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Missing Girl: Brianna Maitland - VT - 03/19/2004

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No definitive DNA match on jeans to missing teen

Published: Thursday, December 13, 2007

MONTGOMERY The FBI laboratory in Virginia will test a hair found in an abandoned pair of jeans to determine if they belonged to a Montgomery teenager who went missing almost four years ago.

The womens jeans were found October 25 in a remote wooded area and turned over to the police to see if they belonged to Brianna Maitland, who was 17 when she was last seen in Montgomery on March 19, 2004.

The Vermont State Police says technicians at the Vermont Forensic Laboratory couldnt find enough DNA in the jeans to determine if they belonged to Maitland.

Police say the results of the test will be made public once theyre received from the FBI lab.

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Maitland Case

In the past 18 months, Bruce Maitland has become an unfortunate expert in missing person cases, learning the hard way.

His daughter was 17 when she vanishedâ€â€the same age as Taylor Behl.

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Yet her case has received very limited national publicity.

"It baffles me sometimes why one is picked and one isn't," he told the Crime Library. "My wife and I were talking about it. I think the missing girl has to be a perfect person."

Charlotte Riley, whose daughter, Amie, disappeared and was later found slain in New Hampshire, referred bitterly to the phenomenon in comments to the media earlier this year.

"She wasn't a beautiful college co-ed," Riley said of her daughter. "It doesn't matter what your child looks like. ... She was a person."

Like the loved ones of many missing persons, the Maitlands maintain a web site and Internet forum about their daughter (

The Maitlands understood that publicity was essential in the days after the teenager disappeared.

A tip sheet for loved ones of missing children prepared by the Klaas Kids Foundation, named in honor of Polly Klaas, a California girl abducted from her home and murdered in 1994, suggests that media contact is second in importance only to police contact, and parents have been following that advice assiduously, including the mother of Taylor Behl.

But Vermont state police seemed to view Bruce Maitland's media advocacy as an intrusion, and law enforcement authorities there by and large declined to make themselves available when the national media called about the case.

"We begged them to cooperate," Maitland said.

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Brianna Maitland

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On late Friday evening, March 19, 2004, Brianna Maitland left her waitress job at the Black Lantern Restaurant in Montgomery, Vermont. She climbed into her mother's green, 1985 four-door Oldsmobile 88 and drove off into the night. Brianna was heading for a friend's house where she had been staying since she left her parent's home. At 1:22 a.m. that Saturday morning, a state trooper radioed in that he had found an empty car which had plowed backward into an abandoned building, a mile from the Black Lantern.

When questioned by investigators, Bruce and Kellie Maitland, said they had not seen their daughter in several days. They told them they did not know she was missing until they got a call from her friend informing them Brianna had not shown up after work. Bruce and Kellie quickly filed a missing person report with local police. Nearly a week later, investigators linked the wrecked car to the missing child. They had believed it was deserted by a drunken driver.

Authorities had searched the area where the car had been found and decided to search it again, this time with police dogs and helicopters. They still could find no signs of the missing teenager. "The initial investigation did not show there was a violent struggle. We have nothing concrete as to her whereabouts," said Lieutenant Thomas Nelson of the Vermont State Police (VSP) Bureau of Criminal Investigation. "The search has been concentrated. Over the weekend, there were a few leads that had come in. We conducted several interviews up in the Montgomery area." Law enforcement began to handle the case as if Brianna was a runaway.

"I can't describe the gut-wrenching feelings. It's just awful," said Bruce Maitland. He went on to say that he believed his daughter had left Vermont and was still alive. More than 500 volunteers searched throughout Franklin County. The Vermont National Guard also aided in the search for Brianna. Bruce and Kellie wrote a letter to Vermont's governor, asking for his help because they felt the investigation was not proceeding fast enough. He also expressed his concerns that authorities should have connected the car and Brianna's disappearance much sooner.

"We are looking for good, factual leads," said Vermont State Police Captain Bruce Lang. "We are not looking for frivolous or pointless information that will lead us on more wild goose chases." Vermont police began to suspect Brianna was not a runaway. The evidence they uncovered leads them to believe she was more than likely involved with drug dealers who had out-of-state dealings, and she owed money to them.

"Brianna has a very questionable background," said VSP Lieutenant Nelson. "She made some unhealthy lifestyle choices."

Vermont State Police (VSP) issued a press release stating that "With each day that passes without a solid trace of information on her whereabouts, it becomes more apparent that she may have been the victim of a violent crime. Brianna had been living away from home and was socializing with community members involved in the use of illegal drugs. Investigators with the Vermont State Police are interested in solid fruitful information that may assist in furthering this investigation."

An upset Bruce Maitland made the retort, "I am a little discouraged they are bringing up the drug stuff. Everything I have gotten from her friends doesn't indicate that. No one has seen her high. They (VSP) are desperate for really good information because I don't think they have any. I don't think she herself was a heavy drug user, but I think she was hanging around with some people who were some pretty bad people. My own feeling is somebody took advantage of her."

Brianna Maitland also goes by the nickname "B". She has a scar on her forehead near her left eyebrow and her nose is pierced. A $10,000 Reward is being offered for any information leading to Brianna's safe return. Anyone with information about Brianna's case should immediately contact the Vermont State Police (802-524-5993) or the nearest FBI Office.   

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Return to Me

Last year's dramatic rescue of Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby proved that missing children - even those gone for years - can be found. But it also serves as a grim reminder that many parents wait years, decades, lifetimes without ever learning the fate of daughters and sons who vanish.

These are the families' websites for some of the missing children featured in this story:

Brianna Maitland:

Kimberly Moreau:

Maura Murray:

Angelo "Andy" Puglisi:

On May 10, 1986, Kimberly Moreau and a neighbor girl were hanging out in the hardscrabble towns of Jay and Livermore Falls when they met two 25-year-old men cruising Main Street in a white Pontiac Trans Am. The four paired off and partied. Eventually, Kimberly and one of the men ended up in the car alone. At about 11 p.m., they swung by her house on Jewell Street in Jay. The teen ran in, told her 19-year-old sister, Karen, she'd be back in an hour, and then got into the car idling outside. She has not been seen or heard from since.

"This is Marilyn Monroe, this is D.B. Cooper, this is Jimmy Hoffa - I mean, for this area," says State Police Detective Mark Lopez, the lead case investigator.

Dick Moreau, 65, has spent two decades hounding the man in the Trans Am, who Lopez says is a "person of interest" in Kimberly's disappearance. "Any time I get the chance to rattle his cage," Moreau says, "I do it." The enraged father has plastered Kimberly fliers on telephone poles leading to the man's house, convinced him to have a three-hour chat at Moreau's kitchen table, talked him into taking a lie-detector test, and showed up at his brother's funeral last spring with Lopez. "I told him I was sorry for his loss of his brother," Moreau recounts. "Then I leaned into him, squeezed his hand, and said, 'I know exactly, exactly how you feel.'"

Families of children who have gone missing suffer through an unthinkable saga of fear, uncertainty, guilt, and grief. Often, they cope with their heartbreak by an almost obsessive need to know what happened, turning to private investigators, psychics, or prayer. Many investigate on their own, meeting with law-enforcement officials and other sources and scouring the Internet for clues. Starting next year, they and the rest of the public will be able to fully search the US Department of Justice's still-in-development National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, the first nationwide, online repository of databases of missing-persons reports and records of those who died without being identified. Some families of the missing reach out and console parents who have more recently lost children. Still others retreat into their pain.

It's been a year since the public was reminded of these families' torment when Shawn Hornbeck, then 15, and Ben Ownby, then 13, were rescued from the Missouri pizza-parlor manager who had kidnapped and sodomized them. Shawn had been held captive for four years; Ben, for four days. The older boy's recovery reignited the possibility that other coldcase missing children might be found alive. "It's proof positive that missing children can come home," says Colleen Nick of Alma, Arkansas, a national advocate for missing children whose 6-year-old daughter, Morgan Chauntel Nick, was abducted in 1995 from a Little League baseball game.

But until a child, or a child's remains, are found, searching families are left suspended "between hell and hope," says Magdalen Bish of West Warren, mother of 16-year-old murder victim Molly Bish, whose 2000 abduction from nearby Comins Pond galvanized one of the largest kidnapped-child manhunts in Massachusetts history. Molly's remains were found three years later, 5 miles from her home. (No arrests have been made.) "If you find out your child is dead," says Bish, 56, a first-grade teacher, "your hope is lost, but your hell has ended, because you don't have to worry that anyone is harming them."

The worst child predators are rare. Of the 797,500 children younger than 18 reported missing to authorities in 1999, the last year for which data are available, the vast majority were classified as runaways or "thrown-aways"; were victims of family abductions, typically carried out by parents who didn't have custody; or were only temporarily missing, with a benign explanation. Only an estimated 115 were the victims of what experts call "stereotypical" kidnappings, defined as crimes perpetrated by a stranger or slight acquaintance in which a child is transported 50 miles or more, detained overnight, held for ransom, taken with the intent of being kept permanently, or killed. Of those returned to their families, nearly half have been sexually abused and about a third injured by their captors. Four in 10 stereotypical kidnapping victims - predominantly white teenage girls - end up dead; 4 percent are never found. Last September, the FBI signaled how seriously it takes the risk posed by those who prey on children when it added New Hampshire pedophile Jon Savarino Schillaci to its Ten Most Wanted list, alongside Osama bin Laden and James "Whitey" Bulger.

WHEN THE NATIONAL MISSING AND UNIDENTIFIED PERSONS SYSTEM becomes fully available next year, families of missing children will have more clues at their fingertips. But already they troll websites like The Doe Network and others, picking through grisly case files of unidentified human remains found across the country, looking for a match. Kellie Maitland of DeKalb Junction, New York, has stared at the morgue photographs and forensic artists' renderings of Jane Does - grotesque, wax-museumlike figures with dead eyes - searching for the face of her missing daughter, Brianna Maitland. The bestcase but least likely scenario, she says, is that Brianna "ran off or fell in love with someone and made a split decision, took off to somewhere warm and exotic and is having a good time."

Brianna, then 17, was last seen at about 11:20 p.m. on March 19, 2004, leaving the Black Lantern Inn in Montgomery, Vermont, where she was a dishwasher. The next day, her Oldsmobile Delta 88 was found a mile away backed into the side of an abandoned house, the rear bumper hung up on the concrete foundation. There were no signs of a struggle and no sign of Brianna. "The police tell me that most likely this was a homicide," says Maitland, 47, who helps her husband, Bruce, run their small Highland-Angus cattle farm. "If Brianna's alive, she won't be a teenager anymore. She'll be, like, 21. What if she's been abused? What if she needs rehab? What if? What if?"

In the early days of the search, the mother - who speaks of Brianna in both the present tense and past tense - heard that a body in a garbage bag had been discovered near where her daughter had disappeared. "We tried to go bed that night," she recalls, "and we laid down and we held hands and we just hoped that it wasn't her. `Please, just don't let it be. Don't let it be.' " When morning came, the couple's prayers were answered: The remains were those of a pig.

The anguish of not knowing, and the search for answers, often takes parents of missing children on "horrendous emotional roller-coaster rides," says Nancy McBride, national safety director at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. "A lead will come in; it will look really, really promising and then turn out not to be. . . . You're up and you're down, there's really no steadiness. You're also in this limbo where you can't really move forward."

Brianna Maitland's father, Bruce, and Fred Murray of Weymouth, whose daughter is also missing, became friends as they searched for a possible connection between their cases, though police agencies have ruled that out. Maura Murray, a 21-year-old University of Massachusetts at Amherst nursing student, vanished after crashing her car into a snowbank in Woodsville, New Hampshire, near the Vermont border, the night of February 9, 2004 -the month before Brianna's disappearance. The fathers' newly forged bond is based not only on a mutual effort to find their daughters, but also an unspoken understanding: "We don't say, you know, 'Poor you. Poor you,' " Murray says. "Everybody's grief is personal. He knows how I feel; I know how he feels."

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has a support group for searching families, called Team HOPE, but many families, like those of Brianna Maitland and Maura Murray, create their own informal networks to console and assist one another through the overwhelming trauma. Bereft parents, siblings, even aunts and cousins call and e-mail one another with encouragement, link to other families' websites to publicize their cases, print and distribute missing-child fliers and buttons, participate in searches for one another's children, and send sympathy cards and flowers when a child's body is found.

LYMAN AND CLAIRE MOULTON OF Portland, Maine, have been keeping a private vigil for 37 years for the 16-year-old daughter they knew - and her alter ego, a 52-year-old woman they can't imagine - hoping against hope she's still alive. Their ordeal began the afternoon of September 24, 1971, when Cathy Marie Moulton got a ride into town from her father to buy pantyhose for the YWCA dance she planned to attend that night. She was supposed to walk the 2 miles back along busy Forest Avenue but never made it home for dinner. "One of my greatest - greatest, greatest - sadnesses is that I may die ... and never know what happened to Cathy," says her 83-year-old father, a retired auto dealer, his blue eyes turning moist. "And yet I'm helpless to change it."

Former Portland detective William Deetjen, who worked the case in the late 1980s, theorizes that, after shopping in Portland, Cathy accepted a ride in a Cadillac from a boy she liked. Weeks later, there were unconfirmed sightings of the pair and another male in remote, sparsely populated Aroostook County - about 300 miles north of Maine's largest city - but no solid evidence she had been there or had been abducted.

For years, her parents have been tormented by something one of the purported witnesses said: that Cathy, working in the potato fields, kept begging to go home. "I've always held out the hope that, maybe, somehow, she has amnesia as a result of a beating or something," says Claire Moulton, a 78-year-old former nurse, "and she is alive and has a life and doesn't know who she is."

Experts say families looking for lost children experience a unique kind of despair. "Parents are fearful about their child's uncertain fate and feel guilty for not adequately protecting the child," says Dr. Sharon Cooper, a Fayetteville, North Carolina, forensic pediatrician and authority on crimes against children. The ongoing absence is like a death, without a body to grieve over.

"It's like your worst, most horrible nightmare that you never wake up from," explains John Walsh, the host of the Fox television series America's Most Wanted and the father of 6-year-old Adam Walsh, snatched from a Florida shopping mall in 1981, killed, and decapitated. (The prime suspect was never charged and died in prison serving life for other crimes.) "And it's not just grief. It's disbelief.

"We celebrate Adam's life, not the horrible day that he was found missing," the 62-year-old Walsh says, "but we're only able to do that because we know where he is and what happened to him. . . . I can name thousands of cases where parents have no idea what happened to their child. Dead, alive? Is the child involved in the sex trade? Child pornography? Where is the child? How were they murdered? Where is the body, so we can go and pay our respects to it?"

MANY PARENTS OF MISSING CHILDREN devise "one view of the future that includes the missing child and another future that does not," says Cooper. They can vacillate back and forth, or they can hold dual perceptions forever. Often, though, when the missing child reaches theoretical adulthood, that coping mechanism collapses. "If the missing child has now become an adult in the parent's mind, if they are still alive . . . the parent is expecting the child to now be able to make the decision that they'll come back home." If the child does not return, she says, the parents must confront four possible reasons: The child is dead; has forgotten the parents (credible for children kidnapped at age 6 or younger); is angry at the parents for not protecting or finding him or her; or is physically restricted or confined.

It took Faith Puglisi of Fountain, Colorado, 30 years to come to the conclusion that her missing son most likely was murdered. Ten-year-old Angelo "Andy" Puglisi disappeared August 21, 1976, from Higgins Memorial Pool in Lawrence, about 100 yards from his front door. Several investigators and family members interviewed for last year's Cinemax documentary Have You Seen Andy? by Medford filmmaker Melanie Perkins are convinced he was stalked and abducted by a sexual predator or predators working in concert. (The case remains unsolved.) "Every now and then, I go into that room that is Andy's room in my heart, where I keep all the information and all the emotions about him," says Puglisi, a 58-year-old pediatric nurse who says she copes by compartmentalizing. "When that door pops open - and I'm starting to connect with all this emotion - there's always that risk I'm going to lose it. A lot of times, I have to slam that door shut."

Some parents never accept the possibility that their longtime missing child is dead. Experts says that's because, psychologically, they have spent years keeping the child alive in their minds, and in everyone else's memory, and by suddenly choosing to believe that the child is deceased - without irrefutable proof - parents feel as though they have killed the child in their thought processes.

"We have a nine-room house here that the children grew up in," Lyman Moulton says, mentioning he and Claire have talked about abandoning their Dutch Colonial for smaller quarters, "but the truth of the matter is, Cathy lived in this house. The truth of the matter is, she knows, or hopefully would know, where this house is." Wringing his hands, he adds: "We've kept the same phone number. I would fight to the end of time to keep this phone number. . . . You could say, 'Oh, my Lord!' but what else have we got?"

Families of cold-case missing children go on missing them - long after the press and public have lost interest - and, in the end, only finding the child or the child's remains can put to rest their searching and waiting.

"You never get to say goodbye, you know," says Magdalen Bish, mother of the Massachusetts girl whose remains were found. "When Molly came home, we just had her 26 bones. We held her skull. We touched her bones, because we needed to say goodbye, but it wasn't the Molly that we knew."

For Dick Moreau, even a fragment of one of the 206 bones in the human body would be enough. Slowly, agonizingly, Moreau had come to the conclusion that his daughter was dead, and he had a death certificate issued in 1993. Now he'd like to bury Kimberly next to her paternal grandparents and her mother. (Kimberly's mother, Patricia Moreau, died at age 48 in 1988.) "All they're looking for now is the major bones of the body, like the elbow, the knee, the hip joint, these kinds of things," Moreau says clinically, having learned over the years about decomposition rates. "We're probably looking for a piece of bone that's 3 by 3 inches - if we're lucky. But that's all we need. It's still her."

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Four Years Later, Maitland Still Missing

Enosburg Falls, Vermont - March 19, 2008

Two small candles placed on a memorial in Enosburg Falls on Wednesday night commemorated the day when 17-year-old Brianna Maitland vanished. Four years later police say they are still getting leads but have no idea what happened to Maitland

Maitland was last seen on March 19, 2004, leaving work at the Black Lantern Inn. Her car was found a day later, abandoned behind an empty building off Route 118.

In the years since, police have followed tips that said she was involved in illegal drug activity. Now police say there is no evidence to back that up.

They've also followed tips that a girl who looked like Maitland was seen in Atlantic City. Investigators from Vermont traveled to Atlantic City, but were never able to track down the girl people reportedly saw, so they couldn't confirm if she was or was not Maitland.

Mja Inc. Investigations, a private investigation firm, is also searching for Maitland. Members of the agency are the ones who held the small memorial for Maitland on Wednesday. They took over after the friend who put on the vigil in years past said she couldn't do it this year.

"Things like this has to keep going on for the missing," said Mark Harper, of Mja. "Once it stops it's hard to get the momentum back. You got to keep the case out to the public."

Harper says he is frustrated because usually this long into an investigation he has some idea of what happened to the missing person.

In the last ten months police have gone back over every piece of evidence. They have conducted dozens of interviews and followed a number of new leads but nothing that's brought them closer to solving the mystery.

"We are still optimistic that we, there's information out there, that someone may have information that's going to lead us in the right direction, and we'll be able to find out what happened to her," said Vermont State Police Lt. Glenn Hall.

Police say it's not unusual for people to have information about a case without realizing it. They are asking anyone who knows something, even if it seems trivial, to contact the State Police in St. Albans.

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Police seek leads four years after woman's disappearance

March 18, 2008

March 19 marks the four-year anniversary of the disappearance of Brianna Maitland.

Maitland, then 17 years old, was last seen at her place of employment, the Black Lantern Inn, located in Montgomery. Brianna reportedly left work on March 19, 2004, at approximately 11:20 pm.

Her car was discovered the next day adjacent to an abandoned farmhouse, located on Route 118 in the town of Montgomery, a short distance from work. Her parents, Bruce and Kellie Maitland, reported her missing to the Vermont State Police on March 23, 2004.

The Vermont State Police continue to investigate the disappearance of Brianna Maitland. Over the past 10 months, the Vermont State Police has dedicated detectives to work this investigation extensively.

This focus has allowed for an expanded review of this investigation. The review has been coupled with an aggressive investigative approach, which has included numerous interviews of people, many of whom had been interviewed previously.

In addition, detectives continue to follow new information and leads that have been received. The State Police will continue to explore any and all investigative avenues.

As a result, investigators believe there is a strong indication that Brianna is in fact a victim of foul play. There is no evidence at this time to indicate that Brianna willingly left the area.

Despite reports early on in this investigation that Brianna’s disappearance may have been linked to “illegal drug activity,†investigators are unable to substantiate this connection. Much of this information can be attributed to rumors that have been circulated since her disappearance.

The State Police remain optimistic that new information could lead to a resolution in this case.

The State Police, along with the Maitland family, cannot overemphasize the importance of anyone coming forward with information.

The Maitland family continues to offer a $20,000 reward -- $10,000 for anyone who can identify the exact location of Brianna and $10,000 for anyone with information leading to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for her disappearance.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Vermont State Police at 524-5993 and ask for Detective Lt. Glenn Hall.

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Anniversary of Maitland Disappearance

Montgomery, Vermont - March 18, 2008

Wednesday marks the fourth anniversary of the disappearance of Brianna Maitland.

The 17-year-old was last seen leaving work at a restaurant in Montgomery on March 19th, 2004. Her car was found the next day at an abandoned farmhouse not far from the restaurant.

Vt. State Police have followed numerous leads over the years, but have found no solid clues. The Maitland family continues to offer a $20,000 reward for information leading to Brianna or anyone involved in her disappearance.

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Wednesday marks fourth anniversary of Maitland disappearance

March 18, 2008

MONTPELIER, Vt.â€â€Four years after a 17-year-old girl disappeared, Vermont State Police said Tuesday they believe she was the victim of foul play.

Brianna Maitland, of Sheldon, vanished March 19, 2004 after leaving the Black Lantern Inn in Montgomery, where she worked as a dishwasher. Her 1985 Oldsmobile 88 was found about a mile away, smashed into an abandoned barn.

Four days later, her parents reported her missing.

Over the last 10 months, Vermont State Police detectives have expanded the investigation, interviewing numerous people, some of whom had already been interviewed, according to Detective Lt. Glenn Hall, who is overseeing the investigation.

"There's no indication she was going to take off," Hall said Tuesday. "We've taken a hard look at the evidence we do have -- the scene where the car was found, we've delved into people associated with her and who had contact with her in the days and weeks prior, and there's no indication she just up and left, which leads us to (the conclusion) something happened to her, and it wasn't good."

He said the case continues to generate leads, even four years later, but said none have been enough to break the case.

Among them:

--In October 2005, police searched areas of northwestern Vermont using cadaver-sniffing dogs.

--In 2006, the sister of a Burlington woman convicted of killing a drug dealer told police another alleged dealer killed Maitland.

--Also in 2006, the search for Maitland extended to Atlantic City, N.J., where a tip was received that she was spotted in a casino. Bruce and Kellie Maitland traveled there to examine surveillance footage, but couldn't say whether it was Maitland in it.

--Last year, a pair of jeans was found in a remote wooded area in Montgomery and turned over to police for testing, though no link to Maitland was established.

The parents have offered a $20,000 reward in the case.

Anyone with information about Maitland's disappearance or who may be responsible is being asked to call Vermont State Police at (802) 524-5993.

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Father Of Missing Woman Breaks His Silence

On March 19, 2004 Vermont teenager Brianna Maitland vanished after completing her shift one night at a Montgomery restaurant. State Police soon found her car nearby but there was no sign of the 17 year old.

Several searches of the area, involving hundreds of volunteers, turned up no concrete leads and to this day Bruce and Kellie Maitland have no idea what has happened to their daughter.

On Friday, Col. James Baker, director of the Vermont State Police, announced new procedures the agency now follows immediately following a report of a missing person. Baker credited wisdom and insight gained from discussions with Bruce Maitland in the last year for the change in police procedure.

The Maitlands moved out of Vermont in the months following Brianna's disappearance. Bruce Maitland returned Friday to state police headquarters for the news conference. He read a statement to the community written by his wife.

Uncut statement:

Print a poster:

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Brianna Maitland was just 17, with strong ambition and a fierce independent streak, said her mother, Kellie Maitland.

Brianna Maitlaind was just 17 and had started a new job when she vanished on the way home from work.

When Brianna insisted on taking a job, moving out of the family nest and living on her own with a roommate before starting college, it wasn't what her parents originally had in mind for her.

She'd just begun a job as a waitress at the Black Lantern Restaurant in Montgomery, Vermont, when she vanished into the night.

Maitland left work at 11:20 p.m. on March 19, 2004, intending to go straight home to her apartment, co-workers said. She got into her car and drove off, but has not been seen or heard from since.

Three days later, her roommate called Maitland's parents, asking if they'd seen her. Alarmed, the Maitlands called the police and discovered that the car she'd been driving had been found on Saturday, the day after she was last seen.

The 1985 green Oldsmobile had been abandoned a mile from the restaurant where Maitland worked. The back end of the car was smashed into a building.

Maitland left behind her contact lenses, prescription medication and two paychecks totaling $150 -- money that a 17-year-old would not have walked away from, said her mother. Forensic testing on the vehicle showed no signs of foul play, police said.

Once authorities linked the car to the missing teen, they brought in search teams as well as scent-tracking dogs and helicopters. More than 500 police officers and volunteers combed the woods near where Maitland's car was found, but they found no trace of her.

"Inside the house where her car was found, we found drug-dealer paraphernalia and a gun," said Detective Brian Miller of the Vermont State Police.

Could Maitland literally have crashed a drug dealer's den? Miller said the investigation shows she was acquainted with one or more people who used that house, but the nature of the relationship remains unclear.

The case bears some similarity to the disappearance of another young woman in Vermont a month earlier. Maura Murray was driving in the snow when her car skidded off the road and was found abandoned. She, too, disappeared. Police have found no solid link but they are not ruling out a connection.

In 2006, two years after Maitland's disappearance, Vermont police had what they hoped would be a break in the case. A Las Vegas, Nevada, tipster called in a sighting of Maitland in the Caesar's Palace casino.

Security cameras captured a young woman resembling Maitland, but the video was grainy and Bruce and Kellie Maitland couldn't say for certain that their daughter was on the video.

Police were not able to find the girl in the video, but Kellie Maitland said, "It gives us great hope that maybe she is out there somewhere alive."

Maitland is described as 5 feet 4 inches tall, 110 pounds, with long, brown straight hair with hazel eyes. She wore a small nose ring in her left nostril and has a thin scar down her forehead to her left eyebrow.

Police and family are offering a $20,000 reward for any information leading to finding Maitland or leading to the arrest of the persons responsible for her disappearance. Please call the Vermont State Police with any tips at 802-524-5993.

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Maitland mystery hits 5 years

By Sam Hemingway • Free Press Staff Writer • March 19, 2009

Five years ago today, 17-year-old Brianna Maitland of Franklin finished her shift as a dishwasher at the Black Lantern restaurant in Montgomery, climbed into her green 1985 Oldsmobile sedan and drove away.

Her family has not seen her since.

Maitland's car was found the following day, its rear end rammed into the side of an abandoned house a mile west of town. Two of her paychecks from work were found on the seat inside the vehicle.

As for Maitland herself, her disappearance March 19, 2004, remains a mystery. Police suspect she was the victim of foul play, as do her parents, but no one really knows what happened to her.

"The case hasn't gone cold," Vermont State Police Lt. Glenn Hall said. "We're sure somebody knows something about it and so we're going to keep going with the case until we do get a solution down the road."

There have been moments when police thought they had a solid lead. In 2006, someone reported seeing Maitland at a casino poker table in Atlantic City, N.J. In 2007, a weathered pair of blue jeans was found in the Montgomery woods.

Both leads turned out to be nothing. A review of tape from a casino security camera concluded the woman thought to be Maitland wasn't her. A DNA test ruled out any connection between Maitland and the jeans found in the woods.

Hall said that despite those setbacks, tips on Maitland's whereabouts continue to trickle in, something the veteran detective said was unique about this case.

"With many of the cases that don't get solved, years can go by when you don't get a lead," he said. "With this one, monthly we're following up on leads."

To date, however, the new leads have gone nowhere and often amount to rehashed versions of rumors about what might have happened to Maitland.

"Nobody has given us direct information about what happened," Hall said. Slow start to investigation

Part of the ongoing struggle to solve the Maitland mystery stems from an ill-fated decision by the Vermont State Police to initially view her disappearance as a missing person's case instead of something more sinister.

Instead of calling the teen's parents, Bruce and Kelly Maitland, after her car was found March 20, 2004, a Vermont State Police trooper had the car towed away while he went to the Black Lantern Inn looking for her.

The restaurant was closed, and police did not begin looking into Maitland's disappearance until her parents, alerted by a friend in Sheldon with whom the girl was living at the time, called the following week to report their daughter was missing.

"Had I known they had found the car, we would have gone into high gear right away," Bruce Maitland said in an April 2004 interview.

In the weeks after Maitland's disappearance was made public, waves of police and volunteers searched fields and forests in the Montgomery area. The Maitlands offered a $20,000 reward for information about her whereabouts, made appearances on national television shows and set up a Web site -- -- that is still in operation.

The slow start in the police investigation, plus later claims by police that Maitland made "unhealthy lifestyle choices" and was involved with people who dealt drugs, created friction between the family and the police.

Hall said that friction no longer exists and that he stays in regular contact with the Maitlands about his work on the investigation.

"We talk every other week or so," Hall said.

The Maitlands, who now live in upstate New York, did not respond to a request for an interview.

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Police Search Again for Brianna Maitland

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Brianna Maitland

September 24, 2009

Brian Joyce


Authorities were in Franklin County Thursday, again searching for evidence in connection with the baffling disappearance of teenager Brianna Maitland.

Vt. State police and Fish and Wildlife wardens once again renewed the search around a barn on Route 118 in Montgomery where Brianna Maitland's car was found on March 20, 2004. The 17-year-old was last seen the day before as she left her waitress job at the Black Lantern Inn a mile and half away.

Police suspect she was the victim of foul play.

"We have old leads that we work on. We have new leads that we follow up on and this search is just a part of the overall ongoing investigation. And we tend to search areas sometimes that we searched already and sometimes we'll search new areas and there may not be reasons for that but we like to be thorough and make sure that we haven't overlooked anything,"

Vt. State Police Det. Sgt. Matt Birmingham said. "We're looking for any evidence that will help us answer the questions that we have as to what happened to Ms. Maitland 5 years ago. And that's what we're out here doing. The state police will continue to devote resources to try to answer those questions."

Brianna Maitland's family is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to her location and $10,000 more for information that leads to the arrest of the person responsible for her disappearance.

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Help us find the missing: Become an AAN Member and receive notifications about missing persons via email.

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Search resumes for Brianna Maitland

Richford, Vermont - May 10, 2010

Vermont state police resumed their search Monday for Brianna Maitland.

Investigators looked for her body in a Richford gravel pit after receiving a tip. Maitland was 17 when she disappeared in 2004. She was last seen at work in Montgomery. Her car was found abandoned the next day.

Monday two dozen searchers scoured the area about three miles from where the car was found. They had help from two cadaver search dogs brought in from Connecticut.

"This specific area is a sand pit and we have permission from the land owner to search this area, it's a sand pit that's surrounded by a wooded area," said Sgt. Tara Thomas of the Vermont State Police.

Maitland's father helped search teams Monday.

Police didn't find any evidence. More searches are planned.

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Vt. Police Revive Search for Girl Missing Since 2004


By David Lohr

(May 10) -- Investigators in Vermont launched a ground search today in a renewed effort to locate Brianna Maitland, whose baffling disappearance six years ago sparked national media attention.

The new sweep, which focuses on an area not previously searched, was prompted by information that authorities received "as part of the ongoing investigation," Sgt. Tara Thomas, public information officer for the Vermont State Police, told AOL News.

Vermont police have renewed a search for Brianna Maitland, who has been missing since 2004.

Police have said there is a strong possibility that Maitland, who was 17 when she vanished, was the victim of foul play.

Dozens of searchers, including crime scene technicians and search and rescue personnel, are concentrating today on an area along Prive Hill Road in Richford. The location is a few miles from where Maitland is believed to have gone missing, Thomas said.

Maitland was last seen at approximately 11:20 p.m. on March 19, 2004, as she was finishing her shift as a dishwasher at the Black Lantern Inn in Montgomery.

The following day, Maitland's car, a green 1985 Oldsmobile 88, was found backed into a barn at an abandoned farmhouse on Route 118, roughly one mile from the Black Lantern Inn. The keys were missing, but two uncashed paychecks were on the front seat, and other miscellaneous belongings were found strewn on the ground around the car.

During a search of the area, investigators found a gun and drug paraphernalia inside the farmhouse, which had stood vacant for roughly six years.

According to the Cue Center for Missing Persons, it was not the first time investigators been to the farmhouse. In 1986, Myron and Harry Dutchburn, two brothers who lived at the home, were brutally beaten and robbed. The brothers were later placed in a nursing home due to their injuries. The crime remains unsolved.

More than 500 police officers and volunteers searched the woods around the farmhouse, but found no further signs of the missing teen.

Vermont State Police Capt. Glenn Hall said there is "no evidence" to indicate that Maitland had vanished on her own accord. On the day of her disappearance, she had passed her General Equivalency Diploma exam and was making plans to enroll in college.

Authorities thought they got a break in the case in October 2007, when a weathered pair of blue jeans was found in a wooded area not far from where Maitland went missing. Her parents told police they were the same brand and style their daughter would have worn. But state police technicians were unable to collect enough DNA from the jeans to determine if they were hers.

Maitland's parents, Bruce and Kellie Maitland, were unavailable for comment today. Both have been critical of the investigation in the past, especially when police decided to block a potential search by Texas EquuSearch, a missing-persons search and recovery group that has been involved with several high-profile cases, including that of Natalee Holloway in Aruba.

Investigators did not comment publicly on that decision, other than to say they were still following up on leads.

"I wish that no other parents would have to suffer what my husband and I have been through," Kellie Maitland said in a 2008 statement to the media. "I wish that somehow this whole thing could have been prevented."

According to Thomas, Maitland's parents, who now reside in New York, are believed to be en route to Vermont today. It is not yet known if they will be making a statement to the media.

As of late afternoon today, Thomas said it is too soon to determine how long the search will continue. "It all depends on whether we find anything," she said.

According to a state police press release issued today, the Maitland family is offering a $20,000 reward for information, which includes $10,000 for anyone who can identify where Brianna is and $10,000 for anyone with information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for her disappearance. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Vermont State Police at 802-524-5993.

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Missing man's sister on kidnapped woman: 'You feel so bad'

September 21, 2010

Jack Thurston - WCAX News

It's been 10 days since a Northeast Kingdom woman was reported missing, and still no sign of her. Police say they believe Pat O'Hagan, 78, was abducted from her home.

Tuesday, Vermont State Police refused to answer whether they are terming the case of the popular Sheffield grandmother a "search" or a "recovery effort" at this point. But the O'Hagan mystery has the family of another missing person wondering if they will ever find closure themselves. "I just can't close that door," Amy Currier said.

Currier is optimistic her brother may still walk back into her life. "It's like a piece of you is missing. You'll never be whole again until you find out what happened," she said.

Donnie Messier was last seen in October 2006 leaving a party in Waitsfield. Police said he may have been suicidal; he had just been through a breakup. But Currier remembers he was laughing again and getting back to his old self. "It's just so out of character for him to be out of touch with his family," Currier said.

Now the search for kidnapped Sheffield grandmother Pat O'Hagan is opening old wounds for Amy Currier. "It brings back a lot of the memories, and you feel so bad for that family," Currier said.

Currier has found comfort online; setting up Facebook and MySpace pages for Donnie Messier, hoping they may inspire new tips in the case. "When we're having a sad day we can go and look through the pictures," she said.

The web has also created a club no one wants to be a member of: connecting Currier to loved ones of other people who disappeared in our region, including Brianna Maitland, the 17-year-old whose abandoned car in Montgomery led police to believe she's a crime victim, and Massachusetts nursing student Maura Murray, who vanished after a minor car crash in Woodsville, N.H.

"A number of people tell you they're sorry and they feel your loss, but I don't think you can truly understand it until you've lived it," Currier said.

Pat O'Hagan's large family has said they're leaning on each other for support and turning to their faith. "I'm sure she knows the people who love her and her parish family are praying for her; that she's not alone in this," said Father Pat Forman of St. Elizabeth Catholic Church.

"Father Pat was over last night. He had a good relationship with my mom, so we said a few prayers, and had a few chuckles. We needed it," said Matt O'Hagan, the missing woman's son.

Amy Currier hopes the O'Hagans don't go as long without their mom as she has without her brother. "You know what they're going through: the not knowing, the what-ifs, the kicking yourself in the rear for not calling sooner, or 'Why didn't I notice this?' 'Maybe If I'd have gone and done this differently.' It's just all the what-ifs and questions that are up in the air. It's hard to get past," she said.

Currier wants Vermonters to check out the state's missing persons page and call police with tips, no matter how small they seem, for her case, the O'Hagan investigation, or any mystery on the site.

As for Pat O'Hagan, state police say they are not entertaining any more questions from reporters at this point and will reach out to news organizations when they have something substantial to pass along. Vermont State Police are offering a $5,000 cash reward for significant information in the case. They're asking the public to call them with tips at the barracks in St. Johnsbury at 802-748-3111 or the State Police Crime Information Tip Line at 802-241-5355.

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Vt. State Police use 7th anniversary to seek more info on missing teenager


First Posted: March 19, 2011 - 8:29 am

Last Updated: March 19, 2011 - 9:48 am


MONTGOMERY, Vt. — The Vermont State Police are hoping the 7th anniversary of the disappearance of a Sheldon teenager might prompt someone to come forward with new information that will help investigators solve the case.

Investigators continue to receive tips and investigate leads into the disappearance of Brianna Maitland.


Police say there is no evidence at this time to indicate that she left the area on her own. They believe she was a victim of foul play.

"We never lose hope in any of these investigations," said state police Lt. Matthew Birmingham, one of the detectives on the Maitland case. "There are cases in Vermont and across the nation that are solved after decades."


Searchers continue to comb areas of northern Vermont looking for clues to Maitland's disappearance and her whereabouts, but no sign of her has been found.

Maitland's family is offering a $10,000 for anyone who can help investigators find her and a separate $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or people responsible for her disappearance.

State Police are offering a separate $5,000 reward.

Read the rest of the story at the link above.

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Brianna Maitland

Missing since March 19, 2004

17-year-old Brianna Maitland found life on her parents' remote Northwestern Vermont farm socially limiting. So in the Fall of 2004, she moved twenty miles south to another district, where many in her social circle attended high school. But after a short while, Brianna drops out of school for good because she feels classmates are giving her a hard time.

Brianna also ends up bouncing from house to house, first living with a childhood friend, then with boyfriends, and finally with an old acquaintance. But Brianna still aspires for something better — perhaps college or life in a big city somewhere outside of Vermont. So, while working two restaurant jobs, she enrolls at a local community college to study for her high school equivalency diploma. All this happens while Brianna keeps in touch with her parents Bruce and Kelley on a regular basis. But, it's not until four days after she disappears on her way home from work one night that her family finally discovers that their daughter hasn't returned.

Thinking she's run away, police search for Brianna's green Oldsmobile. But days later the Maitlands realize authorities had already found Brianna's car almost a week earlier at the side of the road with its rear-end rammed up against an old abandoned farmhouse. After numerous searches and an extensive investigation, the Maitlands are left to wonder what really happened to their daughter.

Police think it all points to foul play, while others speculate that Brianna was taken away. But by who?

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A decade later, Vermont police hope new leads solve disappearance of Brianna Maitland

By Cristina Corbin

Published March 26, 2014

It was 10 years ago when Brianna Maitland spent the day shopping with her mother in their quiet Vermont town, hours after the 17-year-old had completed her high school equivalency test. Less than 24 hours later, the girl was gone -- her car found rammed into an abandoned farmhouse not far from the Canadian border, with her wallet, paycheck and other belongings left inside the vehicle.

A decade after the March 19, 2004, disappearance, investigators hope recent leads might crack the case -- and that physical evidence removed from Maitland's car will prove critical in solving one of the state's greatest mysteries.

"We suspect Brianna was the victim of foul play," Maj. Glenn Hall of the Vermont State Police told "This is not a dormant case and we are actively working it."

"Was someone hiding inside her car and waiting for her? It's possible. We don't know."

- Maj. Glenn Hall, Vermont State Police

"This was a girl who was trying to make something of herself," Hall said. 

Brianna was last seen at 11:20 p.m. leaving the Black Lantern Inn and Brewpub in Montgomery, Vt., where she worked washing dishes. Coworkers later told police the teen's job forced her to stay later than usual and that she left alone in her car, eager to get home and sleep before starting work at another restaurant the next morning. It was Briana's second weekend working at the inn, frequented mainly by tourists in a remote ski town.  

The teenager's green 1985 Oldsmobile was found hours later, rear-ended into a deserted farmhouse a mile and a half from the inn where she worked. The vehicle was found along Route 118 in Montgomery -- the road Brianna normally traveled from work to the home she shared with her friend, Jillian Stout. Her personal belongings were found inside the unlocked car, including her wallet, work paycheck and some food.

The ground was frozen at the time, Hall recalled, and no footprints or clear signs of a struggle were found. But the detective, who has been working the case since 2006, said physical evidence taken from the car could lead police to a suspect, though he declined to elaborate on the nature of the evidence. Hall also said authorities have "persons of interest" whom they cannot discount. 

Several theories have emerged over the years and none can be ruled out, Hall said -- including the possibility Brianna was taken across the border. 

"Was someone hiding inside her car and waiting for her? It's possible. We don't know," Hall said.

"It wasn’t a long period of time before her car ended up where it did. She could have met someone she knew. She could have stopped for someone she didn’t know. This is a rare case, especially for Vermont," he said. 

Brianna's father, Bruce Maitland, believes his daughter likely knew the person responsible.

"I don't think this was a random act of being in the wrong place at the wrong time," Maitland told "There was something going on in Brianna’s life that we don’t know about. She had obviously made a connection with someone that may have resulted in what happened to her."

Maitland said the condition of the car -- rammed into the side of a barn -- suggests some kind of struggle ensued. 

"She probably was trying to get out of whatever situation was occurring there at the farm and might have backed it in," he said, also noting that "various objects" were found on the ground outside the car. He said he believes Brianna was taken from that location and placed into another vehicle. 

Hall acknowledged that certain items, including loose change, were discovered near the car, but said, "there was nothing we found that we could definitively link to the car."

Maitland described Brianna as a "wonderful daughter" who was "strong-willed," yet also at a vulnerable age. 

"She was very open and friendly, and saw everyone in a good light," he said. "There’s always a part of me that hopes she’s still alive, but I've come to terms with the fact that I don’t believe she is." 


A $10,000 reward is being offered for any information leading to Brianna's location. There is an additional $10,000 reward for tips leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible.


Anyone with knowledge of the case is urged to contact the Vermont State Police at (802) 524-5993 or the State Police Crime Information Tip Line at (802) 241-5355. Anonymous tips can also be submitted though text messages. Those messages should be sent to "CRIMES" (274637) with the keyword VTIPS in the body of the text message, followed by the information to be reported.


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Vermont State Police continue investigation of disappearance of Brianna Maitland, missing since 2004


By Patrick Johnson

on March 19, 2015 at 9:16 AM, updated March 19, 2015 at 10:03 AM


The Vermont State Police have renewed their public appeal for information about what happened to Brianna Maitland, a 17-year-old girl who disappeared without a trace on this date in 2004 in the town of Mongomery, Vermont.


On the 11th anniversary of her disappearance, state police issued a regional statement that says the investigation into her disappearance remains active, and police are continuing to pursue leads in the case. While little new information was disclosed, police did say there is a strong indication that Maitland was a victim of foul play.


Maitland was last seen at her job at the Black Lantern Inn in Montgomery, a town just south of the Canadian border, at about 11:20 p.m. on March 19, 2004. Her car was found the next day a short distance away near an abandoned farmhouse on Route 118 in Montgomery.


"There is no evidence at this time to indicate that Brianna willingly left the area," police said.


Over the last 11 years, police have explored "any and all investigative strategies" in an effort to find what happened to Maitland.


Her family is offering a $20,000 reward for any information that leads to answers. The reward includes $10,000 for information that leads to locating her whereabouts, and $10,000 leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for her disappearance.


Vermont State Police are also offering their own reward of $5,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction.


Police said they remain optimistic they will solve the mystery.


Anyone with information is asked to contact: Vermont State Police at (802) 524-5993; the State Police Crime Information Tip Line at (802) 241-5355; or submit an anonymous tip at or by texting "CRIMES" (274637) with keyword: VTIPS.


In addition, there is Brianna Maitland flyer at


Her family and friends also have a page on Facebook dedicated to her memory.

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VSP Reveal New Evidence in Maitland Case

By Rachel Aragon | 3/18/2016

Police have an update in the case of a Vermont teen missing for more than a decade.

Brianna Maitland was last seen on March 19, 2004. More than a decade later, VSP reveal they found DNA in her car.

"I've never seen a case like this that's frustrated so many people," says VSP Detective Lt. Lance Burnham Vermont State Police.

Brianna Maitland was last seen leaving work at the Black Lantern Inn in Montgomery in March of 2004.

Lt. Burnham says VSP receive tips about every week for this case and they follow up on all of them.

"We receive anything from I may have seen Brianna or I may have seen someone who looked like Brianna."

Now police say they have DNA evidence from Brianna's car, which had been found backed into a nearby farmhouse shortly after Brianna left work.

Police won't say if the DNA is something they found recently or in 2004.

"We are leaning towards foul play at this point but we have no concrete evidence that would suggest that."

The DNA has been tested and VSP wants those close to Brianna to remain hopeful. They say any tip could lead to more answers.

"DNA can clearly be a very valuable piece of information and we've used it many times to break a case wide open," says Lt. Burnham.

Every year family and friends gather at the abandoned farm house in Montgomery where Brianna's car was found in her remembrance.

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