If you’re even casually interested in true crime, chances are good that you’ve heard the name Maura Murray. Maura’s 2004 disappearance from Route 112 in Haverhill, New Hampshire following a single-car accident has baffled law enforcement agencies and armchair detectives ever since.
In 2013, documentary filmmakers Tim Pilleri and Lance Reenstierna sought to understand the reasons why Maura’s disappearance has held our attention for more than thirteen years. Two years later, they launched the Missing Maura Murray podcast to accompany the documentary already in progress. As an avid listener of the podcast since its first episode, I was eager to speak with Tim and Lance about the twists and turns they’ve encountered along the way.
Informant’s Note: If you heard the recent MMM podcast episode with guest James Renner, it may be easy to misinterpret a few of Tim and Lance’s comments below. For the sake of context, I can report that our conversation was lighthearted and filled with laughter (these guys are hilarious, it turns out), and at no point did I sense any ill will toward Renner.
CrimeCon Informant: You guys will face off against James Renner to debate the facts of Maura Murray’s disappearance at CrimeCon. Is your recent episode with him a preview of what we can expect from that discussion?
Lance: I’m sure it’s a decent indication of how it will go! I’ll wear my mouthpiece! Our goal with that episode was to bring him back and ask some tough questions that we hadn’t asked before and to hold him accountable for some of his claims. We’d had him on four times before and hadn’t held his feet to the fire. As he began to depart from the Maura Murray case, we felt it was important to do that.
Tim: We weren’t going in to pick a fight. There’s a lot of information that he puts out there in his blog and book that we needed him to answer for. Where did he get the information he presented? Why did he come to the conclusions he did when several factors are pointing in different directions? He has always appreciated the seriousness of the case and respected the need to be held accountable. We’re still friendly.
CCI: Tell me what inspired you to dive into the Brianna Maitland disappearance. What are your goals in regards to the case and the Crawlspace podcast?
Lance: Given the proximity between where Maura and Brianna both went missing, it seemed like a natural next step. Many fans asked us to cover it. The decision was easy because we think it’s very, very close to being solved. Many theories are circulating that Brianna's disappearance and Maura’s may be connected. We want to make sure that’s not a road people should go down and spend a lot of energy pursuing.
Tim: Even before we did the Brianna Maitland episodes on the Maura Murray podcast, some of the investigators from Brianna’s case contacted us about it. So we wanted to commit one episode of the Maura Murray podcast to examining the similarities between the two cases. We ended up doing two. In that same timeframe, we were planning to launch a new podcast following an entirely different case, but due to the interest and proximity, it made sense to switch gears and focus on Brianna Maitland.
Lance: As far as our goals, we’re not planning a separate documentary as we have in Maura’s case. We’d love to help solve it, of course. But it’s a bit presumptuous and naive to go into something like this thinking that we’ll crack something that law enforcement hasn’t been able to solve in thirteen years. The family has asked us to keep raising awareness, so that’s what we’re focusing on. We want to keep the case alive, keep Brianna’s memory alive, then we’ll work backward from there. If good things happen and there’s closure from that, it’s a definite win for us.
CCI: What’s the next step for the Missing Maura Murray podcast?
[Slightly awkward pause]
Lance: Um. . . Good question!
Tim: I mean, we have some emails to read in a few days. . .
Lance: We hit a point in the podcast (a couple of times) where we didn’t know where to go next. So we followed what leads came to us. That information would naturally lead us in different directions.
Tim: Leads tend to come in waves. We’ll go two or three weeks, maybe a month, wondering what to do next, but something always comes up. It’s a rollercoaster that always seems to throw something our way.
Lance: That being said, we have a good idea of what we’re working towards with the podcast right now. The next big step is finishing the documentary that we began back in 2013.
CCI: Speaking of which, what is the status of the documentary? Any chance we’ll get a sneak peek at CrimeCon?
Tim: If we were invited to give you guys a sneak peek, it’s possible we may have something to show, but it won’t be finished. Right now, we’re close to wrapping up filming unless there’s a huge break in the case. We’re going into the serious editing phase. We’d like to have it finished by late 2017. We're hoping to do some filming at CrimeCon that would be part of the film’s ending.
Lance: At some point or another, we realized that we had enough footage to make a 90-100 minute documentary, but it would still be incomplete. We knew there were things about to happen that we would be responsible for including. So we decided to hang onto everything we had, follow what came in, and let it come to an end naturally. CrimeCon feels like a good stopping point.
CCI: During your investigation into Maura’s disappearance, what has surprised you the most?
[Several “hmm”s and the sound of thinking]
Lance: So many things surprised us about this case. It’s not that I’m having trouble coming up with anything, it’s that I’m having trouble deciding which one.
Tim: One thing would be the number of people we’ve talked to. On the one hand, it seems like we’ve spoken with a lot of people, especially considering nobody wanted to talk to us.
Lance: There were many more people we wanted to hear from to who didn't want to talk, which is very odd. Another surprising thing: the number of individuals who came out of the woodwork and proved to be a bit crazy.
Tim: Well, let’s say “eccentric.”
CCI: There’s a degree of confrontation in the Maura Murray community that doesn’t seem to appear in other, similar cases. Have you gained any insight into why that may be?
Tim: It’s an odd case, and people love to come up with their theories about what happened. When someone puts in the effort to learn about this case and figure out what’s real and what’s relevant, it makes them want to fight for that theory that they’ve created. And once they have that theory, they’ll find a way to make any clues, facts, or new information about the case fit their desired narrative. It’s easy to get so emotionally invested that you’re personally offended if someone challenges your point of view.
Lance: What makes that offense and hostility worse are the instigators. Once people get locked onto a theory and want to defend it, there’s an entire audience of individuals waiting to attack it. Some people don’t realize that it’s happening to them; Tim and I didn’t even realize it was happening to us. We thought we were defending ourselves and the situation, but we learned that this is just what trolls do. They just provoke and destroy.
CCI: Anything else you want readers to know about what to expect at CrimeCon?
Lance: My chin is a lot more pronounced in person than it is on the webcam.
Tim: More importantly, there will be more to Crawlspace. By the time we get to CrimeCon, we’ll be broadcasting our second case and teasing our third. There’ll be a lot more to talk about than Brianna and Maura.
Lance: And my chin.