Blog about Maura Murray

I just found this interesting-looking blog dedicated to the case of Maura Murray, a nursing student who disappeared from Haverhill in northern New Hampshire after a car accident nearly nine years ago. It’s a very mysterious case.

The blog’s author is James Renner, probably the same one listed on Wikipedia as an investigative reporter and film producer. I haven’t done much more than skim the first few entries so far, but it looks very interesting, very in-depth, and like all great blogs, it links to me. 🙂

Photographs as an aide to distinguishing characteristics

I’ve noticed that, on NamUs in particular, cases are posted that say things like “short hair” or whatever in the distinguishing characteristics (DCs), apparently based on the available photo(s) of the MP.

I myself do not do that very often. I’m always afraid I’ll make a mistake, and I’d rather not note a DC that’s present than note one that does not exist, or mis-label one. Tattoos I’ll definitely note and describe in as much detail as I can, and include pictures if possible. Particularly since I crop my photos closely around the face, and don’t show the rest of the body. Most people don’t get their heads and faces tattooed. (Young Mr. Alex Aleman being a notable exception.)

Everything else is pretty much off-limits.

Hair lengths and hairstyles, definitely: a person can change their hair radically inside of an hour. If a source specifically says, for example, “So-and-so’s hair was in dreadlocks when he disappeared” I will say that in the casefile, but if I just have a photo of an MP with dreadlocked hair, I won’t say anything about it. If I have an MP who changes his or her (usually it’s a her) hair every five seconds or so, I’ll try to include as wide a variety of styles and colors in the pictures as I can find. Leah Peebles and Brittanee Drexel come to mind, and also Kara Kopetsky.

Stuff like moles and scars are very hard to identify for certain in a photograph. Something that resembles a mole or scar might be just a scab, or a bruise, or a flaw in the photo itself. Piercings are a bit iffy. Lots of women have pierced ears, of course, but suppose the person’s earrings in the photo are actually clip-ons? And piercings will eventually close if you stop wearing the jewelry; suppose an MP’s photo shows a ring in their nose or whatever but the piercing closed after the photo was taken? (Okay, actually, I’m not sure if piercings in cartilage will close, but you get my point.) Gauged piercings like James Rowe‘s, I think, are permanent.

I’ve seen some very unique tattoos and piercings while looking at photos for Charley Project cases, such as the above-mentioned scalp tattoo on Alex Aleman. I had another MP, a woman from Alaska I think, whose name I can’t remember but whose ears I recall vividly: pierced sixteen times in one, seventeen in the other. I wonder how she had any ears left after all that was done.

Anyway, what do you all think of my policy about not putting details from MP photos in the DC summary?

And here’s another one: suppose you have a photo of an MP’s tattoo, but said tattoo is on their breast or genitals, so the photo might be viewed as indecent. Would you still put it in the casefile? (This has never happened to me, but I’m sure it will someday.)

A ramble about sleepwalking: or, Weirdness in my life, #435,098,438

It has been brought to my attention that I’ve been sleepwalking. Not only that, but sleep-eating, or rather drinking. M.F., one of Michael’s roommates, had a talk with me the other day about it. He says he has seen me leave the bedroom in the middle of the night, pour myself a drink of Dr. Pepper, then go back to bed, asleep the entire time.

And it’s not my own stuff but M.F.’s drinks (Dr. Pepper) I’ve been pouring myself. He doesn’t drink anything else. M.F. recognizes the theft is involuntary and doesn’t blame me, but both of us would rather this not happen. He says it doesn’t happen very often, but couldn’t venture a guess as to just how often. Once a week? Once a month? He doesn’t know. He’s never tried to wake me or otherwise interfere because he’d heard it’s not a good idea to wake a sleepwalker.

God knows how long this has been going on.

Over a year ago, M.F. and I got into a disagreement where he accused me of making too much noise at night and interrupting his sleep and I was like, “That was totally not me, I slept the whole night through” and he was like, “It totally was you, I saw you in the living room.” It might be worth noting that that particular incident was the night after all four of us (Michael, me, and his two roommates) took a day trip to Chicago. So it was a break from my routine.

Three years ago, on October 4, 2009, I came home from my night shift at work to an empty house, went to sleep, and when I woke up, things had been disturbed. It was my parents’ house, but they were staying at their summer place. My siblings could have dropped by — sometimes they do, they’re welcome at any time and the house isn’t locked — but everyone denied having been there. When I blogged about this, there was concern about a possible intruder, but one commenter suggested somnabulism. I brushed that off, but in retrospect, it seems like the most reasonable explanation for what happened.

I’m a bit bothered by all this. I looked it up online and it says antidepressants can cause sleepwalking. I’m taking two antidepressants. But anti-depressants can also TREAT sleepwalking. Shrug. I also take Depakote, a mood stabilizer, and I found some reports that it caused sleepwalking and other reports that, au contraire, users were less likely to sleepwalk. Alcohol consumption is a risk factor, but I don’t drink anymore. I have a wine cooler every now and again, is all.

In any case it would take a lot more than sleepwalking to get me to change my current regimen of psych drugs. After a decade or so of great suffering, I went into real treatment for my depression at age 22. It wasn’t until the following year that I got on the right kind of anti-depressants, and it wasn’t until I was 26 that they got the idea to add Depakote, which took care of the mood swings and the black days or weeks I still occasionally had. I don’t want to screw that up because if I do, it might very well take another four years to get it right again. Nevertheless, I’ll talk about it with my psychiatrist when I see him in January.

Psychology Today says: “Sleepwalking is a sleep disorder. It is more commonly experienced in people with high levels of stress, anxiety or psychological factors and in people with genetic factors or a combination of both.” That would be me. This would not be the first time I’ve had stress manifest itself in physical form.

Back in October I was experiencing really bad lower back pain for no reason and went to see the doctor. He said my back was all cramped up, gave me muscle relaxants and asked if I was under an unusual level of stress. I replied truthfully, “No.” He asked what was going on in my life, so I told him, and he said, “You’re under a tremendous amount of stress.” Well, yes, but that wasn’t unusual.

(And before you ask, in spite of the timing, the back pain wasn’t what lead me to decide to take a vacation from the Charley Project. I’d started my vacation already by then. In fact, the pain vanished the day after the election. I hadn’t thought I cared so much.)

I’m thinking about ways to address the immediate problem. I can’t keep going around stealing other people’s food in my sleep, and I could wind up doing more dangerous activities, like, say, going out for a drive, or killing somebody. (Not that that’s very likely, but it has happened.) The bedroom door doesn’t lock, so short of handcuffing myself to the bed, I don’t really know what to do.