episode 4, Cecil Smith claimed that Atwood stated Maura not only appeared to have been drinking, but that she was also “leaning” and “slurring.”
The problem is that Atwood has never stated that Maura appeared drunk. In fact, he has directly refuted this claim on the record at least two times that I am aware of. Published in the Caledonian Record on February 27th, Atwood stated that “Murray didn’t appear to be intoxicated, despite police having said a witness indicated she had appeared to be impaired due to alcohol.”
Similarly, Maribeth Conway interviewed Atwood for an extensive story about Maura’s disappearance that was published in the Whitman-Hanson Express in 2007. In that interview, Atwood again stated that Maura did not appear intoxicated. This is a clip from Investigation Discovery’s “Disappeared” program featuring Maura’s case. It contains footage of Atwood’s account of his conversation with Maura as well as statements by Maribeth Conway recounting her interview with Atwood, in which he again states Maura did not appear intoxicated.
The fact that Atwood directly contradicts Smith’s statements is a blaring red flag to me. Smith and Atwood cannot both be telling the truth. The only possible explanation is that one of them is lying. What motivation would Atwood have to lie about this fact? While Atwood’s motivation to lie is unclear, it would seem Smith’s motivation to lie is obvious: if Maura was drinking, and we are led to believe she fled to avoid a DUI, it shifts any potential blame for her disappearance on to her and away from the police.
Unfortunately Atwood has since past away and is unable to directly contest Smith’s statements any longer. I wish the Oxygen show asked Smith to clarify the apparent discrepancy because I suspect Officer Smith is not being completely honest here. He never mentioned alcohol in any narrative of that evening. When he put out the Be-On-the-Lookout at 7:54 PM, he did not mention that the young 5’7” female on foot had appeared intoxicated. He did not mention alcohol at all. If he believed she was intoxicated to the point of not being able to stand up straight, I have to think he would have communicated that fact to oncoming traffic. I already discussed these points in some detail on our first podcast episode, but one point is worth emphasizing: if Maura was not intoxicated, she would not have had a reason to ‘flee’ the scene.
It is worth noting that even if Smith is not telling the truth about Atwood’s statements, it does not mean he had anything to do with Maura’s disappearance. Shifting blame onto Maura and off of him specifically (and the police by extension) might be as simple as an attempt to avoid public admonishment. For that matter, his insinuation that she was suicidal may also play into that. However when you combine the contradicting statements between him and Atwood, with the fact that the timeline he has put forth simply does not logically add up, from my perspective, there is enough reasonable doubt for me to demand a better explanation from the police and from Officer Smith before I can 100% clear them of any suspicion.