I promise I am working hard on the second half of the interview with Mr. Murray and it will be out soon. I do apologize for the amount of time it has taken me, but I want to make sure I do it right (remember, I am still fairly new at all this!).
Anyway, thanks again to Tim and Lance for having me on the MMM podcast a few weeks ago. I want to expand on the point I made about the timeline and why I have not been able to “make it work” given the list of events that we know occurred between 7:29 PM and 7:46 PM. Below I outline the problems I see with the Oxygen show’s timeline. Then I go through the problems that arise when attempting to construct any theoretical timeline that “fits” the events we know occurred between 7:29 PM and 7:46 PM.
To be clear, this is a critique of just one aspect of the Oxygen show. It is not an attack on the show overall (which I think has been tremendously beneficial to the case). I also fully acknowledge that my interpretation could be wrong and/or that there could be a simple and reasonable explanation for the discrepancy. But so far, I have not heard one.
According to the logs, Westman called 911 at 7:27 PM and two minutes later at 7:29 PM, Smith was dispatched. Here are the rest of the events that we know that occurred between 7:27 PM and 7:46 PM in the order they are believed to have occurred:
Here is the Oxygen show’s timeline of these events:
Two Major Problems with the Oxygen Show’s Timeline:
The first and most obvious problem is that the show’s timeline has Witness A arriving at the scene 9 minute before the SUV #001, which according to Officer Smith, was driven by him that evening.
However for the sake of argument, assume that the dispatch log is incorrect, and that Smith arrived on or before 7:37 PM (the time that Witness A passed the scene). The second problem with the show’s timeline is that it has Atwood calling 911 at 7:40 PM – that is, at least three minutes after they would have to assume that Smith arrived on scene. In other words, the show’s timeline has Atwood calling 911 several minutes after police were already on scene.
There is some confusion about whether Atwood said that police arrived 7-9 minutes after he left Maura or 7-9 minutes from when he called 911. I interpret his statements in the Caledonian Record to mean that it was 7-9 minutes between the time he left Maura at the scene and called 911, and another 7-9 minutes between the time he called 911 and when police arrived (for a total time of about 14-18 minutes). That approximate timeframe matches what Atwood told Seventeen Magazine, which was that it was about 15 minutes total between the time he left Maura at the car and the time police arrived on scene. Either way, there is no question that Atwood stated that police arrived after he called 911, and certainly not before.
Is There a Timeline that Works?
From what I can put together, it seems like the parameters within which it seems theoretically possible for Smith to have arrived on scene in SUV #001 are between about 7:33 PM and 7:39 PM.
Earliest Arrival Time Possible = 7:33 PM: First, Butch Atwood spoke to Maura at some point after Faith Westman’s call, but before police arrived. Even though Atwood was only at the scene for a minute or two, it means that Smith could not have arrived within the first few minutes or he would have run into Atwood.
Second, Witness A reported that SUV #001 passed her twice with its blue lights on: the first time was before the sharp left on Goose Lane, and the second time was several minutes later, around the intersection of Goose Lane and Rt. 112.* The distance between the first point at which Witness A was passed by the SUV and the crash site is about 2.2 miles. Assuming the SUV was speeding a bit, it would have probably taken about 4 minutes to make that journey. So if Smith was dispatched seconds before he passed Witness A the first time, that means that the earliest theoretical time that the SUV could have arrived on scene is about 7:33 PM.
Latest Arrival Time Possible = 7:39 PM: Google Maps puts the 10.8 mile drive between Beaver Pond and the accident site at between 15 and 17 minutes. I do not believe she could have made the trip any quicker than 12 minutes because it would mean she was driving at least 19 mph over the speed limit on a winding road in potentially slippery conditions. At 12 minutes, Witness A would have passed the scene at 7:40 PM, which means the SUV would have to arrive slightly earlier, about 7:39 PM.
Like I said before, according to the Oxygen show, Atwood placed his call to 911 7:40 PM. This is probably an estimate because as far as I know, the Hanover dispatch log has not been released. It is also worth noting that according to Helena Dwyer Murray, Atwood’s call was placed at 7:38 PM. So let’s say sometime between 7:38 PM and 7:40 PM is when Atwood placed the call to 911. That would mean that the only possible theoretical time that Smith could have arrived on scene is 7:39 PM, because if Smith arrived any earlier than that (between 7:33 PM and 7:38 PM), it would mean that Atwood’s call to 911 was placed after police had arrived on scene.
Could Smith have arrived by 7:39 PM? According to the SOCO article, Smith was at the Haverhill Police Station when he was dispatched to the scene. The drive time between the station and the accident site (taking a route that would bring him down Swiftwater Road, to Goose Lane, looping around Cemetery Lane, and finally onto Rt. 112) is about 17 minutes according to Google Maps. So a 7:39 PM arrival time would not be consistent with what has been reported regarding Smith’s location at the time he was dispatched. Yet it would be precisely consistent with an arrival time of 7:46 PM.
Like I mentioned earlier, Atwood stated that police arrived 7-9 minutes after he hung up with 911. Again, if my interpretation is correct, then it would mean that Smith arrived on scene around 7:45 PM or 7:47 PM, which is precisely consistent with what was recorded in the official dispatch log, which is 7:46 PM.
Is it possible for Smith to have arrived at 7:39 PM? I cannot be rule it out. However, for that to be the case, we have to believe Witness A was exceeding the speed limit by about 20 mph between the scene and Beaver Pond; we have to believe that reports of Smith’s location when he was dispatched are incorrect; we have to believe that several independent statements from a witness (Atwood) are false; and finally, we have to believe that the officially recorded times in both the dispatch log and the accident report are inaccurate.
Personally, that is a lot for me to believe without sufficient evidence (or any evidence at all) to back up Smith’s claim. This, in conjunction with statements made under oath justifying the withholding of dispatch/other police records that pertain to “law enforcement response to the scene” that if made public would “severely hinder the investigation,” and “would pinpoint the focus of the investigation or provide valuable information that could be used by a suspect to avoid detection” leads me to believe that at the very least, it seems fair to question the police’s timeline here -- particularly because the statements below do not square with the claim that police saw no evidence of foul play the evening of February 9th.
*(Note: I originally wrote that the first time Witness A was passed by SUV #001 was around the Cottage Hospital. This was a misinterpretation on my part of Witness A’s description from Episode 32 of MMM. Alex C. corrected me afterward.)