Part XVI: Brianna Maitland Missing Person


With this blog, I have highlighted how citizens have or can aid police in missing persons cases. The following is an excerpt from a discussion with a reader named Bob about the Brianna Maitland missing person case.

Not knowing Brianna or her family prior to the disappearance, Bob volunteered his time and talents to the case through activities on the ground and through website coordination. Working closely with family members, Bob developed certain insights about the Maitland case and those involved.

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Me: What aspect of your participation did you feel best about?

Bob: My involvement in Brianna’s case began early December 2004. I have never known, directly or indirectly, corresponded with, or met any of the people involved in Brianna’s life, her family or family’s life, prior to any of this.

When I read in the news about Brianna Maitland’s “strange accident”, read the articles and saw the picture of her car backed into an old, dilapidated, farmhouse, the story touched me immediately – both personally and with genuine concern.

The news-stories I read included all the speculations and theories about what happened and why, and were immediately troubling … I simply felt the theories being tossed about, “runaway, questionable character, etc.” were biased, like a rape case where a woman wore a short skirt – I simply thought the whole scenario was biased.

My opinion at the time – Brianna was being dragged through the mud by the media and the police. I read no real proof that the speculations being put forth were based in reality.

Of course, being a stranger reading about this online, I was hardly in a position to defend her character and possibly help with finding the truth. But I wasn’t happy. What I did have was expertise with a metal detector, 15+ years searching woods, fields, cornfields for lost treasure. I read that her car-keys were missing…

It was with great inner turmoil and doubt that I ever got involved. I was just a stranger, wanting to help, but really, the general common sense we rely on says “stay out of it”. I just couldn’t. I looked up the Maitland’s phone number, via the family forum, and called. I spoke to Bruce Maitland and volunteered my time. He accepted.

What started as a search for the keys led to much more than I could have imagined. I found myself in rural Vermont, unfamiliar territory, after hours of searching, in a local restaurant across the table from the father of a young woman who was missing. Outside was a drizzly, rainy cold night… just like the day had been. I got a beer and an order of chicken fingers, Bruce and I talked.

It’s a situation where the average person could not even imagine what it’s like… this was the truth, more than decent father of his only daughter sat across from me, I ate my chicken fingers with onion rings and barbeque sauce, starving after a day out in the cold drizzle, and listened to Brianna’s father, strong, resolute, but in sheer agony over his daughter, and the actual progress at the time to find her.

This was 9 months later that I met Bruce Maitland.

Me: Do you believe that the party held in the area the night/morning of Brianna’s disappearance is an important facet of the case?

Bob: I do, but not in the way it’s been presented thus far… I doubt if there was a party like the week before that she had planned on attending. Two good reasons:

1) The note she left her housemate (who didn’t get the note until Sunday because she’d been with spending the weekend with her grandmother).* The fact the housemate didn’t see the note sooner wasn’t something she felt good about after the fact. And Brianna didn’t know her friend was spending the weekend away… at 17 or even my age you can’t predict everything!!!

2) The party the week before ended with Brianna showing up at her friend’s house by 1AM. That suggests she wasn’t into it.

Me: Please help clarify this whole party scene.

Bob: I would love to… would like to write a book titled: “The Party Scene in America – 1970 to Now”…

I would start by saying partying in the USA is like a ‘speak-easy’ like during the 1920’s…most parties are “underground”… personally I ‘partied” during the 70’s and 80’s… so I do not have any direct knowledge of what Brianna experienced in her area. I can only try and fill you in on what I learned from discussions with her friends and others.

I didn’t get the feeling strangers were common in the area, until 2001-02. . I got the impression of young people, 17 – 26, having ”normal” fun at friend’s homes, water-parks, rivers to swim and bath in the sun. Parties included music, much social interaction, sexual innuendo, and as far as “drugs” - there was beer, Rum, Vodka… iced tea, lemonade, marijuana, and some liked coke. Like any other community, it was a 1920’s style “speak-easy” party thing.

I got the sense though, talking to Brianna’s friends that things were changing during 2001-02, I can’t go into too much detail right now, but… rumors were: that the NW VT Drug Task Force was monitoring activities in the area; that “gang” members were up from NYC; that a Chinese gang was in the area, reputably involved in human trafficking; and a local businessman in Richford that had a private plane which he often flew to Columbia who may have been involved.

For myself, obviously, making sense of all this is beyond my comprehension, …I only mention it as it’s what I’ve heard... so for future discussion perhaps.

As many know, the source of much speculation, Brianna attended a party the week before in Richford, one where there were hard drugs available… it’s that party that got the attention of the local media, LE and others… fact is … she didn’t stay there long.

By 1AM she was with a childhood friend who lived in town with his parents, sleeping on the couch in their living-room… her car still at the Black Lantern as she didn’t “drink and drive”… I think if anything, this was a wake-up call kind thing for Brianna.
*Note: Grammar correction added later.
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I’ll post more of my conversations with Bob soon. Thanks to him for providing this interesting perspective.

Previous posts in the Brianna Maitland series can be accessed by clicking "Brianna Maitland" on the left margin of the home page.

4 comments:

Reggie said...

What an intriguing conversation you had with Bob. I can't wait to read more exerpts, and to find out what happened to Brianna!

J. J. in Phila said...

Very Good.

I will say this, from experience, event talking to people close to a case, there can be very divergent opinions.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for the feedback Reggie.

JJ: Agreed. I hope by posting Bob's insights that more attention is brought to this cold case, and that disagreements with my opinion or Bob's will strengthen our assumptions about her disappearance.

Bob said...

Thank-you, Slam Dunks, for letting me participate here on your blog! It means a lot to me and many others that Brianna's story be told and not forgotten.

One "Party Scene" I forgot to mention that I personally found to be most interesting as well as, to me, an excellent example of her real character was: two nights before Brianna went missing, she was with two local friends "painting Easter Eggs"... for Easter! Her friend assured me - no drugs or other intoxicants were involved.

Bob