This is the ninth post in my series on the Brianna Maitland missing person case. Maitland was last seen around 11:30 pm on March 19, 2004, after she had completed her shift at the Black Lantern Inn in Montgomery, Vermont. She left the restaurant in a 1985 Oldsmobile, which was later found abandoned on the property of an old vacant farm--about one mile from the restaurant. The vehicle appeared to have been involved in a traffic collision.*
In today’s post, I wanted to take a break from focusing on potential suspects to discuss another part of missing person investigations: sightings of the missing individual that are reported by the public. Obviously, the higher profile the case, the more likely that citizens will report seeing someone who looks like the person in question. These incidents become more believable when a video image or photograph is presented to corroborate the witness’ account.
In the Ray Gricar case, the missing District Attorney was reportedly seen by a dozen individuals in Pennsylvania (JJ in Phila's Gricar site contains a comprehensive witness list) . Authorities had to interview the witnesses and evaluate each report—a process that typically yields less than reliable results in ascertaining: “was this really our missing person?”
One witness claimed to see Ray Gricar at a restaurant in Texas. The person reporting this was able to snap a photograph with a cell phone camera to provide to authorities.
After the FBI used facial analysis techniques to examine the Texas’ image, authorities announced that the man in the picture eating was not connected to the Gricar case.
Similarly, a concerned citizen reported seeing someone with a strong resemblance to Brianna Maitland with a male at a casino in Atlantic City. After interviewing the witness, investigators pulled the following image from one of the casino’s surveillance cameras:
You can go here to view enhanced yet still blurry photos of the individual.
The woman in the photo does look like Brianna, and police have been unable to completely dismiss the image. Here is what the family believes:
...In mid-February, Vermont State Police informed the Maitlands they had obtained a videotape of a woman who "resembled Brianna." A surveillance camera in Caesars Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., had produced the tape. Police requested it from the casino after a Vermont man who had been gambling there reported he had seen "a woman there who looked like Brianna."I do think with the advent of facial recognition software, missing person investigations will have an additional tool in solving cases. Despite encouraging potential eye-witness accounts, this these photos evaluated in the Maitland and Gricar investigations were not helpful, and unfortunately the cases remain unsolved.
The quality of the tape is poor, the picture grainy and taken from a distance. The woman in question looks older than Maitland's photos and does not have a nose ring, as she wore. The woman in the video is with a man who appears to be in his early 40s, perhaps older. Bruce and Kellie Maitland can't positively identify the woman as their daughter and doubt very much it is her.
"But we can't discount anything. We would really like to know who it is so that we can move on with the investigation," Bruce Maitland said....
On a side note—do you believe that there is at least one doppelganger or look-a- like for each of us in the world?
With the number of people walking the earth, it is reasonable to belief that each of us as one or more individuals who bare a strong resemblance to us—and it is no wonder that possible sightings on high profile cases are received from the around the globe.
A humorous example with facial recognition technology is available here on the MyHeritage.com website. The program allows you to experiment with your own photos to determine which celebrity that you most closely resemble.
I was afraid to upload my image and try-—I don’t think a result that matches me with Air Bud would be good for self esteem.
Previous posts in this series can be accessed by clicking "Brianna Maitland" on the left margin of the home page.
*Note: The first picture was used from the MSNBC site.