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She just had a cool personality, and she was someone I wanted to be friends with. I felt like she was a safe space for me. So that was a good, important relationship for me.


I'm Julie Murray, and this is Media Pressure, the untold story of Mara Murray. The following podcast contains is adult language and potentially triggering topics. Listener discretion is advised. The opinions presented by my guest are their own. Episode 3, No Excuse, Ma'am. Yes, ma'am, no, ma'am, no excuse, ma'am, ma'am, I do not understand. These are our West Point Cadets' four responses. The only one's authorized, even if the question posed required a more substantive answer. It's one of the first things you learn as a new cadet, designed to instill rigidity in the corps of cadets. When asked what's for breakfast, a cadet may respond with, No excuse, ma'am, which would incite an uproar from the ranking cadet. You don't know what's for breakfast? Drop and give me 20. To a logical mind, it makes no sense. But it's that way by design and one small example of what cadets face And let's be honest, that is not for everyone. The first summer at West Point is the hardest by design. Aptly named Beast Barracks, Plebes, or Freshmen are immersed in an environment that is meant to challenge them physically, mentally, and emotionally. I'll never forget the day I said goodbye to my dad and Mara, who traveled up from Hanson to see me off.


Families, you have 90 seconds to say goodbye to your candidate, said the cadet in charge with zero emotion. I turned to Mara and she said with her signature side smirk, Good luck. Then out of earshot of my dad, whispered, Don't be a little bitch, which was perfectly time to cut out the nervous energy. I could tell she was equal parts scared to death and proud of me. I hugged my dad, and for the first time in my life, I saw his eyes watering up. He didn't cry. It was just a single tear. He said, Go get them, Jules. Give them hell. They stood as I marched across Mikey Stadium with a single duffle bag to my name and was whisked away under the stadium tunnel. When I entered West Point in the summer of 1998, approximately 1,300 cadet candidates joined me from all over the country from all walks of life. Women only made up about 15%. Over the next eight weeks, the class of 2002 would a trip markedly. That summer, I met lifelong friends and was challenged in ways I didn't even know possible. I would write home as often as I could, but time was the scarcest resource, also by design.


I raved about how much I enjoyed the structure, the challenge, and meeting new people. I distinctly remember telling Mara how much she would love it. Fast forward two years, Mara would join me in the class of 2004 and make that same daunting walk alone across Mikey Stadium and swallowed up by Cadet Life. I was a Cadet Cadre member during Mara's first summer, which meant I got to see her during Beast Barracks. See, having a sibling at the academy is a major perk, as I could keep an eye on her and smuggle contraband like cookies and snacks. I could also check in with my classmates who were in her company to inquire how she was doing. Running was a huge part of Beast Barracks and a surefire way to earn instant respect from both your classmates and upperclassmen. Mara was elevated to the fastest run group, which only had a handful of women. She made a name for herself quickly. She had no problem whatsoever with the physical component. Cadets also have to memorize and recite on demand, Clebe knowledge, which consisted of army-specific information like the ranks, as well as decades-old West Point traditions like Schofield's Definition of Discipline, MacArthur's Message, and completely useless data like how many gallons of water were in Lusk Reservoir.


I gave Mara my Plead Knowledge Booklet when she was still in high school and told her to memorize it cover to cover. She was so smart that that wasn't a problem. I taught her how to shine shoes, prepare her uniform, and make a to West Point standards all before she was even accepted. I thought she would love it as much as I did. I was sorely mistaken. One day towards the middle of Beast Barracks, I went over to her room to give her cookies, and I found her sobbing. I was shocked and couldn't understand why she'd let some idiot upperclassmen rattle her. It was at that moment I realized, Oh, shit. She doesn't love it. Despite not loving it, Mara toughed it out and finished the most difficult time at the academy. When the academic year started in the fall, she had a full schedule of high-level math and sciences, military leadership, and survival swimming. The academics were no problem. She excelled. This came as no surprise as she helped me as a high schooler when I called home during my pleab year. She joined me on the cross country and track teams where we got some reprieve from the rigors of cadet life in exchange for brutal workouts in the hills of West Point.


It was like old times, bonding over many miles together, joking and laughing, and she quickly established herself as one of the best freshmen on the team. Eventually, she was beating me and most everybody else. I asked one of our teammates, Megan Sawyer, to share some memories of Mara.


First things first, I was like, Dang, that girl was really pretty. I I thought she was so cute. She had the sweetest little smile. Her dimples were just... They're adorable. I just thought she was the cuteest thing. I think the thing I noticed about her first was how quiet she was. We were thrown into such a weird situation at West Point. You're all of a sudden with all these people that you don't know. But as we started to get to know each other, it Just especially through running. God, she was funny. She was so funny and goofy. I don't know. She just had a cool personality, and she was someone I wanted to be friends with. I felt like she was a safe space for me, a person that I could talk to, that I could gossip with, whatever the gossip was at West Point, but someone that I could just let down my guard with. I felt like I couldn't do that with a a lot of people. That was a good, important relationship for me. Then I just felt... I graduated high school, and a week later, I reported to West Point. I felt like I had to grow up so fast.


Having Maura there, like I said, she was silly and goofy and quirky, and I felt like I could let that side of myself, those walls down, and be the person I was before with her. I felt like we were just kids again, but we weren't. On top of that, her work ethic was unbelievable, in my opinion. She was a great student, but man, I felt like I was always staring at her backside when we were running because she was kicking my butt. Then it was motivating for me to want to try to keep up with her. I felt like she was this quiet girl, shy girl. But as I got to know her, she was silly and funny. I don't know. We had a lot of fun together.


I didn't think she'd come in this school being so quiet because I always felt I was more the quiet one, and Mara was more of a people person. But I think we were more similar than I realized.


I always felt like you were you were serious, and she was silly. I don't know. Maybe that's because you were older. You were more like, Girls, knock it off, thing. You had been following the rules for longer than we had. But then again, I hung out with... Her and I were the same age, so we hung out more than I really would hang out with you outside of practice. Sometimes, I think at West Point, your identity he gets lost, and you just feel like another soldier in line, another number. Having a group of girls on the cross country team, on the track team, all together, going through the same thing, going through the same workouts and experiences, made you feel like you belonged to something. I just remember some of those older girls and you especially, just were very welcoming to us. But also run off campus in our sports bras and do those things like, We still have to follow the rules. Laura and I would be like, Come on, man. Bend the rules a little bit. It's Okay. You were just that welcoming big sister. I didn't have a big sister. I think that was fun for me to have these older girls around as a somebody to look up to.


Yeah. I mean, and especially in that environment when you feel so alone and you're away from home, you've got this whole new diverse group around you that on top of the whole military thing. It's a hard transition coming out of high school. And you have to remember, we were what, 17, 18 years old? So young. Yeah.


Just turning 18, and you also are looking around and you're having to be competitive with these girls. I have to be competitive in running. I have to be competitive in academics. I have to be competitive in the military aspect. It's like, I felt like my life there was a constant competition in all areas. So, yeah, no wonder I was screwed up a little bit after I left. I would say that whole CLEED freshman year, it was awful. It was really awful. I think once we came back from our first training over the summer, there was only a couple of times that I legitimately died and thought I had made a mistake, and that was one of them. The hazing and the screaming, it was so bad.


Now, Mara's first year wasn't dissimilar to Megan's, and a lot of cadets for that matter. It's hard. When the spring semester came around, it was outdoor track time. I remember traveling to Florida for a track meet. Mara and I shared a room as we always did. It was during this trip that I learned about her struggles with disordered eating. I was completely shocked and caught off guard as I had no idea how to react or what to say. I could tell she was embarrassed and ashamed. I asked Megan if Mara ever confided in her about her struggles.


It wasn't necessarily something we talked about because I think just in general, eating disorders are a shameful a thing. This is not uncommon, unfortunately, at West Point, to have an eating disorder. But it was actually down at Fort Knox when I heard her, and that's when I knew it was a thing. But like you, I was a kid, and I didn't understand eating disorders. I didn't understand the mental aspect and the shame in it. So it was never something that she opened up to me about.


I, too, had many friends who had eating disorders while at West Point. So you were talking about these type A personalities, super competitive, thrown into an environment of West Point where you literally have no control. And so your only way of gaining control is through things like eating disorder, where that's the one thing that she felt that she could control. It makes me sad because she needed help. It was a mental health issue, and she needed treatment for it, and she knew she needed treatment for it. And she was getting counseling. I do beat myself up about it because I wasn't there for her. I didn't know what to do. I didn't even know what it was. I didn't understand the complexities of it. So my response when I found out was, Well, just stop it. Don't do that. It's so much more nuanced than that.


I feel that, too, because I wish I would have said something. Why didn't I say something of like, Hey, whatever you're going through, I want to help you, or what's happening? Can we talk about it? Just being open. But it was this dirty little secret of like, I know I know. You know I know. Don't tell anybody, and I'll just leave it alone and let you do your thing. I know it's not good for you. I know it's wrong, but I don't know what to do. But I didn't know how to handle it.


Yeah, neither did I. And neither did she. Yeah.


I agree with the control. Yeah, your life is not yours anymore. Having one thing that you can control is Okay, now I've reclaimed something, but it's the wrong thing to be reclaiming. But in that situation and at that age, you don't know any better.


The next summer, Maura was in what we called Camp Buckner. It's a more advanced training consisting of specialized tactical exercises. This included a one-week trip to Fort Knox to teach cadets about armor and tanks. It was here where Mara started to make some poor, rash decisions. One day, she went into the Post Exchange, which is like the Walmart on base. She took under $5 worth of makeup and walked out of the store with no paying. Upon exiting, a store security representative confronted her. She immediately fessed up and admitted she indeed did not pay. Megan was with her at the time.


I was actually with her physically when this incident happened. We went to the PX. We were just browsing around. We went through the makeup, which at that point, I don't even know if we could even wear mascara. We were just browsing around. I didn't notice anything. I didn't even see her do anything until we went up to the register and we were about to walk out the store, and they stopped us, and they grabbed Maura and said, You need to come with us. The look on her face was like her heart just sank into her stomach. I'm like, What the heck is going on? I could just see the look of terror on her face. They escorted her off, and I was just left like, What the hell just happened? So later when she came back and joined the company, she was pretty distraught and upset. I said, What happened? I I don't even remember what she took. It was like a nail polish or eyeliner or something, something so little and stupid. And she goes, I don't even know why I did that. And it was like, I don't know, $10 worth of stuff.


I'm like, Maura, I would have paid for it if you didn't have the money. Why did you do that? We were in a stressful situation. I can't speak to why she did it. I was just more there to support her as a friend. It sucked. I wish I could go back and get in her head. It was just a dumb decision. I'm like, Why did you do that? It wasn't a high dollar item. It wasn't anything expensive. She beat herself up about that for sure.


This has always bothered me because she had the money to purchase it as cadets got a stipend. I asked her why she did it, and she looked down in shame and simply said, I don't know. In my gut, I feel like it was a cry for help. She knew a transgression such as this was against the Cadet Honor Code of, A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do. I'm convinced it was her way of trying to leave the academy without having to outright quit. West Point has a cadet-run honor system, which is essentially a committee made up of cadets who determine if a student violates the honor code and then provides leadership with a recommended punishment. Honor boards are held for things like cheating on a test, stealing from a roommate, or lying. I had a friend go to an honor board for taking a soda from a roommate's refrigerator. I served as a character witness for Mara and cried on the stand. I selfishly wanted my little sister to be at school with me. It was a special bond. Her honor board span multiple weeks, and it took her out of classes and track practice.


Her grades started to fall off because of it. She was also having to walk hours, an archaic practice of disciplining cadets, which zaps a cadet's most valued resource, time. Cadets adorned the most uncomfortable dress uniform and have to walk back and forth for hours carrying their rifle. They can't talk, and they have to look straight ahead under the supervision of an upper class cadet. It is absolutely brutal. Then everything changed when 9:11 2011 happened. See, when Mara and I entered West Point, it was a time of peace and prosperity. We never fathomed the possibility of going to an actual war. Our futures were changed instantly. The academy went on lockdown, and shit got real. This coincided with the affirmation oath of military service that cadets must take prior to entering their cow or junior years at the academy. This oath obligates cadets to serve five years of active duty military service upon graduation and three years of individual ready reserve recall status, totaling eight years of service obligation. Megan was faced with the same decision as Maura.


I was just starting my sophomore year when 9/11 happened, and then that reality sunk in real quick of, Okay, so I'm probably going to get deployed. That was not part of the plan. That wasn't part of my plan. That wasn't part of your plan. No. And that was when I really started like, I wanted to go to medical school. And that's when things got really real for me of like, oh, crap, maybe I didn't make the right choice coming here. But you're going to this prestigious school, and I just thought, okay, I'm going to go to this school and get a great education for free, and then continue on with my life, and it's just going to be a resume filler thing. And then 9/11 happened, and I'm like, Whoa, okay. And now I have some decisions to make because I was still in that period where I could leave. You were not.




But I was in that stage of like, Okay, I could get out of here.


I think this sealed the deal for Mara. Her honor board moved quickly because she admitted wrongdoing, so it was just a matter of punishment. It was during this process that Mara met her eventual boyfriend, Bill Rouch, who served as an Honor Committee Mentor. I didn't know Bill, but West Point is a small school, so we did have mutual friends. He was in my class of 2002. Essentially in his role as an honor board liaison, he walked people through the process, which could be a bit overwhelming. But like I said, in In Mara's case, it was straightforward because she took ownership, so there wasn't any need for a full-blown investigation to determine guilt, which worked in her favor, so it was just a matter of punishment. For reference, in 2021, only 13% of cadets who violated the honor code were separated. So it's highly unlikely that she would have been kicked out for such a small violation. And she wasn't. Anyways, Mar and Bill started dating leading. I could tell she really cared for him, and she would get up super early in the morning and run to the West Point Post Exchange and grab him a coffee.


Yes, she would run back with a hot coffee. That was typical Mara, going way out of her way for those she cared about. She ultimately decided not to take the oath and leave the academy before her fate was decided. She opted to transfer to the University in Massachusetts, and I could tell this gave her solace. I hated to see her go, but I knew it was a right decision for her mental health and future. She continued her distant relationship with Bill despite my input. See, I found out that Bill cheated on Maura. I was livid and told her to leave him, but they decided to try to make it work. I wasn't happy, and everyone knew it. To say I was cold to him when he visited Massachusetts over the holidays is an understatement. I knew they cared for each other. That was evident, so I tried to be civil. Years after her disappearance, he made some very poor decisions that resulted in him pleading guilty to a misdemeanor of simple assault on a coworker. Obviously, I don't condone that type of behavior, but I will say I never witnessed any abuse between him and Mara, and she never once mentioned anything of the sort.


I actually looked through stacks of old love letters between them, looking for something. All I found was just typical college-aged musings. I do often wonder what would have happened if she did take my advice. What if I did this or that differently? Would it have influenced the outcome? The answer is simple. Maybe, but we'll never know. Mara enrolled in the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in the fall of 2002. This was Mara's first taste of a real college experience, vastly different from the structure and strict rules and regulations at West Point. No more marching around in a uniform being told what to do and when to do it and how to do it. Basic freedoms you don't get as a cadet at West Point, where every waking moment is programmed. For her, it was the small things, like being able to sleep on her favorite purple cow printed sheets, displaying more than three pictures in her room, not having to perfectly align her books in descending height order. Those type of things. I actually stayed in her dorm room one time with my boyfriend. We were going from West Point to Boston for a visit. And one thing I'll never forget are those Purple Cow sheets.


I was definitely jealous. At first, I remember her telling me how different it was that she could sleep in sometimes, go out at night, and even show up to a class late, although she rarely did, without repercussions. Those were all punishable offenses at West Point. It overwhelmed her at first, but she got used to it. She seemed much happier. Many of her academic credits transferred over from West Point, and she entered as a sophomore. She got accepted into the very competitive nursing program where she would follow in the footsteps of her mother, who was a nurse her whole life. The UMass cross country and track teams were pleased to have an athlete of Mara's caliber join the team, and she was able to develop a group of friends and her teammates. She continued her now long distance relationship with her West Point boyfriend, Bill. Reliable transportation was a prerequisite for the nursing program as students had to travel to neighboring towns for rotations. So my father gave her his 1996 Black Saturn Sedan so she could travel to her nursing clinicals and get around campus.


I was running fine when I gave it to her. I just decided she needs a car, she can have my car, and I'll just get myself another car. I had a great job, and the most money I was ever made in a job, and I had no money to buy another car anyway. So it wasn't going to be a financial problem or burden, and it was an immediate solution. So I gave it a car, and then it... Because it was a satin, it broke like they all did. It was independable. It was a bad product. It was highly thought of at the time when it came out, but it didn't work.


Mara picked up two part-time jobs for gas and spending money, one as a dorm security guard checking IDs at Melville Hall, and one as a work study program in an art gallery, Working Events. It seemed like she was finding her rhythm. She was much closer to Hansen, so she could spend more time with our parents and siblings. She would accompany my dad and brothers on hikes in the White Mountains and help my mom with things around the house. She spent a lot of time with Kathleen during this time as well and helped Curtis with schoolwork and batting practice. I was stationed in South Korea as a lieutenant in the army during this time. Mara would send me care packages and little notes. She would always say something sarcastic, and that was her way of telling me she missed me. With the time difference in our schedules, it was tough to connect over the phone, so we communicated primarily through AOL instant messaging. I was definitely homesick, and those conversations were something I cherished. When we did talk on the phone, I would attempt to say some Korean phrases I learned. Kaka ju seo. Or, Can I get a discount out.


Kamsamnida. Thank you. We would laugh until we cried over me butchering these phrases. At school, Mara shared her love for running with another distance athlete from Upper State, New York named Kate Marcopolis. Kate and Mara typically ran different events, but did the same training runs as as usual for distance athletes. It's amazing how quickly you bond logging a ton of miles and grueling workouts together. I've met lifelong friends in the same way. They would hang out together after practice. Mar talked about her a lot, so much so that I suggested they visit me when I got to Fort Bragg for spring break. Our plan was to go to Myrtle Beach. My dad met Kate on several occasions.


Kate seemed like your basic college It could have been somebody she knew from high school. It was exactly what I expected. She's an athlete, she's a runner on the track team, and she's a buddy of Mara, and they get along great. I like Kate to this day. I haven't talked to her since. I liked her then. There would be no reason why I wouldn't like her now. Objective Mara hanging around with her. Nothing wrong with that kid.


Now, despite her negative experiences with obsessed true crime enthusiast in the aftermath of Ma's disappearance, for the first time ever, Kate agreed to chat with me publicly.


There's a reason that you're one of the only people I respond to. It's like, All right, I can trust Jules. And that's it.


I know she's smiling down watching us today. So I wanted to ask you, how did you meet Mara?


It's funny. I did think about it for a minute. There was just a day we were all at practice. I'm pretty sure it was cross country because I think it must have been the call. She just showed up in practice and Julie was like, Hey, this is Maura. She's going to join us. It's funny. I don't even think I talked to her much at first because I'm not a person who's immediately going to go over to somebody and talk to them and say, Hey, who are you? What's your history? That was probably more Lexie and Lauren. They were the intro people. They would bring people in and talk to them and get to know them.


Okay, so she comes to practice and then you guys start running together. Tell me what she was like.


I'm She was reserved, definitely, but I didn't know if that was her personality or if that was a West Point thing, because any military person I have met are very stoic, I guess is the word I would use.


But once you got to know her and share some laughs, stories, just a normal person. I used to make fun of her for how fast she drank coffee. This is one day where I remember walking through the mall and we went to, I don't know if Nancy's still exists. I feel like that's the one we went to. Then we just kept going and it was two minutes later, and she threw away her cup. I was like, How are you done with this, Lauren?


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I had never met Sarah. I had barely heard mention of her. I had no opinion of her. I just didn't know. It was her name. It was a girl that Mara worked with that Mara mentioned her a couple of times. I didn't know anything about her.


Well, did you know Sarah?


I knew her because of Maura.


Both Sarah and Kate would become pivotal in the timeline leading up to her disappearance. We'll get into that later. I also spoke to another one of Maura's art gallery coworkers who didn't want to be named, but they didn't have very much to add other than Maura was a conscientious worker. They also didn't notice anything off about her behavior. The fast-paced college environment at UMass naturally caused strain on her long-distance relationship with Bill. As typical 20-somethings, they did their break-up, get back together, DeWlip. Before Bill graduated from West Point, Mara would visit him on the weekends. She would stay with Bill's mentors, the McDonalds. We'll talk about them later. She also visited his family in Ohio multiple times. It was very important to Mara that Bill visit our old stomping grounds in the white mountains of New Hampshire, so she planned a trip. They hiked and went to all her favorite spots. Then Bill got stationed in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, coma, so they saw each other less and less. During one of Mara and Bill's breakups, Mara began a romantic relationship with a young graduate assistant track coach named Hussain Bagdadi. He was a standout runner himself, and I'm sure Mara saw the interest of a slightly older guy exciting.


Due to the athlete-coach dynamic, they kept the flingue quiet, but he always seemed to be around, according to Kate.


We thought he was the cool guy because he was young enough, so every once in a while, he'd come to the parties, which, looking back on that, might be weird. One that I remember, it must have been around our birthday. We're both May. I think it was at the boys' house. So it was like the cross country guys, a bunch of them lived together or something like that. It was just a dance party. We're all just hanging out dancing. I feel like that's the one I remember him at. That he was just there hanging out dancing with everybody else. It didn't seem weird. I found him approachable, and it was just fun to have somebody younger who we could ask questions because I don't remember. Was he in a doctor program or something?


Yeah. Okay, so did you know about him and Mara having a relationship?


No. Yeah, because everybody was just friendly. So if somebody, you wouldn't notice unless they were making out in front of everybody that something was going on because everybody was so close.


Mara introduced Bagdaddy to my dad had at one of their track meets, where he talked about writing a book one day about running.


We were sitting in the stands, and Bagdaddy came over and sat down and said hello to Mara. The atmosphere was that he was a coach. Mara was one of the runners, and they all knew each other. So he and I exchanged readings, we introduced, and we talked. He mentioned a book he was writing about a runner. So we talked about his prospective talk about a runner, and the runner was a miler who was challenging a four-minute mark and stuff like that.


It was short-lived, and Maura eventually gravitated back to Bill. I asked Kate about Bill. So I wanted to ask you about her boyfriend, Bill, and what your relationship was with him and the nature of that relationship.


I didn't know him very well because usually when he came, they just go hang out together. She seems more interested in the relationship than he did. He was just stiff, and she was just bubbly and fun, and everybody wants to have a good time. But I didn't have any bad feelings about him. I didn't see him very much. I think the most I ever hung out with him was we went to Wings down the road that I can't remember the name of, and we hung out there and watched the football game.


Mar and Bill did make several trips to see each other and travel to Hanson, Ohio, and New Hampshire to see family. On one of these trips to New Hampshire in July of 2003, Bill had to leave early for army obligations, so Mara drove him to Boston, Logan Airport. She was pulled over for speeding in Hookset, New Hampshire, going well above the speed limit. She received a summons to appear on August 27, 2003, fined and New Hampshire suspended her license for 30 days. In order to get driving privileges back in the state of New Hampshire, she had to submit a license reinstatement form. She hadn't done that prior to her disappearance, and it had to be done in person. These forms were found inside her abandoned car at the time of her disappearance. Mara suffered an injury that kept her out of the 2003 cross country and track season. She She tried rehab, but her times were dropping, and she decided it was best to focus on the nursing program. She continued to maintain her friendship with Kate and did some less intense running on her own. As typical college-aged kids, they also went to parties around campus.


But after Mara's disappearance, this transformed into something more salacious. So I asked Kate about it.


I bet I can tell you where that stems from. Every year, it must have been in the spring. It would have been too cold otherwise. We did these things called Greeks, and it was a one-night thing where we just did relay races naked. We're like, Okay, yeah, we like to sprint. Let's sprint real quick. And that was that. What's the nicer word for hazing? It was just this, not even initiation. It was just an annual event that had been going on for longer than I knew about. It didn't last very long because usually the cops came and then we all scattered in different directions. Then we met up at somebody's house later to continue the party, fully closed and acting like normal people.


Mara also maintained friendships with people she met at West Point, including Megan and her high school friends. Did you keep in touch with Maura after she left West Point?


Yeah, I did. We wouldn't talk on the phone, but that was the age of instant messenger before texting. The conversations that I can recall, she seemed happy. I think she was excited about nursing school and just a little more freedom. It seemed like I think we both were happy to have that.


Her high school friends made plans around the holidays and did a college T-shirt exchange. She met up with most of them that winter break at the 99 restaurant in Wymouth, Massachusetts. Mara felt herself around that group, but she didn't give any indication that something was wrong. That meetup would be the last time they would ever see Mara again. They did exchange emails between Christmas and her disappearance, though. Mara sent an email on January 29, 2004, a mere 10 days before her disappearance. She was orchestrating a plan to see a Dane Cooke show in Stores, Connecticut on February 12, 2004, which was three days after she disappeared. She in part, Are you ready for this? Dane Cooke is playing at UMass, and we went to get tickets, but it was sold out. I missed out again. But I did some research, and he plays in Stores, Connecticut, February 12th, not far from UMass, Worcester, Providence. Tickets are $10 and go on sale on Monday, so let me know if anyone's interested. I imagine they will be hard to get as usual. Take care, girls. Mara. It's hard for me to read this email knowing she disappeared a little over a week later.


However, things were not all rosy as she continued to struggle with disordered eating, which I think had more of a stranglehold on her than she even realized. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, nearly 10 million women in the United States struggle with anorexia or bulimia, and it is far more prevalent in female college athletes. One study found that over one-third of Division I, NCAA female athletes reported attitudes and symptoms, placing them at risk. Like many young people, it was a way to cope with stress and get a false sense of control. I believe it contributed to some of the poor decisions she made leading up to her disappearance, and I know she felt deeply ashamed. She obtained a credit card number from another student without her knowledge and started ordering food late at night, typical of those suffering from eating disorders. Something about the late night binges masks the shame of it all. She was ordering a ton of food and was clearly not coping with its stranglehold on her very well. It pains me to talk about it because I know how serious it must have been for her to use someone else's credit card.


I just wish she had sought more help. When the fellow student noticed the charges, she reported it to campus security, and Mara was caught up in a sting operation. When confronted by police, she immediately owned up to her behavior exactly as she had done during the Fort Knox incident. She was given three months probation contingent on good behavior. After her disappearance, I found a book she had about overcoming it. She was trying, but she just needed a little help. So I finished my one year long tour in South Korea on December 23, 2003. I spent Christmas with my family in Hansen before I shipped down to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Mar and I had a great visit. We exchanged gifts, we shared laughs, and It was great to be home. She was pumped because Bill gave her her first cell phone that Christmas. He also gave her a pair of black leather gloves. Now, these items will be very important later. At the end of my two-week leave, Mar headed to Ohio to spend time with Bill's family, and I said goodbye. This was the last time I would ever see my sister again. Join me next episode as I dissect the events leading up to Mar's disappearance.


If you have any information regarding the disappearance of my sister, Mara Murray, please contact the New Hampshire State Police, Cold Case Unit at 603-223-3648, or visit maramurrymissing. Org. Special thanks to my friend, Sara Turne, whose trust and guidance made this project possible. Media Pressure is a Voices for Justice media original and is executive-produced by Sarah Turne. This series includes original music from my brother, Curtis Murray, as well as Blue Dot Sessions. I'm your host, Julie Murray. For more information about Media Pressure, visit mediapressure. Com. For more information about my sister, Mara's case, visit maramurrymissing. Org.