Brianna Maitland

Brianna Alexandra Maitland also Brianna Maitland (born October 8, 1986; disappeared March 19, 2004) is an American teenager who vanished after leaving her job at the Black Lantern Inn in Montgomery, Vermont. Her car was found the next day, backed into the side of an abandoned house about a mile from her workplace. Maitland has not been seen or heard from since. Due to a combination of circumstances, several days passed before her friends and family reported her missing.

In the days and weeks following her disappearance, state law enforcement investigated numerous tips, including a claim that she was being held captive in a house occupied by local drug dealers she knew. However, none of these tips led to her discovery.

An alleged sighting of Maitland at a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 2006 brought renewed interest to the case, but the woman seen was never properly identified. In 2012, law enforcement looked into a possible connection between Maitland’s disappearance and serial killer Israel Keyes, who was active in Vermont, but the FBI ultimately ruled him out as a suspect.

Maitland’s case has been covered by various local media outlets, Dateline NBC, and the documentary series Disappeared. In 2017, her case was discussed in a documentary series about missing college student Maura Murray, who vanished a month before Maitland in Woodsville, New Hampshire. Maitland’s disappearance remains unsolved.

Background

Early Life

Brianna Maitland was born on October 8, 1986, in Burlington, Vermont, to Bruce and Kellie Maitland (née Fisher). She grew up with her older brother on their parents’ farm in East Franklin, Vermont, near the Canadian border. As a child, Maitland was extensively trained in jiu-jitsu. She attended Missisquoi Valley Union High School before transferring to Enosburg Falls High School in nearby Enosburg Falls during her sophomore year.

Prior to Disappearance

On her seventeenth birthday in October 2003, Maitland decided to move away from her parents’ farm. Her mother, Kellie, explained that there were no serious issues at home, but Brianna wanted to be more independent and live closer to friends who lived 15 miles away and attended a different high school.

Maitland enrolled at her friends’ high school, but her living arrangements were unstable, causing her to move in and out of several friends’ homes. By the end of February 2004, Maitland dropped out of high school and moved in with her childhood friend, Jillian Stout, in Sheldon, Vermont, about 20 miles west of Montgomery. She enrolled in a GED program to complete her education.

Three weeks before her disappearance, Maitland was physically attacked at a party by a former female friend, Keallie Lacross. The motive for the attack was unclear, but Maitland’s father, Bruce, believed it was due to jealousy over Brianna’s interaction with a male peer at the party.

A friend who was present claimed that despite her martial arts training, Maitland refused to fight back and was hit in the face several times by Lacross while seated in a truck. Maitland sustained a broken nose and concussion from the altercation and later filed charges against Lacross. The complaint was dropped three weeks after Maitland’s disappearance, and Lacross was cleared of any involvement.

Disappearance

Friday, March 19, 2004

On the morning of Friday, March 19, 2004, Brianna Maitland took an exam for her GED. After completing the test, she had lunch with her mother, Kellie, to celebrate the occasion. Her father, Bruce, was out of state, working in New York at the time. Kellie described her daughter as being in good spirits and mentioned that Brianna had discussed plans to attend college.

After lunch, Brianna and Kellie spent the afternoon shopping and running errands. While they were in the checkout line of a store, something outside caught Brianna’s attention. She told her mother she would be back shortly and left the store. When Kellie met Brianna in the parking lot, she noticed that her daughter seemed unnerved, shaken, and agitated. Brianna said she needed to go home and prepare for her work shift at the Black Lantern Inn, a restaurant in Montgomery.

Not wanting to pry, Kellie did not ask what had happened and dropped Brianna off at her friend Jillian Stout’s home between 3:30 and 4:00 p.m. This was the last time she saw her daughter. Before leaving for work, Brianna left a note for Stout, saying she would return after her shift. Brianna then departed for the Black Lantern Inn in a 1985 Oldsmobile sedan registered to Kellie.

After finishing her shift at work, Brianna clocked out and left the Black Lantern Inn at approximately 11:20 p.m. She told her co-workers she needed to get home and rest before working the next day at her second job in St. Albans. By all accounts, Brianna was alone in her vehicle when she left.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Discovery of Vehicle

On the early afternoon of March 20, a Vermont State Police trooper was called to an abandoned house on Route 118 in Richford, approximately a mile from the Black Lantern Inn. Brianna Maitland’s Oldsmobile was found backed into the side of the house.

Locally known as “the old Dutchburn house,” the siding of the home had been damaged by the rear end of the sedan. A piece of plywood that had covered a window was found on the car’s trunk. Two of Maitland’s paychecks were on the front seat, and outside the car, law enforcement noticed loose change, a water bottle, and an unsmoked cigarette. The trooper assumed the car had been abandoned by a drunk driver, and a towing company took the vehicle to a local garage.

Maitland was not reported missing for several days. Kellie only learned about the discovery of Maitland’s car five days later. Brianna’s friend, Jillian Stout, found Maitland’s note on Friday, March 19, and spent the weekend away.

When she returned on Monday and saw the note undisturbed, she assumed Maitland was elsewhere and did not contact Kellie until the following day. On Tuesday, March 23, Kellie began calling various people to find Brianna, including friends and employers, but none had seen or heard from her. Failing to locate her and still unaware that Brianna’s car had been recovered, Kellie filed a missing persons report that day.

On Thursday, March 25, Maitland’s parents gave photos of her to the Vermont State Police in St. Albans. A trooper showed them a picture of the Oldsmobile found at the old Dutchburn house, and they immediately identified it as their daughter’s. Kellie said she felt instinctively repelled by the photo and believed someone else, not Brianna, had left the car in that condition.

Witness Sightings

After Brianna’s reported disappearance, several individuals reported sightings of her vehicle at the old Dutchburn house:

  • A man who drove by the house between 11:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. on March 19–20 noticed the car’s headlights may have been on but did not see anyone nearby.
  • Another man who passed by between midnight and 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 20, observed a turn signal flashing on the car.
  • Around 4:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 20, a former boyfriend of Brianna’s drove past the scene after a night of partying in Canada. Although he thought he recognized the vehicle, he did not see anyone around it.
  • The next morning, some passing motorists found the scene unusual and stopped to take pictures. One photographer noted loose change, a water bottle, and possibly a bracelet or necklace next to the car.

Investigation

Initial Findings

The Vermont State Police, leading the investigation initially, were doubtful of foul play, considering the possibility that Brianna Maitland had run away. Despite combing the area around the old Dutchburn house with police and search dogs, no evidence was found. Maitland’s car was processed for evidence by the state crime laboratory on March 30, 2004. Upon its return to the Maitland family, her father noted that her ATM card, glasses, contact lens case, and migraine medication were all left inside.

Later, law enforcement concluded that foul play was likely involved in Maitland’s disappearance. A flyer provided by the FBI in 2007 suggested that the scene where her car was found may have been staged to appear as an accident. Maitland’s parents speculated publicly that she might have been abducted by multiple individuals, considering her training in jiu-jitsu.

Despite occurring within close proximity, law enforcement deemed the disappearance of Maura Murray, a college student from Massachusetts, unrelated to Maitland’s case. In response to her disappearance, Maitland’s family created a website offering a reward for information leading to her whereabouts, which remained active for several years.

Allegations and Affidavit

In the week following Maitland’s disappearance, an anonymous tip claimed she was being held against her will in a house in nearby Berkshire, rented by known drug dealers Ramon L. Ryans and Nathaniel Charles Jackson. The house was raided by police, resulting in drug-related arrests, but Maitland was not found.

Subsequently, police received a statement from an anonymous older female implicating Ryans and Jackson in Maitland’s disappearance and alleged murder. The affidavit claimed Maitland was killed during an argument over money she lent for crack cocaine, and her body was disposed of on a pig farm after being dismembered. Law enforcement couldn’t corroborate these claims.

Additionally, the Maitland family received anonymous calls suggesting various locations where Brianna might be, but none of these leads were substantiated.

Later Developments

In 2006, security footage from Caesars casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, captured a woman resembling Brianna Maitland sitting at a poker table. However, the woman was never identified.

In 2012, law enforcement explored a possible link between Maitland’s disappearance and serial killer Israel Keyes, who was active in several states, including Vermont and New York. The FBI ruled out Keyes’s involvement in late 2012, shortly after Keyes took his own life.

On the twelfth anniversary of the case in March 2016, investigators disclosed to a local television station that they had recovered DNA samples from Maitland’s car. However, the results of the DNA tests were not made public. Additionally, in July 2016, the old Dutchburn house, where Maitland’s vehicle was discovered, was destroyed in a fire.

In March 2022, the Vermont State Police announced that they had found a match to the DNA sample recovered from Maitland’s car. The identity of the individual has not been disclosed, but officials stated that it belonged to one of eleven people previously tested in connection to Maitland’s disappearance. They also mentioned that this individual had been cooperative and spoken to investigators.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Disappearance of Brianna Maitland, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

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